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The Philadelphia Union headed to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night without their key delivery man in Kai Wagner, relying on 20-year-old Jack McGlynn to fill the void on set pieces and free kicks.
Let’s just say, McGlynn didn’t let the defending MLS Cup Finalists down in the slightest.
McGlynn started, delivered the game-winning assist, and registered 84 minutes in the Union’s 1-0 road victory over the New England Revolution, a result which advanced Jim Curtin’s side into the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.
His clever delivery in the 79th minute allowed Chris Donovan to score the breakthrough goal and help advance the Union into the Final Four for the third-straight year. It marked the first goal contribution for McGlynn since Sept. 16, which couldn’t have come at a more important time for Philadelphia.
“In Kai [Wagner]’s absence, Jack was taking the restarts and did a good job for us,” Curtin told reporters after the win. “In the playoffs, when it’s one-play games like that, the restarts can decide things…and we get the goal, and now we move on to the next round, which is good.”
“Jack is an incredible talent,” Curtin added. “I think you have heard me talk about how great his left foot is. I think he had five or six really great passes [tonight] that could’ve been assists or could’ve been really good chances and we didn’t execute.”
McGlynn’s has previously been praised by Curtin for his stellar Soccer IQ on the field and the homegrown midfielder certainly showed it off once again on Wednesday night. He created five offensive chances for the Union, which were the most by any player on the field while he also completed 90% (43/48) of his passes with 19 of those coming in the final third.
Despite already having star midfielder Daniel Gazdag in the No. 10 role, McGlynn has become a key distributor in the Union squad, which is similar to what he provided to the U.S. Under-20 men’s national team over the past two years.
His role will remain equally as important as the Union now prepares for a showdown with No. 1-seeded FC Cincinnati in the semifinal round.
“Jack’s a great player, he’s [getting] better and better too on the defensive side of the ball. [He] really showed an improvement,” Curtin said. “When you get one-on-one and isolated with Carles Gil, I talked about him trying to force [Gil] to his right foot as much as possible, I think he took that information well, led him to double teams, led him towards help, and did a really good job for us.
“Great game from him, and he really still is a young player and he’s really thriving and doing well,” Curtin added.