The Philadelphia Union booked their place in the Eastern Conference Final with a 1-0 win over FC Cincinnati on Thursday night.

Heading into the MLS Cup Playoffs as the top seed in the East, the Union had plenty of pressure on their shoulders on Thursday. Cincinnati, meanwhile, went to Subaru Park full of confidence after their Round One comeback win over the New York Red Bulls.

However, despite the immense quality on both sides, we were forced to endure a stop-start, choppy affair in which the referee was far too often called upon and both sides used the dark arts to get under opposition skin.

In the end, it was Leon Flach’s powerful effort in the 59th minute that decided the tie, with the former St Pauli midfielder picking the perfect time to open his account for the 2022 season.

Cincinnati had their moments with the likes of Brandon Vazquez, Junior Moreno, and Luciano Acosta testing Andre Blake, but the Jamaica international proved once again why he’s the best goalkeeper in MLS right now.

While Cincinnati will head home and prepare for 2023, the Union now await the winner of CF Montreal and NYCFC in the next round of the Playoffs.

Here is how every player performed on Thursday at Subaru Park:

GK: Andre Blake – 10/10 – Proved his Goalkeeper of the Year credentials with a string of vital saves. Immense.

RB: Olivier Mbaizo – 6/10 – Solid enough but didn’t see too much of the action.

CB: Jakob Glesnes – 6/10 – A little wayward with the ball at times but made up for it with a strong defensive showing.

CB: Jack Elliott – 8/10 – Repelled Cincinnati with a host of clearances and interceptions, while also playing some nice forward passes.

LB: Kai Wagner – 8/10 – One of the few players who showed his true quality on the ball with some dangerous crosses. Little got past him at the other end, either.

CDM: Jose Martinez – 7/10 – Had to work hard to get into the game with Acosta keeping him company, but managed to get under the skin of multiple Cincinnati players.

CM: Jack McGlynn – 5/10 – Neat and tidy but struggled to influence the game.

CM: Leon Flach – 8/10 – Another immense shift without the ball which was rewarded with the deciding goal of the match.

CAM: Daniel Gazdag – 5/10 – Nowhere near his usual best and missed a couple of huge headed chances.

ST: Julian Carranza – 6/10 – Limited to half-chances but never stopped working for his team.

ST: Mikael Uhre – 7/10 – Often struggled to compete against Cincinnati’s center-backs, but more than played his part in Flach’s goal.

SUB: Cory Burke (68′, for Uhre) – 6/10 – Had a couple of dangerous moments and added energy from the bench.

SUB: Matt Real (86′, for McGlynn) – 6/10 – Did his part in helping to see the game out.

GK: Roman Celentano – 7/10 – Little he could do about Flach’s goal. Made a couple of good saves.

CB: Nick Hagglund – 5/10 – Landed his team in trouble with a few poor passes but more often than not made amends.

CB: Matt Miazga – 5/10 – Not at his best in terms of positioning. Unfortunate to be booked for a small collision with Martinez on a corner.

CB: Ian Murphy – 6/10 – Steady performance but was the obvious choice to be replaced as Cincinnati chased the equalizer.

RWB: Alvas Powell – 7/10 – One of the best players on the field in the first half, driving the ball forward and making things happen. Ran out of steam after the break.

CM: Obinna Nwobodo – 8/10 – Lived life on the edge after his yellow card but did an excellent job of disrupting the Union.

CM: Junior Moreno – 7/10 – Clean and crisp with the ball and worked hard without it.

LWB: Alvaro Barreal – 8/10 – One of Cincinnati’s best creative outlets. Always looked to make things happen down the left.

CAM: Luciano Acosta – 4/10 – Never stopped trying to pull the strings but his final ball was absolutely nowhere near his usual standards. Did a decent job of keeping Martinez quiet.

ST: Brandon Vazquez – 5/10 – Was the more threatening of Cincinnati’s two strikers but still limited to half-chances.

ST: Brenner – 5/10 – Had a few bright flashes but was largely off the pace and kept quiet.

SUB: Ronald Matarrita (68′, for Powell) – 5/10 – Put in some dangerous crosses but couldn’t change the game.

SUB: Sergio Santos (75′, for Murphy) – 4/10 – Never got going.

SUB: Dom Badji (89′, for Moreno) – N/A

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