While most of Philadelphia was long since asleep, the Union tied MLS superpower Los Angeles FC on the road, 3-3, Sunday night.
It was one of the most extraordinary games in this team’s history — and the score barely tells the tale.
The Union led three times in a game in which most fans would have taken leading once. That’s how big the disparity in raw talent is between the Union and L.A.’s stars such as Diego Rossi and reigning MLS Carlos Vela. There were barely any complaints on social media at the final whistle, which came a few seconds before 1 a.m. Eastern time Monday.
All three of the Union’s goals were exceptional: a 25-yard rip by Sergio Santos in the 29th minute, a 40-yard smashed free kick by Jakob Glesnes in the 48th, and a nifty spin and shot by Brenden Aaronson in the 69th.
In a TV interview after the final whistle, Glesnes said he told Jamiro Monteiro on the field that “if it’s just two [LAFC players] in the wall that I want to try to shoot, and they just put up two. I just had to try, and I had a perfect touch.”
The Aaronson goal, meanwhile, was one that fans and observers across American soccer have been waiting to see from him: a quick turn and instinctive finish to the far post.
Even better, it came on the same night the Medford native was named to the U.S. men’s national team’s Olympic qualifying squad with teammates Mark McKenzie and Matt Freese.
LAFC countered with an inch-perfect free kick by Vela, a dazzling curler by Rossi in the 49th, and a gritty final equalizer by Eddie Segura in the 71st.
Five Union players suffered injuries in the game and managed to play through them: goalkeeper Andre Blake, defender Ray Gaddis, and midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, José Martínez and Brenden Aaronson. Blake ended the night with a welt in his head after getting kicked in the second half.
Here’s a look at some of the impressive stats from the game.
Goalkeeper Andre Blake: 8 saves, 1 cross caught, 1 punchout, 2 clearances, 1 tackle, 48 touches, 14 of 30 long balls completed.
Left back Matthew Real: 35 touches, 2 interceptions, 4 clearances, 2 blocked shots, 10 of 14 passes completed, including 3 of 4 long balls — and Vela was on his side of the field most of the night.
Centerback Jakob Glesnes: 36 touches, 2 shots (1 on target), 1 tackle, 1 interception, 12 clearances, 1 aerial dual won, 14 of 17 passes completed, including 6 of 9 long balls.
Centerback Mark McKenzie: 25 touches, 2 tackles, 1 interception, 5 clearances, 4 aerial duals won, 9 of 15 passes completed.
Right back Ray Gaddis: 46 touches, 8 tackles, 2 clearances, 14 of 20 passes completed.
Midfielder José Martínez: 55 touches, 3 tackles, 5 interceptions, 1 blocked shot, 1 aerial dual won, 29 of 34 passes completed — in his Union debut.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya: 52 touches, 1 shot, 6 tackles, 1 interception, 3 aerial duals won, 21 of 33 passes completed.
Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro: 51 touches, 2 chances created, 1 assist, 1 tackle, 26 of 31 passes completed.
Midfielder Brenden Aaronson: 64 touches, 1 goal, 2 shots (both on target), 1 chance created, 5 tackles, 1 clearance, 2 blocked shots, 2 aerial duals won, 19 of 29 passes completed.
Forward Sergio Santos: 39 touches, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 chances created, 2 shots (1 on target), 1 tackle, 2 clearances, 4 aerial duals won, 9 of 17 passes completed.
Forward Kacper Przybylko: 57 touches, 2 shots (1 on target), 1 chance created, 5 clearances, 5 aerial duals won, 22 of 30 passes completed.
Midfielder Ilsinho (substitute): 23 touches, 8 of 11 passes completed — replaced Santos in the 71st minute.
Midfielder Anthony Fontana (substitute): 4 touches, 1 tackle — replaced Bedoya in the 83rd minute. (That means Bedoya won’t play every minute of the season, and that’s a good thing for him.)
Centerback Jack Elliott (substitute): 4 touches, 1 clearance — replaced Martínez in the 93rd minute.
Team stats: LAFC outshot the Union 21-9, including 11-5 in shots on target; created 13 chances to the Union’s 6; took 12 corners to the Union’s 4; attempted 467 passes to the Union’s 285; completed 384 passes to the Union’s 196; and had 62.7% of the possession to the Union’s 37.3%.
The Union’s next game is their home opener, Saturday night against the San Jose Earthquakes at Subaru Park (7:30 p.m., PHL17).