The Union played their 33rd MLS regular-season match of the 2021 season on Sunday night.
For parts of the 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati, it looked like the Union were going through the motions of a preseason scrimmage.
At some points, the Union controlled the ball for minutes and produced some 20-pass buildups in and around the final third.
Jim Curtin’s side had acres of space down the right flank for most of the second half with Cincinnati’s left back nowhere to be found.
The Union finished with an 18-6 advantage in shots and a 7-1 edge in shots on target.
It felt as if the Union could have put five or six goals past the wretched FC Cincinnati defense. FC Cincinnati is slated to finish at the bottom of the overall MLS table for the third straight season.
For the Union, a 2-0 win was sufficient enough in their chase for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Union head into Decision Day, the final day of regular-season play next Sunday, in second place with a fairly easy path to two home playoff games.
Philadelphia is level on points with Nashville SC, who lost 1-0 at Subaru Park last Saturday, but it has the wins tiebreaker over the side from Tennessee.
Next week’s opponent, New York City FC, is lingering in fourth place, three points back of the Union, but a head-to-head win at Yankee Stadium takes care of that situation.
The Union put themselves in this spot through an early first goal out of Daniel Gazdag, who deflected a shot from Mbaizo past helpless Cincinnati goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
Mbaizo did most of the hard work on the opening goal, as he sent a blistering shot from outside the box in the direction of the net. Gazdag’s touch did enough to send the ball past Vermeer.
The Union waited patiently for the second goal to come, and with it came a sense of relief that no fluky equalizers were in the cards for the visitors.
Paxten Aaronson added to his growing highlight reel of attacking flair by using a nifty touch in the box to create space away from a defender and fire a shot into the back of the net.
Aaronson now has three league goals in his young career and is doing well in following the footsteps of older brother Brenden, now with RB Salzburg in Austria and a regular with the U.S. men’s national team.
The Union will need Paxten Aaronson and others to put in a strong effort next Sunday to assure themselves of home cooking when the playoffs begin the weekend of Nov. 20.