Atlanta United FC 2 – 0 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union made history on Sunday, winning the New York Red Bulls which marked their first win of a playoff game since joining the MLS in 2010.  However that is all the history the Union will write for the 2019 post season, as it ended yesterday with a 2-0 loss at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

And what about the defending champions?  Atlanta seemed to be building on the crowd’s support and home-field advantage of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Philadelphia Union went to Atlanta United as the clear underdog, where Atlanta won three of the last five matches between the two sides.  This year however, things changed a bit with a 1-1 tie in March, and with the Union marking its first win over Atlanta (3-1) in September.  Still, the visitors didn’t manage to recreate their success, and had now finished the 2019 MLS season.

Atlanta’s German midfielder Julian Gressel put his team in an early lead, receiving a ball from Pity Martinez, and kicking it into the net over Philly’s keeper Andre Blake that went out too early for a challenge (10’).  It was also with the help of Josef Martinez who was present in the other side of the box and grabbed the attention of the Union’s defense.

Julian Gressel

Julian Gressel Scoring for Atlanta; Photo Credit: Atlanta United FC

The guests had a chance to equalize a few minutes later, when Union’s Sergio Santos set up Brenden Aaronson who was sliding to take a cross from the penalty spot.  It was denied by the hosts’ goalkeeper Brad Guzan (16’).

A double save from Andre Blake kept Philadelphia in the game on the hour mark, but at the end it was Gressel’s time to return a favour, and he sent a long ball to Josef Martinez who scored the insurance goal and sent the hosts to the conference finals.

Atlanta United FC will host Toronto FC for the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday, October 30th.