Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 Toronto FC

Photo: Earl Gardner

The little used Kleberson picked the perfect time to open his MLS account, powering home a free kick deep into stoppage time and sending the 10-man Philadelphia Union to a much needed victory against Toronto FC. While the match itself was a dour affair with both sides struggling to create genuine goalscoring chances, Kleberson made the most of a rare appearance, waving away Sebastien Le Toux before freezing Joe Bendik on his line and sending PPL Park into delirium.

After a lackluster first half failed to produce an end product, both sides tried their luck in the second stanza. But neither side could do better than striking the woodwork. In the 77th minute, Fabinho appeared to have thrown away the Union’s chance to take all three points when he kicked the prone Alvaro Rey in the back, earning a straight red card.

But rather than allow themselves to despair, the ejection galvanized the remaining 10 players, and they pushed forward for the win they needed. At the back, a combination of good fortune and a number of timely interventions from Ray Gaddis kept Toronto at bay until Kleberson stepped into the spotlight and pushed his team back into a playoff spot.

John Hackworth said after the win, “I was asked earlier this week whether this is one of the most important games in our club history and absolutely it was because this game and this with the results from last night is enough to keep ourselves in the race and to keep ourselves above the red line.”

First half

John Hackworth reverted to his typical 4-4-2 against TFC, recalling Jack McInerney in place of Michael Lahoud. Otherwise, the Union manager kept faith with the team that emerged from Sporting Park with a victory last weekend.

And the Union were quick to prove that they were keen to avoid any hangover from that vital win. Danny Cruz and McInerney had early chances with the Union throwing bodies forward, but neither found their way through the maze of legs in front of Bendik’s goal.

On the defensive end, recently acquired striker Bright Dike showed what a handful he can be when fully fit. His combination of size and quickness were of particular trouble for Jeff Parke, whose casual attempted clearance in the 8th minute nearly let Toronto in.

Despite their position in the table, Toronto had come to prove themselves and play spoilers. Buoyed by the interception of sloppy passing coming from deep in the Union’s half, Toronto began to mount a more consistent attack. But with Michael Farfan pulling the strings, the Union proved capable of countering with fluidity.

McInerney nearly broke his goalless streak in the 16th minute when Farfan led Conor Casey who in turn found Fabinho. Unfortunately, the Brazilian’s low cross flew inches beyond the outstretched boot of the sliding McInerney and the chance went begging.

When the Union did get forward, Sheanon Williams overlapping runs proved dangerous. In the 31st minute, he had Toronto scrambling to deal with his low cross into the 6 yard box.

Staying close to his strikers, Farfan began to find space to create and after he danced down the end line in the 33rd, he cut back for Fabinho. Unfortunately, the Brazilian’s first touch let him down and again Toronto converged to block the shot before it made its way to Bendik.

With time winding down to the half, Farfan took matters into his own hands, cracking a long drive that forced Bendik to push it away at full stretch.

Second half

Despite ending the first half on a high, the momentum was gone when the team’s emerged from the tunnel for the second 45.

Toronto nearly grabbed the match’s first goal in the 52nd minute when Williams felled Bobby Convey, setting up a dangerous free kick. Steven Caldwell flicked-on the initial ball, and while all that was needed was a final touch to guide it home, Dike was unable to position himself properly to finish the play.

Just before the hour mark, Antoine Hoppenot entered for a clearly frustrated McInerney and made an immediate impact. After Cruz stole the ball in midfield, Hoppenot opened up his run, allowing Cruz to slide him into the box. Receiving the ball in stride, Hoppenot beat Bendik, but not the goal post, sending groans rippling around PPL Park.

Doneil Henry continued to struggle with Hoppenot’s pace and direct running and the Union forward once more knifed into the box on 64 minutes. But, Hoppenot again could not find the target, slicing his shot well wide.

Just two minutes later, Bendik misjudged a cross, spilling it for Casey who was able to roll the ball back for Hoppenot. With the empty net in front of home, Hoppenot was unable to lift the ball over the sliding Henry, and the score remained deadlocked.

In the 77th minute, the complexion of the match changed.

As Fabinho wrestled with Rey on the sideline, the Spaniard appeared to throw the Brazilian to the ground. Rather than waiting for the referee’s justice, Fabinho stood up and appeared to kicked Rey — who was still down on the turf — in the back. After conferring with his assistant, referee Armando Villarreal sent off the Union wide man with a straight red card. Rey received a yellow card for his part in the scuffle.

Reduced to 10 men, Hackworth continued with a change he had planned before the ejection, bringing on Kleberson for a tiring Cruz.

Toronto nearly settled the game before Kleberson could get his first touch on the ball. In the 81st minute, substitute Robert Earnshaw stepped up to take a free kick after Williams saw yellow for scything down Rey as he raced into the Union box, an infraction that sees the the Union defender suspended for one game for yellow card accumulation. Hooking the ball over the wall, Earnshaw beat MacMath, but not the crossbar, with the ball caroming down off the line and out. Andrew Weideman was first to react to the rebound, but Parke out-muscled him to head the danger away.

With the Union pushing numbers forward despite playing with only 10 men, holes began to appear at the back. Twice Earnshaw appeared to have left defenders in his wake, only to be caught by the fleet-footed Ray Gaddis. On the third odd-man rush, Gaddis chased across the field, following Earnshaw’s pass to Rey. Arriving in time to make a play on the Toronto winger, Gaddis insured Rey could do little more than curl a weak shot into Zac MacMath’s waiting arms.

As the clock wore towards the fifth minute of stoppage time, Hoppenot again got the better of Henry. Cutting across the pitch, Hoppenot was felled just over 20 yards from goal, leaving Kleberson and Le Toux to eye up the resulting free kick. When Le Toux left the ball for Kleberson, the Brazilian made no mistake. Curling the ball over the wall and down just inside of Bendik’s post, the Toronto keeper could do little more than look on in despair as the ball nestled in the back of the net.

“I’m very, very happy,” Kleberson said after the game. “This goal is for the fans.”

With the win — the twelve of the season, a new franchise record — the Union are once again in fifth place in the Eastern conference ahead of next Saturday’s match in DC. They will have a week to reorganize with the knowledge that they will be without Fabinho and Sheanon Williams.

“We are going to have to juggle some things with D.C. United because Sheanon got his fifth yellow card so he will be out,” Hackworth said. “From what I hear, and I haven’t seen anything yet on video, but Fabinho’s red card might be appealable. That is a possibility to bring him back. Point is, when we look at the last five games, we knew that we had to get 3 points here tonight and we did.”

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke, Ray Gaddis; Danny Cruz (Kleberson 79), Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Fabinho; Conor Casey (Sebastien Le Toux ’68), Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot ’58)
Unused substitutes: Oka Nikolov, Matt Kassel, Keon Daniel, Aaron Wheeler

Toronto FC
Joe Bendik; Ashtone Morgan, Steven Caldwell, Doneil Henry, Mark Bloom; Alvaro Rey, Darel Russell, Jonathan Osorio, Jeremy Hall (Reggie Lambe ’89), Bobby Convey (Andrew Wiedeman ’67); Bright Dike (Robert Earnshaw ’63)
Unused substitutes: Jonas Elmer, Stefan Frei, Gale Agbossoumonde, Kyle Bekker

Scoring Summary
90+ – PHI: Kleberson

Discipline Summary
41 – PHI: McInerney (caution)
46 – TFC: Morgan (caution)
77 – PHI: Fabinho (ejection)
77 – TFC: Rey (caution)
79 – PHI: Williams (caution)
83 – TFC: Hall (caution)
86 – TFC: Bendik (caution)

Referee: Armando Villarreal
Attendance: 18996

Philadelphia Union Toronto FC
19 Attempts on Goal 7
4 Shots on Target 4
7 Shots off Target 3
8 Blocked Shots 0
11 Corner Kicks 3
11 Fouls 12
24 Open Play Crosses 5
0 Offsides 2
2 First Yellow Cards 4
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
1 Red Cards 0
50 Duels Won 41
54% Duels Won % 45%
365 Total Pass 246
78% Passing Accuracy % 69%
60.3% Possession 39.7%


  1. Perfect shot! No one else on the team could’ve done that. So when commentators from this site said macinerny was living breathing proof that nowak was bat shit crazy, what do we say about kleberson and hackworth? I must admit that now I feel slighted from this season, I spent too much time watching Cruz and I should’ve seen more of this!!!!!!!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m still not sold on Kleberson as a 90 minute man. While clearly there were games I would have liked to see him in, we’ve also seen him struggle somewhat when the game got physical.

  2. Ed Farnsworth says:

    Commentators on this site = me

  3. That was fun!

  4. That was fun!

  5. I agree that there is no one else on the roster who can bury a free kick like that. I am very happy for Kléberson and the whole team. Waiting 95 minutes for a goal, what can I say? Preston & Steve got a little taste of the game last night for sure.
    Now who the hell is going to play left back?

    • I mean I’m a little out of game shape but how could I say no to you….

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I was asking that same question last night. This morning, I think I came up with Don Anding as the most likely choice. I still think the yellow card that Sheanon got in KC for going off the field too slowly after getting hurt was ridiculous. I’ve seen plenty of guys come off slower who hadn’t just had the trainer come on to help them.

      • Union did a lot of time wasting in that game and eventually one had to be shown the card. It was bad luck it was Williams but he was taking FOREVER to get off.

    • Gaddis plays LB still. Albright or Lahoud at RB. I like the idea of Anding in there, but he was on the injured list this week.

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    I haven’t watched the reply, but seeing it live, I was pretty sure Fabhino was going to get a straight red. While Hackworth may be considering appealing it, I wouldn’t be surprised if the disciplinary committee gives him an extra game or two. It’s funny because I think he was really trying to get up to get the play going again quickly. If he had stayed down, Rey might have been the one with the red.

    One disturbing trend I noticed was the except for Hoppenot, I lot of the players seemed afraid to shoot the ball. There were a number of times someone had the ball in the box with a little bit of space and they would pass to someone who had two or three guys covering them. Waiting for the perfect shot rather than shooting and maybe getting a deflection might be one of the reasons for the low scoring rate lately.

    • When I got home I watched just that to see what happened. He sold it a Little, but the red isn’t a surprise, I think had fab gone to ground and sold it the red would have been towards Toronto, he basically judo flipped him to the ground. It seemed to me Toronto had a few acting classes before last nights game, but like you I need to go back and watch the whole game.

      • He sold it a lot. But the red was legit.

      • They both should have received reds. I hope the committee goes back and gives the other guys a red. You cant just pick players up of their feet and throw them to the ground! That’s ridiculous!

      • Agreed he sold it a lot. I hear the Academy is considering Rey for Best Supporting Actor this year.
        I also had to watch the video, because from our seats – all the way across the field – all we saw was Fabinho get tackled American football style, then get shown red. So the reply was great for seeing why he earned red – even if I think Rey oversold it.

      • I would prefer no Toronto suspensions. We want them to be at full strength for their next match which is against Chicago.

  7. I believe I read a childrens book about this once. It was about this player on a soccer team, who could never get on the field and all the other players would make fun of him by saying “You aren’t adapting fast enough.” “You need to show more in training.” “you just aren’t Philly Tough©” and “Why can’t you be more like Danny Cruz.” wouldn’t let him play in their reind- uhh soccer games… Until one day the he gets called into the game after big mean Fabinho was kicked out of the game and saves the day at the last minute and everyone is like YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! I think it is called “Kleberson: The misfit World Cup winner who came on and beat the 2nd suckiest team in the league.”

  8. As far as as the suspensions for the next game when I said DC are so bad we could beat them with one arm tied behind our back I didn’t know the team would take it so literally.

  9. no actually that game was fun. Most fun I had watching a game in a long while.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Eli, one correction to the stats above. After the final whistle, I clearly saw the ref give a second yellow followed by a red to the Toronto keeper. (I don’t know Toronto’s full backup situation, but it would be nice if Konopka comes in next game and gives the Union a hand with a shutout against Chicago!)

    • I think Frei is still the backup. No idea why the keeper was so mad. Did he think the Union took the kick early?

      • I think he was mad that it was called a foul in the first place. It may have been a soft foul relative to the other events of the evening, but it was a fair call.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      I saw it too but it was not included in the official match report from which the match stats above are taken when our report was edited and published. As of this writing on Sunday morning, it still isn’t listed on the league website. (Not sure if yellows/reds issued after the final whistle are listed differently.)

      Btw, the last disciplinary summary, which was updated on Sept. 30, says that – in addition to Williams, who will miss the DC game for yellow card accumulation after his 79th minute yellow card – Farfan, Cruz, Carroll are each one yellow card away from suspension.

  11. Gaddis was amazing last night, he should feel proud of himself

  12. Hoppenot changed the game.

  13. So some random thoughts, in addition to my Fabinho comment above…
    Ray Gaddis was a beast! His best game, I think. He was on an island late as the Union pushed for a goal, and he dominated. Yeah, I know it’s “only” Toronto, but Ray was outstanding.
    It was so nice to see the Union creating chances on the ground, and even through the middle.
    True story: After Le Toux came on, I turned my daughter and said, “The next move should be Kleberson for Cruz with Farfan sliding outside.” She laughed and said, “Yeah, like he’ll ever see the field.” I don’t know if I should be proud of her for her budding cynicism, or proud of me for calling that move (even if I was only half-serious).
    The goal was fantastic, obviously, but Kleberson looked rusty (understandably). But I loved his pure joy after scoring, and then after the game.
    Farfan seems to have found his game again.
    And finally, I can’t recall PPL being louder than that. Maybe in the first game against Seattle. Maybe at the start of the playoff game against Houston. But it was a good crowd from the start – the Star Spangled Banner was louder than usual, and that seemed to set a tone for the fans’ noise level from the start. The place exploded after the goal. It was beautiful.

    • Oh, forgot… Huge kudos to Jeff Parke who spent at least a half hour down in the 113-114 corner after the game signing autographs and taking pictures. His family sits down there, and I know Jeff knows once he starts signing he’s going to be there a long time. He could easily say, “Not tonight,” greet his family, and go change out of his sweaty uniform and celebrate with his teammates. Instead, he stood there – signing, talking, taking pictures. Well done, Jeff.
      Along the same lines, Keon Daniel spent a lot of time after the match in the 109-110 area, also signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. Kudos to him as well.

    • John, with all due respect, if you can tell how loud the crowd is during the national anthem, then you are not singing loud enough. The only person you should be able to hear is you. An added benefit of this approach is that you can’t tell how off key anyone else is.

  14. Caiparinhas for everybody!

  15. No one on that team could have made that shot except Kleberson. Nothing more needs to be said.

  16. Woot, I will certainly put this to good use!

Leave a Reply

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