Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 New York Red Bulls

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union rode early goals in each half to a comprehensive 3-1 victory over the visiting Red Bulls at PPL Park on Wednesday evening. With both teams in good goal-scoring form, a high-scoring affair seemed on the cards, but where the Union pushed the game, New York lacked the energy and, despite controlling possession for extended stretches, Zac MacMath’s goal wasn’t truly tested until the second half.

After only 9 minutes, the Union’s red-hot Conor Casey’s opened the scoring, as he had against Colorado on the weekend, first starting the move and then finishing smartly.

The Red Bulls offered little in reply in the first half, and truthfully it was not until Fred doubled the hosts’ advantage thae Red Bulls began to threaten. And when New York’s opener finally arrived, it came via the most likely route, with Thierry Henry setting the table to MLS goal-scoring leader, Bradley Wright-Phillips.

Nerves frayed as the Union faced the potential of blowing a two-goal lead for the second time in a week, but when Eric Alexander dragged down Maurice Edu, Sebastien Le Toux stepped up to put the Union out of sight.

“Great performance from our guys from start to finish,” interim head coach Jim Curtin said after the win, the Union’s first in league play at PPL Park since the 1-0 win over New England in the home opener on March 15. “It’s the result that the fans deserved.”

First Half

With suspensions to Michael Lahoud and Amobi Okugo forcing his hand, Jim Curtin made four substitutions to the team that drew 3-3 with the Rapids on Saturday. Maurice Edu returned from his own suspension to partner with Ethan White in the center of the Union backline, a move that allowed Sheanon Williams to return to right back, while Ray Gaddis slid back out to the left flank, replacing Fabinho. In midfield, Vincent Nogueira returned from an injury layoff to partner with Brian Carroll, while Andrew Wenger gave Danny Cruz a rest out wide.

New York came out tentatively, allowing the Union to dictate play, and it bit them in the first 10 minutes of the match.

Off of a goal kick, Casey not only won the header, but tracked down the loose ball, poking it up the flank for Wenger to chase. Cutting back onto his right, Wenger fired a cross back into the box, where Casey took the ball down and cut quickly past Matt Miazga before burying his left-footed shot for his sixth goal in six league games.

New York nearly offered an immediate reply through Lloyd Sam, but when the right winger got behind the Union defense, MacMath was quickly off his line to make the save.

The Red Bulls again got in behind in the 16th minute when Henry released Sam, but with two runners bearing down on the Union goal, Williams won the race, scrambling the ball to safety.

Midway through the first half, Casey nearly bagged a brace when Sebastien Le Toux beat Ambroise Oyongo to the endline and cut the ball back into the box. On his current tear, Casey was a likely bet to finish the chance, but he was unable to get clean contact on his shot, fluffing it high and wide.

As halftime approached, Cristian Maidana fell awkwardly following a collision near the left flank and stayed down, holding his hamstring. After the Union training staff did their best to get him back on his feet, it became clear that he could not continue, with Fred stepping up to replace him.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t that he got kicked,” Curtin said in his postgame press conference. “At first that was my thought that he maybe got kneed in the hamstring area, but it sounds like it’s a –  he called it a small little pull. It’s too early to speculate, so he’ll get looked at by the staff.”

Second Half

Needing an equalizer, New York came out looking to push the tempo, but it was the Union who would quickly doubled their lead.

Just as Casey began his own scoring move, so to did Fred, spreading the ball wide before driving forward into the box. Williams’ low, curling cross landed at the feet of Casey, whose subtle touch kept the ball rolling into Fred’s path, and he made no mistake with the finish, scoring his first MLS goal since the 2-1 win over New York on Oct. 16, 2010.

Finding themselves in a two-goal hole, New York began to throw numbers forward, and they nearly found their opener in the 58th minute. With the ball wide on the right flank, Wright-Phillips slipped away from the attentions of Edu for a split second, but was unable to flick his open header on target past the charging figure of MacMath.

Three minutes later, though, Wright-Philips would get his side on the board. Racing towards the corner flag, Henry took Oyongo’s long ball in stride. Cutting back into the field he squared for Wright-Phillips, who curled the ball inside of MacMath’s far post before White could close him down.

New York suddenly was teeming with confidence, as Wright-Phillips sliced between Edu and Gaddis moments later, only to be denied by the feet of the sliding MacMath in the 63rd minute.

The chances were coming for New York thick and fast, with the assistant referee’s flag saving the Union in the 66th minute. Making a delayed run from midfield, Tim Cahill rose highest, pushing his header back across the face of goal where it appeared to take the slightest flick off of Wright-Phillips, who was ruled offsides.

It would prove a turning point because, three minutes later, the Union would regain their two-goal cushion. On a Union corner, Edu and Alexander jostled for position and when the Union man broke for goal, he was wrenched down and referee Baldomero Toledo wasted no time in pointing to the spot. With the chance to knock back his former team, Le Toux drove a powerful penalty high into the net past a sprawling Luis Robles.

The Red Bulls almost hit straight back however, and it took a MacMath double save to keep then at bay. First the Union keeper dove at full stretch to beat away Alexander’s near post drive from just outside the box, before quickly getting to his feet to put his body behind Wright-Phillips follow up. The danger was not cleared however, with the ball falling to Henry, but his shot was deflected by a sliding Edu and cleared to safety by Williams, who was covering the goal for his keeper.

Oyongo nearly pulled one back in the 76th minute, when he was left to run free by Le Toux, but MacMath got down quickly to block his free header from near point-blank range.

With the victory, the Union head to Chicago in hopes of securing 7 points from this grueling three-match week.

“We have a short turnaround,” said Williams. “We can’t say, ‘We’re happy to get this,’ and then go ahead and not play well at Chicago. We know we need to string things together.”

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu, Ray Gaddis, Ethan White, Brian Carroll, Sebastien Le Toux, Cristian Maidana (Fred, 38′), Vincent Nogueira, Andrew Wenger (Danny Cruz, 74′), Casey (Aaron Wheeler, 86′)
Unused substitutes: Andre Blake, Austin Berry, Fabinho, Brian Brown

New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles, Matt Miazga, Chris Duvall (Connor Lade, 89′), Jamison Olave, Ambroise Oyongo-Bitolo, Dax McCarty (Bobby Convey, 87′), Lloyd Sam, Tim Cahill, Eric Alexander (Akpan, 80′), Thierry Henry, Bradley Wright-Phillips
Unused substitutes: Ryan Meara, Ibrahim Sekagya, Kosuke Kimura, Ruben Bover Izquierdo

Scoring Summary
PHI: Casey (Wenger) 9′
PHI: Fred (Casey, Williams) 51′
NY: Wright-Phillips (Henry, Oyongo-Bitolo) 60′
PHI: Le Toux (penalty kick) 69′

Disciplinary Summary
NY: Miazga (foul) 86’

Philadelphia Union New York Red Bulls
15 Attempts on Goal 12
4 Shots on Target 7
8 Shots off Target 3
3 Blocked Shots 2
7 Corner Kicks 2
22 Crosses 19
2 Offsides 2
8 Fouls 11
0 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
348 Total Passes 527
82% Passing Accuracy 86%
40.4% Possession 59.6%
38 Duels Won 38
50% Duels Won % 50%
8 Tackles Won 12
5 Saves 1
14 Clearances 14


  1. A blast. Loved it

  2. The Black Hand says:

    Massive points!!!

  3. kingkowboys says:

    Felt so good. A much needed win.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Well played game by everyone on the field for the Union. NY did have a couple more chances than I would have liked to see, but everyone knew that would happen given their offensive talent.
    It was troublesome to see Maidana go down just as Nogueira came back. With the form Maidana was in, they could be a lethal pair in midfield.
    One thing I noticed was that I don’t think there was a foul called until about 25 minutes into the game. It was nice to see a relatively cleanly played game.

    • +1 on the last point. There were very little shenanigans in the game — until the end, when Olave was trying to get himself sent off, and failed.

    • I remember saying to myself after the first 20 minutes, “Has there been a whistle yet?” It was very nice, and very odd for an MLS game.

    • Also, might we see Ribiero in for Maidana if he’s out for a while? I know the entry draft isn’t necessarily the best way to add talent to your team (opposed to say Homegrown tags or transfer window adds), but with the Union having picks 2 and 6 last year and getting 0 MLS minutes out of any rookies- that’s pretty frustrating. Throw the guy into the fire and let’s see what he can do!

      • I wouldn’t count on it too much, simply because I think Curtin is trying to go for stability. The guys he has available are working out just fine. He may take the “why mess with what’s working” approach. At the rate they’re scoring goals, it’s hard to argue. They need help defending, and the young guys aren’t likely to help in that area. Just purely an experience issue.

      • Can’t argue with you on the U’s goal scoring form. Of course many of them have had Maidana involved in the set-up. I wasn’t too excited at the thought of Fred steering the ship last night, but he scored so…. Just wish this team put a little more work into carving out playing time opportunities for the younger players.

  5. If MacMath doesn’t get called up to camp cupcake, it is a crime.

    And if Hamid and Johnson get called up in his place, it is a travesty.

    • I think the reason he hasn’t been called up yet is that he gets caught in no-man’s land too much. He gets to tentative. Either come out fast and hard or stay near your line.

      • Great One says:

        I agree. Plus from the outside, the union have given up the most goals in mls. Regardless of circumstance that doesn’t look great

      • Agreed. He’s improved quite a bit in that aspect, but there is a ways to go. If he keeps improving (and Hamid and Johnson keep not), he’s probably in the mix for the Gold Cup.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        He should definitely earn at least a call up. He was stellar last night, except for on e or twice when he looked hesitant and didn’t get there on a ball in the box. Agreed that Johnson and Hamid should not just automatically be called up.

    • 5. Saves. Without MacMath covering for the back line calamities that Hackworth devised, the season would have been over before June.

    • 5. Saves. Without MacMath covering for the back line calamities (that Hackworth created), the season would have been over before June.

  6. We’re gonna win the cup! We’re gonna win the cup! 10’s for everyone on the ratings! We’re the best team in the world!

  7. Noguiera dropping deep to build play. Maidana receiving in the middle and working like a playmaker. Chance for the relationship to grow then POP. Too Bad.
    Union look good. Wenger on the wing. Conor scoring goals. Le Toux being Le Toux.
    My only gripe is White on the first goal leaving Philips wide wide wide open.
    Good game boys.
    As an aside. I love Thierry Henry. The guy moves so smoothly always but it is funny watching him throw his hands up in the air every 3 minutes. One part total frustration with the level of play here stateside I imagine, one part demanding son of a bitch.

  8. Great One says:

    Great game to be at last night. SOB had one of their better nights for me.
    Looked good in some places and bad in others. I would love to see edu, Okugo and Nogs together in mid while Maidana is out.
    Casey needs to rest at some point he looked dead at the end. But… How do you sit him on this tear?
    What are thoughts on Wenger over Cruz on the wing. I was mixed. He’s a little (lot) more composed on the ball, but didn’t really make a huge impact. Cruz’s touch on the last run showed why he is ineffective.
    Only knock on curtain today was holding Casey (and the last sub too) on too long, and bringing on Wheeler. He didn’t play too bad but that’s a real prayer.

    • Don’t like Wenger out wide much either. One wide spot is still up for grabs. Want to see Pfeffer or Jimmy there.

      Even Le Toux isn’t at his best out wide but atleast he is servicable

      • Funny I think AW is best served wider- lord know the dude struggles to finish.

      • james lockerbie says:

        A.w was frustrating the scrap out of me last night at least two times he let the ball go out only to have the ref give the ball to the red bulls. He had the time to trap the ball and do something with it but he let it go and the ref went the other way

    • I’d prefer to see Nogueira stay at D-Mid. Leave Edu in defense, and give Ribeiro or Hernandez a shot at CAM, with Fred in the mix too.
      Agree on the last sub. I thought for sure Curtin was holding the sub so he could put Brown in.

      • Talk about holding subs – NY didn’t use any until about 80 minutes in, and the last two probably had about 5 minutes each. No confidence in the bench for those Red Bulls if there’s nobody with a chance to change up a 3-1 loss.

      • With Maidana out and the remainder of the team on short rest, I’d love to see what Brown could do on the left wing this saturday. He’s naturally left-footed and a big body like Wenger, and probably has a better finishing touch.

    • I’m fine with Wenger over Cruz. His size is helping him fend off opposing fullbacks, and I think he can cross better than Cruz. Every time Cruz got to the goal line, his crosses were no more than 4 feet off the ground and always went right to the keeper or 1st defender. He should be looking to beat 1 defender and then find an open man at the top of the box.
      I do have to say that Cruz has impressed me much more than last year. He’s not flinging himself into defenders like a cannonball anymore (hope I didn’t just jinx that). He has that nice little backheel crossover move to get separation. I think he just needs a coach that will call out his garbage stuff and get him focused on what he can do well.
      As far as Casey’s endurance, I don’t think Curtin leaving him on too long was a problem. He’s a veteran who knows how his body is feeling. I’m more worried about him pulling something early in a game rather than tiring later on. I think Curtin’s relationship with him is akin to a baseball manager trusting his pitcher to let him know how long he can stay in the game. Also, I’d like to see Wheeler get an occasional start rather than constantly come in for 15 minutes at the end of every game. Maybe they’ll go with that this weekend. Start Wheeler and bring on Brown for him against Chicago.

    • Wenger, fairly tightly defended, made a nifty cross back to Casey for a goal. PHI 1-0 NY. What sort of impact are you looking for?

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        His defense was very loose. Too much ball watching and late support. Gaddis defended 1 v 2 for much of the game. His assist was excellent, but most of his other runs were pretty aimless.

      • I noticed the same thing about Wenger. He’s much like Cruz was last year, only worse imo. At least Cruz could decently pin down the opposing teams’ right back. On a few occasions, Wenger left Gaddis having (trying) to track the runs of Duvall, BWP, and Lloyd Sam all at the same time. It says a lot about Gaddis that he was able to take these guys on. I’m hoping that Gaddis’ move to left back was a temporary strategic move by Curtin to handle NY’s right side speed, because he’s earned the starting spot at his natural position.

      • Curtin said it was tactical to try to better contain Sam

      • Some good tactics it was. Gaddis single handedly shut down an entire 1/8th of the field from being used by RB for anything other than losing the ball to Gaddis.

      • based on my view (TV), Wenger appeared to be pretty closely defended on the assist he made, yet he got a good pass in to Casey, who scored a goal, making an impact on the match
        I was not commenting on Wenger’s defensive contributions, but now I will: I don’t expect much defense out of him.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree. Too much focus on what he is not and not enough attention to what he is.

      • What he’s not? I’m pretty sure Taylor Twellman spent the pre game and half time talking about how Wenger’s future is not at striker. Not to mention the several commenters here who would see him switch positions. If he can’t strike and also can’t defend, then where does he belong?

      • The Black Hand says:

        I like him as a ‘hold-up’ forward.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        As clearly articulated in the commentary, Wenger’s future is not as a forward in this league. As they said, he’s another Albright and needs the game in front of him.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I have nothing to base an opinion on, as far as Wenger at CB. As a forward, he has shown bright spots (strength, finding himself chances to score) as well as dark ones (not scoring the goal).
        He is definitely not a target striker!

      • The Right Direction says:

        wasn’t he a defender in college at Duke?

      • The Black Hand says:

        He was a CB and won the Hermann trophy. Then they moved him forward…where he won another one.
        I’m surprised that Hackworth didn’t put him at CB.

    • I wonder if the Wenger-over-Cruz start had anything to do with the tackle against Cruz from the CO game. Perhaps they thought Cruz couldn’t go his usual 70, maybe?

      • He was limping 10 minutes after he came on the field, so I think this was designed to give him a rest. He has earned a starting spot on this team, especially over Wenger, but everyone needs rest at some point. Particularly when you play like Cruz – full speed all the time.

  9. That was fun!
    I imagine Petke’s getting a lot of criticism for not making any changes until the 80th minute, when they were chasing the game.

    • That’s funny, because it looked like NY quit the game in the last 10 minutes. Maybe they need better subs.

  10. neck label says:


  11. I really wish they would schedule mid-week games for 7:30 instead of 7. We missed the first 25 minutes or so because of getting stuck in traffic, and that was made worse by me getting stuck at work and not being able to leave until around 5:15 (rather than my planned 4:45 – 5:00 time).

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I heard from the PR desk outside section 113 that ESPN requested this one to start at 7 (and literally right at 7) because they were televising the ESPY’s afterwards. During the National Anthem, my wife and I were the only two people in our entire row. By midway through the first half, it had completely filled up. So I don’t think you were alone in that boat.

      • I’m not surprised at all that the time was dictated by television. And I definitely wasn’t the only one – we had to wait in line to get through the gate, and there were still cars coming in.
        I’d like to say the league should tell ESPN no, but, well… I know the reality of the situation.

    • You weren’t alone. The crowd at the start of the game looked pretty sparse. It was dictated by ESPN yesterday, but for other midweek games 7:30 would work so much better.

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    I didn’t think Ethan White played bad at all. I like him in the back. For now I guess Edu is the best partner for him. A shame Hack wasn’t playing this guy 2 months ago. He might still have a job.
    Hope Maidana isn’t seriously hurt. It looked like a really awkward fall. Him and Nogs in the midfield could be deadly.
    It pains me to say but Carroll wasn’t bad last night. And I thought Curtain’s subs were excellent.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Agree. White is pretty good, actually. I think that Edu should remain at CB, being that the DM is jam-packed and there really isn’t another spot for him. Maybe (If Maidana is forced to miss time) Edu and Noguiera could operate further up, with Amobi backing them up. Only fear is that both players would drift back and leave the ‘great abyss’ between midfield and attack, forcing terrible crosses into undermanned boxes.
      Carroll did as Carroll does. He disrupted NY’s attack through the middle and provided little else. Given that EVERY other CM is better than him, Carroll should remain a situational/depth player.
      I also thought that Curtin managed his short week well, with his subs. I would look at a Brown/Wenger/LeToux attack, against Chicago, and give the ‘Big Man’ a breather (Sub).
      Curtin is doing a pretty good job!

      • I do agree that curtain is doing a good job. Seems to be thinking his way through this and not just reacting/searching/praying things go his way. I thought switching Gaddis was a pretty smart move. Regarding all this talk about AW- the guy is a good MLS player but he is not a natural scorer. The Black Hand writes about him being a ‘hold up winger” and I’m in lined to agree. He handles the deep corners well, carries speed and decent vision and is strong to fight off tackles.
        Absolutely deserves to be on field in proper position.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think that Gaddis has progressed to the point where he can effectively play on the left, right…pretty much wherever. Williams is lacking that versatility, at the moment. (The two have completely switched roles from a season ago). I’m ok with the switch and agree that Curtin got that right.
        Another benefit of Wenger is; the fact that he can provide Casey with a break…which he will need.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Maybe we should trade Gaddis…on his CURRENT run of form we could get decent value.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Whoa, whoa, whoa…anybody but Gaddis!
        Blake being drafted with the #1 (number one) pick is the only reason I would trade Zac. His ceiling is said to be far higher than MacMath’s. Granted, thats speculation but it has been a LOT of speculation.
        I would trade Blake, if we could get a proper return in terms of value (now/future).
        Again, Drafting Blake was a mistake. We should never have made that pick, if we were not intending to use him (for more than motivation for MacMath).

      • JediLos117 says:

        If there are two players on our roster who have shown to be students of the game, its Gaddis and MacMath.
        Both have had areas for improvement identified and improved upon those areas effectively.
        They are proving to both irreplaceable at this time.
        And just to state the obvious…not all #1 draft picks have lived up to expectations.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree with everything you just said. But, we have areas of weakness (LB,CB,CAM depth, Wing). We need to give up some surplus (MacMath/Blake, Sheanon, Carroll/Lahoud), to strengthen those weaknesses.
        Based on MacMath’s play this year, I would opt to trade Blake. I just don’t think we will get the return. Because of this fact, I would gamble with Blake and use MacMath’s value to strengthen other areas.

      • No. He’ll no. We keep Gaddis. It’s not a temporary run of form, you are watching a 24 year old come into his game. We sign him to an extension this off-season for relatively cheap and watch him in his prime dominate MLS.

  13. Not that it is ironic or foreshadowing, but Curtain said that Brian Brown eventually will be “thrown into the fire of MLS”. Could that be hinting at his debut vs Chicago Fire this weekend?

    • Well played. And considering I think Curtin is itching to get him on the field, you’re probably right. (Maybe not with the intended pun, but with his playing time, at least.)

  14. Top players for me: Edu, Nogueira and Casey.

    I think this was Mo’s best, and most committed, game in a Union jersey. Nogueira’s play in the middle of the park makes a huge difference. And Casey did what so many find hard to do.

    Small honorable mention for Carroll, for being a true pro and bringing the best he can do as a spot starter. Nice to finally have some depth!

    I’m not on the MacMath bandwagon. He got bailed out of some really poor plays by bad finishing and offside calls. Yes, he makes the reaction saves, but I’m not sure other decent keepers don’t make those just as easily.

    • The Black Hand says:


      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        There is no pleasing some people. He made saves at full stretch and racing off his line. He won aerial balls in traffic and showed well in tight.
        If you don’t like that game out of MacMath, there may be no pleasing you.

      • The Black Hand says:

        My +1 was for the other 90% of Phil’s comment, more so than MacMath’s part.
        I think that MacMath has performed very well! We should trade him, while his value is high.

      • JediLos117 says:

        Is this a joke?
        He’s our franchise keeper. Long term stability.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Oh yeah, that’s right.
        Blake was the, highly-touted, #1 pick. One of our goalkeepers has to go. I think that MacMath’s CURRENT run of form will bring a decent return.

      • If BWP puts that header anywhere on frame, Zach was unforgivably out of position.

      • james lockerbie says:

        He had a great game last night. But I think he still needs work on coming off the line and getting the ball. Once you commit to going for the ball, you got to get it! And yes it is easier said then done

    • So nice seeing Noguiera cruising back to receive ball. You know he is going to mAke proper decisions. Okugo, Noguiera, Maidana offer me lots of hope in the middle areas of field. Tighter defense and continued gols from different players and wholly shit maybe this season is not lost after all and a run toward playoffs is feasible…. ‘PLAYOFFS?’
      I’m all for trading Zac. Nice keeper but the #1 pick in draft better be on this team for a reason. Again I like Zac…

      • Okugo flanked by Noguiera and Maidana in midfield makes my mouth water. I doubt you can find any midfield trio in MLS better than that.

    • Edu has such easy long speed. When he’s tracking back there’s no panic, he just seems to shift gears to whatever speed he needs to get in position- and he knows he’s got that in the toolkit. He’s looked really good at CB. Also loved the foray straight up the middle through the NY defense to almost spring Casey on goal alone. Not too many CBs in this league could do that so easily.

      • james lockerbie says:

        That was awesome so close to completing that pass conor was just short of getting there

    • agree – and should give credit to others, especially Gaddis, as well – a pretty solid effort overall. Edu helps side most at CB, Gaddis helps team most by playing either side (which lets Sheannon play on the right), Nogueira helps all by not giving the ball away. Maybe its a coincidence, but changing coaches seems to have allowed team to “ask” Edu to play CB. focus should be on putting players in positions where the side has balance – at present going forward looks good as Casey has returned to Beast of last year. like Wenger out wide – his defensive responsibilities can be addressed and agree they need to for move to work. return chaco and okugo to MF, add Valdes to back – who knows?

  15. james lockerbie says:

    Great game last night section 117 row u. watched the casey goal right in front of us then in the second half got to see Zack and Williams hold the line. Then to top off the night we won a chance to meet the players on the field for autographs thanks infinity (comcast) for the passes! And the players for signing our stuff

  16. The Union defense looked so much more composed and organized without Fabinho… the dude gets caught upfield way to much and leaves the backline exposed.

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