Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 New York City FC

Photo: Earl Gardner

Vincent Nogueira scored in the second minute of stoppage time as Philadelphia Union gutted out a 2-1 win Saturday against New York City FC for their first victory of the 2015 season.

Zach Pfeffer was credited with a first half goal that deflected off the Union midfielder after a shot by Eric Ayuk. David Villa scored his second goal of the season to put New York on level terms 10 minutes into the second half, but it wasn’t enough for the expansion side.

“I just want to thank the fans to have a packed house, sell out, and have it be as loud as it was,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “As poor as our records been, it was impressive. They pushed us on – to be on the good end of a 90-plus minute goal.”

First half

Jim Curtin made four changes to the team that lost in Kansas City last week. Pfeffer returned from suspension, while Sheanon Williams and Vincent Nogueira returned from injury. John McCarthy started in goal for the first time following the benching of Rais Mbolhi.

The Union started brightly and had the first chance of the game after just two minutes. Sebastien Le Toux did well to move past two NYCFC defenders and spray a ball wide to the onrushing Eric Ayuk. The young midfielder’s shot was well hit but went straight into the side netting from 15 yards out.

NYCFC had their first chance of the match on 15 minutes when Mix Diskerud and David Villa broke toward the Union goal after a giveaway from Pfeffer in the midfield. But Ray Gaddis was aware of the danger and cheated into the center of the park from his spot on the left side to snuff out the danger with a well-timed tackle.

The Union had two good chances to take the lead in the 24th minute. But Pfeffer’s shot from the top of the box was blocked, and then Nogueira’s curling effort was saved by Josh Saunders on the follow-up.

Philadelphia took the lead in the 27th minute.

Andrew Wenger did well to find Le Toux in the channel down the left side. The Frenchman then broke toward the NYCFC goal along the endline to send a low cross across the box that was met by the oncoming Ayuk. Ayuk’s goal looked to be going in regardless, but it appeared to deflect off Pfeffer’s shin as it found the net. Nevertheless, Ayuk celebrated with an impressive series of five back flips.

“If Ayuk scored it, it doesn’t matter because the team scored a goal,” Pfeffer said. “That’s what most important, the team scoring that goal and getting those three points.”

Second half

NYCFC head coach Jason Kreis made one sub at halftime, replacing Sebastien Velasquez with Khiry Shelton. The change, along with higher New York pressure, pinned the Union in their own end to start the half.

New York would get their reward for the high pressure in the 55th minute. Good combination play on the edge of the Union box from David Villa saw the ball go through Villa, then Adam Nemec, and then Josh Williams, whose shot was snuffed out. But the rebound fell straight to Villa, who tapped in from four yards.

Sebastien Le Toux exited the game in the 62nd minute after cutting his arm in a collision with the advertising boards behind the NYCFC goal and drawing a large gash on his right arm that required five stitches.

His replacement, C.J. Sapong, was involved in the action right away. Latching on to a long ball, Sapong did well to hold off a NYC defender before firing a shot at Saunders from 12 yards that the keeper did well to hold.

Conor Casey was introduced soon after in the 72nd minute at the expense of Eric Ayuk. Cristian Maidana was the final Union sub, joining the fray in the 84th minute.

New York had two good attempts to find a winner through Villa free kicks in the 86th and 87th minutes. The first effort was poor, going well over the Union goal. The second was a knuckler that John McCarthy, in his first start for the Union after the Rais Mbolhi benching, did well to punch to safety.

The deciding goal would come in stoppage time — only this time the Union would be the winner. Two minutes in, Wenger beat two NYC defenders on the left side and lofted in a cross to the center of the six-yard box. NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders attempted to come for the ball but could not make good contact after colliding with Casey. The ball fell to Nogueira at the penalty spot, and the midfielder calmly side-footed a shot into the back of the net.

New York will look to avenge the loss on Thursday when they host the Union at Yankee Stadium.

Philadelphia Union
John McCarthy, Sheanon Williams, Steven Vitoria, Maurice Edu, Ray Gaddis, Vincent Nogueira, Michael Lahoud, Andrew Wenger, Eric Ayuk (Conor Casey 72’), Zach Pfeffer (Cristian Maidana 84’), Sebastien Le Toux (C.J. Sapong 66’)
Unused Subs: Andre Blake, Ethan White, Brian Carroll, Richie Marquez

New York City FC
Josh Saunders, Josh Williams (Kwame Watson-Siriboe, 81’), Jason Hernandez, Chris Wingert, Jeb Brovsky, Andrew Jacobson, Mix Diskerud, Sebastien Velasquez (Khiry Shelton 45’), Ned Grabavoy, Adam Nemec (Javier Calle 72’), David Villa
Unused Subs: Ryan Meara, Kwadwo Poku, Mehdi Ballouchi, Patrick Mullins

Scoring Summary
PHI: Zach Pfeffer (Erik Ayuk, Sebastien Le Toux) — 27
NYC: David Villa — 55
PHI: Vincent Nogueira — 90 + 2

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Michael Lahoud (foul) — 81
NYC: Kwame Watson-Siriboe — 85

Philadelphia Union New York City FC
12 Attempts on Goal 7
4 Shots on Target 4
5 Shots off Target 2
3 Blocked Shots 1
 3 Corner Kicks 1
 14 Crosses  12
 4 Offsides 3
 10 Fouls 9
1 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards  0
 339 Total Passes 594
 64% Passing Accuracy 80%
 36.6% Possession  63.4%
 50 Duels Won 50
 50% Duels Won %  50%
18 Tackles Won  16
3 Saves 2
 13 Clearances  29


  1. DOOP!

    • old soccer coach says:

      Just One?? 😉 How ’bout eight, twice!

    • Hell yea and then some! Rip me a new one if you so choose – but from where I was sitting and what I saw today – HELL YEA YOU BOYS IN BLUE! What a game! Every element of this game was new and different. – Loved getting in line seeing so many LaSalle sweatshirts and “55” tshirts around me – – loved seeing an on-field unity greatly missed since the Califf days…there was an energy today that good god I’m so thrilled to see. Also — at the end of the game – seeing all the boys walk around around and clap for the fans – – that…ahhh..that is a long lost tradition I hope that will come back to stay forever.

  2. I like bitching but I really like being pleased. Waited patiently at work to post this. Well done boys. A big sigh of relief.
    My only request is can we see the Ayuk Lindy Flip about fifteen more times.
    One thing I noticed was how less physical this game was than most of the others not sure but maybe it is becasue of pedigree of the NYCFC players enjoying a more freeflowing open type game.
    Either way, I will leave the nit-picking for another time as tonight is about being pleased with a very important club win.
    In keeping with the Pink Floyd theme, “I knew the moment had arrived for killing the past and coming back to life.”

    • old soccer coach says:

      Perhaps we were moving so fast for the first half hour that they couldn’t lay a cleat on us! Seriously, that line-up has meaningful pace, made Wenger seem ordinary. Sapong and Maidana slowed our pace of play, let along smart old bearded turtle.

  3. The ONE GAME I couldn’t go to or watch….

  4. pragmatist says:

    That was the best they have looked all season, minus the 10:00 after halftime. They came out in a bunker mentality after the break, but they bounced back well.
    I’m not going to overreact (yet), but that was a very optimistic showing.
    Sapong looked very good after coming on. If they can figure out a way to get him to coexist with Nando up top, there is some real power up there.
    It was great to be on the good side of an extra-time goal for once. Great experience for those at the stadium today.
    Keep it up, boys!

  5. Overall a positive game. The need for Edu to play in the back was evident. Vitoria did well and was better for the most part with the ball. Wenger played on my side of PPL the first half – started slow and looked tentative but started to come out of it. Ayuk did well first half but needed to come off in the second. Pfeffer did a nice job. Chaco showed in the last 10 minutes why he has to play – he was clearly the best player on the pitch during that period and everyone on the pitch knew it.

    NYCFC was very withdrawn the first half – their pressure in the beginning of the 2nd was difficult to the Union to deal with, but the Union got a handle on it. the (relatively) early subs helped a lot – Sapong looked bright (he’s a big lad in person) and Casey was his usual positive self. Brought the side back into the match – Chaco’s entry sealed it. For a few moments the sub was going to be for Nogs, but then Curtin changed it at the last second to Pfeffer.

    • Spot on assessment- the only thing I would add is a bone for the young goalkeeper who managed to keep his shit together in what was surely a quite nerve racking first experience.

    • old soccer coach says:

      I agree with Joel that McCarthy deserves compliments for keeping it together, having just watched Hamid spill one vs. Pink Heifers to lose two points. He also needs a prescription of multiple bouncy back passes in the next few days. Curtin at the presser I just watched said he’ll start on Thursday. Long-term I’d bet on Blake’s athleticism unless there are mentality issues.
      Eric Ayuk deserves mention for his ball-winning. He consistently took experienced players by surprise with how quickly he could stick a foot in to win a ball they thought was safe, and his strength and balance to stay on his feet and move forward deserves complimenting as well.
      I am glad Wenger drove the baseline and delivered the cross that bounced off the Casey-Saunders collision to Nogueira’s side foot; he let Williams the NYC right back overlap unnoticed and get inside him completely [textbook illustration of exactly what NOT to do] for the shot that rebounded to Villa for their goal.

    • Great Points R3er, I gotta disagree with your view on Ayuk. He was a monster for 90 min and I thought he should have stayed on bc he didn’t look tired. Fortunately for Curtin it didn’t hurt us. I’m really glad he didn’t sun Nogs bc if he did we would have came away with a point. Note to Curtin, for all games that are a must win, Noguiera needs to stay in the match.

      • I agree with you re Ayuk the 1st half winning lots of balls and taking guys on (though I noticed Diskerud actually ran him down a couple of times – bet Ayuk was surprised by that – I was). In the 2nd NYCFC adjusted and stood off him a bit and moved the ball more quickly around him. Also, a lot of NYCFC good play in the 2nd half came down his side. He seemed to lose some impact on the game – I was hoping to see him take guys on when he moved over to my side of PPL.

        Agree with OSC that McCarthy did well. he was clearly nervous as his first couple of kicks were complete crap, but he settled down – there seemed to be more cohesion in the back. The only breakdown was their goal, which was a crappy goalmouth scramble where 2 or 3 Union switched off (Wenger and Shaenon for sure) when they needed to be hyper-vigilant. I don’t blame McCarthy for that.

      • Good points. I have a feeling that a 18 once Ayuk gets use to MLS he’ll be the adjustments to make himself a real handfull to contain. When healthy the Union appear to have some potentially solid options coming off the bench. They could still use some more quality depth.


      • corrections: at 18…He’ll be making the adjustments…

      • Ayuk could be Freddy Adu’s younger brother the way he play. But I think he is more physical and athletic than Adu. The kid is fun to watch and he plays with much confidence and careless abandon.

  6. I really didn’t see the winner coming. Thank god it fell to Vincent! Wow it feels great to win one after the clock hits 90! Now let’s take it to yankee stadium!

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Glad for the result. Still a lot of room for improvement (see the passing and possession stats) but that’s talk for another day. Tonight’s just to enjoy.

  8. Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

    Very happy for Vincent and Jimmy Mac.

    Felt like the Nog miss late in the USOC Final last year killed a lot of momentum that the Union had mustered up until that moment. Would only be fitting if a late Nog winner helped the team into some positive momentum.

    Also: Nogs speaks pretty good English!

    • Mike Servedio says:

      His english is much improved! Letoux announced before the press spoke to him that he wasn’t translating this season. We will try to get more video with him as the season goes on.

  9. Great to get that first win and in such dramatic fashion. My row spent a lot of time yelling for the ref to make a call. His rule seemed to be “no blood…no foul”. Even when there was blood he just swallowed his whistle and let play continue. Letoux would still be lying on the pitch if NYCFC hadn’t done the sporting thing and kicked the ball out of bounds.

    • Eh. I thought the Union kicked it out of bounds, actually. And Sounders was a dick for even putting the ball in play off the goal kick while Le Toux was lying on the ground by the boards – never mind that the ref shouldn’t have allowed it.

      • Agreed, Saunders behaved very badly and there was nothing sporting about NYCFC’s approach towards LeToux being down.

      • Saunders received his punishment when Mr. Casey crashed into him. Obviously happy that the ref swallowed his whistle on that play. They don’t always. After the goal, it looked like Saunders started to jaw at Mr. Casey, but Mr. Casey gave him a “Do you want a knuckle sandwich?” look and he backed off.

        Conor Casey’s Soccer Gym – Chester, PA – F@&k Someone Up

      • He argued during the injury break that LeToux was already off the pitch – he came back on and ran halfway across the field before lying down. That said, they could have knocked it out after he laid down – in all not the most egregious thing I have seen in this milieu.

      • you just used the word milieu. magic.

    • Nyickfick did NOT purposefully play the ball across touch. Unsporting.

  10. We got three points, but it felt like so much more than that. Great win.

  11. Steve OMalley says:

    Why doesn’t Chaco start

  12. pragmatist says:

    I’m sure I’m in the minority, but Lahoud was very good today. He’s not an offensive threat, but that’s not why he’s out there. Today he was linking up the fullbacks and the midfield, breaking up NYCFC’s offense and generally doing exactly what you need from a CDM. (Let’s ignore the yellow when he got tangled up.)
    With Edu at Center back (where he damn well better stay), we need a solid, if unspectacular CDM, and that’s Lahoud. A guy who just does his job. And today he did it well.
    He played well against KC, too (Not counting the shot over the goal).
    That should be his spot until a more suitable option is found. And I don’t think we have one on the roster. Our best option is playing in Orlando now.

    • Agreed. Mike Lahoud put in a damn good shift tonight.

    • LaHoud keeps it simple. I remember people used to complain that all he did was pass it laterally…well yeah and that’s okay too. He is a destroyer and gets the ball moving, pretty quickly I might add. He is not Amobi and often times, IMO, when we saw him for a stretch people started expecting him to do Amobi things becuase the limitaitons to his game were highlighted as compared to others who have played the holding Dmid spot. As it is, there is no question he is our best option right now at that position- with the necessity of Edu at CB.

      • Count me among those who complain about Lahoud. It’s not lateral passing; that would be an improvement. His first choice is usually passing backwards. No matter what options are in front of him he passes toward his own goal. Having said that, I admit he was indeed an asset today. This was not his typical game. If he continues like this, he shuts his critics (including me) up. Well done, Mike.

      • +1 – he was very solid, which like Coquelin, was all you want. I thought the late yellow was ok too – he stopped a numbers advantage break.

      • I haven’t seen that as much this year. His game vs KC (his best, imo) saw him making some solid plays up field. He was strong on Saturday. I have no complaints with him as the starting d-mid, and I was very anti-lahoud l/y and early this year. Quite happy with what he’s bringing to the team this year.

    • Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

      I’m hoping they make a play for Kvist during the summer window. Wigan are about to go down to League One and we will hopefully have the new M’Bolhi money to spend.

    • Your opinion is shared by many including me.
      The yellow was tactical, professional.

  13. Damn it feels good to win. good effort from everyone, solid games from Nogs and Pfeffer. Next game I would start Ayuk and Sapong on the wings, they look more dangerous than Le Toux or Wenger. Boy it’s nice to have Casey coming in late. Big asset.

  14. Very entertaining game. Based on last weeks well played 90, I was not surprised at all that they made a pretty good show of it Saturday.
    For me, Ayuk is going to be the new team star and measuring stick for player quality. He’s young and will likely make some mistakes, but from the first time I saw him make a move around a defender in Florida (and I’m pretty sure that guy is STILL wondering where Ayuk disappeared to) it was easy to see how absolutely electric this kid is.
    Also Ayuk’s performances have made made post-loss “Where’s the Heart?” reactionary statements like “While there may be a few complaints about [Danny] Cruz’ first touch or his decision making in the final third, you always knew you could count on him leaving every ounce of energy on the field.” look really S-T-U-P-I-D. Can we PLEASE bury the rose colored Cruz nostagia for good now??? His “effort” was never more EFFECTIVE than being water poured into the sand.

    • Agreed- talking about effort, athleticism, and heart are all fools gold statements for not very good.

    • Ayuk is Cruz with more quickness and technical ability – plus stays on his feet more (there really is nowhere to go but up in this comparison). desire is a push, which is a compliment for Ayuk. if he can figure out how to impact a game when teams lay off of him when he has the ball and keep the ball away from him when they have it, it will be another step up.

      • Ayuk is a footballer.

      • not disagreeing – just know from personal experience that I never minded playing on a team with one guy like Cruz because of the impact on the other side. when someone like Cruz had more dimensions to their game it rocked – you almost wanted to calm them down a bit to focus on playing.

  15. The Cliff of Union Despair says:

    Where is everybody?

    Okay… Two for one special! Book now and we throw in a complimentary rock for you to sit on and a free P&D cookie!

    Still not good enough? We’ll throw in free French lessons from Monsiour M’Bohli. He’s moonlighting as a French professor for us here at the CUD now. The man’s gotta make a living you know.

    Where are you going? Please come back?! I’m lonely….*sniff*

  16. BIG UPS to John McCarthy on his first start and WIN! Way to go Pfeffer/Ayuk and Noguiera! Nice assists by Wenger and Le Toux! Glad we mad the trip. Saw some “Ex” Pink Cow fans sporting NYCFC jerseys. Wonder if they made back in time to change into their pink cow kits!

    The next signings from Sakiewicz should be 1)selling his shares as part owner, 2)His total and complete resignation! The next signing from Jay Sugarman should be to sell this franchise to a competent and financially competitive ownership!


    • Great game team & staff… at-a-boys all around… Does not stop me from agreeing with you… FREE ‘OUR’ FRANCISE… “FOF”

  17. After watching McCarthy’s post game interview, I think they’ve answered that “Where’s the heart” question from earlier in the week.

  18. I always hate the phrase “philly tough” in modern sports because to me the only way to be tough like that is be the broad street bullies, literally beating your opponents. But yesterday I felt was the next closest thing. A gritty, not going down, keep on pushing performance. Despite a great lack of possession, to always keep pushing. What more can you ask for?

  19. The Chopper says:

    Love the effort and the well deserved, overdue result. The back four with Williams, Edu, Vittoria and Gaddis can become formidable. They certainly helped keep it simple for McCarthy and will do so for Blake at some point.

    Best part for me is realizing that there really is a nucleus of younger talent on the roster, Pfeffer, Ayuk, Wenger, Fernando, Sapong, Gaddis Williams and Vittoria are all at ages where their prime years are in front of them.

    That they managed this result without Fernando and a limited appearance from Chaco is that much more encouraging. Let’s see if they can back it up with some kind of result on Thursday.

    • pragmatist says:

      I made the joke that the average age of our starting lineup was 20. If you take LeToux out, I don’t think I’m that far off. This has to be one of the youngest rosters in the league.
      If they can use this to start a playoff season (very possible in the East), this could be a very solid foundation for the next few years. (Don’t screw it up, FO.)

    • The back line was huge in this game. Williams really is a critical player for this team. Makes the team much more dynamic offensively and gives us two outside backs who can really lock down wing players one-on-one. Edu and Williams in particular kept Villa quiet much of the game with their mix of athleticism and physicality. Well done.

      And Ayuk? What a great find.

  20. The Black Hand says:

    Amazing result…amazing.
    I saw none of it, as I was marching around NYC in a kilt…but I did have my Union scarf flying high, to let the pricks know!!!
    Hopefully, I’ll catch the replay. Did we show well?

  21. OneManWolfpack says:

    A win is a win is a win!!! And boy did we need one. I though they played well, other than the right after half, when I was quickly getting that feeling that they were gonna find a way to lose. Keep it rolling on the short week!!!

  22. I want some more chatter around these parts. Hell is it the weather? Team just saved it’s season and the only thing I hear is a quail in an empty barn.
    Win on thursday and were tied for 2nd place in conference- now that is a shit house to penthouse move.

    • pragmatist says:

      We’ve all see this movie before. There has been a return of optimism, but our collective Charlie Browns are all waiting for Lucy to pull the football again.

      Enjoy the win. But let’s make sure it wasn’t an anomaly.

      I think the arrow is pointing up, but we really need to make sure the momentum continues.

    • Now is where Jim’s real meddle as coach is tested. NYCFC will surely adjust from Saturday and they’re at home….lets see what wrinkles we have up our sleeve…….

  23. JP got it wrong btw. Jordan’s comeback number was 45 not 55.

    • I think it was Pappas that said it, but I definitely cringed when I heard that in the highlights.
      Anyone else loving the cherry blossom banner in the River End? I sat there thinking “I don’t get it. Hang on… five… seven… FIVE, IT’S A HAIKU!” I don’t care if the cherry blossom festival is over. They should hang it every game.

  24. 700 Chopper says:

    I love our new keeper cause he’s got a determination to win and the team itself looked much improved so even thou I like to pick em apart Great Job Union Doop Doop
    Let’s keep up the winning ways boys.

  25. Surprised nobody’s talking about LeToux. He was a beast and probably had his best game since, well, I don’t know when. While there was a lot of solid play, I think he set the tone.

    That gash was no joke. Hopefully he’s well enough to start on Thursday or Sunday. I’d prefer he sit thursday (as we’ll need some legs against NER).

  26. Eoin Boyle says:

    Been a long time coming, but nice to be able to be positive.
    At least this week, we ran around BUT, with a purpose.
    Edu, should never start in midfield again.
    LaHoud. very good.

    Hard to be realistic, not used to winning, hard to be really objective, but for this week, WHO GIVES A SHIT!!!!

  27. A little late to the party………..won’t disrupt the good vibes. They played hard and did a decent job. I was pleased that Jim switched to 4-3-3 late to get the win…….putting Casey and Chaco on….balls move, and it paid off!

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