Union match reports

Match Report: New England Revolution 1-3 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union returned to league play with a comprehensive 3-1 victory in New England on Saturday night. Sebastien Le Toux scored a brace and Danny Cruz added a brilliant individual effort to give Philadelphia a victory in their first league match since early June.

Le Toux capitalized on a mistake by the New England back line to put Philadelphia up 1-0 just before halftime. Cruz scored a dazzling individual goal midway through the second half before Saer Sene pulled New England back to goal on 73 minutes. A cool finish from Le Toux after a great Andrew Wenger pass in the 78th minute assured the Union all three points.

“I thought we were organized defensively,” interim head coach Jim Curtin said after the win. “We dodged a bullet or two in the first 15 minutes. We thought it was important to get through the first 15 without giving up a goal. This is a very dynamic attacking team that New England has so if you let them get started they’re a handful to deal with.”

First half

Curtin made three changes to the team that defeated the New York Cosmos in U.S. Open Cup play on Tuesday. Zac MacMath returned in goal, Michael Lahoud slotted into the midfield for Brian Carroll, and Conor Casey was preferred over Andrew Wenger up top. Sheanon Williams and Maurice Edu remained at center back.

After a sloppy opening 10 minutes, New England had the first big opportunity of the match. Patrick Mullins found space to shoot from the left side, but MacMath was able to push away the rookie’s fierce effort. The rebound fell to the feet of Teal Bunbury who had to score from close range, but his shot hit the sprawled out Fabinho on the goal line and was cleared by the Union.

Edu would have the Union’s first chance in the 26th minute. Up in the New England box for a set piece, a half clearance was eventually headed on by Williams into the path of Edu, but his volley from 8 yards dipped over the goal of Brad Knighton.

Amobi Okugo would have the next chance for Philadelphia on 39 minutes. The sequence began with some good work from Cristian Maidana on the left side, who found Le Toux on the edge of the Revolution box. Le Toux squared the ball for Casey who laid off for Okugo to shoot from the top of the box. The midfielder’s shot was on target, but Knighton was down low to his right to push the shot wide.

Le Toux would open the scoring just a few minutes later when a long ball over the top wasn’t dealt with by Jose Goncalves, who tried to head back Knighton from 18 yards. But Le Toux read the play perfectly, swooped in to intercept the pass and finished coolly with a looping shot over Knighton.

“I saw that the defender was heading it back to the keeper so I was able to slip my leg under the ball,” Le Toux said of the goal. “Luckily it went into the back of the net. I also have a lot of confidence right now and I was very lucky – ended up working very well.”

Second half

New England would start the second half strongly, holding possession for long periods and creating a few half chances. Teal Bunbury and Diego Fagundez would both have shooting attempts from inside the Union box, but neither could find the target.

New England would then have a good chance from a set piece on the top of the Union box. But Lee Nguyen’s effort was repelled by the Union’s wall.

Cruz made New England pay for their missed opportunities in the 69th minute with a terrific individual goal. When Ray Gaddis was fouled while making a clearance, the ball fell to Michael Lahoud inside the Union half. With the referee playing the advantage, Lahoud laid the ball out wide to Cruz, who was in full gallop. While Casey and Le Toux made smart runs to the outside of the onrushing Cruz, the winger pushed the ball straight at the retreating Revolution back line. When it looked like he must lay off a pass from 20 yards, Cruz instead hit a clean strike into corner of Knighton’s goal to give the Union the 2-0 lead.

Substitute Saer Sene would pull the Revolution within one goal just 5 minutes later. A long ball from midfield to Kelyn Rowe was not closed down quickly enough by Williams and Rowe had time to center for Sene. The Frenchman made no mistake, turning in the cross from six yards.

The Union would repel more New England pressure as the Revs looked for the equalizer. MacMath beat away an A.J. Soares effort and the wall again came up big, blocking a Chris Tierney shot.

Le Toux notched his second goal of the game to assure the Union the full points in the 78th minute. The Frenchman did well to win the ball inside the Revolution half and laid the ball out wide for substitute Andrew Wenger, who calmly controlled the pass and waited for Le Toux to make a run into the New England box before firing in a pass to the penalty spot. Le Toux took one touch to control the ball before finishing just inside the far post.

Brian Carroll and Aaron Wheeler would replace Le Toux (who pulled up with cramps around the 80-minute mark) and Cruz, respectively, as the Union looked to close out the match. New England would see plenty of the ball in the final 10 minutes, but chances were hard to come by and the Union held on for the victory.

“They did good,” Curtin said of his team. “It has zero to do with the coach. It has nothing to do with the coach; it has to do with players. I have good players. I would say that the first half of the year, we had a lot of very good players that had a poor first half of the season. This is the second half of the season; it’s a new start for them. And, again, like I said, it has nothing to with me, it has everything to do with our players. I’m really proud of the effort tonight, they played really well.”

With the win, Jim Curtin moves to 3-0-0 as interim head coach. The Union are now unbeaten in five matches, winning four of the last five including US Open Cup matches. They face FC Dallas on Friday July 4 in league play before hosting the Revolution on July 8 in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath, Fabinho, Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams, Ray Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Michael Lahoud, Danny Cruz (79′ Aaron Wheeler), Sebastien Le Toux (83′ Brian Carroll), Conor Casey (70′ Andrew Wenger).

New England Revolution
Brad Knighton, A.J. Soares, Andrew Farrell, Chris Tierney, Jose Gonvalves, Andy Dorman, Daigo Kobayashi (70′ Saer Sene), Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen (80′ Steve Neumann), Teal Bunbury (58′ Kelyn Rowe), Patrick Mullins

Scoring Summary
42 – PHI: Le Toux
69 – PHI: Cruz (Lahoud)
73 – NE: Sene (Rowe, Dorman)
78 – PHI: Le Toux (Wenger)

Disciplinary Summary
74 – NE: Sene (excessive celebration)
80 – PHI: Wenger (time wasting)
85 – NE: Dorman (foul)
90 +1 – NE: Goncalves (foul)

Philadelphia Union New England Revolution
12 Attempts on Goal 22
5 Shots on Target 8
6 Shots off Target 7
1 Blocked Shots 7
2 Corner Kicks 9
12 Fouls 10
16 Open Play Crosses 25
3 Offsides 2
1 First Yellow Cards 3
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
43 Duels Won 39
52.4% Duels Won % 47.6%
367 Total Pass 483
72% Passing Accuracy % 80%
42.9% Possession 57.1%

44 Comments

  1. They seemed like they had a better idea of how to attack. Good game, Coach.

  2. 700chopper says:

    The way they are playing now just proves to me how incompetent our old manager Mr. Hack really was

    • Really? Did you see the Open Cup games? You’re gonna make a full conclusion after one league game? What specifically did you like that Curtain did?

      • Spugger – I agree not to reach a full conclusion just yet either, though I like to think the flat Open Cup performances are due to playing in front of 1,000 people against minor league opposition. Plenty of MLS teams struggle in the US Open Cup. I’m sure we all believe that as professionals, they’d go out there and take care of business, but I’m sure it’s much harder to get up for those games. Not saying that’s right – it’s not.

      • It also could have just been the adjustment period while the team transitions to a new formation and style of play.

      • The Union have yet to look like a competent team at home. Their road performances have been more than acceptable in the first half+ of the season.

        If or when Curtin gets good performances at home, that’s when things will start seeming rosier.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Starting Letoux, up top, with Casey was a good move. Lahoud at DM (with Okugo) was a good move. Edu at CB was another one.
        .
        The Open Cup games were awful. We played down to our opponent’s level…perhaps even lower. That said, we got the results.

  3. The game proves to me they caught a rebound of fresh air and that is it. We will see if that whiff of a clue translates into future games. that said, they looked much more coherent and lively- guys showing for ball, better use of space, quicker thinking and moving of ball. The Cruz goal was a bit fortunate, (which you need in a game sometimes) as NE was begining to dominate in field and the flow of game.
    .
    Le Toux in position of poacher and goal scorer has been nice and Okugo and Lahoud seemed to fit well. Casey much more active. Edu functional as CB though was roundly beaten on NE goal. That happens.
    .
    As much as we need to see this team function better, there is a perverse part of me that fears the FO will think Curtain is the man for team as season progresses and call off the diligence of a proper search. It could be that he is the man for the job, hard to tell, but I am hoping for someone with a track record of success whole can institute philosophical sea change from youth up to first team.

    • “Philosophical sea change” would be great, but I would settle for “Does not compulsively buy up defensive midfielders.”

      • As we speak, Hack is sitting alone in a dark room, the only light source emanating from a computer monitor as he tests out his revolutionary 0-10-0-0 formation in FM14!

    • As happy as i am that we are doing well under curtin I can’t see the font office hiring him unless he wins trophies and if he does i think he earned it

  4. Good game. Lets hope they can keep it up.

  5. The Black Hand says:

    Curtin made the right call with the bucket. Lahoud and Okugo proved formidable in the defensive midfield. It’s nice to have that formation as a viable option.
    .
    Moving forward, I would like to see Curtin run a ‘bucket-esque’ 4-4-2, with a Noguiera-Okugo pairing in center and Cruz (Fred) on the right. Chaco on the left. Up top, Letoux and Casey (Wenger). We actually have a fair amount of depth on the bench, which will keep us fresh.
    .
    I think that Williams and Edu should get another look. When Berry is fit, slot Williams on the left.
    .

    • Wenger just turns the ball over on passes. Has to be Casey regardless or one of the kids.
      At least Ribiero made the bench.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Wenger got the assist on LeToux’s second. Has also shown an ability to fend off a defender and find a teammate. He has had issues finishing, but it may be to early to write off Andrew Wenger. Casey would be my first choice, but I like the option of bringing in a fresh Wenger, as a sub.
        .
        Not sure where Ribiero fits. He looks a bit slow to me.

      • Not saying give up on Wenger. He def has something, but he’s just not dynamic in any way. Mediocre all over. And if he’s a target, cannot miss on passes in middle of field in transition.
        Liked him on the outside in the end though. May be his best fit?

        It was a nice assist. LeToux did tell him exactly where to put it though.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree.

  6. Here’s what I like about Curtain so far (but I’m a bit biased):
    Hack was hell bent on on playing like Spain (high press D, Tiki-taka Off.), even though that entire system was based on two MF and a lack of forwards–it was never meant to be copied by just anybody.
    Curtain seems to have looked at the squad and asked, “what do we have?”
    If we play organized, not high press, we can be more dynamic on the counter. Check.
    Amobi and Lahoud can pass and defend; Brian and Mo can only defend. Edu to CB, BC to bench and sub as needed. Check.
    We need to focus on set-piece defense and positional discipline. I can only assume they practice that this week. Check (to be reevaluated as we go).

    Not saying Curtain is the be all-end all, but it just shows the difference between a guy who wanted to play a certain style b/c he thought it would make him look like a coach vs. a coach (rookie, yes) who has played in and seen the league.

    Good showing. Though I’d rather see the kids, it’s fun to support Curtain.

    • Agreed. They looked best on the counter, particularly when they were able to sprint down a wing and square the ball in the second half.

      I still cannot believe how much Williams has regressed.

    • Very good comment, D. Glad to see some thought and not just “he was so much better than Hack.”

  7. I think Okugo starting at CDM over Edu might be the first sign that Curtin doesn’t plan to keep Edu past his loan. Honestly, we could get two or three players of his same quality with what we’re paying him, so that’d be fine by me.
    .
    For some reason, watching this game got me thinking about one of the postseason poll questions from last year—what’s better: attractive attacking soccer and we lose, or ugly bunker-ball and we win? (or something to that extent) If I remember correctly, ugly, winning, bunker-ball won by a narrow margin. Apparently we can’t have both…

    • Dan Walsh says:

      You remember correctly.

    • Just because we organize and counter, doesn’t mean it’s ugly and we don’t attack.
      Offensively, we looked so much better last night b/c there was dynamic movement.
      I’d rather play a counter attacking style where we attack w/ speed over tiki-taka any day of the week.
      I’m talking German or Brazilian style over Spanish or Italian…though with our personnel, it ends up like England circa ’94.

    • I think that the Okugo-Edu switch has more to do with keeping the more important player happy. The Union clearly told Edu that they would play him in midfield so he could make the US squad. Once that passed, it became much more important to keep Okugo happy and make him want to stay here. So Edu got relocated to central defense. I don’t see Edu staying with us past this season, but you never know. It’s probably good for him to have some stability in his career and playing in MLS is a much better option that it was 5-6 yrs ago.

      I really liked the range that Lahoud and Okugo can cover together. This is the first time in a few matches vs NE where we were controlled midfield.

      I think that we’ll continue to see this 4-2-3-1 as it fits our personnel best. While it was frustrating to see us playing it at home vs lower division sides, Curtain clearly was getting the team used to playing in this manner and that definitely showed tonight.

      Nice to get a quality win on the road with Noguiera vs one of the best sides in the eastern conference.

      • Should be “without Noguiera”

      • Scottymac says:

        Agreed, I don’t think a $600K CB is a long term solution to this team’s problems. Okugo at CM marks him happy and there wasn’t a real difference in play with them switching. The bigger change is players playing naturally versus over thinking it.

    • I did not find last night’s match hard to watch. I thought PHI looked pretty good for long stretches of play.

  8. So far, so good, Coach. And a result on the road against a rival without our best player this season. Better chance keeping Amobi playing him there and Edu is probably leaving anyway. Do what it takes to keep the core you want in the future.

  9. well we won.

  10. Southside Johnny says:

    Much better. Maybe as good as it gets this year, but that’s ok. I’m not suggesting he get the job, but Curtin should get some credit for apparently letting this team play their game. Looked better on both sides of the ball, but not good enough for stronger teams on a good night. I think the way too lofty expectations for both style and success from early on should be permanently discarded and all should be happy to have a respectably middling team this year.
    Hopefully Casey has enough gas in the tank to make it through the season because despite the assist, I would only use Wenger off the bench to hold on to a result.Last night Casey, Le2, Cruz, Lahoud and pretty much all of them did what they do well and, like Union teams of the past, they may not be the prettiest girl at the dance, but they are a fun date.

    • not to argue too much but i’d say new england is one of the stronger teams in the league at the moment. if they play at least as well as they did last night for the rest of the season i think they should make the playoffs

  11. Good win! Once they settled down the Union were a fortress and deadly on the counter. They still need a talent upgrade. Fabinho was a beast(who knew). Le Toux is back! When Danny Cruz plays within himself and uses a change of pace rather than all out all the time he is valuable to the team. I’ve been one of his biggest critics but I also give credit for a beautiful goal!! Good start for Curtin. He shows the ability to coach and make moves that make sense. Getting Edu to play CB says a lot but I don’t think it’s permanent. We still need to see what a healthy Berry can do. It’s only 1 game and some big games are coming up. We’ll see if Curtin can make a strong case for himself. I do wish him luck!

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    I’m just happy to see a coach play a formation that fits the players, and have the team play within itself (as a lot of commenters have already said). Instead of the old “square peg, round hole” theory employed by Hack.
    .
    As I said before, a win is a win, and barring a miracle we aren’t making any real noise (or maybe not even getting there) in the playoffs. So I am happy to just see the team do well and maybe right this ship and finish the year on a positive note.
    .
    Edu at CB wasn’t terrible, but it is not the long term solution. LeToux and Cruz both looked very good and it was nice to see. I thought Maidana was very good as well. I like the 4-2-3-1, and I LOVED Carroll being on the bench.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Curtin, actually, displayed a sense of what type of club he has…inconceivable!!! He managed well, for his first league match.
      .
      It may still be possible to “make some noise”. We are only a point out. If this club can build upon something, we could make a run.
      .
      I think Edu should be our CB. Shaenon Williams should not. I would look to Berry, once he is fit, and bait a hook with Williams. Shaenon is a talented player, someone would bite.
      .
      LeToux had a match. Speed pairs well with Casey.
      .
      Overall, the club looked a bit more ‘in tune’, while playing more of a counter attack. My question is: What happens when Noguiera is fit? He is not exactly the counter-attacking type. Will Curtin be able to adjust the club to legitimately use Vincent Noguiera’s talents? John Hackworth couldn’t…

      • John Ling says:

        I’d rather play Williams on the left and get Fabinho off the field.

      • +1. Not ready to give up on Williams just yet, and he has shown to be flexible enough to provide cover across the back line.

      • agreed one thousand times.

      • The Black Hand says:

        My suggestion to trade Williams is solely for the return. He is a talented player, when in form, but we currently have a better RB (Gaddis). Williams isn’t great on the left and is quite poor at CB. Rather than try to fit another square peg; why not acquire a player that fits our needs? (ie: trade Shaenon for a strong LB).

      • kingkowboys says:

        Regarding Noguiera, his possession style may be more of Hack’s influence than his own disposition. His vision should make him lethal on the counter plus once we are deep in the opponents end he can then begin directing and breaking down a defense. I think he still fits the system, but who do we take out?

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree. Noguiera, partnered with Okugo, would make an intelligent central midfield. I just hope that our wide players (Maidana/Cruz?) and forwards will be able to match Noguiera’s vision. On Saturday we played a rudimentary counter…and seemed to be suited for that. Noguira brings us a bit more sophistication. I don’t want to see our players standing around, relying on Vincent to get things going. In no way do I think that Noguiera’s inclusion will make this club worse. I just want to see him incorporated in a way that utilizes his strengths, as well as the club’s.
        .
        Lahoud comes out. He’s a tremendous asset to have as a sub. Brian Carroll couldn’t be any more invaluable to this club.

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