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Things Get Feisty as the Union Defeat Saprissa

The Philadelphia Union kicked off their Concacaf Champions League run with a 1-0 win over Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica. Although the final score sheet only has one goal to its credit, both teams had many chances that could have made this a more high scoring affair. This recap would have probably been a lot harder to write without the antics in stoppage time but here we go!

Anthony Fontana put in a great shift up top against Saprissa.

Kacper Przybylko is Scoring Once Again

The striker really struggled towards the end of the last season, and it was great to see him get on the score sheet today. The Perfect Cross from Mbaizo(will not get his own section but he was brilliant today) and the beautfiul header from the friendly striker made the difference for the Union today. Kacper had been dealing with back spasms leading into the game, but it did not seem to effect him too much as he played around 93 minutes. With all their injuries up front, Przybylko is going to need to continue to step up for the Union to have success in MLS and CCL play. It should be interesting to see if the back injury looms at all for Kacper heading into next week's match.

The Formation?

One of the biggest questions heading into this season was how the Union would form their starting 11 with all the big changes that occurred over the offseason. Here is what the Union ended up going with for reference:


GK: Blake

LB: Wagner

CB: Elliott and Glesnes

RB: Mbaizo

CDM: Martinez CM: Bedoya(C) and Flach

CAM: Monteiro

ST: Przybylko and Fontana

Obviously we have to take into account injuries, but this will be very similar to the lineup the Union will be running in MLS play. I know the Union did not blow the doors off today, but that is most likely due to this being one of the first time this lineup has been used in a real match. I personally really liked the formation today, although I am still somewhat worried about the attacking options until Burke and Santos come back. I thought Fontana played well, but not really enough offensively for one of your strikers. The only problem is, I'm not sure what other the options Philadelphia has. It's too early to judge, but I think the lineup gave off a good first impression. By the way, I'd love to see Stuart Findlay instead of Jakob Glesnes whenever Findlay is ready for league play.

No Red Card...

How about that ending? As the seconds were ticking down and the Union were well on their way to beating Saprissa, Ricardo Blanco made a disgusting tackle on Kai Wagner. The tackle caused a huge brawl to come out, and somehow Blanco only received a yellow card.

The one question I'm asking myself after watching this clip many times is: If that is not a red card, then what is? Does that tackle not constitute every single thing that a red card should be? Not playing the ball, threatening injury and cruel intent? Alejandro Bedoya put it best: "That’s a red in every part of the world. I don’t understand how that was not a red card". It's really disgusting, and we are lucky that we did not see Kai Wagner suffer a career ending injury. The only relative positive I got out of this was how much chemistry this team seems to have already. You can see that instantly when the tackle is made, all the Union players go after Blanco and make sure that Wagner is ok. Jakob Glesnes in fact, runs right into the Saprissa defender with no fear of a yellow card. It sucks that the game had to end this way, but I am glad we saw some togetherness from this Union group. Here are all the players that got yellow cards for the Union: Jakob Glesnes, Jose Martinez(shocker) and Matt Real. Not terrible, considering many other players got in short brawls off to the side. We'll have to see if anything more comes in terms of suspensions in the coming days, but I'm personally not expecting anything.

What is Next for the Union?

After grabbing a key away goal against the struggling Saprissa, the Union will head back home to Subaru Park next Wednesday(April 14th) to take on the Costa Rican Club in the 2nd Leg. This week break will be great for the Union, as their injury list can hopefully get smaller for the match. Although the Union do not have a game in between the two matches, Saprissa will have a away match versus Perez Zeledon, who are last place in the Costan Rican Primera Division. Deportivo have lost their last 8 matches, and a loss against the worst team in the league surely wouldn't put confidence in their players heading to Philadelphia. Leg 2 of Saprissa vs. Union will be on FS1 and is set for a kick off time of 8 PM Eastern Time. See you next week!

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