Union match reports

Match report: Union 1-4 New York Red Bulls

Philadelphia Union’s forgettable season will get them into the MLS record book. Mike Grella scored the fastest goal in league history seven seconds into the match and New York Red Bulls added three more before the first half was over, going on to win 4-1 at Red Bull Arena Sunday afternoon.

The Union pulled one back through Sebastien Le Toux as New York took their foot off the pedal, but the match was decided inside of five minutes when Bradley Wright-Phillips made the score 2-0.

That Jim Curtin’s best available lineup was so comprehensively beaten speaks both to the growth of Red Bulls under Jesse Marsch and Philadelphia’s extended stasis.

First half

The Union had the opening kickoff, and Cristian Maidana passed the ball back and to the right where Mike Grella simply collected it, drove at Steven Vitoria, and scored. Grella’s left-footed shot deflected off Vitoria and eluded Andre Blake. Seven entire seconds had passed.

There are few plays that will ever encompass a lack of concentration, preparation, and investment as well as the Red Bulls opener, but the home side’s second goal certainly came close.

Sacha Kljestan’s fourth minute corner kick was flicked to the far post by Damien Perrinelle. Bradley Wright-Phillips had a simple tap in, and he did not miss.

The right side of Philadelphia’s back line, Vitoria and Wenger, were under constant pressure during the first twenty minutes of the match, and they did not respond.

In the 17th minute, Dax McCarty dispossessed Michael Lahoud 25 yards from goal and laid in Mike Grella. The winger tied Vitoria’s shoes together before finishing low with his left foot to put New York up three goals.

Philadelphia threatened in the 31st minute as Barnetta played a quick exchange of passes with Maidana and ran through the defense. Maidana’s ball was too hard, however, and the move came to nothing.

In the 34th minute, another counterattack fizzled after Le Toux slowed and looked to play the second runner, only to see the defense smother his ball into the center.

The Union could not escape the half without another disaster, and Kemar Lawrence punished Maidana’s feckless defending in the 44th minute. McCarty beat more than one player on the endline and crossed into the middle. Lawrence made a run and nobody followed, leaving the young fullback to score his first MLS goal with little pressure.

Second half

Jim Curtin pulled off Vitoria and Maidana, adding Ethan White to the defense and Fernando Aristeguieta up front.

The Venezuelan striker was lively all half and put a vicious volley on frame in the 72nd minute that Robles was forced to push away. Likewise, White was a calming presence in the back compared to the more expensive man he replaced.

Unfortunately, neither player did much to alter the course of the match.

In the 49th minute, Barnetta collected the ball just above the box and slid it inside for Aristeguieta to fire at goal. The big striker scuffed his shot and Robles made an easy save.

Six minutes later, Sebastien Le Toux, the player least likely to give up on a game, collected a fantastic release ball from Barnetta, cut around Perrinelle, and finished with his left foot. The goal will hardly bring solace to a demoralized squad, but it did seem to stop the bleeding as the Union found they could attack the passive, dominant Red Bulls.

Aristeguieta’s stunning drive was the next moment of note nearly 13 minutes after Philly scored, but Robles preserved the three goal lead with a fine save.

In the 90th minute, substitute Eric Ayuk powered a long header toward the far corner of Robles’ goal, but once again the home keeper was able to react and push the ball around the post.

Philadelphia Union’s 2015 season mercifully draws to a close next Sunday at 5pm when Orlando City SC comes to PPL Park.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Andrew Wenger, Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria (White 45′), Fabinho; Michael Lahoud, Vincent Nogueira, Sebastien Le Toux, Cristian Maidana (Aristeguieta 45′), Tranquillo Barnetta; CJ Sapong (Ayuk 77′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Raymon Gaddis, Warren Creavalle, Conor Casey

New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles; Sal Zizzo, Ronald Zubar, Damien Perrinelle, Kemar Lawrence; Felipe, Dax McCarty (Davis 65′), Lloyd Sam (Veron 72′), Sacha Kljestan (Lade 82′), Mike Grella, Bradley Wright-Phillips
Unused Subs: Kyle Reynish, Karl Ouimette, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anthony Wallace

Scoring Summary
NYRB: Grella — 1′
NYRB: B. Wright-Phillips (Perrinelle, Kljestan) — 4′
NYRB: Grella (McCarty) — 17′
NYRB: Lawrence (McCarty, Sam) — 44′
PHI: Le Toux (Barnetta) — 55′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Vitoria (foul) — 41′

Philadelphia Union New York Red Bulls
9 Shots 13
6 Shots on Target 5
3 Shots off Target 6
0 Blocked Shots 2
 8 Corner Kicks 4
 13 Crosses  21
 0 Offsides 2
 13 Fouls 10
1 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards  0
 361 Total Passes 651
 76% Passing Accuracy 84%
 35.7% Possession  64.3%
 43 Duels Won 59
 42% Duels Won % 58%
11 Tackles Won  24
1 Saves 5
11 Clearances 18


  1. Tell me again who said Curtin should stay as head coach…
    Glad I did something else and just DVR’ed the game. Only thing I enjoyed was Mike Grella’s interview (on the Red Bulls feed on DirecTV). He is the real deal for very little money.

    • I agree, if this game doesn’t scream new blood idk what does. I actually had been leaning towards keeping him, but this effort? This lineup? No last sub again???? Clearly the team doesn’t respect him as much as I thought

      • Ayuk was last sub- he already did two at the half. It wasn’t a friendly, and I don’t feel friendly toward the Union.

      • I meant the last sub being as late as it was.

      • Effort is on the players. Jury’s still out on Curtin (I’d keep for the coming season), but they’re grown men. He basically put out his best 11 and they didn’t show up. If the coach needs to magically push buttons to get 11 professional players to put in a honest day’s work, you need some new players.

      • Agree! Thank you…

    • Explain to me, to us once again why Curtin is the problem, after he’s been set-up to fail?? The team for the most part clearly was not ready, mentally, for this match and this gets put on them (which players is pretty clear). I think even Curtin was surprised at how bad it was. How can a team play one way one week then another completely opposite way another week (even with a one week break)? Doesn’t sound very professional, to me. I would have been fired long ago if i approached my job in that way…

      • it is the coaches job……regardless of the level, to make sure his players are “locked in”. Sir Alex talked all about it last week and in his book. Mental toughness falls directly at the feet of the coach…..doesn’t matter if they are high school kids or professionals.

      • I agree that it’s on the front office and the players, but Curtin doesn’t just get a free pass.

  2. sieve!!!!!!! says:

    who needs some ice cream?
    Come on, buck up.

    • Does the team get the ones with cyanide sprinkles or do we? I can’t decide who needs to be put out of their misery first. Check that, I’ll have mine with.

  3. I was listening to the game on Sirius XM. As bad as that first goal in my imagination, it was that much worse seeing it for real.
    Kudos to Adam for being like le Toux, and not giving up on the game either.

  4. The Chopper says:

    A pathetic season deserved a pathetic finish and that was it.

  5. Not sure, but think only way Orlando gets in to playoffs is if NYCFC beats New England, and Orlando beats Union and makes up 10 goals in goal difference column. Incredibly, I believe it could happen.

  6. Kevin Kinkead said SD hire could come in 1-2 weeks, down to 2 people. Man, that guy’s got some work to do. Really, he has to build 2 teams.

  7. In Jim Curtin’s last 40 matches, he’s lost half of them. He’s earned LESS points than Hackworth in the same time frame.

    There is NO argument that factually supports keeping Jim Curtin as manager of the senior team. If some of you “like” him, he can go to Bethlehem. He is not what this team needs to be successful and will never be successful here until he learns to coach.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      He can go.
      Let him stay related to turmoil.
      One the one hand.
      On the other.
      You know my ultimate position…. Have a nice day.

      • Your ultimate position? You like Jello? No idea. Guessing it’s tough to watch the facts that get up in the emotions of rooting for a nice guy.

        I effing miss Nowak.

      • Paranoid Android says:

        I’m with you…he can go.
        that’s been pretty much my position for a year. I’ve seen enough.
        Thing is there is so much turmoil around this team already…i think he gets one final chance to start a season with the new SD.
        The hook would be waiting exit stage left for me.

      • me too! He went loco….but he definitely had a handle on this league better than anyone else we have had……

    • I totally agree. The FO needs to find a coach with a successful record…end of story. Yes of course they have to be affordable but aren’t there a lot of coaches out there?

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    How the fuck do you allow a team to score on you in :05 seconds. A Jose Bautista home run doesn’t leave a baseball park as fast.
    What a joke. I want you to know FO…I suffered through that whole game. The whole game.
    Just to arrive back where I always seem to begin… YOU SUCK.
    Off with their heads… the whole lot of them.

  9. Can they just play the youth? Please? Give them something to play for and me a reason to watch–win or lose.

    Everything after the USOC final is anticlimactic…and boring.

  10. Something good came out of this…I had Grella as my captain in fantasy. That worked out well…

  11. The Oenophile says:

    OK everyone, ready? One … two … three … all together now … That’s So Union!

  12. Grella was blatantly offside on the kickoff. Says the U were way too predictable on their kickoff play.
    For the first time I tuned away in disgust after goal #3. Came back for the second half, incredulous at the score.
    The wheels certainly came off, didn’t they. Brother.

  13. el Pachyderm says:

    I can’t wait for this week’s press conference and the manager’s opening remarks. Can’t let it slide… I have to get this off my chest… and as Cat Steven’s sings, “gotta let it out.”
    Apple. Check.
    Spit. Check.
    Fire. Check.
    If he begins with “Yeah, again – tough one.”
    I would just prefer he throw himself at our mercy and recognize that, “the utter lack of attention and preparation… when YOU are the team tapping the opening kickoff is inexcusable and it will never happen again as evidenced by the reaming I gave the team at halftime when they gave up a gol in 5 seconds then rolled over and played dead”
    Those errors… those mental mistakes, that lack of OMS burn in getting throttled by a – let’s admit…solid but not spectacular NYRB…are why this team is a LAUGHINGSTOCK.
    There’s that word again I had put it away for almost 3/4 of a season… but I call it like I see it and while many of you will not care to – or summon the energy – to talk much about this game related to its general lack of worth in the big picture – I watched every minute of it and therefore am well within reason to call this team to task over a gutless, no heart, piece of shit performance… If they can play that bad no matter the station of season I’m calling them on it.
    Every player on that team better come under the microscope- the whole team needs the kind of terminal cleaning that comes with a contagion. Superheating. Light. Whatever the method… get rid of it.
    Oh and another thing… Mr. Sugarman… maybe you won’t like these comments and therefore not consider them since they are ruthless… they may be ruthless – but they are right on – an egregious display by a terrible team and its overmatched coach…..
    …take this FLAMETHROWER to the whole thing.

  14. Paranoid Android says:

    When I am king you will be first against the wall
    And your opinion which is of no consequence at all
    What’s that? I may be paranoid but no android
    What’s that? I may be paranoid but no android
    Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
    Kicking squealing Gucci little piggy
    You don’t remember
    You don’t remember
    Why don’t you remember my name?
    Off with his head, man
    Off with his head, man
    Rain down Rain down Come on Rain Down on me
    —————– From a great height ————————-
    That’s it, Sir
    You’re leaving
    The crackle of pigskin
    The dust and the screaming
    The yuppies networking
    The panic the vomit
    The panic the vomit
    God loves his children
    God loves his children.

  15. Looking for bits of progress here when common sense says this whole team should be sent packing — the U did accomplish something other than being on the wrong side of the record for the fastest goal ever scored, and that is establish with certainty that the team is 1,000 percent better off with $400,000 than Steve Vittoria. Dude punched his ticket back to Portugal today.
    Only guys I’m keeping after today are Ayuk and LeToux. Rest of the team was terrible.

  16. Two years in a row that 2/3 of the way through the season all their hopes were hung on one game in a tourney that many teams don’t take too seriously. Then went into the tank after it- not just lost games, but fell apart.

    I was struck by the fact they were down 3-0 17 minutes in yet still ceded possesion 36-64%. Just a sorry-ass effort from top to bottom.

    Ran through the match recaps and Union ceded possession in 27 of 33 games this year, including 9 that were 30s%-60s% against (3 more that were 40-60 or 41-59 against). The 6 games they had more possesion they were 1-4-1. This team has no clue how to possess the ball with a purpose. They are ONLY dangerous by counter-attacking, and Maidana is pretty much the ONLY player on team that can activate that counter-attack. One thing among many that has to change next year. Don’t know if Curtin has the chops yet to do it.

  17. I will give Lahoud a break on that. He generally lays it out there every game, so I don’t know what happened there and whose fault it was. He looked incredulous from the opening tap thru the goal. That said, Steven Vitoria is a straight dog. Shot blocking 101, and he high schooled it by reaching with this opposite foot instead of the foot closest to the ball. If he uses the correct technique there, that’s a deflected shot out of bounds. WOOF-WOOF.

  18. You can make all the excuses you want about lack of motivation after the Cup final loss and playoff elimination, the team embarrassed itself today. I am told some players showed up in the second half, but I turned it off after the sh*t show of the first half, so I cannot confirm this. This is why you play the kids in these matches, because if you need to earn a roster spot next season, you give some effort in matches like this. Unless you are on loan from Benfica, then, well….

    The first half today showed just how much the Union have to improve to reach mediocre. One expansion team will definitely finish above the Union and probably both will. Not trying to be dramatic, but it is fair to say decisions made this offseason will determine if there is an MLS franchise here long term.

  19. What do they work on in training? How can they possibly play that poorly? Have they simply given up? Were a large number of them hung over?

  20. Don’t know if any of you watch hockey, so I’ll relate the Flyers start this season to draw a point:
    Game 1 goes into OT. they make history as the first team to lose 3-on-3 overtime (a new rule this season)
    Game 2 was much like tonight: down 4 goals in as much time too. They lose 7-1. (Aside: If you don’t know they’re on their 3rd coach in 3 seasons. They fired long time coach 3(!) games into a season and left the assistant dangle in the wind.)
    Game 3 was preceded by a players-only meeting. No, not a revolt. A digging down deep, we are accountable meeting. Game 3 was a ground-out nail-biting 1-0 win. A win that looked worse than it was.
    Game 4 was against the team that just won the cup last season. And the team with the most annoying goal song (we could only wish the league cared about the doop song), and the team that they lost to in the Stanley Cup seasons before.
    They kicked ass. 3-0. Owned it from the first puck drop.

    So my point here is
    Game 1 is the last 4 seasons we’ve endured as fans of the Union
    Game 2 is the exclamation point of these last couple weeks
    Game 3 is the next step for hopefully no more than a few seasons
    Game 4 is the end game

    Between game 2 and 3, there needs to be a players-only meeting. Only a handful of any player and staff affiliated with the club come out of it worthy of even answering the call let alone even calling the meeting in the first place.

    I am Union fan, forever to be torn it seems. Is it too dramatic to say this franchise’s future weighs on these next 14 week. WEEKS! There will be vacations and holidays during it. For any of you that work on long-term projects, that sounds like not enough time.

    Does this club have what it takes to get to game 3?

  21. I missed the game. Got involved with something else. I looked up at 5 till 6 and said, crap I forgot. Went to Espn FC to check the score….I laughed. Cackling, maniacal, this is so Union, laughter. I decided to DVR the replay anyway. Then I saw Red Bull scored the fastest goal in MLS history. The laughter came back. I’m still chuckling now.
    Mea culpa to all. I will never defend Curtain again. You all were right. I give. Uncle. Break out the crow and I shall have 2nd’s and 3rd’s.
    Can MLS take the franchise away? No, really. Please. For the sake of soccer fans sanity in Philly. Disgraceful. But somehow, so Union.

  22. Could MLS step in and take over the franchise, like MLB did in LA? Maybe reverse the clear edict from headquarters that the Union get no penalty kicks called their way, maybe establish a trust so that Sugarman can own the team but not make any decisions, maybe force the team to put Curtin down to USL where he belongs and hire a real coach for real money?

    If I have to watch Wenger/Vitoria/Lahoud suck at defense on Sunday I may just implode. I’m undecided between just staying in lot A after the game starts and drowning my misery or going into PPL but staying completely quiet like I always pledge to do at my daughter’s U12 games.

    • The parent pledge. Great stuff.

    • I had a few ideas for the last game of the season.
      1) Sign saying “Vacation started 2 games early this year!”

      2)Cardboard cutouts with players’ names and numbers, left in seats instead of people.

      3) Leave the stands empty for the first half. Then show up for the second half, as they did vs. Red Bull.

      4) Sit in silence for the match (I.E. Ben’s silent pledge)

      5) When the teams come out of the tunnel, turn to face away from the field until introductions are over.

      Just a few ideas.

      • Wow, this is great. I think we should do all of them. Combine 3 and 5. We all walk out of the seats when the teams come out and come back in the 2nd.

      • I’ll never bail on the players like the last idea. I’m all for the cutouts and silence, but I can’t get mad at the players, because I like to think, Sunday aside, that there are a few of them out there trying their best (Nogueira, Le Toux, Marquez for example), despite never being rewarded for their work. I think the coach isn’t putting them in the best position to win, and he himself is not being put in a position where he can find success, so it’s really an endless cycle of failure. If the first half next Sunday starts as yesterday’s did, then may I suggest we empty the stadium at halftime, as opposed to filling it?

      • These were just ideas filling my head as I was trying to get to sleep last night. I’ll leave it up to better minds than I, since my right/wrong compass seems to be off.

        Since my compass if off, I’ll add my stance on Klinnsmann/Johnson debate, to my all I can eat of crow. Seeing him streak down the field for his club team this weekend made me sick. I was again on the wrong side of that debate. To those I argued with, I contritely admit my wrong-headedness.

  23. Whelp.
    At least it sounds like the Union will have a Sporting Director soon.
    Also, Vitoria made one offseason decision easier.

    • Interesting tweet from Tannenwald:
      “Steven Vítoria walked out of the locker room with headphones on before Jim Curtin was done speaking, and right as the room opened to media”
      Sounds like Curtin gave it to him and he likely played his last minutes in Philly.

      • Curtain should tell him to keep on walking. Don’t even bother coming to practice, or this week’s game.

  24. I was a wedding, and got the updates, but I read this match report before I watched the condensed version on MLS Live when I got home. Yikes. Just burn the tape, move past it and try to salvage some dignity – and a roster spot for some of you (cough Vitoria) – next week against Orlando City.
    Insult to injury after September 30. I know that game gutted them, it gutted me too, and the failure to get it done two years in a row is frustrating, and disappointing, and maddening, but at least try and show some fight. This game was the epitome of the Union’s existence: inability to take care of business when it matters, then left to pick up the scraps.

    • Identical response like last season too. I blame it partly on the he-who-shall-not-be-named’s debut as well. That Oct 2 game vs the Fire was the end for me. Didn’t attend any of the last matches.

      I’ll be there Sunday. No one will call it fun though

  25. I spent Saturday in LA on vacation. Furiously checking twitter on the beach in Santa Monica. Almost launched my phone into the Pacific. If it wasn’t for the sun and the beer, my blood pressure would’ve shot through the roof. 5. damn. seconds.

  26. Not that this has anything to do with the off-season, but I think it might even be a good thing for them to lose early in the Open Cup next year. This way the club can’t use it as a crutch to lean on when we miss the playoffs again.

  27. I’m not sure there is one piece of evidence or actual facts that say Jim Curtin should stay anymore. I wanted him to stay, but the more I thought about it, it was only because I liked him as a guy. Game planning, awful. Changes, awful. Lineups, awful. Has anyone taken a step forward with Curtin? Maybe Marquez, Blake or Ayuk, but none of those were his doing, they were forced into playing. He’s almost made Chaco and Nogs worse than before.
    You simply cannot use a formation that is gifting 55-65% possession off the bat and win, can not.

    • Yesterday was telling. Seems like Jim lost the team. We hear about Vitoria but is it only because he was the most visibly disgusted? Are we reading into this game wrong? What if the players are doing what All4U is suggesting above?

      Regardless, an educated fan base expects to see the youth and development. We get none of it. After that first half we don’t get it. Ayuk too late (again) subbed in. With every passing game the evidence builds. Minus a couple (seriously, are there more than a couple?) times Curtin subbed in early and/or the right player (e.g. goal-scoring Casey), what tactical decisions has he made to impact the game?
      I listened to those saying, with the right support, he could grow. I don’t think that’s possible with this organization at this time.

      If we’re wiping the slate clean, he’s gone.

      • I agree that it is nearly impossible to defend Curtin based on what we know: the results, subs… It all looks vary bad.
        It still feels to me that this team suffers more from its roster than coaching, but that’s hard to know for certain. It depends on what you think this team’s actual talent level it is — whether it performed as expected or under-performed.
        I think it’s fair to keep Curtin next year, but he’s on borrowed time.

  28. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the game for family obligations. So, what did I miss?

    …Uh, sounds like not much. Thank God for family obligations, or I would have watched this.

  29. Jimbo sat Chaco to start the season and started him yesterday. Both were wrong. At this level his jobs are to get the most out of his players and to win. He was dealt a hand that put all the creative offense through Maidana. If Chaco’s work ethic is suspect, don’t sacrifice a match for principle and let him sit when it doesn’t matter anymore. Ask that he be let go. Curtin manages MLS 1.0. The talent gap now means the XI don’t pick themselves during training – especially when the talent is so thin. Ayuk & Nando should have started yesterday. Nothing accomplished by playing LeToux either. I, too, wonder if the team yesterday visibly quit on JC. His lone rallying cry after almost every loss – “these guys went to war for me today” – yesterday was silenced. But unless the SD has a coach lined up, he’ll be back. If so, he’d better change.

  30. I just wanted to stop by and thank that fine gentleman Nick Sak for making the excitement behind a new pro team into another disappointing Philly, cough, Chester, team.

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