10 Thoughts, After Brilliant Counterattacking Goal Sends Union to Knockout Stage of MLS is Back Tournament

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Anything can happen when we’re playing MLS after dark.

The Union game wrapped up around 12:30 a.m., technically Wednesday morning, with a second-straight win and another three points, which was good enough to qualify your town, your team for the knockout rounds of the “MLS is Back” Orlando tournament.

The game winner was a brilliant counterattacking goal that saw Jamiro Monteiro’s dummy spring a 3v1 in the opposite direction, which Kacper Pryzbylko finished with a calm cutback onto his left foot:

That’s a great goal in any league in the world. The first dummy caused me to gasp audibly, but in a good way.

Head coach Jim Curtin praised the Union’s grit and effort while expressing disappointment in the overall performance, which is a reasonable take. They didn’t look necessarily cohesive or fluid on the soccer side of things, and you can tell that they’re trying to find their identity in a post-Haris Medunjanin world, but good teams find a way to win even when they don’t bring their A game, and that’s what the Union were able to do in two straight victories over New York and Miami.

Going into the final round robin game against Orlando, this is what the group A standings currently look like:

Curtin has options here. He can make some rotations to the squad and rest some starters, perhaps swap out one of the center backs, or put a minute limitation on a couple of players before early subs. Orlando holds the goal differential advantage for tiebreaker purposes, and if you really want to go for it, you can try for 1st place in the group, which would get them a knockout round game against a third place finisher from group C, D, or E. Second place in the group would see the Union play the group C runner up, which might be Toronto or D.C. Still too early to tell though, because those teams have yet to play their second matches.

Ten more random thoughts from last night’s game:

  1. Brenden Aaronson did a lot of dirty running and looked very active out there. His diving channel run on the Kai Wagner goal won’t get him anything on the stat sheet, but he deserves an honorary assist for that. He’s my man of the match.
  2. Jakob Glesnes has all of the physical tools and a good passing range, but he could play with more urgency. He was snoozing on the VAR-overturned handball because he wasn’t ballside of his mark.
  3. Solid game from Andre Blake again, outside of that one set piece where he came for the ball, missed, and Roman Torres clanked it off the crossbar.
  4. Still need more from the fullbacks. More touches, more involvement further up the field.
  5. Monteiro’s dummy was a brilliant moment, and that’s why you paid big money to bring him back this year. He needs to settle in a bit more in the build-up and develop some chemistry with Aaronson to help space out and link up from back to front.
  6. On the Miami goal, Jose Martinez took himself out of the play with a wild slide tackle, then Ray Gaddis got sucked in after a tricky Pizarro back heel. Mark McKenzie also could have done better. Kind of a ‘blah’ goal to give up.
  7. Pryzbylko has sneaky good balance for a big guy. Good to see him score after recovering from the Coronavirus back in March and April.
  8. The Union need to find their set piece taker. Aaronson and Monteiro both overcooked a couple of dead balls by 10 to 15 yards. I’d honestly give Wagner’s left foot a try here.
  9. It was criminal that we didn’t get a decent-angle replay of the Pryzbylko offside call. What the hell was that all about?
  10. Sergio Santos gave them some hard running up top, but there just wasn’t a lot of chance creation for him or anybody, really. They only had 4 key passes total and didn’t complete a single pass  inside the box or a couple of yards outside, near the 18.

Not an instant classic, this game, but a great goal to win it. Good to see the Union string together a couple of close victories, because these were the types of games that they always found a way to lose in the past.

Finally, my crap-quality video breakdown of the first Union goal:

Good morning.

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