Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Despite playing up a man from the 8th minute, Philadelphia Union rarely looked like they would beat Brad Knighton.

Then Antoine Hoppenot latched onto Aaron Wheeler’s 85th minute backheel and sent his shot inside the back post to stun the B.C. Place crowd into silence as the Union stole three precious road points with a 1-0 win.

“Wheeler played me a good ball, and I was through,” Hoppenot said. “The ball was bouncing, and all I had to do was put it into the back of the net. Most of the work was done by Wheeler, so you’ve got to thank him for that goal.”

The early flash point all centered around the prone Jun Marques Davidson. After slipping to the turf, the Whitecaps midfielder attempted to regain his footing under pressure from Keon Daniel. Before he could do so, Daniel continued to fight for the ball and kicked Davidson’s wrist with his foot before hitting the midfielder’s head with his knee in the follow through. While referee Baldomero Toledo only deemed the infraction worthy of a free kick, Davidson furiously rose to his feet before driving his head into Daniel’s back and earning himself an extremely early shower.

First Half

With Conor Casey suspended for yellow card accumulation, John Hackworth replaced him with Keon Daniel, who recently returned from international duty with Trinidad & Tobago. With only Jack McInerney at forward, the Union looked to outnumber Vancouver’s three-man midfield with Michael Farfan and Brian Carroll sitting behind Danny Cruz, Keon Daniel and Sebastien Le Toux.

The Union nearly stormed to an early lead when McInerney tackled the ball back after being dispossessed by Nigel Reo-Coker. Feeding Cruz up the left flank, McInerney looked on as the winger fizzed his shot wide of the far post.

Any pregame planning went out the window in the 8th minute when Toledo sent off Davidson for his headbutt on Daniel. After Davidson slipped to the turf, Daniel delivered his reckless kick and the Union midfielder received a headbutt in return. Both players easily could have been sent to the dressing room, and the Union were fortunate that Daniel received only a yellow card.

Up a man, the Union should have been able to keep the ball and look to create chances, but Russell Teibert nearly grabbed the opener in the 15thminute when he caught Zac MacMath off his line. Fortunately for the Union keeper, Teibert’s chip landed on the roof of the net.

McInerney was next to miss a gilt-edged opportunity to grab the lead on 20 minutes when Daniel charged down Brad Knighton. But with an empty net at his mercy, McInerney scuffed his first touch, allowing the keeper to slide in and clear the danger.

Minutes later, McInerney found himself in the referee’s notebook after he crashed into Knighton’s back, with the Vancouver keeper winning the race to a flighted ball.

Undaunted by their numeric disadvantage, the Whitecaps continued to create chances. In the 27th minute, Russell Teibert slipped in Lee Young-Pyo behind Ray Gaddis, but the fullback could not find the target, ballooning his chance over the bar.

Next, Kenny Miller out-jumped Gaddis, but could not direct his header on target following a pinpoint delivery from Reo-Coker.

With the Whitecaps bossing the match, Miller missed his side’s best chance to claim a first half lead 5 minutes before halftime. Cutting onto his left, Miller pushed the ball between Jeff Parke’s legs before holding off Gaddis. With MacMath’s goal in his sights, Miller was unable to find the finish, sending the ball wide of the mark.

“We feel comfortable that they haven’t got the players to break us down (in the midfield),” Reo-Coker said at halftime to the Vancouver broadcast team.

Second Half

The Whitecaps showed no letdown as the second half began, with Camilo Sanvezzo pouncing on a loose touch from Amobi Okugo. MacMath was there to bail out his teammate though, and he parried smartly, pushing the near-post drive away.

A minute later, substitute Kekuta Manneh had MacMath beaten. Driving through the heart of the Union midfield, Camilo ripped passed Carroll before playing in Manneh. His pass was overhit, dragging the young attacker wide, but Manneh struck his shot well. Flying passed MacMath, the Union keeper looked on with relief as the ball caromed back off the inside of the far post and into his hands.

Through the hour mark, Vancouver showed no signs of playing for a draw, though they began to allow the Union more time on the ball as they sat deeper and looked to spring the counterattack.

John Hackworth tried to add a spark with Antoine Hoppenot replacing the ineffective Cruz. The move nearly paid off minutes later with McInerney springing Hoppenot, who forced a top notch save from Knighton, only for the play to be ruled offsides.

Gershon Koffie tried to press the issue in the Union box when he looked to bait Okugo into conceding a penalty. But when the young midfielder threw himself to the ground, Toledo rightfully booked him for simulation.

At the other end, Okugo nearly grabbed the opener with a crashing run on a corner kick but was unable to direct his header on goal.

A minute later, McInerney also went close when he created his own shot, pushing the ball onto his preferred right foot and lashing an effort to the far post. Knighton was equal to the effort though, clawing the shot away at full stretch.

At the other end, Teibert was again given too much space in midfield, and he sprinted away from Carroll before playing in Camilo. Though most would expect the MLS leading scorer to bury his chance, Camilo drilled his shot directly at MacMath.

Following the save, it was the Union’s turn to push play, and Hoppenot finally took advantage. Fortune again favored the Union when Hoppenot’s pass forward went straight to substitute Carlyle Mitchell then made a complete mess of his attempt to block, allowing the ball to roll through to substitute Aaron Wheeler. Thinking quickly, the big forward used his heel to flick the ball back into Hoppenot’s path. With Knighton racing off his line, Hoppenot’s left footed shot flew passed the keeper, igniting Union celebrations.

“Good players make coaches look good sometimes, and [Hoppenot] certainly did that,” Hackworth said after the game. “I thought Aaron Wheeler came on and did a great job and I thought Fabinho came on and did a great job. We’re a team that way; every time we bring a guy off the bench, they have contributed this year. Once again, that was the case today.”

With three points secured, the Union will return East in good spirits as they prepare to square off with Chicago Fire on Saturday at 8 pm.

“For us to be able to get wins against the top teams in MLS, it gives us the confidence to know that we can later on in the year,” Hoppenot said.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis; Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll; Sebastien Le Toux, Keon Daniel (Fabinho ’65), Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot ’67); Jack McInerney (Aaron Wheeler ’82)
Unused substitutes: Chris Konopka, Matt Kassel, Leo Fernandes, Kleberson

Vancouver Whitecaps
Brad Knighton; Lee Young-Pyo (Erik Hurtado ’88), Brad Rusin (Carlyle Mitchell ’82), Johnny Leveron, Jordan Harvey; Gershon Koffie, Jun Marques Davidson, Nigel Reo-Coker; Russell Teibert, Kenny Miller (Kekuta Manneh ’48), Camilo Sanvezzo
Unused substitutes: Corey Hertzog, Daigo Kobayashi, David Ousted, Matt Watson

Scoring Summary
85 – PHI: Hoppenot (Wheeler)

Discipline Summary
8 – VAN: Davidson (ejection)
9 – PHI: Daniel (caution)
25 – PHI: McInerney (caution)
59 – VAN: Leveron (caution)
65 – PHI: Cruz (caution)
73 – VAN: Koffie (caution)

Baldomero Toledo

Vancouver Whitecaps Philadelphia Union
14 Attempts on Goal 16
5 Shots on Target 5
7 Shots off Target 4
2 Blocked Shots 7
2 Corner Kicks 4
11 Fouls 16
7 Open Play Crosses 13
0 Offsides 3
2 First Yellow Cards 3
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
1 Red Cards 0
54 Duels Won 45
54% Duels Won % 45%
296 Total Pass 460
71% Passing Accuracy % 82%
39.6% Possession 60.4%


  1. Eh… I’ll take it. I guess.

    On the other hand when did Jordan Harvey become such a Foppish Dandy

    • Scottymac says:

      His girlfriend is hot, so maybe just “dandy”.

      After nearly an hour of power play time and no spark other than the creation of the “BoozeCruz” drinking twitter game for his falling and flopping, did Hack see enough to start Fabinho/Kleberson/the smarmy Widener kid and his handshake/or Garber forbid, Roger Torres, in place of the at best ineffectual Cruz and Keon?

      I say, um, yes, I have seen enough Danny Cruz.

    • Scottymac says:

      His girlfriend is hot, so maybe just “dandy”.

      After nearly an hour of power play time and no spark other than the creation of the “BoozeCruz” drinking twitter game for his falling and flopping, did Hack see enough to start Fabinho/Kleberson/the smarmy Widener kid and his handshake/or Garber forbid, Roger Torres, in place of the at best ineffectual Cruz and Keon?

      I say, um, yes, I have seen enough Danny Cruz.

      • Yeah, I have also had enough. It is too frustrating to watch him fall over and over and over. He can’t stay on his feet no matter the circumstance. I don’t get it, is he looking for calls? Does he just wear normal sneakers without studs?

    • Harvey looks set to play David Beckham’s evil twin in an upcoming Lifetime movie.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Let’s start with the good. This was the last game of the “tough” stretch from NY to Van. How did the Union do? 3 wins, 1 loss, and 4 draws and almost 5-1-2…Not bad. MacMath has shown great improvement during that stretch. Last night he was the best player for the U. Even when he was beaten, he still made himself as big as possible and gave small angles for Vancouver to shoot at. They are 1 Okugo wet grass slip from 3 straight shutouts.

    Now the bad. The team still has to learn how to play up a man and how to keep their heads in the game for 90 minutes. WAY too many mental mistakes from Okugo giving up the ball in a dangerous spot to players not hustling to receive passes to needing to slow down the game too much rather than looking to press forward.

    Finally, the ugly. Vancouver’s video feed had to be among the worst ever. How many times were the Union bringing the ball forward and the video was showing a close-up of a Vancouver player or coach? And then there was the sequence when Jack and Seba both went down in the box but was there a replay? Were either taken down? Was there a dive or two? Two clean tackles? We’ll never know since there was no replay.

    • Good points. It’s almost like the Union’s style doesn’t lend itself to take advantage of being a man up. We don’t really play a possession game and prefer to play a quick, direct style which doesn’t work versus a team that is keeping its defensive formation compact.

      That said, I thought that Farfan was excellent last night and really helped us keep the ball. His movement and craftiness also probably ended up tiring out Reo-Coker and Koffie which really showed up late in the match.

      This was a nervy match to watch as a Union fan, but one sign of progress that I liked is how they saw the match out after Hoppenot’s goal. They really worked the ball around and made Vancouver chase them all over the pitch. That was a real positive for me and a sign of maturity on the team’s part.

      The bottom line is that this team is not all that talented when you judge them vs other MLS squads. We’re thin in a lot of areas and still have so many mismatched parts in various positions. So to be as high as we are in the standings is actually very impressive.

      Regarding Vancouver’s feed, it cracked me up how many times their color guy misidentified our players (Daniel for Williams, Jack for Cruz, etc.).

  3. I loved the bit where Moreno broke down the dive by Koffie in the second half. I also love Okugo being the anti-diving crusader, but would love it more if he called out his teammates on it, too.

  4. Philly Cheese says:

    Daniel is fortunate to not have been thrown out and Cruz “hustle” is not enough to warrant consistent starts. Celebrate the win……but start making adjustments to form a quality playoff team. With Casey back up top and Fabinho on left replacing Cruz….it would be a start.

    • Agreed, and I would put Kleberson for Daniel. Just before the game they showing stats for some of the players.
      Keon Daniel – 16 games: 1 assist.
      Wow, how can anyone justify starting the guy who produced 1 assist in 17 games playing as an attacking central/left mid. I don’t care how good he looks in training or how much of “calming presence” he provides.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I don’t understand the yellow for Daniel. It looked to to me like he didn’t intentionally kick at Davidson. And the ref, at least to me, looked to just be calling a free kick and not a card. After the headbutt and the red… I think the ref made up the yellow in an attempt to (sort of) even things out. It wasn’t the prettier games but fouls against the U were 2 to 1 against. Again, to me it seemed like the ref wanted to even up the game by issuing so many yellows. Jack Mac did not deserve a yellow either

      • John ling says:

        I agree. The only possibilities I can think of are that the ref was trying to even things up a bit, or Keon said something after the red was given that warranted getting a yellow.

    • UnitedPenn13 says:

      What I want to know is where was “Captain” Carroll while Keon was trying so hard to get thrown out? The captain should have been there telling him to cool it or we would be playing 10 v 10.

  5. WilkersonMcLaser says:

    Kind of pissed off that it took Hack 80+ minutes to give the team the tools to take advantage of the man up. Zeitlin is chalking it up to Hack ‘working his magic’ (http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2013/07/27/philadelphia-union-manager-john-hackworth-works-his-magic-subs-prove-key-vic), but the fact is that Jack Mac was isolated on the top while Cruz and Daniel were absolutely ineffective.
    Why didn’t Wheeler start!? Or at least Seba get paired with him up front? It’s like we don’t want Jack to have a shot at the Golden Boot anymore.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Hackworth is Andy Reid. Predictable and sometimes bailed out by his players. Any fan of the team knew exactly what subs were coming on and when. That kind of managing will not win big games.

      • Agreed. Hackworth has done a good job of assembling a decent squad, but he doesn’t exactly have a hold on in-game management. His subs paid off in this game, but more often than not, they are predictable and ineffective.

  6. Philly Cheese says:

    Took another look at Jack Mac collision with Knighton. Jack went straight up with back to goal……Knighton ran at him and crashed into him……and Jack gets yellow card! Knighton thrashing on ground, kicking his feet and simulating head injury should earn him a fine and penalty in review.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      I look at it a different way. Basically, if Kenny Miller had that collision with MacMath, I want that call. Keepers deserve protection. The facts of the case are simple in my eyes. Knighton wins the ball and Jack crunches into him. Jack gave himself up with his flying leap (certainly not a straight up and down jump) and he must accept the consequences. If he wins the ball he scores, if he loses out, he takes a healthy chunk out of Knighton and walks away with a caution.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Personally, I thought it was a foul on Jack but shouldn’t have been a card. On the other hand, I have to give credit to Toledo because he did things in the right order. Reached for the card, then checked on injuries, then gave the card. So the card was not based on the injury…he had made the decision before determining the extent of injury.

      • Philly Cheese says:

        Although I respect your expertise, I am not sure that the yellow card to Jack by Toledo, wasn’t based on a false assumption that the writhing near death Knighton must have been seriously fouled by Jack. The level of contact was created by Knighton, not Jack. I am getting tired of over reaction of players……Cruz included.

  7. Richie the Limey says:

    Knighton made a meal of that challenge from Jack (who must have been giving away at least fifty pounds) which was a fifty-fifty ball. Jack has a right to challenge for that ball, so it was a foul at worst, but no way should it have been a card. And by the way, Eli your point about “if that challenge were on MacMath” is irrelevant because he is too much of a scaredy cat (or insert other feline based noun) to EVER come out for a ball like that – even against a smaller, skinny forward.
    Fantastic to get three points away to a very good side, but why do we have to make it so difficult on ourselves? Reo-Coker summed it all up – the midfield that started that game, and importantly, the instructions they were given, couldn’t break down a high school side. They were entirely predictable and lacking in drive. Time after time the ball carrier had no options in front of him which is inexcusable when you are a man up for 80 plus minutes. Hack isn’t playing Philly Tough – he is instead embracing that other tradition that blights our sporting psyche of Negadelphia. We seem to succeed DESPITE Hack, and not because of him. His starting eleven and game plan rarely works – it is usually when changes are made and the players start to play their own game that we do anything positive. Why can’t we start games with attacking intent?

    • We definitely win despite Hack, no doubt about it.
      Also, does anyone else think it seems like the guys purposely try not to pass it to Keon and Cruz?

      • There were 2 instances when Farfan actually turned away from Cruz to not pass the ball to him.

    • Zac has been doing good. No reason for the cheap shot. 2 Clean sheets in a row and it hasn’t been all about the 4 in front of him. He has been more vocal, calm and commanding. He deserves some credit.

      (to be fair the woodwork needs some credit for the clean sheet too.)

    • Richie – You’re embellishing what Reo-Coker said. He said that if Vancouver kept their shape that he didn’t think that the Union could break them down which is what you expect a player to say during the heat of competition. He made no mention of a high school team or the tactical instructions that the Union were given.

      • Richie the Limey says:

        I am just reading the obvious between the lines of what he said. It is true. Did our midfield ever look dangerous? Did it ever ask Vancouver any questions?

      • I agree with richie, reo looked smug when he said it, I don’t think he was just being an athlete, he believed the Union couldn’t break them down. I will say that Macmath has looked better since the goalie coach showed up in the transfer window. And Cruz needs to invest in some new feet or new cleats.

      • Ahh, reading between the lines and facial expressions…you can’t go wrong there.

      • And taking everybody at the words works well also.

  8. I have never in my life seen a side more consistently lucky than the 2013 Union… But I’ll definitely ride that wave all the way to the playoffs.
    The being said, how the hell do Cruz and Daniel always start, how? All I can say is at least Hackworth didn’t bring Fernandes in too and compound his mistakes even more. Thankfully Macmath has really stepped up lately with strong play and the back line (sans stupid mental mistakes) have been gelling more and more.
    The decision to move Cruz to the right was so wrong, it took Shaenon totally out of the offensive game, and with Keon on the left that meant we had no wide play whatsoever.
    Thankfully Marfan has picked up things lately and hopefully that builds into consistency.
    Our midfield is pathetic, and if we don’t figure it out soon we will have an early end to our season.

    • Agree with the comment on Cruz taking Williams out of the offense, much as he had done on the left side in front of Gaddis. In addition to an attacking MF on the left side, Fabinho has been a left back and understands how to defend, so Ray will not be hung out to dry as much as he is with Cruz in front of him.
      With Casey returning, would love if Hack would move LeToux back to the right side, and replace Cruz with Fabinho. Won’t happen, but I can dream.

      • John Ling says:

        I think you’ll get half your wish, with Le Toux going back to the right.
        Speaking of Le Toux… with how good he’s been this year, why the hell is Keon Daniel taking corner kicks again?

      • Brcause both Keon and Letoux are Jeckle and Hyde when it comes to free kicks and corner kicks. When either are on they are great. When they aren’t. They Suck.
        Hackworth must have thought Keon sucked less yesterday.

  9. Jaap Staaaaaam says:

    Wow….I will take it! As poorly as we played in the 1st half (and early 2nd half) it was great to leave Vansterdam with 3 points!

    Got to give props to Hackworth. He chose the right subs. I’d have done it much sooner, but it worked and Hack should get full credit for the moves!

    Casey grooming Wheeler is a best case scenario for us. The Kid has game. I can’t think of a better mentor for Aaron.

  10. “Good players make coaches look good sometimes, and [Hoppenot] certainly did that,”

    If Hack thinks that game made him look like a good coach then he is delusional.

  11. The Chopper says:

    I scratch my head when I see the lineups. I sit there and yell for changes during the match like everyone else.

    But if you told me the Union would have this record at this point in the season with this roster, I would have laughed and called you delusional. Bottom line this team is getting results. Call it luck, say it is in spite of the coach if you like, but the bottom line in the pro sports business is results.

    John Hackworth’s side is on the top side of the table and has just ground out results in a particularly brutal part of the schedule. So I will not complain about style or lineups until the results stop coming.

    Yes it mystifies me and frustrates me, but it seems to be working. And I will give Hack credit for showing confidence in MacMath, he has improved a ton over this stretch of games.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    I’m curious if I’m the only one who disagreed with taking Jack at when Wheeler came on? My thought at the time was to bring in Wheeler for Gaddis, drop Fabhino to left back and go for the win with a 4-3-3. We were up a man and that seems like the time to go for a more offensive line-up. Fortunately, it worked out anyway. Just curious if anyone agrees with this idea.

    • Your asking Hack to take into account game situations and environment. He does neither.
      In truth, Wheeler should have started over Cruz from the beginning. It’s a turf field and he has no touch.
      But, I’m done questioning Hacks tactics bc he doesn’t even understand the word.

    • I thought taking out Jack was the right move. He was on a yellow, looked really frustrated, and the ref was looking to even things up. Hackworth was smart to pull him out.

    • Good idea. I didn’t think of it though. I just thought, “Wheeler should have been in this game at the start. He’s the right sub to put in.”

  13. Jaap Staaaaaam says:

    I cannot believe we got another RED CARD. 10 Red Cards is completely mind-boggling. I know we lead the league but we must be on a pace to break MLS records!

    Andrew Barnaby? Danny Ainge? Everybody wants to punch, kick, and headbutt us?!?!?!?!?!

  14. Jaap Staaaaaam says:

    I wouldn’t have started Kleberson on crap turf coming off an injury over a Gold Cup thriving Keon Daniel last night. BUT versus Chicago Kleberson should start. Period. End of story. But it will never happen. Same eleven start next week with the exception of Casey returning from suspension. Hack knows!

  15. I can’t take Daniel the play killer passing the ball backwards anymore! Super happy about the results but they can do better. Again, not complaining about a win.

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