The Philadelphia Union are through to the Round of 16 of the “MLS is Back” tournament. The Union beat Inter Miami 2-1. Though the goals came through Kai Wagner and Kacper Przybylko, Brenden Aaronson was the hero. If it weren’t for Aaronson, neither chance would have been created for the Union. At the 4th minute, Aaronson received a through ball from Ray Gaddis. And though the ball didn’t meet Aaronson’s path completely, he was able to get to the ball by running his route. Aaronson then took on midfielder Wil Trapp, beat Trapp to the spot, and drove the ball nearly out but kept it in play. A hard pass took a deflection off of Inter Miami’s Andrés Reyes, and as the ball bounced inside of the 18-yard box, Kai Wagner hit the ball one time and scored. The Union were up 1-0 until late into the half.
A soccer game is 90 minutes; the Union couldn’t sit back for an Inter Miami attack. But that’s what happened 30 minutes later through midfielder, Rodolfo Pizzaro. While the buildup for the goal was great, the finish by Pizzaro could have been prevented by the Union backline. Union defender Mark McKenzie tried to clear the ball out of Pizzaro’s direction before the shot, but McKenzie’s center of gravity wasn’t his in his favor. Pizzaro dribbled past him and took his shot towards the goal. The ball went past Union keeper Andre Blake and over Kai Wagner’s left leg.
At the half, the score was 1-1. Four minutes in, the Union went on the attack when Przybylko had a chance on goal but couldn’t get his feet to do what he wanted. A minute later, striker Lewis Morgan took a shot from the top of the 18-yard box to be saved by Blake. 12 minutes later, the Union were about to contract one of the greatest counterattacks in their history. The Union defense cleared the ball from their 18-yard box, Monteiro then played a dummy as the ball came to Aaronson; the Union were on the move. Aaronson drove the ball from his half almost to Inter Miami’s 18-yard box before placing a pass to the feet of Przybylko. Przybylko cut the ball back to have a shot on a goal and tucked it away in the corner of Inter Miami’s net; the Union were up 2-1.
Inter Miami would continue to push for the equalizer and came close at the 83rd minute via a corner. The header of Román Torres was denied by the crossbar. At full-time, the Union secured the win and with that, they’re now through to the Round of 16. Brenden Aaronson showed us why he’s not only a promising player for the Union but the United States. He even caught the attention of former U.S. international, DaMarcus Beasley. After watching Aaronson’s performance, Beasley twitted, “I like this kid Aaronson. He is silkyyy!” No one knows how long Aaronson will stay stateside to continue playing in the MLS and for the Philadelphia Union due to his rapid development. We’re often told to think about the future but to also enjoy the present. And in the present, Aaronson is a member of the Philadelphia Union and we’re pretty thankful for that.
Tonight, the Union will take on Orlando City. As of now, Orlando City leads the group due to goal difference. If the Union come up with the win and can keep a clean sheet, they could finish the group as group leaders. But that of course, is up to them.