The Philadelphia Union’s first home international match in its history could not have gone any better.
Nursing a 1-0 aggregate lead heading into the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League tie with Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa, the Union shook off early nerves to take a decisive 4-0 win Wednesday at Subaru Park.
Jim Curtin’s squad came out firing early and often, creating a number of first half chances, but had nothing to show for it at halftime. After the break, however, the Jamiro Monteiro Show was on.
Just into the second half, Newark, DE native Anthony Fontana drew a penalty in the box. Monteiro converted to give the Union a 2-0 aggregate lead.
The penalty goal seemed to ease the tension form there. Four minutes later, Monteiro sailed a corner kick that Kacper Przybylko headed home, and the floodgates were open.
Moments after that, Monteiro took possession just outside the box, spun and delivered a beautiful pass to Fontana, who made it 3-0 on the night. Finally, Monteiro took advantage of an exhausted Saprissa defense, pouncing on a loose ball and rolling a second goal home to finish the scoring.
“When Jamiro is at his max, he’s not defendable. You can’t stop him,” Curtin said of Monteiro after the win.
Saprissa was missing two starters who tested positive for COVID-19 before the game, and a third, MLS veteran Kendall Waston, who traveled to Europe to play with Costa Rica’s national team, and was forced to quarantine for two weeks.
But the Union were hardly feeling bad for Saprissa, especially after a dangerously dirty tackle that occurred in the closing moments of the first leg.
Curtin’s side advances to face MLS rival Atlanta United, who also knocked off a Costa Rican team to advance to the quarterfinals, knocking off LD Alajuelense. In fact, four of the teams already in the quarters are MLS teams, and Columbus will likely make it five tomorrow, entering their second leg with a 4-0 lead over Nicaraguan team Real Esteli.
Speaking of Columbus, the Union and the Crew will go head-to-head Sunday in Ohio to open the MLS regular season.