It was a New York state of mind on a historic night in Philadelphia.
*image courtesy of New York City FC
New York City FC may still lack a soccer-specific stadium but, they finally have a piece of silverware to show off all their hard work.
Leading up to this historic match for both clubs, Philadelphia’s Head Coach Jim Curtin stated during a press interview that the team was unable to train on Thursday night because of protocols from the league.
The club’s injury report listed eleven Union players are out due to MLS’ health and safety protocols. Among those were starters: Alejandro Bedoya, Andre Blake, Cory Burke, Kai Wagner, etc. However, Curtin was able to field a full squad with a few available off the bench from a now depleted roster.
After a lackluster first half that saw both teams go scoreless into the half – the game started to pick up in the 63rd minute.
Daniel Gazdag sends in the service to Kacper Przbylko at the top of the box. Alexander Callens attempted to make a sliding save but instead, the ball deflected past Sean Johnson for the own goal – giving the Union the 1-0 advantage.
Moments later, Maxi Moralez silenced the cheers of celebration – after compensating for his team’s mistake by slamming home the rebound for the equalizer.
Matt Freese initially blocked Maxime Chanot’s strike. But the Union could not clear out the danger, even though the 23-year-old keeper readjusted quickly. The ball then bounced to Maxi’s feet, who took the first touch to level the match.
Nathan Harriel came close to regaining the lead for the home side, but header was too high, landing on top of the net. Then Talles Magno scored the game-winner just a minute later in the 88th minute off a pass inside the box from Gundmundur Thorarinsson.
The Union scrambled to find the equalizer to force the match into extra time. However, the missed opportunity had sealed their faith – giving New York their first-ever Eastern Conference final in franchise history.
The boys held the cup up proud, reflecting on a seven-year journey before going back north to start preparations for their first MLS Cup final at Providence Park in Portland on Saturday, December 11.