The Union snapped a six-year losing streak against the Portland Timbers in style Sunday night with a 3-0 romp at Subaru Park that lifted the team to second place in the Eastern Conference.
Here are some observations on the game.
Przybylko’s hot streak continues
Kacper Przybylko walked into the stadium wearing a customized Sixers jersey, and in the 26th minute he went up and dunked on the Timbers’ defense. The big striker was shockingly wide open when Kai Wagner’s long-range free kick flew his way, and he met it with a pinpoint header. It was Przybylko’s eighth goal in 12 games across all competitions this season.
Five minutes later, Przybylko recorded his third assist of the season when he headed a Wagner corner kick toward the net and Sergio Santos flicked it in. Santos got to have a double celebration: for the goal and for his wife’s forthcoming child. The gesture of carrying the ball under your shirt is universal in the sport.
Elliott’s big night
In addition to tapping home the Union’s third goal of the night in the 63rd minute, Jack Elliott had a big night all over the field, and was a big reason why the Union (4-2-2, 14 points) pitched their fourth shutout in five games.
He completed 36 of 40 passes, including seven of eight long balls, and recorded five duels won, six clearances — four with headers — and nine recoveries.
Paxten Aaronson debuts
In the 79th minute, a “We want Paxten!” chant went up from the River End. They knew the much-anticipated 17-year-old rookie was on the bench, and with the game decided, they were ready to have some fun.
Five minutes later, manager Jim Curtin gave in. Brandon Comisky, his sideline lieutenant in charge of summoning substitutes, went down to the end line and brought Aaronson back with him. It took a while for the ball to finally go out of bounds so Aaronson could enter the game, but when it finally did in the 89th, Aaronson got a big ovation as he ran on to the field.
His cameo was brief, and he probably won’t get extended playing time for a while. Still, it was great to see him finally debut. Fans can look forward to the day when he takes over the mantle his brother used to hold as a great playmaker for this team.
VAR was right
If you were in the stadium, you might not have seen that the VAR got it right by taking Leon Flach’s goal at the end of the first half off the board for a handball. Though Flach’s left arm was only slightly extended, he clearly benefited from the ball falling to the ground off it. So referee Robert Sibiga was right to reverse the call.
Over the rest of the night, Flach had a terrific game. In 89 minutes on the field, he recorded 40 touches, 21-of-26 passing, seven duels won, five tackles, three recoveries, and one interception.
The Union are now off for a few weeks as Major League Soccer takes a break for the Concacaf Nations League final four and the start of the European Championship and South America’s Copa América. Their next game is June 20 at Atlanta United, the teams’ first meeting since the Union knocked Atlanta out of the Concacaf Champions League at the start of this month.