Jim Curton’s Philadelphia Union had the motivation of a 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup spot on the line heading into this Leagues Cup 2023 third place play-off against CF Monterrey - and they sealed it in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 win against the LIGA MX side.
The MLS side opened the scoring early with the fastest goal scored at the tournament thus far, with Jesús Bueno getting on the scoresheet after only 33 seconds played. It was some great attacking combination play, added with a dangerous attacking intent which saw the ball flash across the box from Mikael Uhre. It was turned goalwards by Dániel Gazdag, but hit the post before Bueno could tap in for the vital opener for Philadelphia.
The rest of the first half was a competitive contest between the two, despite the array of changes brought in by Monterrey manager Fernando Ortiz. Whilst their first goal was mere seconds after the whistle was blown to commence the match, the second was seconds before the half-time whistle for Philadelphia, as Jack McGlynn released Mikael Uhre with a delicious ball in behind, the Dane finishing low to the delight of the Philadelphia faithful.
The second half saw two substitutes come on for the LIGA MX side, with Erick Fernando Carballo Flores and Luis Romo entering the field of play. It saw Monterrery start to impose themselves on the game with more meaningful possession, but Philadelphia had the ball in the back of the net once more. Luckily for Monterrery, a VAR check and an offside flag saw Sullivan’s rebounded effort ruled out.
Philadelphia had the carrot of CONCACAF Champions Cup football, and they used that motivation to keep putting the pressure on the Mexican side as the half went on. The pressure paid off with an all-important third goal. It was the one and only captain of the side, Alejandro Bedoya, who managed to scuffle in another rebound, to score his second goal in two games and practically seal the result with 20 minutes to play.
Monterrey cap off an eventful tournament of free-flowing football with a loss in the third-place play-off. The Mexican side had already qualified for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup, and the pressure was clearly off. Despite falling short at the semi-final stage, Monterrey had beaten some notable sides, including LAFC and Clasico Regio rivals Tigres in the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia will look forward to more continental competition in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup, after having reached the semifinals of this years’ Champions League.