Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 0-1 Houston Dynamo

Ricardo Clark scored the only goal of the game as the Houston Dynamo came into PPL Park and defeated the Philadelphia Union. Overshadowing the Union’s anemic offense though was a disallowed first half goal from Keon Daniel. Amobi Okugo was flagged offside and found guilty of interfering with Tally Hall as Daniel’s free kick from 40 yards sailed into the top far corner of the goal.

But the Union did themselves no favors, not forcing Dynamo goalkeeper Hall into a single save on the evening. Looking to avoid their first consecutive losses of the season, Philadelphia appeared devoid of ideas, firing 29 crosses into the Houston box while struggling to create much in the way of offense through any other channel.

“I’ll tell you, it is a cruel game sometimes and it just feels like in a lot of ways we just can’t catch a break,” said Union head coach John Hackworth after the game. “Sometimes you need the ball to bounce right a bit and certainly not have outside factors take goals away and affect the game.”

First Half

After telling the media on Wednesday that places in the starting XI were up for grabs, there were no drastic changes to the Union lineup. Amobi Okugo returned from suspension, reuniting the Union’s most selected back line with Ray Gaddis on the left and Sheanon Williams back on the right. Fabinho kept his spot in the XI, moving to left midfield, while Sebastien LeToux was pushed up top with Jack McInerney starting on the bench.

The Union controlled the opening half with few chances to show for their dominance. Conor Casey was the clear target for Philadelphia as crosses were thrown into the Houston box from both wings.

Sheanon Williams flung in a driving ball from the ring wing on 13 minutes, but Casey headed wide on the back post. Minutes after that, Casey met a Keon Daniel corner kick at the near post, but the effort again was just wide. Next up was Fabinho sending a ball from the left side that Casey could only head over the top of the Houston goal.

Houston would have their best chance of the half in the 21st minute after Danny Cruz was dispossessed in the midfield and Brad Davis was able to get behind the Union defense on the left side. He squared a pass to Cam Weaver in the middle of the box, but the striker’s effort came straight back off the crossbar. A follow up effort from Weaver went just wide of Zac MacMath’s goal.

The moment of controversy came in the 29th minute. Keon Daniel drove a free kick from 40 yards straight into the top corner of the Houston goal. Hall came off his line in an attempt to play the ball, but seemed to misjudge it as it flew past him. But the linesman’s flag went up for offside.

Referee Mark Kadleick would say after the match, “When the ball was played, the Union player was judged to be offsides, so therefore he was penalized for being offsides on that play. The offsides player interfered with the keeper. It didn’t matter if it was physical or not. If they’re offsides, they are interfering with play.”

John Hackworth had a different view of the call.

“I’ve watched it four, five times at halftime, I just watched it again and from what I saw the goalkeeper makes a bad mistake. He comes for the ball, he closes the distance down and Amobi runs into him slightly — there is no effect on the play — it was about a 40 yard ball in the air. It is remarkable.”

Amobi Okugo was perplexed by the referee’s decision. “I think he said I was offsides and the next time he said I was obstructing the goalie so he just has to make a decision,” said the Union defender. “If it’s offsides, it’s offsides. If it’s obstruction, it’s obstruction. But I felt Keon played a great ball and the goalkeeper misread it and I was the closest guy to him. I think it was a goal. But the ref called it back so I guess it wasn’t.”

The disallowed goal took some of the wind out of Philadelphia’s sails and they limped into halftime with the score tied at zero. Loud boos echoed around the stadium as the officials made their way to the tunnel.

Second Half

Showing little inclination to attack in the first half, the Dynamo would find their goal through a set piece in the 53rd minute. Brad Davis swung in a ball from the left side from 30 yards and Ricardo Clark rose highest to head beyond Zac MacMath from 7 yards.

John Hackworth would go to his bench immediately, bringing on struggling striker Jack McInerney for Danny Cruz.

It would be McInerney who would have the best chance to equalize for Philadelphia. After working hard on top of the box to settle a bouncing ball, McInerney found space to shoot from 15 yards, but dragged his shot just wide of Tally Hall’s far post.

Hackworth would bring on Michael Farfan for Keon Daniel and Antoine Hoppenot for Ray Gaddis to try to find an equalizer, but chances were at a premium and the Union were unable to even get a shot on goal.

The frustration was palpable during the last minutes of the game. When a second ball ended up on the pitch after a throw in, Amobi Okugo slammed it into the crowd. And with only seconds remaining in the match, Conor Casey took an ill advised shot from all of 35 yards that was well wide of goal.

The loss, combined with Chicago’s win over New England, drops the Union out of a playoff spot and into 6th place. Philadelphia has played at least one more game than each of the teams above them except for the first place Red Bulls. They’ve also played one more game than New England, who sit one spot and two points beneath them.

The Union are now 0-3-2 since their last win on Aug 10, scoring only one goal in those five games. With two weeks off, they will have plenty of time to reflect on the loss and try to right the ship in the final five games of the season. A difficult test awaits in the next match, away to Kansas City on September 27.

“We planned for the break to use it to our advantage,” said John Hackworth. “It has been a tough stretch so we will use it to our advantage and try to prepare the best we can and turn some games around.”

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis (Antoine Hoppenot 79′), Fabinho, Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel (Michael Farfan 71′), Danny Cruz (Jack McInerney 61′), Sebastien Le Toux, Conor Casey
Unused substitutes: Oka Nikolov, Michael Lahoud, Roger Torres, Aaron Wheeler

Houston Dynamo Tally Hall, Warren Creavaille, Kofi Sardokie, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis, Giles Barnes (Servando Carrasco), Jason Johnson Brian Ownby 83′), Will Bruin, Cam Weaver (Omar Cummings 79′)
Unused substitutes: Brian Ching, Mike Chabala, Alexander Lopez, Erich Marscheider

Scoring Summary
HOU: Clark (Davis) 53’

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Okugo (caution) 85’

Referee: Mark Kadlecik
Attendance: 18771

Philadelphia Union Houston Dynamo
10 Attempts on Goal 9
1 Shots on Target 2
9 Shots off Target 5
0 Blocked Shots 2
3 Corner Kicks 1
10 Fouls 18
29 Open Play Crosses 5
2 Offsides 1
1 First Yellow Cards 0
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
51 Duels Won 48
51% Duels Won % 48%
435 Total Pass 336
79% Passing Accuracy % 72%
56.7% Possession 43.3%


  1. Wow. No shots on goal. Not even one. And today our playoff prospects are looking far gloomier than yesterday. I cannot believe our guys ‘crapped the bed’ last night. And truthfully it’s hard to fault Coach Hack when his marquee players miss the goal from point blank range. One after the other: shank, sky, duff, etc. We really sucked in the air too! Not too much Hack can do on those missed opportunities.

    All that said, if we fizzle and miss the playoffs I would make a coaching change. The FO won’t. Too cheap, zero creativity….thus far anyway.

    But failure to make the post season will prove that Hack’s “keep it close and counterattack” strategy won’t work. It won’t produce any trophies. To me that would be the most painful realization because I’ve been hoping Hack’s strategy had merit. CODE RED!

    • Wow, that’s pretty easy on Hack. 29 crosses, no goals… all this does is highlight what we’ve known all season, the glaring issue in the midfield that Hack fails to address time and time again, even though he HAS the tools to do so. Not having a central attacking midfielder of any sort lead to the same thing over and over… predictable flank attack after predictable flank attack. There’s no creativity and the U look short on other ideas.

      The players have done what they’re deployed to do reasonably well. The problem is the strategy, and not necessarily the execution. Every forward is going to whiff here and there. More quality chances will fix that, but there’s no quality at all coming from the central midfield. Kleberson and Roger Torres inexplicably continue to ride the pine. This is 100% on Hackworth and we need a *real* coach, right now. Another game like this and we’re sure to miss the playoffs.

  2. Oooooops I was wrong we did have a shot on target based on the stats above. I guess I missed that.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. The stat chart at the MLSsoccer.com Match Center for the game shows one shot on goal from Amobi Okugo. The Opta-powered Chalkboard from the game identifies the 96th minute effort as blocked and not a shot on goal. One shot on goal or none, it’s not good enough.

      Did anybody else think Michael Farfan was shown a yellow card? It isn’t listed in the disciplinary summary in the match stats or the Chalkboard.

      • Yes, Farfan was shown a card and it was announced and put up on the replay board.

      • Yea there should’ve been 2 yellow cards and 1 shot on goal, by my calculations (i.e. watching the game). But as you said it’s pretty pathetic when we have to discuss whether or not there was 1 shot on goal.

      • He was definitely shown the YC – i wanted to see it but there was no replays. It looks like he was given a YC after some requests by Houston for it, and the fact it actually looked like the player was hurt instead of a YC for the tackle. Particularly as Kadlicek let a lot go early in the game.

  3. Winter is coming

  4. Looks like Chicago know what they are doing; the Union has no clue. 1 goal in 5 games?!

  5. It bugs me beyond words that Hackworth’s version of changing the roster from last game is just benching Mcinerny. Over the past couple games I’ve completely lost confidence in this coach. I

    • My thoughts exactly. The Union had 1 goal in the last 4 games and the only lineup change is to bring in Okugo for Mcinerny. How is that going to score more goals? Does Hack think Jack is going to break out of his slump by sitting on the bench?

      • If you had the view I did when Jack missed everything from the middle of the box (sec. 118) you start to think divine intervention will be required to break him out of his slump. Sheesh.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        For a guy with so much experience coaching young players and having raised JackMac from a pup at the academy, you would think he would understand how confidence shattering it imudt be to go from a usmnt call up, mlsas pick, team leading scorer to a sub while other starters absolutely suck match after match. The man is a complete moron.

  6. My main gripe was the Sub for Hoppenot. The million strikers approach, Just. Doesn’t. Work. best strategy is to roll the dice and throw in Kleberson or Torres whoever was on the bench and roll the dice. That gives you the best chance to win not just having a bunch of dudes tripping over each other and hoping for a lucky bounce.

    • I agree Hoppenot was not the best choice, but the Union were doing a reasonable job of putting crosses into the box. The headers were either going wide or no one was getting to them. So of course you put in the 5’8″ sub rather than the 6’4″ guy. Not sure what planet Hack is coaching on but I’m pretty sure it’s not Earth.

      • Just because you have a creative midfielder it doesn’t mean you can’t still cross the ball. It just means more options.

      • I also would’ve brought in Wheeler instead of Hoppenot in that spot. Frankly, I’d prefer Torres over both, but we all know he’s not getting on the field for any important minutes this year.

      • About the only thing Boswell and Taylor can do well is clear crosses with ther head. They get burned fr through balls; unfortunately, the coach prefers to take a shark on from the teeth and not the tail.


  8. Wow Hackworth truly believes we didn’t win this game bc of that call by the ref. there are so many more reasons. He is coming full circle to become Nowak as he benches Jack.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the only change hack made was taking out Fabinho

    • Please no, the lineup last night could have been perfect if given more time. Subs made at the wrong time and to the wrong players. Stop putting Le Toux on the wing and McInerny on the pitch, at least until he learns a little more control and team attitude.

      • Le Toux is tied for the league lead in assists while playing on the wing. He’s created more chances than anyone else this year from that spot. And despite not scoring since June 1st, Jack still leads the team in goals and is 10th in the league. In order to score again, he needs to be on the pitch.

  9. Also, pretty funny that Keon’s (almost) only goal all year was an accidental one.

  10. Whether or not the linesman got the call right or not on the goal that didn’t count, it’s unacceptable to be in an offsides position on a set piece.

    • Thank you! As mad as I am at the ref for making that call, I’m a little curious as to why no one else has called out Okugo. If he stays onside it’s a non-issue. He was definitely a little rusty after 2 weeks off.

  11. Is the FO watching this team play? How can they and keep blowing up my email with Season Ticket renewal ads?

    • WilkersonMcLaser says:

      The FO only cares about results insofar that it affects the bottom line. Last night was a sellout. To the FO, that means yesterday was a success, regardless of the scoreline or our position on the table. Even when Nowak was fired, Sakiewicz absolutely denied that it had anything to do with on-field play. Instead, it was Nowak’s application to Hearts (breach of contract) and the rumors of financial improprieties. I would be seriously shocked if Hack were given a pink slip on the basis of results, however justified.
      Bottom line: we should expect to be saddled with Hack and his infuriating tactical one-dimensionality indefinitely.

      • This is my thoughts/fears exactly. The FO does not care if we win or lose. I think that after a couple years of hacktics and shrinking attendance, they may fire him, but it will be to late.

      • It truly pisses me off how accurate this statement is. They care nothing for the fans, only getting money.

      • Heap. So don’t renew. Otherwise enjoy.

    • Rob, et al-

      I noticed that when I did NOT renew my season tickets from last year, the renewal emails eventually stopped coming…

      Fire Hackworth !



  12. John O'Donnell says:

    They have not won one big game this year, not one. Many chances to get to the top of the division and they come up small and most times don’t score a goal. Philly Tough, not!!!!!!!!

  13. Hack should be having a CareerBuilder slumber party with Chepo. Guy needs to go.

  14. PhillyHotspur says:

    Criminal officiating on Keon’s goal

    JackMac – a gaping net and just needs to go near post. Instead ?

    Same old poor CM

    Packed house last night. Union need to bring some quality in the offseason

    • It was the correct call, Okugo was offsides. It’s frustrating, but all the blame goes to Amobi, you should never be offsides on a set-piece. Especially as a defender.

      • I don’t think the point of contention is whether or not Amobi was offisde. It’s whether or not he did anything that could be considered an influence on the play. He doesn’t go for the ball. He doesn’t block Hall’s view of it any more than the other players on the field. He doesn’t even appear to make contact with Hall. If the AR thought he made contact, he would have flagged for a foul and not for being offside. Hall completely misreads the ball, and absolutely no one on Houston tries to lodge a complaint on the play. Yes, Okugo should have stayed onside, but I still think it was the wrong call.

  15. gotta say i think that offsides call is legit. the keeper takes an obvious step towards the player in an offsides position, who at that moment interfered with the play. that’s how offsides works. wretched game from the union.

  16. Also, Carroll needs to go bye-bye. How many center midfielders have we gone through and been like, “oh, he and carroll don’t play well together”? Im not making excuses for Daniel, but its frustrating.

  17. Was anyone else stranded at the train station?

    Regarding the game, the finish is really lacking and while Casey and Parke are physical, nobody else is. It was crazy how few balls they won in the midfield. Keon tiptoes to everything. LeToux needs to stop taking set pieces. I was encouraged by the first half and I liked Fab on the left mid field. If this team had a Beckerman who could won a ball and distribute it would be fantastic.

    • Ii was so sickened by the inevitable result that I left in the 82′ and walked to highland, catching the earlier train. I remember the last 7:30 start and sitting at CTC for an hour. Never again.

    • I have been stranded plenty of times at the station. The am I prepared to get home around midnight question has decided whether or not I go to games.

  18. PhillyCheese says:

    How many weeks has every youth league coach been able to determine midfield has problems….and yet Daniels, Cruz and Carroll consistently hold down three slots? Two pathetic ties in previous four games convinced Hack to continue fielding the same players week after week. A few early successes with crosses into the box has convinced Hack that is only way game can be played. Way too easy to defense, with no possession planned.

  19. Regarding Jacks slump, I have a feeling he will be next year what Farfan is to us this year. Actually, I think he already arrived at that place this season. Hoppenot is no longer a legitimate option IMO and as far as this last game was concerned, it was screaming for Wheelers presence. Midfield is not the only problem at this point but it is the biggest problem. What else can be said about the midfield that hasn’t been said over and over for the last few months? The only thing I like is Fabhino’s insertion into left mid, everyone else can/should be replaced. Kleb, Torres, CAM, blah blah…

    • Regarding your nonsense comment about jack, my hope as a true fan and someone who understands the game and a young striker who is in a slump, is that he gets traded to a team with a HALF DECENT midfield this offseason, kicks ass and wins a golden boot and shuts all you narrow minded people up. There were 4 different strikers on the field last night (jack, letoux, conor and Antoine) and not one of them scored. Stop putting all the blame on the easy target. You all were kissing his feet back in the beginning of the season. Let’s remember the kid is just 21, he will go through waves until he is fully confident in himself and has a coach and midfield who show confidence in him. Benching him and these constant comments from you “fans” saying he is a non-factor does the exact opposite.

      • Hope you’re right. In the mean time, keep telling yourself whatever makes you feel better when you wake up in the morning. Time will tell.

      • I love what Jack brings to the game but as soon as his contract is over or close to it he’s GONE! And really can you blame him? He deserves better, he’s young and should be getting the full 90. How in gods earth can you say the team is investing in the future when the best future star is on the bench! Chicharito couldn’t score with this team!

      • To be fair Chicharito can’t score with his own national team.

      • I knew you would say that!

  20. They are out of the playoffs spot. Blaiming hachworth is pointless he is the symptom of the problem not the problem. The problem is an ownership group that is not investing in the team. Until that is changed the union will continue to underperform.

    • Well, they are investing. Just not in the short term, or even the medium term. It seems like every bit of revenue they are making is going into this Academy system. I worry that the club is going to be content just to plod along for a couple years, until they can put the Union High varsity out on the field. Because, by then, the only people in the stands will be those kids’ parents.

      • They are using the teams name to open a school loosely connected with the team. The point is to make more money not to build the team. They are pocketing all profits. And selling you crape with the promise of a golden age ten years from now. The way they do business I don’t believe a word of it.

      • Auto correct. Should be -selling you crap-

  21. Love the team, love the colors, love 90% of the players, love ppl park, hate the coach. Hate the coach. Hate the coach. Hate the coach.

  22. Anyone giving any thought to the FO potentially telling Hack not to win? I’m guessing about 1/3 to 1/2 of the STH are getting very close to the “upgrade” level for STH points (where you get a one class ticket upgrade). Those home win bonus points (or lack thereof) could be a several hundred thousand dollar difference maker…
    The one thing I will give Hack credit for — I liked the move to Keep Fabinho on the field
    One thing I noticed at the game – Houston continually pinched our players on the wing, frequently double teaming the wing – and they could afford to do that because there was no fear of any creative ball coming from the middle of the field.
    Ties are not going to do it from here on out — maybe now we’ll see a change with some desperation.

  23. We need midfielders who can deliver. Daniels is supposed to be an attacking midfielder if he doesn’t comply, get him off the field. Cruz is a joke, however fit he may be. Fabhino was delivering, but consistency is needed, that is how Jack can get off the shnide.

  24. That’s more than sensible! That’s a great post!

  25. I guess finding useful, reliable information on the internet isn’t hopeless after all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *