Union match reports

Match report: Houston Dynamo 2 -0 Philadelphia Union

An unfortunate own goal and an early second half tally from Will Bruin were enough to see Houston Dynamo run out 2-0 winners over a Philadelphia Union team playing its third game in 7 days.

Bruin tapped in from close range from a cross from Giles Barnes in the 51st minute and an unfortunate deflection off of Ray Gaddis from an Omar Cummings cross sealed the game for Houston in the 90th minute.

“Turned out to be a one-play game like it often is in this building,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said after the game. “Houston made a play, to their credit, and they get the goal, and they did a good job pushing to get the second. It was an even game, I thought, but, at the end of the day, unfortunately, we walk out of here with nothing, so it’s disappointing.”

First Half

Jim Curtin made a number of changes to the team that defeated FC Dallas in the US Open Cup semifinal on Tuesday. Andre Blake made the first league start of his rookie season in place of Zac MacMath. Pedro Ribeiro also made his first MLS start, playing in Conor Casey’s usual position as the target man. Danny Cruz was preferred to Andrew Wenger, and Fabinho came in for Sheanon Williams, moving Ray Gaddis to the right side. Carlos Valdes made his second start of the season, with Ethan White the man to miss out as Maurice Edu stayed in central defense.

Despite playing their third match in a week, the Union started out the stronger team. Two good movements within the first 10 minutes saw Philadelphia with the chance to fire crosses into the box from good positions. Vincent Nogueira saw his low effort repelled by the Houston back line and Ray Gaddis just missed Ribeiro at the near post with a whipped in cross.

Shortly after that, Danny Cruz did well to push his first touch into space and draw a clumsy foul from David Horst, who was booked for his trouble.

But Houston would grow into the game and start to test No. 1 draft pick Andre Blake. Ricardo Clark found time to shoot from just outside the area after a good ball from Brad Davis, but Blake was up to the task, pushing the shot around the far post. The Houston corner would eventually be grabbed by the young goalkeeper, who then immediately looked up field for a breaking Sebastien Le Toux. Blake would put a 70 yard punt right onto the striker’s foot, but the Frenchman could only drive his shot straight at Tally Hall.

The Union had a good shout for a red card against David Horst late in the first half. Ribeiro got in behind the Houston backline and the Dynamo defender clearly tugged on the shoulder of the rookie as a ball was played into space, but Ribeiro kept his feet and was eventually dispossessed, and Horst escaped further punishment.

Second Half

The Dynamo would strike early in the second half to grab the lead when Blake miscued a clearance. Houston was quick to jump back into the attack with the ever dangerous Brad Davis finding room to play a ball behind Ray Gaddis on the Union’s right. Giles Barnes latched onto the pass, found time to look up and picked out Will Bruin, who tapped in from close range.

The Union would bring on Andrew Wenger for Danny Cruz and Fred for Vincent Nogueira in a search for an equalizer. Le Toux had a chance when the ball fell back to him following a half clearance from the Dynamo, but his half volley was well wide of the target.

Conor Casey was introduced with about 20 minutes to play, replacing Le Toux. But the Union’s best chance to equalize would come from the other two substitutes combining. Fred found an opening in the Houston backline and connected to Andrew Wenger with a smart diagonal ball. But Wenger could only fire straight at the onrushing Tally Hall.

Houston would go on the attack straight from the missed opportunity, with Will Bruin getting in behind the Philadelphia defense to go one-on-one with Andre Blake. After it seemed that Bruin had done enough to push the ball past the onrushing Blake, a good recovery from Maurice Edu forced the Houston striker to delay his shot. Blake showed remarkable ability to recover and raced back to claim the ball off of Bruin’s foot.

It’s teamwork,” Blake said of the play. “I thought I would not be able to get to the ball before him so I just stood my ground and I tried to hold him up as much as possible so my teammates could recover, and then we just worked together to make the play.”

But an unfortunate deflection from an Omar Cummings cross sealed the match late on for the Dynamo. As Houston broke 3-on-3, Cummings latched onto a pass to send in a cross. While the cross left something to be desired,  it unfortunately deflected off of Ray Gaddis and wrong footed Blake, who was already moving off his goal line.

“At the half, we were happy with how it was going,” Curtin said. “We were organized, we took the game to them a little bit and in the first half had some chances, especially in the first five, ten minutes of the game. Didn’t get a goal. Would have liked to have been a little better in the second half but Houston is fighting to get back in the playoff picture, so they’re going to come with their best punch, and they brought that tonight. I thought we held up well for a little while, would have liked to have gotten the first goal, but we didn’t. We’ll have to regroup and get back on track. We have seven of our last ten at home now, so it’s positive in that regard.

The Union will a full week to recover before taking on San Jose Earthquakes at PPL Park on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 8 pm.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Maurice Edu, Carlos Valdes, Fabinho, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Vincent Nogueira (Fred 72′), Sebastien Le Toux (Conor Casey 76′), Danny Cruz (Andrew Wenger 61′), Pedro Ribeiro
Unused Substitutions: Zac MacMath, Ethan White, Sheanon Williams, Michael Lahoud

Houston Dynamo
Tally Hall, Damarcus Beasley, Kofi Sardokie, Jermaine Taylor, David Horst, Brad Davis (Andrew Driver 76′), Luis Garrido, Oscar Garcia (Brian Ownby 90′), Ricardo Clark, Giles Barnes, Will Bruin (Omar Cummings 87′)
Unused Substitutions: Eric Brunner, Corey Ashe, Servando Carrasco, Tyler Deric

Scoring Summary
HOU: Will Bruin (Brad Davis, Giles Barnes) 51′
HOU: Ray Gaddis (OG) 90′

Disciplinary Summary
HOU: David Horst 28′ (foul)
PHI: Danny Cruz 45′ (dissent)
HOU: Damarcus Beasley 58′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union Houston Dynamo
 12 Attempts on Goal 16
 2 Shots on Target  8
 6 Shots off Target  4
 4 Blocked Shots 4
 4 Corner Kicks 7
 22 Crosses 21
 0 Offsides  3
7 Fouls  7
 1 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 0
 392 Total Passes 515
79% Passing Accuracy 83%
 43.9% Possession 56.1%
 51 Duels Won 51
 50% Duels Won % 50%
 17 Tackles Won 19
 7 Saves 2
 19 Clearances  16


  1. From my view, Curtin got outcoached. Houston sat back the first twenty minutes, the Union chased and wore themselves out. Kinnear also clearly watched tape of the Dallas game, with the 8 million over-the-top balls.
    Gaddis was beyond gassed before the own goal. Why not sub for him, instead of the SOP subs?

  2. At some point when the Union bring in their experienced manager, they’ll also need a solid LB a left wing who can do more than Cruz and Wenger combined and a bonified name striker to go along with their world cup goalkeeper and POTENTIALLY great back line.
    This may have been asked about the MBolhi situation but why wasn’t the paper work handled before introducing him? To me it’s total BS! !

    • Yup. Typical Sak move. Showing all your cards before it’s time. They need a proper “GM” before a new coach.

      Definitely need a left back and smarter wingers. Funny how Wenger is more frustrating than Cruz. Wenger made 1 good run and as typical, terrible finish.

    • Afraid M’Bohli would change his mind?

    • I’m still hoping we trade MacMath for Corey Ashe, but it’s looking more and more like MacMath is draft-bait.

  3. Pros: The first 8 minutes

    Cons: Everything else

  4. Tough way to end a busy week for the players. Sure, there were things that could have been done better, but we’re still in a good spot with Maidana coming back and the guys getting some rest (only SJ game in the next 18 days) before a busy stretch in Sept.

    Great to see Blake and Ribero getting a run out with the 1st team in a league match. Long overdue.

  5. Not Grumpy says:

    I actually liked the starting eleven under the circumstances. Pretty ballsy call to roll out that 11.
    Nogs was an absolute turnover machine!
    LeToux needs to be up front and not on the wing. I would have liked to see him and Ribeiro switch positions on the pitch.
    Cruz was divin’ and cryin’ and Toledo called: “BS!”
    We need a little MAIDANA……and soon.

    • Maidana fixes the Nog issue. He’s tired and getting outmuscled in the Advanced position.

      I honestly think LeToux is 10x better out wide. He makes smarter runs through the backline.
      Ribero did him no favors. He played scared and weak… He won maybe 2 headers?

    • Carroll proved he shouldn’t start once again

  6. Philly Cheese says:

    Dallas win seems to have drained team mentally as well as physically. Passes seldom showed creative plan and ball movement in attack was sporadic at best. Probably worst game for Gaddis this year. He was out of position and ball watching many times including the own goal when he moved to ball and not his backside responsibility. Hope full week of rest and practice at home shifts them into higher gear.

    • I can understand how Gaddis would look bad after busting his ass for over 300 minutes in one week.
      This week is evidence of the fact that we need a real GM. We’ve been at the professional level for five years and we still don’t have back-ups at some positions.

  7. Gametime temp was about 90 & 90% humidity. JC saw only 1 point possible & traded it for time for Blake & Ribeiro and not wearing out his team. Ok. But where’s Brown? Agree with Pedro on wing – Noguiera needed a blow. Then Brown for Casey. Carroll played well. Wasn’t Edu was in his 4th game in 10 days? Get ready for SJ. Gotta get 3.

  8. An expected result given the situation and conditions of the last 3 weeks. Pretty sure the team has played quite well lately and now turn attention to the next two games. A chance to bury a bad team and bolster our own position was missed but all in all- not too worried.

  9. This game in Houston was always going to be a tough one under the circumstances. It’s hard to be upset with the result when looking at the whole picture. Hopefully the fact that the Union have a favorable travel schedule the rest of the way out will play help with the tired legs.

  10. Given the circumstances, yes, not too unhappy.
    However, if Curtin/Hack had started to slowly give our younger “blue-chips” minutes earlier in the season, they would have been properly integrated before a time when you need them to step-up big.
    I feel like this has been the issue since the beginning of this organization. Our depth and use of it has always been pathetic.
    No true plan!

    That said: Pedro, when you get your chance to make your mark, you need to make it man! He played so scared and timid. You can definitely see the talent. And I think he’s perfect for a target forward. But he needed to work much much harder.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Overall, I was impressed with Ribeiro’s strength and composure, while in possession of the ball. He’s a smart player.

    • Agreed on the Union as a whole integrating youth. I was just glad to see the rookies get some time. A few mistakes yes, but that’s to be expected when they step up in class.

      What really annoys the hell out of me is that everyone, including me, hates diving in soccer, but if you don’t do it you’re at a clear disadvantage. There are 20 world class strikers who would have theatrically thrown their arms up and flopped down on that Horst grab of Ribeiro, and the ref would have had no choice but to give him the 2nd yellow and send him off. For Ribeiro’s trouble of keeping his feet, he not only doesn’t get the card, there wasn’t even a foul called. Soccer the only sport where you’re penalized for being big and strong. It was a clear foul, and a yellow as he was last guy back and it should be called whether the player goes down or not.

      I was a little troubled Maidana wasn’t able to sub in since he played Tuesday. Hope he didn’t re-tweak that hamstring vs Dallas.

      • you’re right but i still think that falls on the ref. it was clearly a foul that demands a booking. he can call advantage if he wants but it does not matter if ribiero stays on his feet and scores a goal or falls down dramatically- the ref needs to pull out a yellow in this situation.

      • Fully agree. I should clarify I wasn’t complaining Ribeiro stayed on his feet, I’m mad it was a clear foul and ref didn’t call it because he stayed on his feet. I only mentioned the other strikers to point out that going down is the only way to be sure refs will call it, yet many of us complain about diving. To begin to get a handle on diving, fouls like last night have to be called even if Ribeiro stays upright.

      • I think it is partially a make up call. Cruz did his best superman impression to get the first yellow. So I think it evened out in the end.

    • Your post raises 2 points – Union do not give their young players opportunities, but those players do not take them when given – Pfeffer earlier this year is another example. Ribeiro had a decent 1st half but was poor in the 2nd. I realize that might be a chicken & the egg argument, but as long as Union are in the playoff chase, and because the East is mediocre that should be all season, I don’t see the kids getting too many more chances barring injuries.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        A chance isn’t 45 or 90 minutes. Young players need repetition to make in impact. Where it comes as 2-3 starts in short proximity or multiple subs in a row, until we see that, it is hard to say that guys failed to take their chance. The fact that the Union turned away from Pfeffer after 1 match in which he struggled against a guy who played the majority of his career in the Premier League is truly disappointing.

  11. Didn’t see the game, just the highlights. Bet Le Toux would like another shot at that header…. Again, looked like or defense let a lot of traffic get past it and offensive chances didn’t finish well.

    Blake looked great.

    Hard to be critical given the circumstances. Hope the team gets it together for San Jose.

  12. Tough game for the defenders overall, but Ray Gaddis was the guy on both goals. On the first, he failed to get back in time after pushing high. On the second, the 3 on 3 that developed was a disaster waiting to happen. If you watch the replay, the three defenders wind up in a straight vertical line in the center of the pitch, before the ball is played wide to Ray’s side. He then rolls in that direction but doesn’t get close enough to block the shot, leading to the bad bounce OG. Above, somebody noted that he was gassed, and I can only agree. It was good to see him on the right, but he looked like he was having trouble with the distance that he was covering up and back for all of the second half.

    I hope that they have better luck next week but I hope that the back line stays better organized. That was tough especially at the end of the game, but I guess it was to be expected with both the multiple games and Blake as a new voice back there directing traffic.

  13. Sounders rest starters. 6-0. Union rest starters. 0-2. Ahem.

  14. OneManWolfpack says:

    I know the Union need all the points they can get for the rest of the season, but in my opinion, this game was a best going to be a draw. The third game in seven days?! With the second one going 120 mins?! Come on they had no shot. I’m not jumping to any conclusions regarding the rest of the season.
    I like Ribiero up top and thought he did fairly well in his first start. Also Blake was decent and made a few good saves and a few errors, but that’s to be expected with a rookie.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      Riberio up top is where he should have been getting his minutes in Harrisburg all year. If loans to affiliates don’t provide game minutes then the Union needs to change their model to the LA Galaxy II, Los Dos, so that the main purpose of the USL team is to develop players for MLS team.

  15. There were 3 players who should not have started. Cruz, Fabihno, and Carrol. Wenger, Berry, and Brown should have started.

  16. Old soccer coach says:

    Interesting that the center backs in front of the rookie keeper were Valdes and Edu. Valdes is playing his way back into MLS shape, Jose Pekerman should be sent tape, given his apparent contempt for the league. I hope the line-up for the final against Seattle has those two at center back, Nogueira and Okugo at DCMs, and Maidana at ACM. That’s a reasonable central channel core.

    I was floored by how poorly Wenger showed compared with how well he did against Montreal. Does knowing the players you’re opposing make that much difference?

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