Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 Harrisburg City Islanders

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Andrew Wenger spared Philadelphia Union blushes Tuesday with two overtime goals for a 3-1 win over club affiliate Harrisburg City Islanders in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s fourth round.

Harrisburg grabbed a first half lead through Jason Pelletier before Maurice Edu equalized just a few minutes before the final whistle.

Wenger then found the net twice in the second extra time, first with a deflected effort that wrong footed Harrisburg goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, and then on a breakaway where he finished well off the underside of the crossbar.

“We were a little rusty, sloppy, but my guys fought hard in the end,” interim head coach Jim Curtin said after the game. “They could have laid down but they didn’t, they kept pushing and got the goals.”

First half

Jim Curtin fielded a strong Union XI in his first game as interim head coach, giving Andre Blake his first start in goal. With Amobi Okugo was given the night off, Maurice Edu started as a center back. Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud started together for the first this season in the central midfield, with Vincent Nogueira, Danny Cruz, Cristian Maidana, and Andrew Wenger looking to make the attack.

Harrisburg fielded a depleted squad, with Union loanees Pedro Ribeiro, Jimmy McLaughlin, Cristian Hernandez, and Richie Marquez all unavailable combined with injuries to Robbie Derschang and Clesio Bauque.

A dour first 40 minutes of play saw few chances fall to either side. Philadelphia found success attacking down the right side, with Cruz and Nogueira interchanging well and finding room to cross.

While the Union dominated possession, Harrisburg capitalized on a set piece in the 38th minute to take the lead. A well placed corner kick was met by the head of Coady Andrews, who drew a good save out of Andre Black on the goalline. But the Union goalkeeper couldn’t hold the shot, and it fell to Jason Pelletier, who finished from close range.

Second half 

The Union continued to dominate possession through the second half, but they failed to find the correct ball in the final third and rarely tested Brian Sylvestre.

Sebastien Le Toux, Leo Fernandes, and Antoine Hoppenot were all introduced to try to find an equalizing goal. But it would be Michael Lahoud who would come closest when his drive from 18 yards had to be parried away by Sylvestre on 75 minutes.

Harrisburg continued to be dangerous on the counterattack, with both Jose Barril and Morgan Langley forcing saves from Blake.

The relentless Union pressure would finally pay off when Maurice Edu equalized in the 89th minute. Hoppenot did well to pick out Le Toux on the corner of the area, and the Frenchman squared to Edu, who finished from 8 yards.

The Union then almost found the winner in normal time when Sylvestre was forced into a terrific double save from headers from Fernandes and Hoppenot after a deep cross from Maidana.

Extra time

With the depleted Harrisburg team dead on their feet, it was all one-way traffic in the extra time. Twice Antoine Hoppenot was in on goal but couldn’t find an end product.

It would take a little luck for the Union to finally take their first lead of the match. The 110th minute goal began with Le Toux again creating down the right side. His pass picked out Wenger near the penalty spot, and Wenger’s shot took a wicked deflection off a Harrisburg center back and wrong-footed Sylvestre before finding the back of the net.

Seven minutes later, Wenger’s second of the night would be a more assured finish. Blake launched a long ball that was headed down by Le Toux to the Lancaster native. Wenger collected the ball, cut into the Harrisburg box, and finished coolly over Sylvestre and off the underside of the crossbar from 7 yards.

“Good for me to finally break a little bit of a drought,” Wenger said after the game. “Good for us to dig ourselves out of that and move forward, that’s the most important thing.”

Curtin praised his team’s opponent after the win.

“These games are always fights and I’d like to give credit to Harrisburg, who was very undermanned tonight and missing a lot of players,” Curtin said. “Put up a real good fight. Had us on the ropes, to be honest, and I was frustrated. Fortunately we were able to push one in there and force extra time. Give credit to them. Bill Becher did a real good job of having them prepared. That small group was ready to play.”

Harrisburg head coach Bill Becher praised the efforts of his team.

“We fought, we did everything we could to get the result and unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” Becher said. “We showed we have some depth some heart and some character, and I think we gave them everything they wanted. It’s hard to say we didn’t deserve to win the game.”

The Union will now take on the New York Cosmos in the next round of the Open Cup on Tuesday, June 24 at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 for full season ticket holders. Non season ticket holders can purchase best available seats for $20, $30 for premium seating.

The Cosmos meet the Union after eliminating the New York Red Bulls 3-0 last Saturday.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Raymon Gaddis, Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams, Fabinho, Danny Cruz (Sebastien Le Toux 57′), Brian Carroll (Leo Fernandes 69′), Vincent Nogueira (Antoine Hoppenot 81′), Michael Lahoud, Cristian Maidana, Andrew Wenger
Unused Subs: Zac MacMath, Ethan White, Zach Pfeffer, Pedro Ribeiro

Harrisburg City Islanders
Brian Sylvestre, Colin Zizzi, Matt Bahner, Coady Andrews, Raphael Cox, Jose Barril (Luan Silva 70′), Yann Ekra (Edinho 86′), Danny Diprima, Jason Pelletier, Morgan Langley, Garrett Pettis (Jamiel Hardware 75′)
Unused Subs: Nick Noble

Scoring Summary
HCI: Jason Pelletier (Danny Diprima) 39’
PU: Maurice Edu (Sebastian Le Toux) 89’
PU: Andrew Wenger (Le Toux) 110’
PU: Andrew Wenger (unassisted) 117’

HCI: Morgan Langley (caution – 32’)
PU: Raymon Gaddis (caution – 78’)
HCI: Edinho (caution – 94’)
PU: Maurice Edu (caution – 108’)
PU: Antoine Hoppenot (caution – 112’)


  1. Jimmy Trojan says:

    WOW!! A win with Brian Carroll in the starting XI, didn’t think I would see that all season.

  2. This game shall now and forever be filed in the box in my brain called 2 1/2 hours I am not getting back.

  3. Can one ask for their money back even though the ticket was free? Can’t believe they have the b@lz to charge for the next one. Cosmos coaches in 107 rarely looked up from their phones. I assume they were texting “Nothing to worry about here.”

    • I sat right next to Coach Savarese, and noticed on several occasions him being nudged to wake up by Tab Ramos. I think that was Tab Ramos sitting with him. I couldn’t figure out who the other guy was. Anyway, I got a picture with my 2 boys which was a total highlight. Far as I’m concerned the footballing world is a better place with the New York Cosmos back.

      • I’m surprised Tab Ramos flew back from Brazil for the Union v. Harrisburg game. You would think preparing for Portugal would take up most of his time nowadays.

      • That’s a good call. It looked a lot like him. Maybe just one of his staff. I saw some kids getting his autograph. Hmm. A mystery unsolved less someone else saw the 3 guys sitting in 108.

      • old soccer coach says:

        My seatmate, who knows who’s who in the zoo, thought it was Eskandarian who used to work for Peter Nowak in the Union’s organizational scheme within the academy system.

  4. The Islanders were playing without 6 of their top 10 players. 3 of whom the Union wouldn’t let play just so the Union wouldn’t be embarrassed by their minor league affiliate.
    Glad the team made a change, but this season is a complete waste and unless Curtin plays some of the young guys, I’m not going to even bother going back to watching this crap after the real soccer of the World Cup is over.

  5. The Union’s nutritionist won that game.

  6. Feel free to remove that “interim manager” tag from Curtin . . . it should now be “Manager who will definitely be gone at end of year if not before for doing exactly what got his predecessor fired”

    • In Curtain’s defense he had one day, ONE, to prepare the team for this game since Hack gave them a week’s vacation before he was let go. Give him some time. That said, we had better be doing a legit coaching search because I don’t think Curtain is ready for the head coaching gig just yet.

      • Sorry I don’t care how many days he had training with the team . . . there is ZERO excuse for a team so far out of it to be playing a 4231 in a 1st round cup game at home against a team a league below you, who are short-handed and have a Cb who had played a grand total of 17 minutes this year. ZERO.

  7. I’ll preface this by saying I only get to one or two Union games a year on average (I live a lot closer to Harrisburg), but this had to be hands down the worst performance I’ve ever seen from Philadelphia first-hand. I don’t know where this ranks among games for people who get there regularly, but it was the worst I’ve seen. They were lucky to get a thoroughly undeserving win in extra time.

    What got me the most was Philadelphia’s combination of dominance in terms of possession coupled with complete and utter listlessness right from the outset. That total lack of urgency didn’t change until the last few minutes of regulation time. How many times in that game did Cruz battle to get into an excellent position to set up a pass or shot in or around the box only to fall over for no apparent reason? How many times did Wenger hesitate to take an open shot, or when he took one, was offside? How many times did Lahoud and Carroll pass the ball directly to a Harrisburg player or out of bounds?

    Even with the sent-down Union players still out of Harrisburg’s side, if Clesio and Derschang hadn’t been hurt, there’s no way the Union would have been in a position to equalize in the 89th minute. Clesio in particular would have run circles around that team. What should have been a humiliating loss would have been.

    Harrisburg, which has struggled in USL Pro play this year, played with a decimated squad and came within one minute of winning. The Union, with the exception of Blake in goal and Lahoud in midfield pushing Edu back to central defense, played full strength and looked, in terms of lineup, like it was going all-out for the win. Let that sink in.

    That said, Blake was a bright spot. The Union certainly aren’t hurting for solid goalkeeping.

    • i heard mike lahoud audibly yell “OH FUCK” when he accidentally passed the ball to a harrisburg player

    • The Islanders parked 10 men behind the ball and we are just not good enough to break that down. Ever. At any time.

  8. After watching the World Cup I brought a co-worker to the game. I was totally embarrassed. At one point he turned to me and said “do these guys practice?” Yeah that bad.

  9. They’re making a really good case for this season truly being completely their fault and not Hackworth’s

    • counterpoint: Edu and Williams were your centterbacks. and you had Lahoud and Carrol were 2 CDM’s

      • Sieve is 1000% right. . . . .rant imminent . . . spelling and grammar are out the window

        It looked to me like Hackworth must have been on the sideline with his hand up Curtin’s ass controlling him like a ventriloquist . . . I wasn’t at the game, so someone who actually attended will have to tell me if that is in fact true.

        Let’s go over the Hackworth checklist shall we:

        1) No actual Centerbacks playing centerback. Check

        Ethan White mine as well be Barry White because it’s clear neither of them will ever see the pitch for The Union. If he’s not starting in that game, against that opposition, with Okugo being rested and Berry hurt . . . he will never ever ever ever see the field. I can only imagine that some day back in practice he must have told Hackworth that Bo Jackson knows futbol better than him.

        2) Ultra defensive midfield at home against what should be an inferior opponent. Check

        Yeah let’s bunker in against a team a league below us . . . who are missing 7 starters . . . and most of their offensive weapons because we were afraid to play against our youngsters for fear they might embarrass us and prove they should be up here. By the way sarcastic 80’s movie slow mo golf claps for weakening your already inferior opponent by not allowing them to play your loanees. Did you used to punch your opponents in the balls before challenging them to a 50 yard dash too?

        Starting two CDM’s in that game should immediately require that Curtin run up and down the River End through disgruntled SOB’s who are given old-time miniature Willie Montanez souvenir bats prior to kick-off

        3) Practice guys get to start. Check

        Carroll and Cruz . . . America Fuck Yeah!

        Last I checked everyone outside The Union knows that Carroll is the 4th best CDM on your team. And Cruz should be no more than a 75th minute change of pace sub. I can only assume The Union staff gets a $10 gift card at American Apparel everytime they start once upon a time US National Team hopeful in their lineup

        4) Hoppenot super sub. check

        Let’s see the other team has 10 men behind the ball . . . all we are doing is crossing it with no chance to fast break. I got it let’s put in our super speedy smurf to run past them!

        I know you guys having a hard time getting over your chub for Wheeler at CB, but that would be the perfect time to play the guy. Or since for whatever reason he didn’t even rate the bench maybe an actual 6 foot 4 offensive minded player like Ribeiro might have been a better choice

      • In fairness, though, Hoppenot did get in behind the defense a few times. He flubbed his touch, but he had opportunities.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Please stop. Hopp sucked last night. He has sucked all season.

      • John Ling says:

        Yes, he did. Absolutely. My point wasn’t that Hoppenot is the next coming of Messi. My point was that Hoppenot did exactly what Shane said he wasn’t – getting in behind the defense on long balls.
        I’m not praising Hoppenot’s super-awesome leet skills at forward. Just that the concept – use speed over the top – was there, at least a couple times. The fact that Hoppenot sucked at it, actually, says all you need to know about him in that role.

      • All ten people in my section yelled “Don’t go down!!!” whenever he had the ball in the box.

        He went down.

      • John Ling says:

        Not true – one time he shot it about 30 feet wide of the right post. *shakes head* I know even the best strikers miss. But man, I can’t help but wonder what might’ve been if somebody with skill was in those same positions as Hoppenot.

  10. I actually would’ve liked to see Naguiera get the game off, to be honest. Dude has been going since the start of the French season last summer. At most, he should’ve played a half. Instead… they gave Okugo the game off? Is there some injury, or was it just a half-baked plan?
    The biggest problem I saw with Edu-Williams as a pair was that they both want to get forward – especially Edu. I’d like to see an Edu-Berry pairing, with Williams moving out to the left – he can’t be any worse at defending out there than Fabinho.
    Speaking of Fabinho… I’m so tired of seeing him work hard to get down the flank, get to good spots, and then… blindly whip crosses into the box. (He’s not the only one of course.) I’m not sure I can count high enough to say how many times last night it seemed we had possession down one of the flanks only to fire in a cross to nobody. WTF?!? If you don’t see a target for the cross, hold possesion and work it.
    Lastly, I think Le Toux continues to make his case for starting. The game changed when he came off the bench last night. I still think Wenger-Le Toux can be a solid pairing at forward. Wenger can play the “Alejandro Moreno” role, but with more speed and skill.
    That was bad, but very close to being a total embarassment.
    Oh, and a quick “PS” of sorts: Thanks to Zach Pfeffer for signing autographs for my daughter and a bunch of other kids last night after the match. I always love seeing the connection these players make with the young fans.
    PPS: PennDot, you suck. Hard. What should’ve been about a 45 minute drive home took me about 90 minutes because you decided you needed to close three of four Northbound lanes on 95 – for what looks like nothing. That ride will be real fun coming home from a Union game with an actual crowd. Or even worse, after a Union game the same night as a Phillies game. Ugh!

    • John, the train carrying Fabinho out of Philadelphia cannot arrive fast enough for me. I am thrilled the Union won (as the irony of the NY Cosmos coaches coming to scout the winner of this game could not be lost on anyone if it turned out to be the Harrisburg City Islanders they wound up scouting) as I get to go down next Tuesday and watch, for me, the reason I came to love this game some 35 years ago. Welcome back NY Cosmos- I will be decked in my green as will my kids– for just this ONE night.

      • Agreed. Last year when the offensive plan was, “Fire crosses at Casey’s beautiful bald noggin” Fabinho was OK (not great, just OK; he’s a defensive liability.) Now that the plan is supposed to be possesion and work the ball to develop openings, his skill set just doesn’t work. And that makes his liability a larger problem.
        If he’s a depth guy so you have a backup at FB, that’s fine. He shouldn’t start, and the Union need to prioritze (still) replacing Jordan Harvey at LB.

  11. The Chopper says:

    Painful to watch (particularly via the stream as I did), but let’s not bury Curtin yet. The team had exactly one training session prior to the match. If I was Curtin, I would have cancelled their break, said we suck and need to get to work so no vacation, but he elected not to. So a team that was playing poorly was sent onto the pitch rusty and more out of synch than usual.

    Okugo and Casey were unavailable so that certainly changes what his 11 and formation will look like down the road. Can’t call him Hackworth II until we see what he rolls out when they return to MLS action after a solid week of training.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I’m with you. I’m willing to assume he pieced together a team to just try to win a game and advance. Now next week, if the lineup is similar, i.e. Carroll, Cruz, Edu at CB… then I’m going to get angry.

  12. The Black Hand says:

    I liked seeing that Curtin had the “balls” to play Edu at CB. I think that that is where he should play…at least for a good look.
    HOPEFULLY, Curtin slots Okugo in Carroll’s #6 spot.
    Any rumor of a transfer???

  13. Also Greg says:

    Hey at least we got an extra half hour of soccer for the 15 dollar ticket price. The game was boring, sure. And the hipster dude with the 2 and 3 word phrases coming from towards the top of section 102 was extremely annoying. Stay away, dude. You’re clueless.

  14. John Ling says:

    Oh, I also enjoyed this exchange as the clock hit 45 minutes:
    PA Announcer: The 4th official has indicated there will be a minimum of 1 minute of stoppage time in the first half.
    As the announcement ends, about 10 seconds into stoppage, the ref blows the whistle.
    PA Announcer: Which, apparently, is ending right now.

    • That was funny. Funniest moment of the night, right next to The Supports singing to the 12 Islander fans to, ‘put your shirt on.’

      • For my money, the funniest moment was around the 70th minute, when the ref played advantage for Harrisburg through a horrible Gaddis tackle. And then, when he went back to card somebody on the Union, he had forgotten who committed the foul.

  15. Southside Johnny says:

    I’m speechless…with apathy.

  16. Score had HCI been at full strength (including loanees)? Try “humiliating.”
    Good luck, Coach Curtin.

  17. Well, on the bright side … last year, DC went to penalties against their affiliate in their first round, and then they went all the way.

  18. old soccer coach says:

    Worth noticing as you evaluate Jim Curtin that he had to play a second game on Wednesday night in Reading against Reading United AC. He used the four HCI loan players, some bench players who did not dress for the HCI game, and some other HCI players who were subs from that game. His personnel management for the game against HCI on Tuesday had to have been influenced by the need to put a team on the field the next night. The “Union” won 3-2 on two goals by the Jamaican midfielder #5 who subbed on Tuesday night for Harrisburg late in the game, Jamiel Hardware, maybe? Aaron Wheeler scored first in the sixth minute.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Good point, Coach!
      It should also be noted that our Union had to come from behind against a Reading team that SHOULD be far beneath the Union, as far as talent goes.

  19. Our Union are the equivalent of a USL Pro club. This explains why we almost lost to our beat up affiliate with more or less our first team on the field.

  20. The Black Hand says:

    Sad, but true. We have the wrong guys in charge!!!!

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