Atlanta United suffered 3-0 defeat to Philadelphia Union Tuesday night in leg 1 of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal. Atlanta dominated the first half but couldn’t convert their possession to goals. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Kacper Przybyłko taught a course on clinical finishing and how to pierce a seemingly invincible opponent.

It was interesting to see the change on the backline as the combination of Miles Robinson-Anton Walkes has only allowed a single goal in four matches. But the gaffer opted to start Franco in Walkes’ spot and move Santiago Sosa to Right Back.

Atlanta had a chance in the 6′ minute when Andre Blake blocked Jurgen Damm’s attempt on a 1 v 1. Another came in the 32′ minute when Emerson Hyndman nailed a sweet volley on target but was also cleared away by Blake.

Philadelphia Union had their first real chance in the 26′ minute when they had back-to-back corner kicks. The first attempt saw a header go out of bounds and the second was cleared away.

Atlanta United continued to dominate possession and was absolutely relentless in attack. Josef Martinez connected with Marcelino Moreno in the box with a give-and-go but Moreno was unable to finish. Martinez came back with a solo effort just two minutes later but Andre Blake stood tall and batted the shot away. In less than 40 minutes, Blake recorded five saves.

Josef Martinez shows his frustration after Atlanta United failed to score on five attempts in the first half of Leg 1 of the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals. (Hakim Wright)

Jurgen Damm kicked off the second half with an incredible 1 v 1 opportunity with Andre Blake, but opted to hold up play and pass rather than shoot. Seven minutes later, Barco connected with Damm along the touchline but took one too many touches before the ball went out of play.

Philadelphia Union didn’t have much possession (35-65 ATL) but got their first goal off an Atlanta United mistake. Brad Guzan had to come up with a big time save on Kacper Przybyłko that lead to a corner kick. Przybyłko was left open near the far corner and made a simple tap-in to take the lead. Atlanta tried to responded when Santiago Sosa sent a long-range effort past Andre Blake but hit the crossbar.

Philadelphia struck again, on a counterattack, when Przybyłko was 1 v 1 with Brad Guzan and beat him to his left. They landed the death blow in the 86′ minute on a 2 v 1 with Brad Guzan with Przybyłko being selfless and laying the ball off to Anthony Fontana to score their third away goal.

It’s no secret that Atlanta’s only weakness is getting caught on the counterattack. Waiting for the right time to strike was all a part of the Union’s game-plan. “We knew we were going to take our chances on the counterattack,” said Kacper Przybyłko. His brace plus the game-sealer from Anthony Fontana put the Union in good position to advance to the Champions League Semifinal.

Shots: 16-8 Atlanta
Shots on Target: 7-5 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 7-3 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 16-12 Philadelphia
Offside: 1-0 Philadelphia
Possession: 65-35 Atlanta
Passing Accuracy: 89-73 Atlanta

Atlanta United return to action on Saturday, May 1 (8:00 p.m. ET, CW69,, Star 94.1) when they travel to face the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. The second leg of the Champions League Quarterfinal will take place in Philadelphia on Tuesday, May 4 (8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN).

-Jon J.

Photo: Hakim Wright

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