SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – A first half goal from Kacper Przybylko delivered a 1-0 win for the Philadelphia Union in their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League debut against Costa Rica’s Deportivo Saprissa on Wednesday evening in the first leg of their 2021 SCCL Round of 16 series at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Ayma in San Jose, Costa Rica.
It was also the first win for a team from Major League Soccer (MLS) at Saprissa in the SCCL since the 2009-10 edition when the Columbus Crew emerged with a victory by the same scoreline.
Philadelphia did not show any nerves normally befitting a SCCL debutant and after a solid first half-hour, the visitors broke the deadlock in the 34’ with a powerful header from Przybylko off a cross from the right wing by Olivier Mbaizo.
Saprissa looked to answer and started the second half in stronger fashion, testing Union GK Andre Blake with a couple shots inside the first seven minutes of the second stanza.
The home side continued to mount the pressure and on a free kick in the 68’ Saprissa DF Kendall Waston got loose behind the Union defense, but the center back headed wide.
Three minutes later, Christian Bolanos flashed toward the near post on a corner kick and turned a header that appeared goalbound, but Philadelphia DF Kai Wagner was there to make a goal-line clearance.
The closing stages belonged to Saprissa as they searched for an equalizer, but the Philadelphia defense stayed strong to secure the victory.