15 Thoughts on the Union Playoff Win and Jakob Glesnes Golazo

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Union advanced to the second round of the MLS Cup playoffs with a ridiculous, game-winning golazo in the 123rd minute on Saturday evening. It was officially ruled the latest goal in Major League Soccer history.

Sunday night, the Union released the wide-angle camera footage of Subaru Park, and listen to the crowd go absolutely nuts when the big Norwegian center back crushed this ball from 30 yards out:

Awesome goal. What a moment. It’s quite easily one of the loudest pops in the 11-year history of Subaru Park.

My thoughts on the game, in no particular order:

  1. Crowd was amazing. Looked and sounded awesome on television.
  2. Glesnes spared us an excruciating scoreless draw and penalty kicks. If we’re being honest here, he polished a turd of a game, which we knew was going to be scrappy, defensive, and ugly. Coming into this one, the Union had hit the under 2.5 goals in three of their last four games. Red Bull was under 2.5 in 10 of their last 11. The game played out exactly how we thought it would.
  3. The Union blew a couple of golden chances and should have put it away earlier. The Kacper Pryzbylko chance was the most egregious, since he was leaning back and didn’t get his feet set properly. The Sergio Santos chance was more of a bang-bang play with a lefty opening his body on a pass coming from the right. I think if he took that with his weak right instead of strong left, it would have been the game-winner.
  4. Be glad this didn’t go to PKs. The Union didn’t have a lot of natural finishers on the field. I would have gone Kai Wagner, Glesnes, and Daniel Gazdag as my top three. Maybe Jack McGlynn and Brujo Martinez take penalties as well. Cory Burke took a hard knock and Santos worries me as a PK taker.
  5. This was only the second playoff win in Union history. It’s massive in terms of bringing in some casual fans and earning some respect. The fans of the “four major sports” don’t exactly understand the Supporter’s Shield or United States Open Cup, but they do speak the language of the playoffs. They get the importance of postseason wins, and the Union really could benefit from going on a run here.
  6. To that point above, 97.5 the Fanatic had multiple personalities at the game. 94 WIP tweeted out some stuff about the win. And Fox Sports the Gambler is the official radio partner, so local soccer has enjoyed some mainstream breakthrough in recent years. 10 years ago, WIP and the Fanatic didn’t give a flying fuck about the Union and The Gambler didn’t even exist.
  7. I think Jim Curtin got it right with his lineup. He opted to stick with the Christmas Tree instead of the 4-4-2. We’ve talked this year on the post game show and IASIP podcast how starting in the Tree and then shifting out to the diamond opens up the game more and changes the flow. You can be more direct and stretch the field.
  8. Alvas Powell had a great game. What a huge signing he ended up being. If they hadn’t gone out and got him, they would only have Nathan Harriel to back up Olivier Mbaizo, who was in COVID protocols and unavailable.
  9. Paxten Aaronson did an admirable job starting for Jamiro Monteiro, who was also in the COVID protocol.
  10. Pryzbylko is a concern. He missed a sitter and isn’t doing anything very well right now. He’s not winning duels or holding the ball up. He’s a finisher who is not finishing.
  11. Kai Wagner was immense. He deserved his All-Star selection this year and I think he’s ready for Europe.
  12. Red Bull couldn’t finish either. They hit the post and drove another shot right at Andre Blake.
  13. The technique on the Glesnes goal was perfect. He’s drifting backward and finds a way to cushion to the ball to his right, which allows him to plant and reset momentum. Most guys pop that ball up in the air and then hit the half volley 20 yards over the crossbar, because they are leaning back.
  14. On the chance Pryzbylko missed, Leon Flach began that sequence with a beautiful press and win along the touchline. He’s really the best cue-reader on the team, and has jarred loose numerous balls this year to begin transition opportunities. My only issue is that his offensive game is incredibly raw. With Alejandro Bedoya getting older, the Union really lack attacking contribution from their shuttlers.
  15. I know the Union sometimes don’t pass the eye test, and they’re been difficult to watch from an offensive perspective this year, but the spine of Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Martinez, and Andre Blake is the best in MLS. They do not give up anything easy and as long as those four are on the field, they are going to have a chance to win every game.

Glesnes has been a fantastic player for this team. He’s an excellent defender who only scores bangers. Here’s all three of those rockets in one video clip:

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