In a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference, the upstarts sent a message to the defending champs.
On Saturday night in front of a charged-up, sellout crowd at Talen Energy Stadium, the Philadelphia Union (winners of zero playoff games in club history) ripped off three straight goals in the second half for a thrilling 3-1 win over Atlanta United (the 2018 MLS Cup champions who added a US Open Cup trophy to their cabinet earlier this week).
Philly had found the equalizer in the 66th minute when 18-year-old Brenden Aaronson scored his second goal in as many games (and second goal in two contests vs. Atlanta) after Jack Elliott forced a turnover and Haris Medunjanin played a perfect over-the-top ball.
Josef Martinez scored in a record 13th straight MLS game, finding the back of the net thanks to a dazzling give-and-go with Darlington Nagbe right before halftime. Martinez nearly had another but missed an open net in the 80th minute, before going down to the ground in pain. Thankfully for Atlanta fans, the injury did not appear serious as the star striker quickly reentered the contest.
The Union also thought they had scored on a give-and-go but Przybylko’s 33rd-minute goal was disallowed after video review because Marco Fabian was offside.
With the win, the Union moved all alone into first place on points — with 51, three more than Atlanta.
- 45'+2' — ATL — Josef Martinez | WATCH
- 61' — PHI — Brenden Aaronson | WATCH
- 86' — PHI — Kacper Przybylko | WATCH
- 88' — PHI — Sergio Santos | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Given the first-place stakes this late in the season, the electricity in the stadium, and the way the game transpired with a second-half comeback, you can make the case this was one of the best wins in the Union's 10-year history — if not the best. And it was even more impressive that they did it without their heart and soul, captain Alejandro Bedoya, who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. All of that being said, the loss is probably not a particularly tough one for Atlanta, who played on tired legs on the road after winning an Open Cup title four days earlier — and another trophy just two weeks before that.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Przybylko’s screaming game-winner was not only the moment of the match but maybe the moment of the season for Philly.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: While Martinez continues to rack up incredible feats for Atlanta, the Union showed they have a pretty good striker of their own, as Przybylko scored his 13th goal of the year (and had another impressive strike called back).