Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Sporting Kansas City

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

The Philadelphia Union took all three points in their final home match of the season, edging out Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at PPL Park. A first half goal from Brian Brown gave the Union the lead, but Kansas City would strike back through a Dom Dwyer penalty kick early in the second stanza. Substitute Pedro Ribeiro would give Union fans something to celebrate, scoring the game winner in the 71st minute.

“We showed some character,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said after the game. “They scored the goal and it could have been another situation where everybody puts their head down. To our guys’ credit, I thought they put a lot into it.”

First Half

Curtin made four changes to the team that lost to Columbus a week ago. Sheanon Williams, Danny Cruz, Brian Brown, and Cristian Maidana all started while Fabinho, Ethan White, Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey made way. Only Fabinho was available off the bench.

On the back of two late collapses, and the chance of reaching the playoffs gone, Philadelphia ran the risk of coming out flat in their final home match of the season. But credit to Jim Curtin and his men for putting in a solid performance to close out the season at home.

The fairly open match saw Dom Dwyer with the first chance of the game, slicing a shot just wide of Zac MacMath’s goal in the sixth minute. Shortly after that, Maidana curled an effort wide with his left foot after a powerful run from Andrew Wenger down the left side.

Wenger was back at it just a few minutes later with another strong run, this time cutting in on his right foot and firing just wide of Eric Kronberg’s near post in the 12th minute.

Danny Cruz would be next up for Philadelphia, having two shots saved by Kronberg in the 15th minute. Both shots came from 25 yards after Kansas City could only half clear a cross from deep. But even though the winger struck both with venom, they were both straight at Kronberg, who beat away the first, and then caught the second.

Dwyer was back at it for Kansas City just a minute later. His well timed run saw him behind the Union backline with the ball, but even though he was able to round Zac MacMath, he could only fire wide of an open net from a tough angle.

Maidana should have had the Union in the lead with a great chance in the 29th minute. Another good run from Wenger led the Union on the break, and the winger did well to draw defenders to him and then lead Maidana with a clever pass that put the Philadelphia No. 10 in on goal from the top of the box. But Eric Kronberg did well coming out off his line with pace and Maidana shot straight into the goalkeeper from close range.

Philadelphia would find a way past Kronberg just before the half.

Another speedy break, this one led by Vincent Noguiera, saw the ball played through Brian Brown and wide to Maidana on the right side. The midfielder’s low, driven cross was perfect for Brown, who drove to the goal after laying the ball off, and the striker had only to guide the ball into the near post from 4 yards out. The goal was Brown’s second of the season, his first also came on the road in Kansas City earlier in the season.

Second Half

The Union were back on the front foot to start the second half.

Yet another strong run from Wenger in the 51st minute saw the winger shrug off the challenge of Igor Juliao before squaring a good pass to Maidana in the area. With his back to goal, the Argentine laid a pass off to the onrushing Nogueira, but the Frenchman’s powerful shot curled wide of Kronberg’s goal.

But Kansas City would find an equalizer shortly after that.

A turnover from Nogueira in his own half gifted possession back to Sporting 35 yards from goal. One quick pass to the top of the box found a wide open Soony Saad, who pushed the ball past an onrushing MacMath. The Union goalkeeper made contact with the Sporting midfielder, who immediately tumbled to the ground. Referee Jair Marrufo was quick with his whistle and correctly pointed to the penalty spot.

Dwyer stepped up to take the penalty kick, coolly sending MacMath to his left and slotting the ball into the other corner for his 22nd goal of the season.

Saad came within inches of giving Kansas City the lead just a few minutes later with a powerful drive from 20 yards. But MacMath was down well to his right to beat away the shot.

Curtin would go to his bench on 69 minutes and bring in Pedro Ribeiro for the fading Brown. The big youngster would almost immediately reward his coach, scoring with his first touch of the match.

A good move through the midfield found Sheanon Williams on the ball in an advanced position on the right side. The defender’s smart pass in behind found a streaking Maidana on the edge of the KC box, and the midfielder’s first time cross found Ribeiro in space just seven yards in front of Kronberg’s goal. Ribeiro took one touch to settle the ball before finishing coolly with his second, low into the right corner of the goal. The goal came in the 71st minute.

Brian Carroll was introduced to see out the match in the 74th minute to provide defensive cover, replacing Nogueira. He was one of several players who, with their contracts ending, or for other reasons, may have been making his last PPL Park appearance in Union colors.

Kansas City would throw men forward looking for an equalizer as time ticked away, but chances were few and far between for the visitors.

Youngster Jimmy McLaughlin would make a brief cameo, coming in in stoppage time for Maidana. A few good runs from the winger saw the crowd pick up a “Jimmy” chant as the match expired.

After a rough ending to an up and down season for Philadelphia, the final whistle sounded and the Union would take all three points in their final match at PPL for the season.

“I thought it was a good performance from our guys tonight,” Curtin said. “I thought we ended the season the right way for our fans and for ourselves in a lot of ways.

Philadelphia will conclude their season in Columbus next Sunday.

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Maurice Edu, Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Danny Cruz, Cristian Maidana (Jimmy McLaughlin, 90+3′), Vincent Nogueira (Brian Carroll, 71′), Andrew Wenger, Brian Brown (Pedro Ribeiro, 69′)
Unused substitutes: Andre Blake, Fabinho, Zach Pfeffer, Richie Marquez

Sporting Kansas City
Eric Kronberg, Kevin Ellis, Seth Sinovic, Igor Juliao, Aurelien Collin, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Fielhaber, Lawrence Olum, Soony Saad (Jimmy Medranda, 78′), Dominic Dwyer (Toni, 85′), Sal Zizzo (Jacob Peterson, 70′)
Unused substitutes: Jon Kempin, Graham Zusi, Martin Steuble, Mikey Lopez

Scoring Summary
PHI: Brian Brown (Christian Maidana) — 45′
SKC: Dominic Dwyer (PK) — 54′
PHI: Pedro Ribeiro (Christian Maidana, Sheanon Williams) — 71′

Disciplinary Summary
SKC: Aurelien Collin (Off the ball foul) — 26′
SKC: Lawrence Olum (Foul) — 84′
PHI: Carlos Valdes (Time wasting) — 90′

Philadelphia Union Sporting Kansas City
11 Attempts on Goal 10
6 Shots on Target 2
5 Shots off Target 5
0 Blocked Shots 3
4 Corner Kicks 2
18 Crosses 15
1 Offsides 2
9 Fouls 13
1 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
399 Total Passes 481
73% Passing Accuracy 80%
45.8% Possession 54.2%
49 Duels Won 48
50.5% Duels Won % 49.5%
11 Tackles Won 22
1 Saves 4
12 Clearances 33


  1. As the late Sargeant Major G. Walsh once said to me on the 7th hole after sinking a devilish left to right 10 footer for double bogey, “Making that is like whipped cream on shit.”
    Sage wisdom from the Vet.
    Credit where credit is due I guess, so- good putt boys.

  2. Thank you Brian Carroll for your time here in Chester. You earned your curtain call tonight with your service to the team over the past few years.

    Thank you also to Okugo & MacMath. 100 games each for the Union at this stage of your careers. A smart organization would build around young players who already qualify as veterans.

    • I chose to go with the cynical, kitschy left handed compliment to your taking of gracious route.
      Well said.
      It would be comforting to see Okugo and McMath next year. We will see.

    • Agree on Brian Carroll. Given the situation and lack of importance of the game, I was happy to see him come on and gave both him and Nogueira and standing O (even if very few others were standing near me). Vince for how much he entertained us this season and Brian for four years with the team.
      Hopefully they’ll be smart enough to keep MacMath and get rid of one of the other two, but I’m not betting on it. in Amobi’s case, it is up to him.

      • Yeah…tough one with BC. He’s a smart guy who can read the game well and give good instruction, but I just don’t know if he’s a longer term guy, especially given our depth at that position.

        Zack better stay! I’m hoping…now hear me out…that Sak might be a little smarter than we think and thay he brought on Rais as “trade bait” to get a quality finisher. I doubt Sak is that smart, but maybe it works out that way anyway. Blake works as a backup, and Steffen is almost out of college. We’ll be fine. Zack’s the man between the pipes.

      • BC was one of the best D-Mids in the league when he was in his prime, and his skill set isn’t readily found in MLS today (cutting passing lanes, short passes to start breaks). That being said, his time has come, but I would still like to see him take on a Chris Albright-2013 role, where he is a positive mentor to the younger guys while still training with the team.

    • A smart organization would build around players like that. So we’ll see how smart the Philadelphia Union is.

  3. A younger guy a few rows down from me brought a “Fire Sak” sign with him. For 85 minutes this wasn’t a problem. But come the 86th a very angry security person appeared and loudly and overly forcefully demanded the sign from this kid for being “inappropriate”.

    Whether that qualifies as “inappropriate” I can’t say but that episode is a stark example of what many people I know think is wrong with this front office. How can you be so certain of yourself to make extremely aggressive and perplexing moves like signing a 3rd starting goalie and yet be so thin-skinned that one solitary sign is enough to issue a goon to scare a paying customer?

    • Just so you know, that was not the only dissenting sign to be removed at the game last night. Very, VERY bad look by the front office to crack down on the opinions of the fans like that IMO. There’s no way accountability can happen then.

      • It’s a great insight into Nick Sakiewicz, the person. “Intolerant, ” “Insecure,” “Unable to admit mistake,” “Ungrateful.” Every attendee of that meaningless match the Union were lucky to get. Add “manipulative,” “secretive” & “unprepared” from the laughable attempt to hide the deal with Curtin. These are some of the most dreaded attributes in “CEO. “

    • Sometimes I think the front office hasn’t yet come to terms with the fact that it isn’t 2011 anymore and the honeymoon is over.
      Back then you were selling out every game the team was in the playoffs already and you had a fan base that very likely would have swallowed just about anything the team said and paid you 20 dollars to do so.
      It was inevitable that the honeymoon would end but it was certainly hastened by the Unions bread and circuses approach to public relations a kind of half assed appeasement and a tell them what you think they want to hear pandering. It is kind of amazing how an organization who cleans to be all about the area doesn’t really understand its fan base at all.

      • Dead Solid Perfect Sieve, to continue the golf parallel.
        It’s all left me at a loss- a shriveled cynical shell of a fan who can’t stand the fact that another Philly sports team is mucking it up.
        I want just one organization run like the SF Giants or the St. Louis Cardinals- every year from the Triple AAA team to ‘The Show’ the organization works within its clearly defined vision, plan and philosophy. And the fruition of that is a world class club year in and year out knocking on the door. I was so so hopeful- they bring in P. Nowak a true leader- (we thought at least) to start this thing off in the right direction and all it has done is left me like the song from Radiohead- Fake Plastic Trees- “it wears me out it wears me out it wears me out.”
        Nothing would make me happier than lauding the Great Philadlephia Union.

    • So ridiculous…

    • I love it! True sentiment all around. I read a short section of an interview with Sak-less earlier, and he said his first priority is to get a quality finisher in the off season – in fact, he stated this is his first priority. Why didn’t he do it in the beginning, or after JC took over. Sak is an idiot. He’s only going that route now since the fan base (especially on this site) is TELLING him to do it. Maybe we should all be paid as consultants. Just buy me a “U-Brew” and I’ll be happy….oh….and a world class finisher!

    • If anyone knows of other incidents like this, in which security took signs from fans during Saturday’s game, please share the details here. Thanks.

      • Everyone should check out tannenwald’s twitter for the other signs that were removed. The gravestone one is quite brilliant, in a sad way.

      • I took a quick video of the end of the exchange I saw. I’ve not posted it anywhere though. But if it becomes useful I can certainly put it somewhere.

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    It was nice to see the team play with heart and character. The Brown goal was really a good team goal, with a nice finish, so that was exciting. This team is broken, it needs help, but not a total overhaul. The problem is the guy leading the charge to get help, is clueless. Gonna be an interesting offseason for sure.
    Joker, that is total BS and a disgrace.

  5. Here are some numbers for the season: Union vs. KC – 3 games, 7 points. Union vs. New England – 3 games, 6 points. Union vs. New York – 3 games, 4 points (with the Union using mostly a reserve team in the tie). Union vs. Montreal – 3 games, 4 points. Union vs. Chicago – 3 games, 3 points. Union vs. Houston – 3 games, 2 points, 0 goals. What’s wrong with this picture?

    • The Union seem to be that team that plays to their opponents’ level. They look super against KC, New England and Dallas and were so close to topping Seattle. Then they play like crap against Chicago and Houston. It might be more of a master of not being able to score goals against teams that are happy to park the bus on defense.

      Really happy to see them win last night. Nice to have a little optimism.

    • What’s wrong with that picture is that we only have 1 more game to our seasons (we had two unfortunately) while teams we can play with will be playing longer. Why (besides our first season being so terrible)?

  6. Trying to keep people from voicing (signing) their displeasure with the dog and pony show only proves how unworthy Sakiewicz and the FO are in my opinion. Again they are fooling NO ONE. This off season should be quite interesting.

    • Agree. Not good form from the FO to get frothy over some negative signs.

    • I guess Sak thought it was okay for fans to chant “Fire Hackworth” (which he ended up doing) but its not okay to do essentially the same thing when directed at him. The one who would fire Sak is the real issue: Sugarman – no more iStar money coming into Union as iStar stock value plummets – even though iStar continue to pay him like he is doing great – he must be saving it for something else. how can we expect owner to run Union well under these circumstances? how can he fire Sak when the iStar board hasn’t fired him?

  7. UnitedPenn13 says:

    Does anyone know what the attendance was last night? I know a lot of people were talking about boycotting the match. My 4 seats were empty but it was hard to tell watching the match on TV.

    • From where I sit (top of Section 125), it looked like maybe a little lighter than the Columbus crowd, but not by much. But it seemed much quieter than usual.

    • It was announced at just over 18,000 (I want to say 18,053…), but that is paid attendance. I don’t think they normally anounce how many people spent their money but didn’t bother to show up.

  8. Little Fish says:

    It was good to see Brown score the goal. I’d keep him around and groom him for the future. Chaco (2 assists) sure as heck better be back next year. Finally Coach Curtain learned his lesson and put Brian Carroll in to close out the match…..sadly two big games too late! Congrats to Ribs-great composure on his goal!

    • LIttle Fish…good to hear some positive observations. Both goals were good, as were a couple of the other build-ups. I think we fundamentally have a good cadre of players. Get a seasoned finisher, put the right guys in there, and I think we can do some things. The guys who don’t play, make a strong bench. I believe we’re closer than it looks. All this danged personnel jockeying doesn’t help – guys lose their rhythm.

  9. The one thing that scares me the most about this offseason is that Sakiewicz said there will be a major roster overhaul. If I ignore the fact that happened in 2011 (and 2012, and 2013, and 2014), I’m not sure there needs to be a major overhaul. The only issue I see with the current roster is the goalkeeper issue, which was Sak’s own doing. The team needs at least 1 striker (2 if Brown doesn’t stay), but for the most part I like the starting XI. Fill in the bench with another true midfielder, a left-footed defender, someone to close out the game in central midfield and this team is pretty good. Roster overhaul, no. Front office overhaul, YES!

    • So, who do I want back:
      GK: 2 of the three. Prefer McMath/Blake, but that won’t happen.
      DEF: Gaddis. Valdes. Potentially Williams. Wouldn’t bitch if White was back, but would be happy with someone else too — White is too much like Valdes-light and not an ideal partner for Carlos (that is Edu, but way to expensive, of course).
      MF: Nogs, Maidana, Wenger, Okugo, Pedro, maybe some of the young kids, maybe LaHoud if cheap enough.
      FW: LeToux, Brown (maybe). Casey, if he will play for backup money and 20 minutes/game.
      Yeah, that’s an overhaul. More than half the roster is likely outta here and close to half the salary. And if Okugo and McMath come back, they manage to keep the core, or at least the part that hasn’t finally aged out of major soccer. And if they use the money to add two strikers, a left back, and a center back that complements Valdes, plus some young depth, I like that team.

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