Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 Seattle Sounders

Photo: Daniel Studio

CJ Sapong scored the only goal of the game in the 69th minute as Philadelphia Union defeated Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Wednesday night at PPL Park. Injuries and suspensions took their toll on the quality of both starting lineups, with Seattle sending out a particularly weakened side.

The game seemed destined for a draw before Sapong nodded in Sheanon Williams’ cross midway through the second half.

First Half

Jim Curtin made only one change to the team that lost in Los Angeles on Saturday. Sheanon Williams slid over to right back and Ray Gaddis made way for Fabinho.

After an uneven opening quarter of an hour, the first good chance of the match fell to CJ Sapong in the 17th minute. Cristian Maidana beat his man on the left side and square a pass into Sapong at the top of the box. The striker took one touch to his right and fired a low shot just wide of Stefan Frei’s near post.

Philadelphia’s best opportunity to open the scoring came in the 30th minute when Andrew Wenger was fouled in the box after a period of sustained pressure by the Union attack. Following a series of corner kicks, Seattle failed to clear their lines and Wenger bravely threw his head at the ball only to meet the extended foot of Dylan Remick. Referee Edvin Jurisevic wasted no time pointing to the penalty spot.

Maurice Edu stepped up to take the spot kick with Sebastien Le Toux, the usual number one, unavailable. The Union captain stutter-stepped toward the ball but failed to fool Stefan Frei, who dove to his right to block the poorly struck shot and pounced on the rebound.

Second Half

The Union created the first opening of the second half in the 55th minute. Zach Pfeffer found Chaco Maidana down the right channel. Advancing forward at the retreating Sounders defenders, the Argentinian playmaker and cut onto his right foot to fire a powerful drive into the side netting from 20 yards out.

In the 59th minute, CJ Sapong wove past two Sounders defenders and lay the ball off to Andrew Wenger on the left wing. The resulting cross curled into a dangerous area and Frei did well to palm it away at the last second.

Eric Ayuk became the Union’s first sub in the 61st minute and was immediately involved in the action. Sapong latched onto a pass just outside the Seattle box on the right and played a dangerous low cross toward the onrushing Ayuk. Seattle’s Oniel Fisher slid in to deny Ayuk at the last moment, knocking the ball out for a corner kick.

The Union finally broke through in the 70th minute through Sapong. Sheanon Williams was the first to react to a partially cleared header from the Sounders. The right back found time and space, and his cross from 25 yards out was perfectly placed. Sapong rose well and calmly nodded a header to the right of the diving Frei, who could only get a hand to the ball before it nestled in the back of the net.

Philadelphia nearly doubled their lead just two minutes later. It was Williams once more serving a good ball from the right, this a low drive toward the penalty spot. An unmarked Zach Pfeffer met the cross, but his half volley was well over Frei’s goal.

Fred placed Chaco Maidana in 79th minute and nearly scored shortly thereafter in the 83rd. Fabinho threaded a clever pass in behind to put his fellow Brazilian alone on goal down the left side. But Fred could not find a good shooting angle as Frei was quickly off his line to smother the shot.

Seattle would have a chance to steal a point late when Darwin Jones found room behind Fabinho on the left, but the substitute fired his shot into the side netting at the near post.

Philadelphia plays their third game in a week when they host Montreal on Saturday 7 pm.

Philadelphia Union
Brian Sylvestre, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana (Fred 79′), Andrew Wenger (Eric Ayuk 61′), Zach Pfeffer (Ray Gaddis 90+1′), CJ Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Ethan White, Dzenan Catic, Antoine Hoppenot

Seattle Sounders
Stefan Frei, Oniel Fisher, Jimmy Ockford, Zach Scott, Dylan Remick (Chad Marshall 81′), Cristian Roldan, Michael Azira, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa, Aaron Kovar (Thomas 75′), Lamar Neagle (Darwin Jones 70′)
Unused Subs: Troy Perkins, Chad Marshall, Andy Rose, Victor Mansaray, Tyrone Mears, Darwin Jones, Thomas

Scoring Summary
PHI: CJ Sapong (Sheanon Williams) — 69

Disciplinary Summary
SEA: Dylan Remick (foul) — 30
SEA: Zach Scott (foul) — 49

Philadelphia Union Seattle Sounders
12 Shots 9
5 Shots on Target 2
4 Shots off Target 5
3 Blocked Shots 2
 6 Corner Kicks 1
 23 Crosses  14
 0 Offsides 1
 4 Fouls 12
0 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards  0
 452 Total Passes 473
 81% Passing Accuracy 81%
 49.8% Possession  50.2%
 46 Duels Won 42
 52% Duels Won %  48%
14 Tackles Won  14
2 Saves 4
11 Clearances 36


  1. Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

    good subs; good win.

  2. We beat a crippled side at PPL. I’m happy, but not celebrating just yet.

    Fingers crossed for Saturday. I’m excited to see my first match in person (I live in Hong Kong, so I’ll be eager to watch an evening match for once)

    • have a great time! don’t let the weather reports discourage you. i’ve had some of my best moments there in the rain

  3. Boy they are hard to watch. Uncertain what stunk worse…. my 8 year olds feet or watching them play. But they won and that is a good thing…. I think.
    Of note…our best ball handler #5 is buried in a holding role without the needed movement by his teammates to allow him to be effective….
    …and if JC starts Andrew Wenger after 60 completely ineffective minutes when Erik Ayuk gets involved almost 30 seconds in then shame on him.
    This league is too physical for my taste…a guy can’t even dribble the ball without being hacksawed.

    • Ayuk’s failure to take the ball to the corner deep in stoppage time after Curtin told him to will most likely prevent that from happening.

      • Great One says:

        Come on that was one mistake from an over eager young guy. They said, you’re probably right.

      • That still says start Ayuk, and allow another player to end the game. I actually wonder if Wenger might find some effectiveness coming off the bench for a few games, running at tired defenders.

      • Agree. Ayuk is worth giving a run and Wenger needs to lose his spot in the XI…if only to motivate. Could be a win/win…if Ayuk remains composed and Wenger is challenged to be (far) more effective.

      • I will take his multiple 18 year old mistakes and learning curve for the wattage and amperes. LubDub.

      • Great One says:

        I was agreeing ayuk should start. I just think Curtin won’t

      • Ayuk didn’t go to the corner but started a long run of passes that took the air out of the ball. Had he gone to the corner he would have been muscled off the ball without killing much of the clock. It worked out fine.

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    Not sure what to think. Most of the game was typical get the ball, run down the flank, and cross, cross, cross… which I kind of thought they were getting out of kinda, sorta, maybe, I don’t know… anyway, they did win… and they have lost SO MANY games like this (or given up the equalizer) so many times, so 3 points is 3 points.
    No it fixes NOTHING, and they still are what we know they are… but for now… a win is a win. And Curtain made the right subs tonight so he gets credit for that. .
    Now, please beat the only one team that could maybe, possibly be worse than you on Saturday… and have a good home stand. It’s all we’ve got besides drafts and training camps.

  5. pragmatist says:

    A win Saturday gets them over the magical 1.00 PPG mark. That’s the benchmark I’m setting for them this year.
    They played Seattle’s C-Team and squeaked out a win. We’ll take the 3 points, but the result fooled no one. And all of this on the heels of a ton of transfer uncertainty.
    I like the win, but this didn’t instill confidence in anyone.

  6. In a weak east, any pts during this middle section of the season are big for this team. Perhaps Merlin will show up in the FO during the transfer season and pull a rabbit out of Sak’s asshat.
    It would not be shocking if the team gets healthy and sneaks into a final spot in the table for the playoffs. It is just improbable.
    Sapong gives the team a dangerous striker, he just needs help, and not Seba making runs into CJ’s space type of help.

  7. I was surprised to see Catic on the bench. Thought that loan to Carolina was for 8 weeks. Has it been 2 months already? Or did they find a way to purchase Sylvestre outright?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Agreed, very interesting. I thought it was like a loan swap – Catic for Sylvestre.

    • pragmatist says:

      That will be one of the more interesting stories we’ll need to hear about this game. I rally don’t think they want to give Sylvestre back. He’ll likely be purchased as soon as they sell Rais, if Carolina doesn’t hold us hostage.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Speculating wildly on the basis of no evidence, given how thin they are at striker, they may have asked Carolina to reciprocate granting the favor they gave The Railhawks when their keeper got hurt before their open Cup game and Sylvestre played for them in the emergency.

    • NASL Spring season is finished, so we can assume Carolina let Catic come back for a few weeks until they restart in July, depending on the loan terms.

  8. Atomic Spartan says:

    Loved – Loved! Watching Sapong, Williams and Marquez! Competence – what a concept!
    Silverstre reliable, a much needed characteristic.
    Most of the rest of the team – love ya Blue, but eh…
    Please do not allow Edu to take any more PKs during regulation. In fact, don’t let him anywhere near the opposing goal. You’re just setting us up for disappointment.
    And what has this team done to Erik Ayuk? The timid, overthought decisions that led to way too many missed opportunities replaced the freewheeling, fun loving, adventuresome-cuz-he-doesn’t-know-any-better winger with promise. Please JC, don’t let him become another Wenger.
    Wenger (sigh)

  9. The Black Hand says:

    I didn’t see a second of the match…and I might be OK with that.
    3 pts.

    • in a word: frustrating.
      you saved yourself from yelling at the TV over the MANY opportunities handed to this team that you knew they’d squander. amazingly one of them wasn’t. we can compete against a grade C team in MLS.

  10. The Chopper says:

    I hope LaHoud heals soon. We are going to kill Brian Carroll. Nogs looks spent as well. These guys are getting used up.

    Is the Umion medical staff as weak as the FO? It just seems that every injury to a player on this team is initialy reported as two to three weeks and ends up taking two months or more for the player to be ready to return. Then when they do come back, they quickly get re injured. Too many instances to be a coincidence.

    • pragmatist says:

      Time to call Chip Kelly.

    • Dr. Union says:

      Its also cause Curtin does not know how to manage players time. Carroll’s been playing with a groin problem since the 3 games in 8 nights supposedly, but he is a professional so the guy does as much as he can every game he gets played. I feel bad for them since their so poorly managed no way Carroll should be logging the minutes he is this time in his career. And Nogs I’m just flat out sorry for him every game he is pushing looking for people to pass to and there is no movement.

  11. The comment section here is much more boring after a win. Keep the wins coming though!

  12. Mo Edu…poor penalty take. Rest of the game…fantastic. Sheanon played well too. I actually kind of liked Wenger on the right, he did a few nice things before getting kicked in the face. Hopefully, they don’t lose Nando (that would be awful). When he comes back, a lineup of GK-Sheanon-Mo-Richie-Fabihno-Nogs-Lahoud (Carroll)-Chaco-Pfeffer-Sapong-Nando actually has some promise with Seba, Casey, Ayuk, and Gaddis as the main reserves.

  13. A moment of quality from Williams and Sapong. Gaddis doesn’t have that pass in his arsenal, and is why interested Williams > Gaddis.

    Always take a win, but 1-0 against a USL quality lineup….meh.

  14. Kind of indicative of Wenger’s entire season up ’til this point: the most useful thing he did this game was being kicked in the face.

  15. Andy Muenz says:

    I think Edu figured he would take PK lessons from Rochester since they did so well against the Union. McCarthy go the save every time one of their players stutter stepped. So what could Edu have been thinking.
    Those of us on the bridge side of the stadium were somewhat ticked off at Curtin. Wenger started both halves on our side. He seemed to be showing 0 hustle. Any chance the Union could sweeten the pot on an Mbohli deal by throwing in Wenger?
    On a positive note, we used our U-passes to take two friends to the game who had never been to a soccer game and they enjoyed it. (Thanks to the people with the seats next to ours for not showing up so we could all sit together 🙂

  16. The Oenophile says:

    Nice to see a win, but man oh man, traffic was ATROCIOUS coming down last night, what the heck happened? Took me almost two hours to get there from the Paoli / Malvern area … I hope in the future any more weeknight games start at 7:30 or later to let rush hour traffic pass.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I think the storm Tuesday had something to do with it. There are still a lot of traffic lights out in this area which affected people’s travel time and routes. Don’t think they knew about the storm when they put out the schedule 🙂

    • Jim Presti says:

      Commercial train came through right about 9:05pm, plus half the lights were out so the cops were busy dealing with them instead of greenlighting the roads from the stadium all the way to the major arteries.
      And two hours to Malvern? You must be doing something wrong because I also live in Malvern and was home in about 1:15 minutes. Even with the train.

      • TJunior10 says:

        You take regional rail to CC and then out to Chester? Or how do you use rail to get to the stadium from Malvern?

      • The Oenophile says:

        Not back home, but TO the game, back home was easy, 40 minutes. Getting TO the game took almost 2 hours.

    • 76E was basically a parking lot and 476 wasn’t much better. The last time traffic was this bad going to a Union game on a weekday there was a truck broken down in the middle lane of 476. But I didn’t see major accidents or notable storm damage to account for the horrendous traffic on major highways. So I’m not sure what the deal was.

    • Yes it was atrocious. Took me an hour and a half to get between 76 and 95 on the blue route. Kept my son occupied with a game of “See how many Union fans you can spot” We found at least a dozen.

    • Terrible accident on 95 with the two left lanes closed. Took me over an hour from South Philly.

    • I didnt get there until halftime. Granted, I got out of work late but every traffic light in Chester was out of commission and there were still trees blocking some streets.
      I vote for 7:30 or 8pm start too. It still gets people out at a decent hour

  17. That game reminded me of the last game of the season between the Sixers and the Heat. The Heat were desperate not to lose their first round pick so they started 5 season long bench players – 4 went all 48 minutes and a 4th went 41 minutes. Similar to this game struggling against the 2nd and 3rd string showed how glaringly inadequate the Sixers roster was . . . but at least they had a rebuilding – “P-Lan” , “Plan”

  18. BC is going to die on the pitch if Lahoud isn’t back soon. In all seriousness, I worry about the health of Noggy and BC. Wenger…well, it’s not worth a comment. Williams is and has always been a better RB than Gaddis (smart sub bringing him on late – good move, Jimbo). CJ is the forward we need, great 90 from him. Edu’s PK was weak, too weak. Marquez still executing his job well, very happy to have him. I thought Pfef played decently for around an hour before his legs started to drag. You can really see his confidence building every game – if only he could share some with Wengy.
    What’s the latest with Valdes? I’m being sincere with this question.

    • Carlos Valdes? I think the money/ out of shape/ I’m glad to be back in the place I love, now get me out of here again, debacle of last year has solved the Valdes question. He, like Mbohli, will never be back.

  19. LOL I just noticed that The Union apparently broke the “Crosses” counter in the boxscore. It was bound to happen one day.
    Official scorer – “I can’t count the number of their GD crosses anymore, there’s just too many. Either show me how to enter the ‘infinity’ symbol or leave it blank, I don’t care anymore” glug glug.
    JK Mike 😉

    • Mike Servedio says:

      Ha! It’s fixed now. I’m usually finishing this as the final whistle goes and sometimes the stats take a little while to get to us. I planned on updating it when I got them, but forgot.

      Funnier to think that they just stopped counting though. “How many was it?” “Man, I have no idea. Just write down 20-something.”

  20. Great One says:

    A win is a win I guess, and they were better than the Galaxy game. I still don’t know how Wenger starts. I get that Le Toux is hurt but the guy just doesn’t have it, he’s toast. The back line was much better and looks solid in this setup, as sad as that is for Gaddis.
    Carroll, Maidana, Pfeffer and Nogs looked half dead at the end. Not sure what the reasoning is there, but they made Fred look like a bouncing young man full of life. Speaking of Fred, actually a good sub from Curtin there. I think the other sub came too late however.

  21. Great One says:

    How do we STILL lose the possession battle in that game against that team?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      If it’s any consolation, I think the Union won the possession battle Saturday night by a similar margin.

  22. So, the Union won. Yes, Seattle was down their two best offensive weapons. But the Union are also hurting. So what if they didn’t have Dempsey and Martins. The Union did what they were supposed to do and won. There shouldn’t be any caveats given for this win, when half the Union roster is missing.
    That being said, it was an ugly win. It doesn’t change the fact they still need a better FO. Or that they need wingers, not Wenger. But just for a few days I’m going to be happier than I was because they won.

    • I believe that Seattle was playing with 4 of their starting XI…

      • Was last night’s match on the schedule? Ah, it was. Were they wearing Seattle Sounders uniforms? I believe they did. So they had to play it, just like the Union did. I don’t care if they trotted out their local high school team. As long as the H.S. team wore Sounders uniforms, the Union still beat the Sounders.
        Was it a crap match? Yeah it was. But don’t take away from the Union winning it because Dempsey is dumb, and Martins is injured.

      • In what significant aspects were the Union hurting? The only once-upon-a-time-starters we didn’t have on the pitch were Nando, Le Toux and Vitoria (two of which aren’t even really our players). Nando is not better than CJ, and we were playing a one-forward formation, so he would be considered depth. Le Toux is not noticeably better than Pfeffer (at least recently), and it’s debatable whether or not Vitoria is better than Marquez. All in all, I think we had our best starting XI on the pitch (that’s sad, I know, but that’s all we have to work with). Essentially, we played our A- team at home against Seattle’s C+ team and only barely squeaked out a win.
        So yes it certainly doesn’t change the fact that we need a better FO. But I’d say that when Seattle pays more for Dempsey than the U do for the entire team, and Seattle’s missing not only Dempsey, but Martins and a handful of other regular starters as well, and given the salary cap, that any MLS-worthy team should be able to embarrass them playing at home. Instead, the U were only inches away from embarrassing themselves. This is not the FO, this is the foundation of the Union at its core (the ownership).

      • Hand, consider your point missed.

  23. MD Jessup says:

    I’m surprised there was no mention in this recap of the goal in the first half that was called back. I cannot figure out why it was not a goal.
    Although I admit that it may say more about me than the team, I have hope that this crew can still get healthy and make a run.

    • I couldn’t figure that one out either. Thought it was a handball (I was at the gam) but the replay didn’t tell me much when I watched this morning.

      • The Chopper says:

        They called Wenger for interfering with Frei on the call back goal. it looked like Wenger was trying to leap at the ball, but he got nothing and impeded the keeper’s path. Tough call, could have gone either way.

    • Good call — anyone know why it was disallowed? Was there a foul somewhere else in the box?

    • Again the MLS refs blew a call, or three. Wenger gets cleats in the face, mmmm yellow card. Handball keeps Mo from scoring, ahhh no call. Opposition goalie runs into Wenger, falls down-go boom, and no goal for the Union. MLS will never be a top league unless the do something about the officiating. Someone above said they hate this league because it is too physical. I have to agree with that. But it seems it’s by design. For whatever reason, MLS seems to want a more physical game. Whether that is to try an attract more American football fans, I’m not sure. But it hurts the game. It hurts the beauty of the game. And it’s how beautiful this game of soccer can be that makes me love it so. And I’d wager for most of you too. MLS refs need to change.

    • Mike Servedio says:

      They called Wenger for interfering with Frei. He didn’t do much, looked to just back into him a bit. It’s a call that a lot of goalkeepers get though. I felt that it was a little soft, but not unsurprising that it was called, which is why I didn’t mention it.

  24. Game was boring and uninspiring, yeah they won, ok so what, it wasn’t a good performance (although better than LA). Wenger same incompetence on the wing as always, but hey he is gonna always start cause Curtin’s got no balls. Maybe he should trade Wenger for some balls it would be more useful. Edu at least stayed in the back minus two runs forward which 1 he was almost caught out on, but Carroll and Williams bailed him out. Williams and Sapong both had a decent matches. And yes as many have said I feel bad for Nogs, Carroll, and Maidana they all may eventually die on the pitch from the looks of it and how worn out they are. I chalk this up to mismanagement of time and organization of players on the pitch.

  25. I’ve said it before, it I think it’s worth repeating. 7pm start times on weekdays SUCK more than a Hoover. Nothing like arriving in the 23rd minute. Gah!
    And… Philly Authentic behind section 106-ish… you sucked just as much as the 7pm start time. Halftime we rushed out to grab food, since we didn’t get there in time at the start to get something to eat. We were 4th in line – only three people in front of us. And we didn’t get to our seats until 4 minutes into the start of the 2nd half. What the hell? Guys, you make 5 things. You know when halftime is coming. How can you possibly not have enough cheesesteaks and french fries to fill orders for a dozen or so people? Far and away the worst experience I’ve had with food vendors in the 5+ years.
    On to the game…
    Wenger must have incriminating pictures of Curtin. I really can’t think of any other reason why he continues to get starts.
    They had some moments of really good possession, especially late. Unfortunately, those moments ended when somebody in blue decided to pass to somebody in green. *sigh*
    I thought the “foul” on Wenger against Frei was lame.
    I felt bad for Wenger, actually, getting kicked in the face. That’s gotta f’ing hurt.
    Sapong needs to improve his defensive positioning a little bit. One thing Beardnando does really well is sliding into the center of the pitch defensively and pressuring the other team by occupying that space and cutting out passing lanes. Casey does this really well too. Sapong seems like he could take some lessons there. That said, I’ll absolutely live with that short-coming if he keeps up everything else he’s been doing. Wow!
    Mo Edu is the 2nd best centerback on this team. There, I said it.
    Maybe more thoughts later… Too tired right now after getting about 4 hours sleep Monday and Tuesday, and about 6 last night. Zzzzzzz……

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      When you see a guy like Marquez come up, play well, and earn his spot… it makes you think that somewhere, someone who works for the Union has a clue. He has been stellar… and I agree that Mo Edu is the second best center back on this team.

  26. So many positives from this match. The Hop Devil ale was very fresh. Someone not on the Union humorously dribbled the ball out of bounds. Sylvestre only punted the ball out of bounds once. Fabinho didn’t foul as many throws. Substitutions were made before added time. Marquez still looks great. But still I have questions. Why is kickoff at 7pm for a midweek match? Why did my B lot pass get me a space in C when there were empty spaces in B? Why was there a puddle in the middle of the field? Does the captain really think that’s a PK?

    • I have guesses at answers:

      1. get everyone out by 900pm
      2. no correlation – stuff happens
      3. they killed the grass with the rugby paint
      4. he does, and that’s a problem.

      additional positive – we got a fresh band-aid to cover one of the festering sores that is this franchise. I don’t question the players’ commitment – just listened to Kevin Kincaid’s interview – show us the money Jay or step aside. There are ways to resolve the player issues, as well as the infrastrcuture issues, but they all start with new money for investment. Stop riding off Richie Graham’s work on the side with his own money, or better yet, let him run the team.

      • I too listened to Kevin’s interview. Good stuff. It pains me we can’t get more like it on local sports talk radio. Last night after the game would have been a great time for a local call in segment. Would have been better than the discussion about who the Sixers may or may not take in the draft tonight.

        On the sponsorship/investment into the team. It’s hard for me to believe that it would be that difficult to get more money. This team attracted more than 18,000 people on a weeknight to a stadium that is practically in the middle of nowhere. All those people bought $9 hotdogs and $12 beers. And $8 ice cream cones. That’s gotta be worth something. Even for naming rights on the jerseys. Nothing against Bimbo, but we can’t have a name like that on our kit. It’s embarrassing.

      • The Chopper says:

        The team can not attract additional investors because they are not interested in investing their money in the club unless Jay Sugarman gives them some say in how it is spent. And he just is not going to give up control.

      • For the record: Rob Ellis and Harry Mayes actually mentioned the Union in today’s show…….for 15 seconds then Harry had to move on…cause it was clear he would rather talk about squash than soccer.

  27. Fat Uncle Phil from Urkel says:

    I wonder if Jim Curtin sucessfully Jedi mind-tricked Sheanon. Naming Ray the starter a few months back REALLY seemed to light a fire underneath him. He’s playing the best soccer he’s been playing in years. In March, Ray was the clear cut #1 fullback on the team…now he’s #3 after a similar resurgence from Fabinho. I just hope they don’t regress towards the mean and can keep their form up.

    • It was nice watching Fred and Fabinho work…I must admit. Every player on that team could take multiple lessons from how Fred moves…constantly in search of usable space.

      • … especially the good space he found himself in to … not finish. Love the ice hockey number, too.

      • The Chopper says:

        Fabhino should be the starting left back until further notice. That is, until he returns (hopefully not) to his previous fire him off into a rocket to the sun state of play.

        He really has handled himself well the last month.

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