Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 Columbus Crew

Photo: Michael Long

In a battle of mid-table Eastern Conference foes, Philadelphia Union rode three goals scored in a six-minute first-half span to a 3-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

After a tough Canadian road trip in which they came away with a solitary point, the Union blitzed an under-strength Crew side, as Brian Carroll, Sheanon Williams and Conor Casey all got on the board for the hosts.

Pressing from the opening whistle, Carroll struck first when his deflected shot wrong-footed Andy Gruenebaum in the 25th minute. A set piece goal doubled the lead in the 29th minute when Williams volleyed home at the back post following Carroll’s flick-on of a Sebastien Le Toux corner. Casey wrapped up the scoring flurry on 31 minutes when he drove to the near post, latching onto another Le Toux delivery with a powerful, diving header.

First half

With Kleberson unfit to participate following his hamstring injury in Toronto, Keon Daniel partnered with Carroll in the center of midfield. Out wide, the aggressive pair of Danny Cruz and Le Toux pushed forward to support Jack McInerney and Casey.

From the opening whistle, the Union were eager to test Columbus’ makeshift back line, with the Crew missing both Chad Marshall and Josh Williams to injury. They nearly grabbed an early lead on a quick counter attack. Union keeper Zac MacMath began the play, sending Le Toux off downfield. The Frenchman delivered a tantalizing through ball to a streaking Cruz, but the midfielder’s touch let him down and he was unable to trouble Andy Gruenebaum.

Cruz had another chance to grab the opener minutes later when Casey played him into the box, only for the midfielder to lose his footing.

With Columbus stagnant through the midfield, the Union continued to attack with quick, smart movements. McInerney had the next chance when he controlled Casey’s cross on his chest before volleying into Gruenebaum, who was untroubled by the effort.

The Union remained on the front foot, with Columbus grasping at the few scraps left by the host’s well-organized defense. When MacMath spilled Oduro’s 21st minute drive, Columbus had a brief glimpse at an opener against the run of play, but MacMath quickly scrambled to stifle the visitor’s hopes.

In the 25th minute, the Union’s high pressure helped them draw first blood.

Stepping into the passing lane, Carroll picked off an outlet pass and drove toward goal, beating his defender to cut onto his right foot and then deliver a low shot at the near post. Fortunately for Carroll and the Union, Eric Gehrig’s attempted block could only redirect the drive, which deflected past a helpless Gruenebaum and into the net.

It was a deserved opener, and the Union kept coming.

Minutes later, McInerney raced to the endline to win a corner. On Le Toux’s delivery, Carroll again proved vital. Rising highest, he got his head ton the ball to flick it to the back post where an unmarked Sheanon Williams acrobatically side-volleyed home, doubling the Union’s advantage.

The Crew were stunned, but the Union had not finished their onslaught. Two minutes later, the home side struck again.

Racing up the right flank, Le Toux challenged Tyson Wahl for a bouncing ball. Le Toux got the first touch and took off towards the end line. With Gehrig distracted by McInerney’s far post run, Casey seized the initiative. Thundering towards the near post, he met Le Toux’s low cross with a vicious diving header, leaving Gruenebaum little to do aside from plucking the ball out his own net.

Lacking the leadership of Marshall or Eddie Gaven, the Crew looked paralyzed by the speed with which the Union had struck.

McInerney nearly got in on the fun with an almost carbon copy of Casey’s goal when subsequent quick interplay between Daniel and Williams saw Le Toux again bursting free up the touch line to deliver a cross. This time, McInerney took the near post run and, were it not for a last-ditch sliding intervention from Chad Barson, the Union would have gone to the halftime break with a four-goal cushion.

Second half

Eager to stop the bleeding, Columbus manager Robert Warzycha removed the oft-victimized Tyson Wahl and Ben Speas, inserting Kevan George at the back and Aaron Schoenfeld as an extra attacking option.

It did not matter, though, as the Union again stormed out of the gates.

As he had been in the first half, Le Toux proved the catalyst, cutting a square ball across the top of the box. With time and space to shoot, Cruz’s first touch let him down and he could only just push the ball along to an onrushing McInerney. Gruenebaum proved equal to the striker’s quick shot, and Columbus reached the rebound before Cruz could pounce on the trailing run.

On the rare occasion when Columbus found a window to attack, they were forced to settle for shots from distance. After dealing well with the threat of Dominic Oduro in the first half, Jeff Parke and Amobi Okugo brought their line even higher up the pitch in the second. Under defensive pressure as soon as they entered the final third, Oduro and Matias Sanchez produced sliced, off-target efforts that were the best the Crew could manage against a resolute Union defense.

With the Union comfortably in the lead, Columbus was finding more of the ball, and when Oduro fought to the endline in the 61st minute, alarm bells began to ring for the Union faithful. Fortunately for the hosts, Okugo’s vital sliding tackle beat away the initial cut back before Parke got in the way of two follow-up efforts.

On a night when Carroll grabbed his first league goal of the season, Parke nearly joined him on the score sheet in the 73rd minute. It was not to be, however, as Parke pushed his effort just wide of the near post after an unconvincing headed clearance from Columbus fell to his feet.

With time winding down and the scoreline no longer in doubt, Hackworth used his final two subs to give Roger Torres a brief run out and hand Aaron Wheeler his MLS debut. Both nearly grabbed assists following their entry.

First, Torres played in substitute Antoine Hoppenot. Cutting back to find a teammate, Hoppenot failed to spot the run of Daniel, who was on hand for the simplest of finishes. Moments later, Wheeler picked out McInerney racing up the right flank, but with only the keeper to beat, the Union’s top scorer flashed his shot of the far post.

The Union can take the momentum of this result into the break, with friendlies against Reading United and Harrisburg City Islanders sandwiched around a US Open Cup showdown against DC United at the Maryland SoccerPlex on June 12.  New York Red Bulls are next up on the MLS calendar for a nationally televised match on ESPN on June 23.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis; Danny Cruz (Roger Torres ’82), Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Sebastien Le Toux (Aaron Wheeler ’90); Jack McInerney, Conor Casey (Antoine Hoppenot ’71)
Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Michael Farfan, Leo Fernandes

Columbus Crew
Andy Gruenebaum; Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Glauber, Tyson Wahl (Kevan George ’46); Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor ’76), Matias Sanchez, Tony Tchani, Ben Speas (Aaron Schoenfeld ’46); Dominic Oduro, Federico Higuain
Unused substitutes: Matt Lampson, Danny O’Rourke, Ethan Finlay, Konrad Warzycha

Scoring Summary
25 – PHI: Carroll
29 – PHI: Williams (Carroll, Le Toux)
31 – PHI: Casey (Le Toux)

Discipline Summary
59 – PHI: Gaddis (caution)
75 – CLB: Tchani (caution)

Referee: Silviu Petrescu

Philadelphia Union Columbus Crew
11 Attempts on Goal 19
7 Shots on Target 4
3 Shots off Target 9
1 Blocked Shots 6
4 Corner Kicks 5
10 Fouls 13
12 Open Play Crosses 12
3 Offsides 0
1 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
55 Duels Won 50
52% Duels Won % 47%
384 Total Pass 461
76% Passing Accuracy % 77%
45.7% Possession 54.3%


  1. Columbus really took 19 shots on goal? Is there anywhere to find out how many were outside the box. Seemed like most of there shots were just in frustration.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Go to the Opta chalkboard in the Match Center for the game at MLSsoccer.com. 15 of Columbus’ shots were from outside of the box (or right on the edge of the box)
      On Target: 4 were outside
      Off Target: 6 of 9 were outside
      Blocked: 5 of 6 were outside
      Click here to see the diagram of shots

  2. That was fun!

  3. T of the U says:

    I’ve been rather silent this year in the comments…but I had to chime in and commend Keon on a return to form in this game. Controlled the center of the pitch with Carrol, made positive attacking passes and runs…overall he looked very good and the teams improvement mirrored his good play.
    The rest of the team had a spring in their step last night…almost like they were excited for the “break” and wanted that 3 points real bad. All be it, against a rather disjointed Columbus team with the make-shift defense.
    Congrats to the U on a great win!

    • Great One says:

      Are you joking? Keon was horrible. Carroll had an amazing game last night, he stepped up and played both positions.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Daniel played a strong game in maintaining possession of the ball. His distribution was also effective, especially in playing a 2-touch pass system.

      • Great One says:

        Daniel isn’t a DM of holding mid, he’s a CAM (supposedly). I don’t care if he maintains possession as much. BTW we lost the possession battle.

      • Jim Presti says:

        it was a 5% swing.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Keon played one of his best games of the year, if not his best. Very good points, T.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Great team effort last night. Too bad Jack couldn’t give Aaron his first assist…

    The one criticism I have of Hackworth was that he should have taken Casey out earlier (possibly at halftime and definitely no later than the 60th minute). With Casey one yellow card away from suspension and the scoreline as it was, there was no need to risk him doing something silly. But all’s well that end’s well and I believe he’s now two away thanks to the good behaviour incentive.

    • The one criticism I have of Hackworth is he can’t put a game plan together without Danny Cruz in the starting line up.

  5. Wheeler’s pass was more exquisite than anything Cruz has done since his two goal game.

  6. I’ve been complaining all year…. they looked good last night, even the usual whipping boys. My intersting (to me anyway)observation is that we have 2 wins in the 2 games that Cruz has started on the left.

  7. I hope this is a turning point.
    I hope they can do this twice.
    I hope they can play this way against the good teams.
    I hope they actually play Torres insteaad of putting him in a blowout just to placate fans,
    I hope the team doesn’t use this as an excuse to not make the changes promised and decides good enough is good enough.

    I have seen way more bad soccer than good out of this team to think this is any indication of a turnaround.

    But yea… Good Game.

    side note my pessimism is UNSTOPPABLE!

  8. George H says:

    Great performance last night in all aspects. Really loved how Carroll stepped forward aggressively on his goal. Picked up the loose ball and took advantage of the space.

    The team really responded well, especially after the recent poor performances and the subsequent criticism.
    It felt so odd to be up three within the first 30 minutes. Really was such a strange feeling since it’s so rare.

    Even when Columbus came out aggressively to start the 2nd half, we managed the game well and continued to attack when the opportunity presented itself. What a great night!

  9. Great One says:

    Just some observations from notes I make while watching the games.
    – Carroll (who I admit I usually am hard on) had an amazing game last night. I think there was only maybe one time where he was too far off of a guy, otherwise he swept up everything and even came into the attack to cover for the horrible Keon.
    – Having Casey in the game changes everything, he makes Jack and Le Toux play better, and even gives Cruz more space, very glad to see him starting again.
    – Le Toux…wow, where did this midfield play come from. Talk about service, awesome game in that regard, and he also did his normal sprinting around to cover.
    – Parke specifically, but Okugo, Gaddis and the whole back line really had almost perfect positioning, I was glad to see them return to form.
    – Macmath might have had his best game in distribution last night, a good surprise.
    – Keon Daniel, what else is there to say? With the exception of maybe a couple passes he was just plain awful. Carroll routinely had to do both of their jobs. He looks slow to every ball, and disinterested in making a play. I counted at least 3 different times where he shied away from going into a header or a tackle. He is just not in the slightest a CAM and I don’t think he should play in the middle. The problem is that he has no interest in making runs so he can’t play on the outside either. Get him out, period.
    – Cruz is almost embarrassing at this point. I slapped my head like 5 times watching him fall, shoot off target, or receive a ball and have it go 50 feet off his body. You can’t question the guys hustle and speed and the positions he gets into, but I just don’t think you can have a guy who kills plays like that out there, especially with Horrible Keon. It doesn’t matter if you’re next to the goal or you’re going to miss hit the next ball.
    – The mids have to work on coming back for the ball a little, there were a few times the defense or Carroll looked for someone to pass to and were found wanting.
    – ROGER TORRES. Looked good for the 10 mins and made more dangerous plays than Keon did in 80 mins. Glad to so Wheeler get in as well, these guys both played well in the preseason.
    Odss and Ends: Why not make some subs sooner? The pitch looked awful last night, everyone was falling all over the place, thanks Rugby. Man Moreno is SUCH an upgrade from last year, I can’t even believe we had Rigby all season, really like the commentating now.
    Great win boys! Now get some of these guys some rest.

    • Great One says:

      Also, aside from a couple misses and a little petulance, and the one time he couldn’t hold his run, I thought Jack had a decent all around game last night.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        +1. It was obvious early on that Jack just wasn’t going to be able to buy a goal. However, once the team was up, he more than made up for it by dropping into the midfield and providing some defensive help when he was no longer needed as a pure striker. It was amusing to notice that there were a couple of times when he was running around behind Brian Carroll.

    • George H says:

      Agreed, Carroll had a great match. He was always in the right place at the right time. At times, it really seemed like Columbus was passing the ball directly to him.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      Although I had been consistently disgusted with Keon’s play this year, I think this game and even last he has pretty much returned to good form…for the player he is. He was more aggressive, stronger on the ball, passed better, defended better, saw and acted on attacking options, had better positioning, and hustled every minute. Danny was the weaker link. He contributes, I know, but on a night with some pretty darn nice midfield work for this team, his touches stuck out badly.

      • I’ve been killing Keon all year,but I agree that Keon played well.

      • Great One says:

        If this is Keon’s “Good” game, then we have no hope this year. Or at the very least he and Cruz can’t be on the field together. We can’t expect Carroll to be a hero every game.

      • scottymac says:

        That was Keon’s best game in a year, but merely rose to mediocre.

        Cruz literally fell over on two separate breakaways. One it looked as if he tripped over the line. I’m not sure how anyone could think he played well. You can almost see a few times where Casey has an opportunity to lay a ball off for Cruz and decides against, because, you know, he’d boot it over the touch line, down the tunnel and into the hot dog stand.He reminds me of Spaz in Meatballs during the basketball game, just arms all over and dribbling it off his foot.

    • Great One, Your comments are spot on, agree 100%.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Both Keon and Cruz had decent games last night.

      • Agreed, though Cruz really needs some new shoes. Daniel finally looked like he was on the same page as the rest of the team.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        I would say decent+ and decent- , respectively.

  10. The Duke says:

    Over the past few games it seems like the most success comes from the following sequence:

    Get possession, get the ball forward to B.Carroll, get the ball to Le Toux (the next part is important) in a position where he can quickly play the next ball without having to make a run, play ball into a striker.

    I say this to point out two things: 1) We create much better chances when we completely skip Cruz and Daniel. and 2) Le Toux is very good with his head up, taking minimal touches, and playing people in immediately. But not so good when he has to make a run with the ball at his feet.

  11. I think its time that Hackworth admits we are a counter attacking team. All of our best sequences came off of quick strikes after turnovers. It might not be caleb porter pretty but it gets us goals and wins.

  12. Southside Johnny says:

    Is it not clear how much better we are with Casey, Mac and Le2 on the field? They are a nightmare for defenders if we can get this kind of play behind them. There should be plenty of scoring chances for everybody down the road.

    • I say go all in. Put Torres out there to give em the ball. Winning games 3-2 is more fun to watch tying 1-1 in a Philly Tough style.

    • The Black Hand says:

      They seemed to be rotating their forwards, with one playing at the LM. I think that hurt McInerney’s contributions. If they can iron that out, I think we should start them in a 4-3-3.

  13. This may just be because I don’t think he is any good and should never play again…but it almost looked like at times players were purposely avoiding passing the ball to Cruz. I saw several instances where he was wide open on the left or made a run into space and whoever had the ball chose to flat out ignore him. Seems to me everyone has lost faith in him and for good reason.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I saw Cruz make a couple of nice moves, stretching the width of the pitch and opening up Columbus’ back line. His cement footed touch, which botched his break on goal, was rough but he did make some things happen. He even came back to give Gaddis some support. I didn’t see Cruz, or Daniel for that matter, as a week spot.

      • Sorry hand but Cruz has the worst touch in the league. He was in a position to either score or set up multiple goals last night and he failed every time. We can’t have him in there wasting those chances.


        I don’t think its coincidence that the only goals scored were set up on the opposite side of the field that Cruz was on.

    • I really hope that’s just you. If a player really does show that lack of faith in a teammate at the professional level, they have no business playing a team sport.

      • Not true. If you know your teammate won’t get it done then you will do your best to avoid them. It speaks more to Cruz being terrible than anyone else being a bad teammate.

      • You can’t win a team sport if you don’t trust your teammates, is all I’m saying. Especially a team with middle-of-the-pack talent like the Union. If Cruz really was not getting as many touches, I have to hope that is was for more positive reasons. Like going with the ‘hot hand’ in le Toux. Or the simple fact that *everyone* was open on some of those plays.

  14. The Black Hand says:

    Best match of the year. Team looked strong on all fronts. Their form tapered off a bit in the second half but, overall, the club looked composed. We are a true Jekyll and Hyde.

  15. Not sucking so much. And Columbus are not a bad team at all.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      Columbus is a 100% a bad team without Marshall, Gaven, Arrieta and Williams. Still a pretty darn good win.

      • Last night, it looked like Higuain and Oduro were good players without much support.

      • I thought Oduro checked out pretty early on in the game. At one point, he got outrun to a ball by Parke.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Gaven and Marshall are the emotional leaders of the Crew, in addition to be excellent players. Once the Union punched them in the mouth, they lacked the character to fight back.

    • Jaap Stam says:


  16. scottymac says:

    Very good games from Casey, LeToux, Carroll.

    Sheanon was lucky to not get carded for throwing that shoulder. His play gets chippy.

    The only real issue last night, with the game very firmly in hand (yeah, even for this team), the subs were about 15 mins too late. Might as well have run out guys a little sooner. I cringed everytime Jack or SLT went down later with a foul. No reason for them to be on the pitch at all after the 65th.

  17. neck label says:


  18. JediLos117 says:

    Brian Carroll sucks.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Only people who read this site religiously will appreciate the subtle, deadpan humor in this. Fortunately, I do, and I find it hilarious, Los. You’re right: He had a monster game.

    • Great One says:

      I think people are allowed to say when someone both plays poorly and spectacularly, as Carroll did last night.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Yeah, but that’s not what he’s saying. 😉 I’ll let him speak for himself and simply appreciate the humor.

    • The Black Hand says:

      At least you can finally admit it, Los.

  19. Dan Walsh says:

    That was the most impressive collection of goals I’ve ever seen scored in a Union game. All three were flat out spectacular for one reason or another. Maybe less so on Carroll’s, but whatever. Those other two are Goal of the Week quality. Carroll’s might be too.

    • Heck Williams goal made ESPN top 10

      • Steve, is this available on on the web? I brought a neighbor (big Philly sports fan but not soccer) and would be great to share it with him.

      • It’s about time this team came together and played some half decent soccer. I think after their performance last game Hack reemed them out. Let’s hope they keep this level of play going. Farfan my need to stay out for a couple games and at least give Torres a shot out there. He seems far better at creating some offense than what Marfan has showed us this season. I still think Keon stinks but he did play much better than he usually does. LeToux is becoming a very good set up man with some beautiful crosses.

      • K2-

        I think it was linked in the news roundup this morning.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      I’m with you, but I’m pretty sure Williams could have headed that ball a lot more easily than with the Bruce Lee move, no?

  20. Black Hand – Cruz is attrocious. He blows chance after chance for us. His “philly toughness” is not a tangible attribute, making it totally subjective. I find it to be disrespectful that Hack thinks we don’t know a turd when we see one.

    • Watching Cruz at the game last night he does hustle and sprints the ball upfield but then he does the same move all the time and looses the ball! Get him some new shoes is right! Although they wet the damn field right before the game. Anyone know the reasoning behind that? They do it in europe too. Say what you want but he works his but off out there.

      • I’m sure you work hard at your job too, but I doubt you’d keep it if you never produced anything. I get the brace he had a few weeks ago, but he’s had more chances than jack mack.

      • Can’t argue with that.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I am in no way saying that Cruz is a gifted player. His feet are chiseled from the hardest of stone. If he had the slightest amount of a finisher’s blood in him, he would be leading the MLS in goal scoring and it wouldn’t even be close. That all said, I do see value in Cruz. He is (A) one of our only viable options on the outside. (However, I would like to take a look at Leo Fernandez.) (B) His hustle does take its toll on defenders. He had a couple of runs that opened up Columbus, granted he should have done better with the endings to said runs. But, he still had those plays. They are positives, though we tend to overlook them in favor of his blunders. His touch on to Mac, in the box, was a right idea. Some feel that this was accidental design, but I feel that Cruz knew what he was doing. Again, I am not saying that the guy is a playmaker, only that he makes plays on occasion. He has shown FAR better than Farfan, yet no one dares to label him as garbage. Potential schmotential, Michael Farfan has been AWFUL. Cruz is what he is; a lunatic…but there should be bigger fish frying than Danny Cruz.

      • I would add (C) he has a boatload of upside still. He’s only, what, 23, and he just started playing in high school. So there are U16s with more experience than Cruz has. Maybe the touch is there, and just needs some time.

  21. Great job. Everyone (except Cruz) were excellent. Amazing surprise and a pleasure to watch.

  22. Hey did you see the “In pictures” by Mike Long? they are sweet! just like DOOPIN 3 times at last nights game! Hope the team can build on this. Great job!

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