Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia 1-1 Columbus

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union

In a match that will be better remembered for chances spurned than those converted, Philadelphia Union earned their first ever point in Columbus with a 1-1 draw.

Despite ceding advantages in possession and territory to the Crew, the Union looked dangerous on the counterattack throughout. Jack McInerney’s third goal of the season handed the visitors the lead after Conor Casey, making his first start for the Union, had sent Danny Cruz away on the right flank to tee up the Union striker for the simplest of tap-ins.

But with the Union looking uncertain at the back, the Crew found there way into the match through Dominic Oduro, who buried a near post drive in the final quarter of an hour. With chances flowing in both directions, either side could have found a winner, but sloppy finishing prevailed and resulted in an equally deserved draw.

First Half

Following last weekend’s defeat at Red Bull Arena, John Hackworth made three changes to his midfield. Up front, Sebastien Le Toux made way for Casey to pair with McInerney, as the Union looked to offer a physical presence that could combat the size of the Crew backline, all of whom stand 6-2  or taller. In the midfield, Michael Farfan sat out due to injury, allowing Keon Daniel to return to the starting lineup in the center of the pitch. Brian Carroll and Danny Cruz kept their places in front of the typical back five, while Gabriel Farfan manned left midfield.

Despite playing their second consecutive match on the road, the Union looked the more eager side from the opening whistle. After Ray Gaddis’ cross forced a corner, the Union got their big bodies forward. On the second attempt, Amobi Okugo managed to rise highest amongst the Crew defenders, only to glance his header wide.

The pressure had Columbus scrambling again minutes later after Cruz charged down the clearance on a ball he had turned over. Showing excellent vision, Casey picked out Gabriel Farfan streaking in from the left, only to see the midfielder’s curling effort fly wide of Andy Gruenebaum’s far post. Eager to atone for his miss, Farfan nearly had McInerney in behind a minute later, but his pass eluded the striker by mere inches.

Much as they had done in the first half against Kansas City, the Union midfield and forwards held a high line, and another strong piece of play from Casey sent Cruz off to the races in the 12th minute. With McInerney and Farfan in perfect position to apply the finishing touch, Cruz mishit his effort, foregoing a simple pass in favor of a powerful cross which was well high and wide of either target.

Minutes later, Farfan pilfered possession in the attacking third before sending Casey away up the left wing. Seeing the curling run of McInerney, Casey delivered the cross only for his teammate to collide with Cruz, who was breaking into the box from the right.

As Columbus continued to struggle in the face of Union pressure, Daniel hustled Federico Higuain off the ball in midfield and sped the other way. Picking out McInerney to his right, Daniel slightly undercooked his pass, leaving McInerney to fish the ball out of his feet while the Crew defense recovered and blocked his shot.

With nothing to show for their 20 minutes of chances, the Union saw Columbus grow into the game. The home team nearly grabbed a lead of their own in the 24th when Oduro raced towards the Union endline, but Jeff Parke did enough to block Oduro’s first effort before Zac MacMath was able to grab hold of the second ball.

Unable to receive the ball up high, Higuain dropped deeper into the midfield where he began to find results. Sloppiness crept into the play of the Union midfield with Carroll and Daniel conceding possession in their own half as Columbus looked to ratchet up their own defensive pressure.

Farfan was called on to save the day as Higuain sent a teasing all into the Union box for Gaven. Fortunately the Union midfielder was wise to the pass, sliding in to get a toe to the ball ahead of Gaven.

Ben Speas had the next effort after Gaven sent Oduro galloping up the right wing. Williams did well to track the first runner, but Speas was allowed time at the top of the box to take three touches before blazing his shot over MacMath’s goal.

The Crew should have led after 32 minutes when a dangerous Higuain free kick resulted in chaos at the Union’s penalty spot. Out of the mass of bodies, the ball fell to Gaven who was alone facing MacMath, but the Union goalkeeper was fortunate to see the ball bounce just too high for the Crew winger to get a strike on the ball.

Despite seeing a reverse in momentum, the Union grabbed the match’s first goal minutes later. With his head up near the halfway line, Okugo spotted Casey with his back to goal. Feeling the contact at his back, the cagey veteran striker dummied the ball through to Cruz who had broken free of the offside trap. Andy Gruenebaum would not have been pleased to see three men racing in on him alone, and this time Cruz made no mistake, rolling the smart ball across the box to McInerney. With only Farfan, and no defender, for company, McInerney touched home his third of the year.

Columbus hit back quickly through Oduro, who pounced on an error from Carroll and Parke in midfield. Turning on the afterburners, the Ghanaian forward blew past both Gaddis and Okugo before firing his shot over the bar.

Yet, even as Columbus climbed back in the ascendancy, the Union continued to find holes in their rearguard. Casey should have doubled the advantage on 43 minutes when McInerney again sent Cruz through with a clean pair of heels. With the goal begging, Casey scuffed his shot wide after Cruz had picked him out, sending the Union into halftime with a 1-0 lead.

Second Half

Columbus manager, Robert Warzycha, was quick to adjust coming into the second half, bringing in Jairo Arrieta to add another offensive presence into his side. Content to sit back and absorb Columbus’ pressure, the Union’s defensive organization held the Crew at bay and the sides played the opening portion of the second half in midfield.

It was not until the 58th minute that the Crew managed to break down the Union, and it was only a sliced clearance from Okugo that allowed them to do so. It was Speas who pounced on the mistake, cutting in on his right foot from the left flank, only to see his shot sprayed well high and wide of the goal. Speas was at it again minutes later, but Okugo was on the scene to snuff out the shot.

In the 63rd minute, Columbus had a penalty shout waved away after Gaven went down under pressure from Parke. The Crew remonstrated to referee Matthew Foerster, but he was unmoved.

On the counter, the Union almost found an insurance goal through Sebastien Le Toux, who had replaced Casey minutes before. But after Columbus failed to deal with Daniel’s original cross, Le Toux could not keep his shot on target.

With the Union sagging deeper, Columbus was able to set up shop in the center of the park and Gaven rampaged through the center of the pitch before firing a drive in on MacMath. Next, a poorly struck clearance from Okugo found the the middle of the pitch devoid of any players in navy jerseys, but MacMath spared his teammates blushes by sprinting off his line to claim the ball at Oduro’s feet on the edge of his box.

It was one-way traffic with an equalizer appearing imminent, when in the 72nd minute, Oduro obliged. Racing in on the right, the speedster latched onto a probing ball from Gaven before lashing home a venomous drive to MacMath’s near post.

The Union had an opportunity to hit back straight away when Carroll laid the ball into McInerney’s path, but his chipped effort was weak and failed to trouble Gruenebaum.

The subsequent introduction of Antoine Hoppenot nearly split the match wide open, as often happens for the Union. Smart interplay between Michael Lahoud, who had entered for Cruz, and Le Toux set up Hoppenot for a drive from distance. The shot was well taken, but Gruenebaum’s save was better, as his  fingertips collaborated with the cross bar to deprive Hoppenot.

Minutes later, the crossbar became the Union’s ally when they were left ball-watching while Josh Williams stole in at the back post and sent his looping header careening off the bar. Arrieta had two chances  at the rebound, but failing to find his shot, flopped to the ground, where he was waved up by Foerster.

The Union quickly came back at Columbus when McInerney picked his mark’s pocket and headed to the endline. Despite finding Lahoud with a smart cutback, the Crew were able to scramble back in time to deflect the final shot wide. Columbus’ tiring defenders were proving easy pickings for Hoppenot who again scooted free in the 84th minute before laying off for Williams, whose cross was cut out.

Moments later Hoppenot tracked down Le Toux’s punt forward and after beating his man cut back for his fellow Frenchman, but again Columbus did enough to block the shot. If anyone was going to settle the tie, it appeared to be Hoppenot who raced passed Glauber into the box in the 94th minute, only to be cynically scythed down down by the Brazilian. Despite the late flurry of activity, the final ball did not present itself for the Union, who return home for a showdown with Toronto FC on Saturday, April 13.

Philadelphia Union

Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis; Danny Cruz (Michael Lahoud ’65), Brian Caroll, Keon Daniel, Gabriel Farfan (Antoine Hoppenot ’78); Conor Casey (Sebastien Le Toux ’62), Jack McInerney

Substitutes: Chris Konopka, Roger Torres, Kleberson, Leo Fernandes

Columbus Crew

Andy Gruenebaum; Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Glauber, Tyson Wahl; Eddie Gaven, Danny O’Rourke (Matias Sanchez ’76), Agustin Viana (Jairo Arrieta ’46), Ben Speas (Ethan Finlay ’85); Federico Higuain, Dominic Oduro

Substitutes: Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Kevan George, Ryan Finley

Scoring Summary
34 – PHI: McInerney (Cruz)
72 – CLB: Oduro (Gaven)

Discipline Summary
70 – PHI: Daniel (caution)
76 – CLB: Wahl (caution)
84 – PHI: Williams (caution)
86 – CLB: Higuain (caution)
90 – CLB: Sanchez (caution)
90 – CLB: Glauber (caution)

Matthew Foerster

Match Stats

Columbus Crew Philadelphia Union
10 Attempts on Goal 15
3 Shots on Target 5
5 Shots off Target 7
2 Blocked Shots 3
1 Corner Kicks 7
14 Fouls 12
13 Open Play Crosses 11
2 Offsides 3
4 First Yellow Cards 2
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
53 Duels Won 43
55% Duels Won % 45%
449 Total Pass 339
77% Passing Accuracy % 74%
56.6% Possession 43.4%


  1. Jaap Staam says:

    Very exciting game. Nail biter! I’ll take the road point and 5th place thanks! Cruz had his best game. Casey’s pass was beautiful. Hoppenot was awesome. Hack now has some tools to work (win) with. No more excuses. Where will Kleberson play on the pitch? Where exactly will he line up? I assume in front of BC?

  2. This was a game that either team could have won lost or drew.

    If I were Saoumare’s agent I would be calling up Columbus because those dudes were like statues out there.

  3. Most exciting union game I’ve seen in a while!! Casey was good, best games of the season for Daniel and Cruz. Either side could have had a number of goals. So which miss was worse, Casey’s or le Toux’s in the opener?

    • Le Toux’s in the home opener. SLT had a complete sitter at his feet on a great ball from Williams [I think]. For Casey, maybe he though Cruz was going to take, and he had Chad Marshall screening him. BUT he still should have popped it in.

  4. Daniels yellow card had to be the stupidest play I’ve ever scene.

    • It was absolutely Hartnellesque in its bafflingness

    • It seemed like, at about the 70th minute, Hackworth substituted Gallant Keon for Goofus Keon. I thought Daniels was having a great game, but he kinda fell apart at the end.

  5. The Black Hand says:

    Big point! MacMath…sheesh! It was more difficult to not make that save.

    • Ah, the sunday morning GK, the best kind!

    • JediLos117 says:

      He was definitely reading cross.
      Im more concerned about the comprehensive defensive collapse that led to the goal.
      G. Farfan easily disposed. Ball falls to Gavin and three Union defenders go to Gavin including Parke. Okugo fails to recognize Parke’s movement and stays central. Carroll is then left to cover Higuain, Speas and Orduro.
      Overall, it definitely was our best performance of the year.
      Casey and McInerney partnership was great, much better than I thought would be.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Defensive breakdown was rough. MacMath should have made the stop though. At least we came out with a point!

    • Yeah, (not that he is gods word or anything) but even Ives tweeted after the goal that Parke was at fault for the goal.

      • Goal in my opinion definitely rests on Parker’s shoulders. This mistake happens early in a season but still with his ability and experience you can’t let oduro have it that easy. Mad math was caught flat footed as he had to guess cross or shot and guessed wrong. It happens.

  6. Hoppenot needs to become sub #1. He was fantastic! Has improved considerably since last year.

    • Love him as a sub. He changes the game. I believe he is better as a sub as he seems to learn from his 65-70 minutes on the bench what will work and then takes it to the other team full tilt.

  7. I’m not blaming MacMath for the goal, per se, but it would nice to see him keep a clean sheet and win a game for the team.

    • It would be nice to see him stop falling backward every time someone takes a shot. He gives himself no chance for a save when he does that.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Exactly! The fall back save attempt is garbage. He should have played the near post and made himself bigger. Two points left in Columbus. We need him to step up and steal a game…for once.

    • Exactly. The best goalies make tough saves, and MacMath just can’t seem to do that.

      • I agree though he is young and should improve. This is why he isn’t in the premier league or serie A. If he was that good he certainly wouldn’t be suiting up for us as those kinds of keepers grow up to be Tim Howard or Brad Guzman.

      • Wait didn’t both start in MLS yes yes they did..

      • Agreed but when they started showing that talent they moved on which was my point. If you have a show stopper or game changer like everyone refers to wanting macmath to be they move on up. Sometimes having a good serviceable player is better than 8 months of a show stopper. We are a league who can’t afford the best right now and goalkeeping is always a sought after position so I guess my point was watch what you ask for you may get it.

      • Actually I want to see MacMath figure it all out and become that superstar game changer for a season. Then we can cash in on him, get one of those serviceable vets that are a dime a dozen, and spend the money on a hard-to-fill position.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Lot of good keepers in the MLS. I’m not looking for a world class goalkeeper. Just one that shows a progression in positioning and technique. Poor choice on reading the play and an even worse save attempt. He fell back, made himself smaller and avoided getting hit with the ball, For teams to succeed, they need to have a keeper that can steal them one. We have Zac.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    Please play LeToux in place of Cruz next week. I know he set up the goal, but he is no impressive at all.

  9. Southside Johnny says:

    Way better overall with some pretty decent ball movement and midfield interaction. Hell, there were moments where I saw the kind of chemistry and teamwork I’ve been praying for. Better or really good performances from everybody, I think, except Le2, BC and Zack not so much. I can see the lads scoring a bunch of goals this year. I’m actually letting myself get excited again. I’ll take a promising point like this any day.

    • The Black Hand says:

      We did go to a tough away match and come out with a point. Definitely, improved play from the Union.

  10. I thought the forward partnership was excellent, though Casey should have buried his chance. Shockingly the U actually looked dangerous on the counter, which is something that can’t be said for much of their history. I’m hoping for next week Hack takes out Cruz for Marfan (though I assume Cruz will just end up playing over Garfan) and play Kleberson in one of the CM spots.

    • They looked good but I would like to see that counter look good against a defense capable of actual human movement.

    • If Marfan is still injured I wouldn’t mind seeing Le2 play on that wing instead, I know its not his preferred position, and I’m not trying to dog Cruz, I just see him being way more affective as a sub, I think Le2 would have given the same work rate over there with better play.

      • Definitely would like to see seba instead of Cruz. For me seba brings the set play and corner skills plus can go 90 all out which Cruz really can’t do. Also seba can draw defenders out wide to give Mack and Casey more space inside.

      • I just don’t know if he has the touch to play in the midfield. And I don’t think he has much ability to beat players off the dribble. It’s a shame because he’s a good guy but he just isn’t the best fit for the team right now.

  11. Jason Kolodziejski says:

    I think Zack could of made that save. But, overall I thought Zack had one of his best games this season. Pretty solid overall.

    Cruz works hard in hockey he would be the perfect grinder, but his touch and technical skills are really bad. Overall, I thought his game was bad. We need to replace him.

    I’m not a fan of Le2 either. Never was…

    Casey showed some rust, but he is the perfect match for JackMack.

    BTW, Our captain is bleh…

  12. Anyone else like Moreno calling himself out for diving when he played for the Union?

    • If there was one area the Union did upgrade in the offseason, it was color analyst. Really like Moreno not being afraid to criticize the play when necessary.

    • Did you hear him and Taylor Twellman get into it about that during the USMNT game in Colorado? Must have been awfully uncomfortable for the play-by-play guy. Moreno handled himself quite well.

  13. The Black Hand says:

    Hoppenot has shown well, when called upon. CAM?

    • He isn’t there yet. I can’t think of a game where he has started where he looked good.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      I’ve been thinking about him as a winger since he came back this year with improvement in his vision, touch and passing accuracy. Not sure on the other side of the ball, but I could see him as a Cruz type with better offensive skills. His starts haven’t been great, but he hasn’t had many either. I agree he is becoming a different player and is outgrowing his college boots relatively quickly unlike Hoffman, for instance.

  14. The 2012 Union would have lost this match for sure, although it’s also true that Columbus looked awful at times.

  15. The 2011 to 2012 transition really left me bitter about the Union. However, I’m starting to believe in this team. Well, parts of this team anyway. Cruz’s touch on that earlier break away, “high and wide”? More like in orbit. I wouldn’t pick him for my kickball team. I was praying he’d pass it.

    I’m not sure why Kleberson couldn’t crack that midfield, with either Daniel or Cruz making way, or being the sub that brought Lahoud in.

    We got the point, but if Columbus could finish we could have given up a few goals. Gaddis keeps gambling with his speed and when he’s really out of position it’s dangerous. The schedule with TFC home, DCU and NER away looks like a 2-1 or 1-1-1 rest of April. We could still be alive by May, bodes well for the rest of the season.

    • Honestly I think we have the talent to bag 9 points from those games. DCU has looked really shaky and I’ve never been very impressed with their backline. TFC has shown spurts, but they are very inconsistent. And Earnshaw has scored 3 of his goals off of bad back passes from the other teams’ center backs, which Parke and Okugo haven’t looked very shaky on. And NE while boasting a highly skilled midfield doesn’t have much after that.
      But, as we have shown against Columbus and NYRB, we may not possess the mental fortitude to gain even 3 points from these games. I think this shows the depth that the conference has this season.

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