CONCACAF Champions League First Leg Recap: Union Win 1-0 and Look to Advance to the Next Round at Home
The Philadelphia Union started their 2021 in Costa Rice, as they took on Deportivo Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions League. This was the first leg in the Round of 16 and was the first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match in club history for the Union. For their first competitive game of the season, the Union had much at stake. Saprissa headed into this game winless since February 21st and a record of 4-9-3. Here’s how the Union lined up to start off the game.
As expected, the game started off very slow. This was the Union’s first competitive game of the year and Saprissa has been in bad form. In the 33rd minute, the Union had an opportunity to take the lead, and they did just that. Right-back Mbaizo put an absolute beauty of a cross into the box that landed right on the head of Kacper Przybylko.
The first half then came to a close with the Union leading 1-0. This is arguably one of the best outcomes you could ask for from a team just starting their 2021 season.
In the second half, things started to get chippy as the game intensified. You could tell that Saprissa felt like they were in trouble. In the 73rd minute, they had their best chance at equalizing, but Kai Wager cleared the ball off the line.
In extra time, Union star goalie Andre Blake came up big and made two back-to-back saves. Blake was real quiet all game only having one save up until this point. In the final minute of the game, things got crazy. A horrendous tackle by a Saprissa defender on Kai Wagner led to an all-out brawl to end the match.
Fortunately, Wagner was able to get up and walk off on his own, but I’m sure this tension will carry over to the second leg in the Round of 16. The second leg take place next Wednesday home at Subaru Park. Despite the ugly ending, this was a great start to the Union’s 2021 season.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union