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Match report: Columbus 3-2 Philadelphia

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Despite a gritty comeback from two goals down, the Philadelphia Union left Columbus with a 3-2 loss to the Crew.

A draw had seemed in the cards after goals from Danny Cruz and Jack McInerney brought the Union back level, but Columbus grabbed all three points in the 87th minute when Milovan Mirosevic pounded home the winner from a clearly offside position.

The Union looked the sharper side for the majority of the first half, but two late mistakes from Amobi Okugo allowed Jairo Arrieta to grab a brace before the break.

Antoine Hoppenot’s introduction in the 57th minute opened up Columbus’ defense, and when he was pulled down by goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum in the box, Cruz stepped up to dispatch the penalty. Jack McInerney completed the comeback in the 86th, tucking in a Roger Torres cross to even the match at 2-2.

With the Union struggling to clear their lines, a sliding ball into an offside Mirosevic sent the midfielder in alone, where he finished to condemn the Union to an unfortunate defeat.

First half

With Freddy Adu out with an injury following his two-goal performance against Houston, John Hackworth elected not to replace him up front, dropping his team into a more conservative 4-5-1. Gabriel Farfan took Adu’s place in the starting XI and ran the left touchline, opposite Cruz. Josue Martinez earned his second consecutive start but was ran up front alone, with Michael Farfan pulling the strings from the center of midfield.

Columbus had the better of the early exchanges, with Federico Higuain slipping in behind the Union’s high line of defense, forcing Zac MacMath into a sliding challenge outside of his box.

Injuries to Arrieta and Higuian slowed the run of play, and the Union struggled to maintain possession through the opening quarter of the match. Columbus nearly scored on 22 minutes when Arrieta knifed into the Union box. Ray Gaddis’ sliding tackle failed to clear the danger and with MacMath stranded out of his box, the Union defense did well to clear the danger.

One bright spot was the play of Michael Farfan, who was comfortably spraying the ball around, though his teammates—first Brian Carroll, then Michael Lahoud and Cruz—were unable to convert on the opportunities with which they were presented.

Martinez was at the heart of the Union’s first dangerous chance when he dropped into midfield to receive the ball before putting Cruz into space. Spotting the hard-charging Gabriel Farfan flying into the box, Cruz’s cross was just intercepted by Greunebaum before it could reach his desired target.

Cruz’s work rate continued to impress and he set the table for Michael Farfan with a cross from the endline. Effortlessly moving through defenders, Farfan was unlucky to see his shot blocked at the final moment.

With the Union looking the more threatening side, Michael Farfan nearly picked out his brother for the opener, but Sebastian Miranda’s sliding challenge got just enough of the ball to play it back to his keeper, who hacked clear.

Nearing the halftime whistle, the normally stout Okugo made a mistake at the back, gifting Columbus the opener. Mistiming Miranda’s cross, the ball sailed over the Union defender’s head. Settling with his chest, Arrieta quickly lashed passed a helpless MacMath to open the scoring.

Okugo’s frustration immediately showed on the other end when he went crashing in on Gruenebaum, earning himself a yellow card for his rash, high-armed challenge.

Things would only get worse in stoppage time. Put off by a slight bump from Arrieta, Okugo fanned on his attempted clearance. Collecting the ball at the top of the box, Arrieta walked through Gaddis’ tackle before sliding his shot past MacMath for the second time in mere minutes.

Second half

Stunned and clearly frustrated by their sudden two goal deficit, the Union looked to pull a goal back early in the second half. Cruz nearly accomplished the feat for his side in the 49th minute. Receiving a long crossing ball from Sheanon Williams, Cruz cut onto his left foot. Beating Josh Williams, his effort fizzed just over Gruenebaum’s crossbar.

Having seen enough from the ineffective Martinez, Hackworth brought on Hoppenot to inject pace and energy into the visitors. And Hoppenot repaid his manager, racing into the action and forcing Danny O’Rourke into a late challenge, earning the Crew’s enforcer a yellow card.

Columbus nearly grabbed a three goal lead however, and it was Arrieta again the danger man when the sagging Union defense offered up a clean look at goal. MacMath got down well though, blocking the shot at full stretch before gathering Birchall’s headed follow up.

At the other end, Hoppenot continued to cause problems and when Michael Lahoud sent him in on Gruenebaum, the electric substitute touched the ball around the keeper before being hauled down. It was a clear penalty and Gruenebaum was fortunate to escape with only a caution. Confidently dispatching the penalty kick, Cruz did not celebrate, racing back to half so the match could be restarted.

Fully committed to the attack, Michael Farfan had his redirected effort denied by Gruenebaum before substitute Jack McInerney’s low shot was straight at the keeper. Struggling under the pressure, Columbus looked to have conceded a second penalty when Julius James bundled down Hoppenot from behind, but referee Matthew Foerster’s whistle remained silent.

Still pushing for an equalizer, McInerney latched onto Cruz’s cross, only to see his header loop over the bar. With all numbers going to the attack, MacMath did well to keep Columbus’ lead at only one goal when substitute Emilio Renteria chested the ball into the path of Eddie Gaven. Firing to the far post, the Union keeper reacted quickly, pushing the ball away at full stretch.

With only four minutes left to play before stoppage time, the Union completed their fightback. Seeing McInerney ghosting in behind Chad Marshall, substitute Roger Torres’ deflected service turned out to be inch perfect. Stabbing the ball out of the air and inside of Gruenebaum’s near post, McInerney leveled the match at 2-2, with time for the Union to push for the winner.

It was not to be, however, and Columbus regained the lead a minute later under controversial circumstances. After Sheanon Williams cut off Mirosevic’s driving run, Valdes looked to clear from the top of the Union box. Sliding in to block the clearance, Josh Williams pushed the ball into Mirosevic’s feet. Having failed to recover from his run, the Crew midfielder was in an offside position, yet when he turned and finished past MacMath, the assistant referee’s flag stayed down, despite the Union’s protests.

Frantic to find a second equalizer, the Union again pressed forward, but in stoppage time, Renteria had the best chances, though MacMath continued his sharp goalkeeping, denying him on both occasions.

The Union will have little time to dwell on the result as they travel to Chicago for a midweek fixture against the Fire on Wednesday (8:30pm, TCN).






Attempts on goal



Shots on target



Shots off target















Total passes



Passing accuracy



Yellow cards



Red cards



Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Willams; Danny Cruz (Roger Torres ’81), Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Gabriel Farfan (Jack McInerney ’66); Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot ’57)
Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Chandler Hoffman, Gabriel Gomez, Chris Albright
Columbus Crew
Andy Gruenebaum; Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James (Eric Gehrig ’80), Josh Williams; Eddie Gaven (Justin Meram ‘87), Milovan Mirosevic, Chris Birchall, Danny O’Rourke; Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta (Emilio Renteria ’66)
Unused substitutes: Olman Vargas, Tony Tchani, Nemanja Vukovic, Matt Lampson

Scoring Summary
44 – CLB: Arrieta (Miranda)
45 – CLB: Arrieta (Gruenebaum)
65 – PHI: Cruz (PK)
86 – PHI: McInerney (Torres)
87 – CLB: Mirosevic (Williams)

Discipline Summary
45 – PHI: Okugo (caution)
61 – CLB: O’Rourke (caution)
64 – CLB: Gruenebaum (caution)


Matthew Foerster



  1. Torres injected something different to the offense, but I wouldn’t call his assist to J-Mac “inch perfect” as it took a slight deflection off a Crew defender … unless that was intentional on his part. 😉

  2. memememememe says:

    s. Williams caused the 3rd goal by hitting a poor clearance 2 yards up the middle of pitch right into attacker…

  3. great game from cruz, best player on the union last night. okugo and williams not so much.

  4. watching the crew defender pop his shoulder back into place was certainly a highlight of the game for me.

    • I absolutely agree. And he needed to do it again a few minutes later, on the field. That is a rotator cuff that will need some orthopedic work.

  5. No highlight video? Too soon?

  6. Philly Cheese says:

    When has one striker up front been effective for Union? I know we want to try a lot of different looks in the last few games, but the “let’s go defensive and try for one point” first half is not one I like to see. No SOG in first half should prove to Hack that this team needs two up top to generate an offense.

    • What this team needs up top are DPs.

      • DP ≠ automatic scoring threat

      • James "4-3-3" Forever says:

        Thank you! Simply going into the offseason with a “We need a DP!!!” mantra is dangerous. We are just as likely to end up like DC (2 DPs on the bench) or Portland/Vancouver (two ineffectual brand new DPs) than a team like Columbus with Hiquain.
        This is a problem with the MLS. It shouldn’t be “We need a DP!!!”, it should be “We need a striker, so lets make a calculated, careful decision based on scouting and research and attempt to find a perfect striker for our team on and off the field. And if it just so happens he will command a ton of money, he can become our DP too.”

      • I think the we need a striker mantra is the correct one. Looking at this team we do not have a striker. not one who fits the definition. You could put my name up top and call me a striker but it doesn’t make it so. How can we have so much youth and potential talent but no strikers.
        I would like to point out one thing my 5 year old son said to me about marfan. in response to marfans drive into the box where he just kept dribbling in the first half and eventuallya allowed the defense to shut him down he says “when the window opened why didn’t he shoot it. Ronaldo would have had a go Right daddy” then the next day we are watching tottenham and bale has an almost identical play where he touches it around the first defender and rips it far post and he says “see daddy why doesn’t the union shoot like that” I felt like why can my 5 year old sees this and the mangerial staff can’t.

    • good luck

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