Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 New England Revolution

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Sebastien Le Toux’s scored his first goal of the year to send Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 win Saturday over New England Revolution in their home opener.

The hosts dominated the first half as they bombarded Bobby Shuttleworth’s goal with shot after shot. The goal was coming long before the 31st minute, but after a string of chances had gone begging, Le Toux flew into the box to jab home Leo Fernandes’ square ball.

“It’s fun to score goals,” Le Toux said after the game. “Hopefully I can score more goals later on, and help more the team more. Starting off the season with three points [at home] entails a great start to the year and I want to do everything I can to make sure it continues.”

All the Union’s strong work was almost unraveled minutes later when Diego Fagundez went in alone on Zac MacMath, but the Union keeper made a top drawer save to keep his side in the lead.

The Union didn’t match their remarkable first half performance in the second half, but they still looked more likely to double their advantage than concede an equalizer.

“The best way to close out the games is to get the second goal,” Union manager John Hackworth said.  “I’ll be honest: I don’t think we played well the second half. My expectations going out of halftime was that we were going to do the same thing like gain possession, have the highest number of passes.  It’s hard, but we were really determined to rectify the situation last week. The whole time [in the second half] I was urging us to step it up and pick up the pressure. But I feel confident in this group and that will be the next step for us.”

First Half

After their strong opener in Portland, Hackworth only made one change to his side, and it was not by choice. Shortly before game time, captain Brian Carroll was declared out with flu-like symptoms. Leo Fernandes took his spot in midfield, and Amobi Okugo took the captain’s armband for the first time in his career.

Neither side roared out of the gates, as both struggled to find chemistry among new groups of players. But where New England sat back, the Union pressed forward with the tireless Vincent Nogueira and powerful Maurice Edu orchestrating play.

By the 15th minute, the Union were comfortably in the ascendancy.  Le Toux and McInerney caused problems for Andrew Farrell, who replaced Jose Goncalves at center back.

Edu nearly had the Union on the board after 19 minutes when he darted to the near post to power his header down into the ground, but the Revolution cleared the ball off the goal line.

Undeterred, the Union surged forward. When Shuttleworth could only get a slight touch to Fernandes’ cross, the ball fell to Cristian Maidana. Pushing the ball back across the face of goal, A.J. Soares swung and missed, but the ball bounced to safety before Maidana could follow up his pass.

McInerney broke free in the box next when he slid past his defender to meet Fabinho’s low cross at the near post, only to see the ball fly over the bar.

The unrelenting pressure exposed cracks in New England’s defense. In the 24th minute, Shuttleworth spilled Maidana’s cross directly into Le Toux’s path, but the Union attacker couldn’t control the ball to shoot and missed the chance.

In the 26th minute, Fernandes launched a shot from distance that went wide. However, McInerney was on the scene to redirect the ball back across the face of goal, forcing Shuttleworth to come up with an excellent save diving back across his body.

Finally, Le Toux broke the deadlock. Fernandes made a run into the box and positioned his body  around a defender just right to step around and deliver a pass into Le Toux’s path that the Frenchman easily buried in the net to give the Union a 1-0 lead.

But the Union nearly gave a goal back in the 36th minute. With the ball coming right back at them from a MacMath clearance, Teal Bunbury got behind Okugo and squared for Fagundez, who had eluded Fabinho. A goal looked a certainty, but MacMath flew across his goal to make the kick save which rebounded off Fagundez and out for a goal kick.

Second Half

New England manager Jay Heaps brought forward Jerry Bengtson into the match to try and press the Union higher up the field, and his side had the hosts scrambling inside the half’s first five minutes. After Austin Berry was cautioned for his takedown of Lee Nguyen, the Union failed to deal with the ensuing free kick. The first goal-bound effort ricocheted off a New England player, and the Union managed to clear. Despite that chance, the Revolution failed to create chances from open play.

The Union could have put the match to bed in the 60th minute when Le Toux sprinted away from Nguyen on the half way line. With McInerney streaming into the final third alongside him. Le Toux managed to slide the ball past Farrell, but the defender did just enough to put off McInerney, and Shuttleworth claimed.

When the Union built from deep, they continued to look dangerous. In the 63rd minute, a surging Fabinho run set the table for such an attacking move. Fernandes flicked Fabinho’s pass into the path of Le Toux, who picked out McInerney with a cross. The forward nearly made the most of the chance, but had to wait for the ball and ended up snatching his shot over the bar.

Le Toux and McInerney again had the chance they needed in the 79th with the game stretched. Running in on the left from the halfway line, Le Toux had time and space to pick out McInerney’s wide open run. Le Toux chose to go it alone at first before changing his mind late and mishitting a weak cross field pass too late.

It did not matter though, as the Union continued to play strong defense at the back, even after Aaron Wheeler replaced an injured Austin Berry. Wheeler often stepped up to break up plays while Okugo mopped up anything that got behind him.

With four points after two weeks, the Union take their up-tempo passing attack to Columbus next weekend in a battle of two of the Eastern Conference’s resurgent sides.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath, Ray Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry (Aaron Wheeler ’54), Fabinho, Leo Fernandes, Vincent Nogueira, Maurice Edu, Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot ’82), Cristian Maidana (Danny Cruz ’87)
Unused substitutes: Andre Blake, Ethan White, Corben Bone, Zach Pfeffer

New England Revolution
Bobby Shuttleworth, Darrius Barnes,  Andrew Farrell, A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney (Saer Sene ’78); Scott Caldwell, Lee Nguyen, Andy Dorman (Daigo Kobayashi ’71), Diego Fagundez, Donald Smith (Jerry Bengtson ’46), Teal Bunbury
Unused substitutes: Brad Knighton, Stephen McCarthy, O’Brian Woodbine, Kelyn Rowe

Scoring Summary
31 – PHI: Le Toux (Fernandes)

Discipline Summary
10 – PHI: McInerney (caution)
48 – PHI: Berry (caution)
70 – NER: Soares (caution)

Referee­­
Kevin Morrison

Match Stats

Philadelphia Union New England Revolution
13 Attempts on Goal 5
4 Shots on Target 3
6 Shots off Target 2
3 Blocked Shots 0
6 Corner Kicks 3
14 Fouls 14
19 Open Play Crosses 8
3 Offsides 1
2 First Yellow Cards 1
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
53 Duels Won 49
51% Duels Won % 48%
497 Total Pass 329
81% Passing Accuracy % 74%
59.8% Possession 40.2%

84 Comments

  1. Wally Pipp says:

    Hey, Brian! Over here!

  2. The Black Hand says:

    Hell of a first half!

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Definitely some room for improvement but overall a good game. I was really impressed with Wheeler stepping in on defense. It was a shame Michael Lahoud wasn’t on the bench as he would have been a better late game sub than Danny Cruz.

    I’ll need to watch the TV replay but from where I sat in the stands, the ref was pretty obviously a replacement ref. There seemed to be very little consistency in the calls.

    • Scab ref couldn’t even count to ten. He was regularly spraying the line for free kicks 12 yards away.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Yeah, but the New England players realized that and moved 2 yards forward when the ref turned his back while the Union players didn’t.

  4. Great first half. The main thing missing in the second was Leo. He played very well in the first, but he seemed gassed in the second.
    And this is where my fears started to show up: Hack poorly managed his personnel. Leo should have been subbed in the 60-65th, as opposed to Jack in the 70th. Then again, Hack took off the wrong player in the 80th.
    What was missing that whole second half was that link to the forwards offensively, and extra pressure higher up the field. Hack still can’t read a game.
    Our big 3 played great again. And I’m loving Berry. Hoping it’s nothing serious! (But Wheeler played well enough tonight)

    • If Hack wants to play up-tempo soccer and keep driving at the defense, he HAS to make subs earlier. The first sub came only because Berry was hurt, the other two were after the 80th minute. Up-tempo is better with fresh legs, and they should be coming off 7 or 8 minutes apart starting at the hour mark.

  5. Notes on the game.
    .
    Somebody finally told John Hackworth he looks like him moms dressed him. Looking a little better.
    .
    The Union should have had three goals in the first half as The Revolution gifted th opportunity after opportunity in front of the net
    .
    Fabhino hurt himself midway through the first. The only reason he stayed on was because we had no other real options hopefully either he or Williams will be good to go next week or we may be very bery screwed.
    .
    New England had a good tactical plan to beat the Union. They pressed up high and and dared the union to beat them with a through ball on the ground in the middle. The union were never up to the challenge.
    .
    The scab refs were bad horrible and inconsistent in their horribleness. There were very few dives that went unrewarded
    .
    Jack was pretty much playing CAM while Letoux was cutting into the middle. He rarely could get into the box because he had so far to run.
    .
    With carrol out Edu had to play farther back and I thought it limited his effectiveness. If that is how we are gonna play without carrol maybe we are better off with carrol or someone playing his role.
    .
    New England aren’t very good right now. The east maybe easier than anticipated.
    .
    The river end was packed but dead. I hope this isn’t what it’s going to be like with open seating from here on out.
    .
    Jack buries that cross from Letoux in the final minutes of the game.
    .
    We have great players
    .
    I still don’t think much of Hackworth tactically.

    • I’d agree that Edu was less noticeable today having to play more defensively. You make a good point that it may be better for Carroll to do the dirty work. I don’t mind Carroll playing as much as some, what I mind is that it’s like he’s guaranteed to start and play 90 minutes every game. Was nice to see a different look so we can see for ourselves if it was better/worse.

    • I think Daniel could easily play Carroll’s role since I believe that’s a position on this team where he could shine. He would at least have a little more backbone to him on defense and he can hold the ball, and can distribute a lot better than Carroll, he has more overall skill then Carroll as well. I think it would be interesting to see how that would work. for one thing, Leo definitely earned a spot on the field on sat.

      • OK I’m not completely crazy, because I was thinking the same thing. If Carroll is unavailable or whatever that seems like a role Keon could fill.
        Although I am not sure about more skill than Carroll I think Keon can still contribute to this team.

  6. I’m not one of the people who think Gaddis should be starting at left back when Williams is healthy, but he had a monster game today. Night and day from last week, though trying to defend Nagbe can make anyone look bad. He even contributed to the offense, which I think he has done very little of in the past and why I favor Fabinho. That one 2nd half cross he whipped in was a beauty!

    • He’s much better offensively when he can play RB. It’s just that the guy has no left foot.

      • I’m not so sure Fabinho has a left foot either. The three crosses I saw were horrible, just horrible. For a natural leftie I expect a lot more

      • Fabinho played the second half on a bad ankle. He probably would have come out if we hadn’t already used one sub on defense.

      • He was injured before the sub. From where I looked it looked like a groin pull of some sort. I could be wrong. He would have come off if we had other options at his position but with Gaddis already in action we didn’t really have one. He had a good game considering be was just pretty much holding down the fort.

      • Gaddis tried a left-footed cross midway the first half. He cut back and fired it with his left. It was blocked if I recall correctly, but at least he tried it. Not great but a good step forward.

  7. Also, did anyone else watch with the New England announcers? They were 100% convince Berry should have gotten a second yellow on that nice long through ball to Bengston, shortly before Berry came off. Even watching the replay I was unsure but seemed that Bengston fouled Berry, then fell down on his own. NE homers somehow claimed the Berry without question committed a yellow card foul. Other than that, they were pretty good. Much better than the Portland guys.

  8. The game was asking for more goals. Jack is not cutting it. Otherwise a good game. I’m sick of the Hoppenott and Cruz substitutions. All those guys do is run around and fall down a lot. Love the French man and I don’t mean Le Roux but Maidana. We finally have a MIDFIELD!

    • Jack is fine he was just placed so far up the field that it was hard for him to do his job.

      • Really, I thought he was dropping back way too deep for a CF.

      • You are right. I meant back.
        Even the edit button couldn’t save me this time.

      • jack was def way too deep but i imagine that he was told to play back and let seba/leo play in front of him. i doubt he’d have done so otherwise.

    • +1 on Jack. Now that there is a midfield and quality service he should be stepping up. Totally misshandled at least 2 good balls in the box today

      • Only two Mac plays that bothered me today were 1) when LeToux hit him open at the top of the box and instead of shooting or passing, he froze and 2) when NE were pressing and we were having problems getting it out and we finally do only to find Mac 10 yards offsides.

        Hoppenot on the other hand is really starting to bug me

      • Andy Muenz says:

        One other thing that bugged me about Jack was how slowly he came off the field when he was being subbed. It’s one thing to walk off slowly and kill time but it’s not such a good idea when you already have a yellow. He was begging for a second yellow and for the Union to have to finish out with 10 men.

      • OK that is nitpicking… even for me.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Jack is not very effective, as a lone striker. Drops too deep to make effective runs. Too small to be a target, for the wings. We need Casey!!!

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I find the ceaseless attacks on a player who does nothing but put himself in fantastic positions absurd. He nearly scored one at the near post in the first half and forced a top drawer save from Shuttleworth to keep him out just after. He creates space for himself and others with his constant movement and he and Leo looked well in sync on the night. Had Le Toux passed him the ball when he was wide open, he would had one.

        Could he be more selfish? OF COURSE. But he’s playing a very good team game and his positioning is fantastic. I seriously don’t understand where the hate comes from.

      • Personally, I disagree that he “puts himself in fantastic positions”. I find that he often puts himself in terrible positions and makes questionable and/or mistimed runs. I also think that his ball control in tight spaces is nowhere near Casey’s, and the way the team is currently playing, Casey’s better ball control would be welcome.

      • Ball control is poor, definitely. But his runs are great. As center back, he’s the type of fwd I would have hated to cover, bc his runs are always just off the shoulder and between the two CBs forcing a decision. These are the runs Suarez makes. They’re hard as hell to defend in a flatback system.
        He’s not Henry and he’s not Bruin, and he’s def not Suarez. Hes a different player. But his runs are dangerous and open up the field for people behind him at the least.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree with all of this…when Jack is paired with another striker, to play off of. All alone up top and we don’t see enough of THAT McInerney. I don’t hate his ball skills. His touch lets him down, a bit, but he is crafty on the ball. His chip, against Portland, was 3″ and 1/2 second away from beautiful. He just doesn’t really heat up the attacking third, when alone up top. Once healthy, Casey will help free Jack up a bit more. We are getting good buildup play from our midfield and wings. We need the finish!

      • Not to mention it is only two games into the season. He drops deep to get on the ball, which I like, and he also makes good runs at opponents back line. He had a goal the last game, people can’t expect a goal every game from him.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Not attacking him at all. He is a talented player. Just not suited to be a lone striker. He’s a different breed. To me, he is better working off of another advanced attacker.

      • oulAndy Muenz says:

        And I’ll still say he shouldn’t slowly walk off the field when already sitting on a yellow. A second yellow would have been a REAL problem. That’s not playing a team game.

      • i agree that he shouldnt have risked another card there but he absolutely played a team game the other 95% of the time.

    • Maidana is Argentinian not French.

  9. Wonder what happens to lineup when Casey returns. Jack had a tough match but still put himself in good positions

    • Yes Jack could have done better. He still has a lot of growing up to do. He also has to learn to be shiftier with his ball dribbling skill. He has to improve his lateral skill on the ball. The problem with most poachers is that they tend to be streaky. I think the Union gave up on Mawanga too soon IMO. But that was a weird time back then. There was a strange disturbance in the force 😉 Casey could take some pressure of Jack. Wonder if Hackworth would change to a 4-4-2.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      If Jack had gone to back post, the cross/shot by Seba could have been played. Jack will score more goals with midfield through balls that will be coming.

      • Leo killed any momentum Jack had in the second half. He really only had a couple chances..even Suarez needs a few to put on in.
        See, I’m surprised they’re all this cohesive at this point, but you can see less understanding on the final passes. Jack will score next week, and when Casey and Williams are back, he’ll have some pressure off and better service from the RB.
        Yeah he has work to do, but he makes GREAT runs. And his game elsewhere has really improved.

  10. Was anyone else surprised that Hackworth favored Wheeler over White as the CB sub?

    • No, it was called for in that situation. NE brought out some big bodies and were trying to launch attacks over the top. That was the Union’s Achilles heel last year. Wheeler is doing a fine job at CB and gives us a serviceable backup to Berry.

    • i was, but wheeler was awesome

  11. When do we play a good team?

    • What are you trying to say? Portland might be the best team this year and NE was pretty good last year? They didn’t play very well, but I’m pretty sure at this point, it’s because our Midfield might now be the best in the league and we’re pretty solid everywhere else.

      • Pretty solid everywhere else except for striker.

      • He scored 12 goals last year at 20 yes old and has scored 1 goal in 2 games.
        Yea. Where screwed…

      • That one goal was not his. It was going in regardless. Sure credited to him but not really his his last touch was unnecessary. It would have done as good if he bent down to let it go in.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        It was not going in regardless. The man at the back post has a play on that ball. Jack buried the chance.

      • 100% with eli here.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agreed

      • Whether it was going in or not is irrelevant, a striker is paid to put balls in the back of the net, and in that situation he buried it. If he scores 20 of those this year I’ll be perfectly satisfied.

      • Portland is a good team but they wern’t playing particularly well that game.
        And I have no idea what happened to New England, other than the fact they are New England.

      • Having your star center back tank a game like Goncalves last week can really mess up a team’s mojo.

      • I’m trying to say the opposition so far has not looked good, and that so far it looks like Philadelphia Union are a very good team. I agree with your point on cohesion in the midfield – – the three newbies looked like they’ve been playing together for a year – – but how much of that is due to the opposition? I am well aware of the preseason predictions for Portland, but they played like crap for most of the match. They looked terrible on their turf in their house in front of their fans and in their sloppy PNW rain, and the Union looked good. Now NE comes in with a lot to prove having been embarrassed last week, and they really looked awful in the first half, a little better in the second half, but in the end my comment is basically like “bring it on MLS!”

  12. Jeez, can we please let our 21 year old strike actually have a run of bad games before we start calling for his head?

    He fits this playstyle a lot better than Casey does.

    • He has been having a lot of bad games since last season. And yes the problem is that he is young, but starting. I said it before and will say it again we need a proven, veteran presents up top. With Jack coming it as a substitute (instead of the groosom twosom of Hoppenot and Cruz).

      • How did he play bad yesterday? Should he have scored? Maybe. But he played well. Actually very well at times.
        Especially considering he played for 2 people in the second half.
        If Leo was subbed, we would have another goal.

      • He didn’t play well. He dropped back too much, and missed a couple of good opportunities. In short, nothing he did even bothered the NE keeper. Its one thing not to score, its another not to take advantage of opportunities.

      • Duh. He dropped back to cover for Leo…Sheesh. We’ll have to agree to disagree for now.
        BTW, Maidana blew a few good chances and had a few poor passes. Do we need a new DP also?

      • He dropped back to far, but did he drop back too far on his own or was that where he was told to play?
        If it was on his own he would have been told to move forward and let his poacher instinct take over.
        This one is on Hack not Jack.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Shuttleworth’s best save came on a McInerney shot…

      • I would prefer that he stayed way up top and not drift into the midfield as much as he does, but there’s no way that translates to him having a bad game. I sit behind the goal and several times he was in a dangerous position and either couldn’t put it in or didn’t get the ball. Him not finishing is an entirely different argument, but his movement was fantastic, and will only help this team once the midfield timing is worked out.

      • agreed

      • A proven veteran presence upfront is needed even when Jack is in good form. Perhaps it would even serve to elevate his game.

      • The Black Hand says:

        +1

  13. Southside Johnny says:

    Well, I it appears that I am not the only one puzzled by the lack of love JackMac has been receiving from some, but I think I get it now. It obviously isn’t based on anything objective or quantifiable, since he has great stats and, while clearly not perfect, never stinks up the pitch.. I’m thinking it’s the dark side of fandom. There seem to be those who just don’t like him. Fine. I don’t like some players, too. I couldn’t stand Landon Donovan when he was a punkass preppy boy, Freddie Adu still gives me fits and I loathe Eddie Johnson. I have even wished bad things on Zak McMath at times. When guys you just don’t like play for your team and, worse, when they play while your fave rides the pine, it sucks. What sucks worse though is eating the dumb stuff you said about them when they go on and have great careers.

  14. someone should forward this entire page to Mike Schmidt, perfect illustration of the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day

    • probably has something to do with that being the least thrilling victory i’ve ever seen. there have been worse victories for sure but that game just wasn’t all that good. still happy they won.

    • Was thinking the same thing as I read this.

  15. Osager, I agree completely with that quote, and have used it myself on this board. I must watch that tendency myself, and here I go with attacking what I watched in a mostly enjoyable game. I was happy with the possession and control, even with Jack’s although I think that there was more of a dropoff from Jack to Hop yesterday than I have noted for some time. Within about two minutes of getting onto the field, Hop had a foul called on him, barked at the ref and was called offside. Then, within a short time, he had a couple of different communication issues with Le2, demonstrating his displeasure such that it could be seen from the broadcast. I don’t see any of that as being helpful. I don’t doubt his energy at all, but let’s direct it a bit. Also, loved to hear Peter Pappas comparing the first half possession numbers and pass rate with Barcelona’s ticky-tacka style. If they can find a way to keep that going for a full game, at even the 60-40 rate on which the game ended, what a turnaround from last year where they spent the whole game chasing the ball and were losing possession after every first touch! This midfield and back line has me so hopeful, I cannot even compare it to the doubts that I had at the end of last season.

  16. The Chopper says:

    If Connor Casey had stayed healthy (which was a huge if), the plan would have been to start him and bring Jack on around the 65th minute to change the look and rest Casey’s legs. Hoppenot may not even dress in that scenario and probably doesn’t play.

    The Union are striker shopping. No one is counting on Connor to be a consisted healthy contributor. It is clear that Jack has his merits, but when he is really the sole scoring option can not be counted upon to produce game in, game out. And no one else looks ready to pick up the scoring slack. We can’t live on 1 goal games, which is all this group has been able to generate through the preseason and first two league matches.

    • Where do u get this theory of striker shopping from? They spent a bunch. And hey look somebody else scored this game…you know midfielders are expected to score too…
      These one goal games come from U’s mentality since day one. They are not cutthroat, collectively. As displayed by dominant first half.
      This is almost entirely on the coach.

      • We haven’t signed Fred yet so we have enough for one more player.

      • The Chopper says:

        Not a theory. Have been told from a source that has not steered me wrong yet, that they are looking to add a true striker. Doesn’t mean anything is imminent. Could be a trade, could be a signing later on. But that is what they they have their eye out for.

      • This is the last year of McInerney’s contract. Without tryimg to soumd alarmist, I’m sure the Union are doing their due diligence should McInerney fet too good pf an offer from overseas.

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