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Jakob Glesnes’ 123rd-minute goal gives Union 1-0 playoff win over Red Bulls

Glesnes smashed in a 25-yard blast to send the Union on to the second round.

Jakob Glesnes (right) celebrates after scoring the winning goal.
Jakob Glesnes (right) celebrates after scoring the winning goal.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Jakob Glesnes has scored some stunning goals for the Union, but the one he scored Saturday might just top them all.

In the 123rd minute of the Union’s first-round playoff game against the New York Red Bulls, Glesnes smashed in a 25-yard blast to give Philadelphia a 1-0 win before a sold-out crowd of 18,623 at Subaru Park.

Yes, that was the third minute of stoppage time after 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time. It was the latest goal scored in any MLS game in the league’s 26-year history.

“As crazy as I’ve seen this stadium get in my time here,” Union manager Jim Curtin said after the game — and after he and the entire team raced to the end of the field in a mass celebration when Glesnes scored.

The Union will host the winner of the Nashville-Orlando game (8 p.m. Tuesday, FS1 and Fox Deportes) in the second round on Nov. 28 at 3 or 5:30 p.m.

Surprise absences

An hour before kickoff, the Union announced that Jamiro Monteiro and Olivier Mbaizo were sidelined because of Major League Soccer’s health and safety protocols.

The team issued a brief statement on the matter that did not detail exactly what happened to the two players but offered a variety of reasons that could rule a player out beyond testing positive for COVID-19. They include pending or inconclusive test results, quarantines because of “high risk behavior” or “being a high-risk close contact,” or “other illness not related to COVID-19.”

Monteiro and Mbaizo were recently with their national teams, Cape Verde and Cameroon, respectively, for the next-to-last round of African World Cup qualifying. Cape Verde hosted the Central African Republic and visited Nigeria, while Cameroon faced Malawi in Johannesburg, South Africa, and hosted the Ivory Coast.

» READ MORE: Jamiro Monteiro and Olivier Mbaizo played in some of the biggest games of their lives in World Cup qualifying

Both players played in both of their teams’ games, which were last Saturday and Tuesday, then returned to the Philadelphia area. Monteiro got back to town Wednesday and Mbaizo got back Thursday.

Curtin said after the game that he couldn’t say much about the matter, and got unusually testy when asked how long the players will be out and when he learned when they’d be out.

Rookie phenom Paxten Aaronson started in Monteiro’s place in attacking midfield, and veteran backup Alvas Powell started in Mbaizo’s place at right back.

No surprise that it was ugly

If this was the first Union game you watched in a while, hopefully someone warned you in advance that matchups with the Red Bulls are rarely pretty. Both teams use the same high-pressure style, and they tend to produce soccer that’s scrappy instead of aesthetically pleasing.

They also knew that they entered the day a combined 0-13-10 this season when giving up the first goal, and neither team scored more than one goal against the other in their three regular-season meetings this year.

So it wasn’t surprising that this game played out the same way.

Substitutes open the game up

Aaronson was quiet most of the day attacking-wise, with just 26 touches and seven completed passes from 11 attempts. He left in the 61st for Sergio Santos, who made an immediate impact — but almost did so in a bad way.

In the 63rd, an attempted recycling of a ball by New York’s Andrés Reyes hit Santos’ right elbow as he was trying to pull it away from the ball. Red Bulls players howled for a penalty kick, but referee Fotis Bazakos didn’t give it and the video replay booth agreed.

“There is no deliberate handling by Santos,” referee Fotis Bazakos said in a postgame statement to The Inquirer. “His arm is in an expected position, the ball comes from a short distance, and the arm does not move towards the ball.”

Santos’ best moment of regulation came in the 82nd, when he danced out of being stuck on the end line and teed up a wide-open Kacper Przybylko with the net open. But Przybylko took a bad step and shot over the crossbar.

In the 107th, Santos was sprung by Cory Burke (who had replaced Przybylko in the 86th) with a great cross, but he shot straight at onrushing Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel — a former Union backup. And in the 116th, Burke had a big miss when he shot wide from close range and was injured on a tackle from Gutman.

Then Glesnes made up for it all with his stunning winner.

» READ MORE: Dániel Gazdag has found his stride with the Union at the most important time of year

Glesnes did more than score

The goal was obviously what Glesnes’ day will be remembered most for. But before then, he was outstanding defensively: eight clearances, five duels won (including four in the air), four recoveries, and one interception.

Powell steps up

This was Powell’s 13th career MLS playoff game, and that experience showed. He made 10 recoveries and five clearances, won eight duels, and had the Union’s best first-half scoring chance, a sixth-minute smash off a rebound that forced a big save from Coronel.

» READ MORE: Philadelphia and the Union’s foundation break ground on a major renovation to the Capitolo Playground’s soccer fields