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Atlanta United fumbles first CCL quarterfinal leg against Philadelphia Union

The Ol’ Switcheroo

SOCCER: APR 27 CONCACAF Champions League - Philadelphia Union FC at Atlanta United FC Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Gabriel Heinze’s Atlanta United suffered its first ever defeat to fellow Eastern Conference side Philadelphia Union 3-0 in the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Tuesday night. Philadelphia’s crucial away goals against the Five Stripes came in the 57th, 73rd and 86th minutes. Kacper Przybylko scored the first two for the Union, and Anthony Fontana put the last one in to complete a turn around performance from the Union.

From Atlanta’s point of view, this is a pretty shocking result, especially considering how Philadelphia scored the goals. Atlanta United opened the game well, dominating the ball for most of the first half and creating eight shots to Philadelphia’s three. The same story in the second half: Atlanta outshot the Union eight to five, and outperformed the Union in nearly all statistical columns.

That’s why this loss will be a tough pill to swallow for Atlanta United. The Five Stripes imposed themselves on one of the best teams in the league for large periods of the game, only to completely collapse at home in the first leg of the two-legged tie.

“Of course it’s possible [to make up the three goal deficit], this is football,” Santiago Sosa said through an interpreter. “This is football, sometimes the better team doesn’t win and that’s what happened.”

Atlanta would have had a difficult game at Subaru Park in Philadelphia regardless of tonight’s scoreline. Now, Atlanta needs three goals just to tie up the series.

Atlanta created some solid chances throughout the match, but Andre Blake made seven good saves to maintain a clean sheet.

Both of those saves came in the first half. Here’s the xG from that first half:

“We controlled the game,” said head coach Gabriel Heinze through an interpreter. “After the first goal, the set piece, the team keep trying to win the same way. We were trying to score faster. And the goals came from our mistakes.”

Philadelphia Union midfielder José Andrés Martínez will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation in Concacaf Champions League games.

Atlanta United will attempt to climb a mountain next week as the Five Stripes travel to Subaru Park in Pennsylvania for the away leg of the tie. Kick off is schedule for 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4.