Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 Orlando City SC

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union ended a disappointing 2015 campaign with a 1-0 win Sunday over a listless Orlando City SC side. Sebastien Le Toux scored from the penalty spot in the 41st minute, and Andre Blake preserved the win with a series of impressive saves.

The loss dashed Orlando’s extremely slim playoff hopes.

First half

Jim Curtin made three changes to the team that was blown out by Red Bulls last Sunday. Ethan White replaced the suspended Steven Vitoria, Ray Gaddis returned at right back in place of Andrew Wenger, and Eric Ayuk came in for Cristian Maidana, pushing Tranquillo Barnetta into the hole behind C.J. Sapong.

Philadelphia found the game’s first opportunity in the fifth minute. Le Toux played in Barnetta down the left side, and the midfielder fired a hard left-footed shot from 12 yards that Josh Ford — starting in place of the injured Tally Hall — pushed away. Eric Ayuk grabbed hold of the rebound and beat his man to fire a hard shot from the right side that Ford again beat away.

Sapong came close to finding the opener in the 18th minute. Le Toux spotted the striker behind the Orlando back line with a throw from 35 yards out on the left side. Sapong drove toward the visitor’s goal and fired a half volley from eight yards that hit the crossbar and bounced out.

Orlando finally created their first scoring chance in the 35th minute. After the Union failed to clear their lines, Adrian Winter latched onto a bouncing ball and fired a low shot that Andre Blake saved. Orlando put the ball in the net from the ensuing corner, but the goal was called off because referee Chris Penso spotted Seb Hines holding Blake down.

Philadelphia finally took a deserved lead in the 41st minute. Le Toux streaked toward the penalty spot, zipping past Hines as Ayuk readied to play him in from the right. Despite the teenager’s wayward cross, Hines was judged to have dragged down Le Toux from behind. The Frenchman dusted himself off and sent Ford the wrong way as he fired high into the right corner from the penalty spot, maintaining a perfect 13 for 13 record from the spot. (The Union as a club are 20/22.)

Second half

After a slow start to the second half, Orlando finally created the first chance in the 60th minute. Cyle Larin fired a low shot from 20 yards that Blake blocked with his right hand.

Sapong then had a window to double the Union lead in the 63rd minute. Streaking down the left side, the big striker turned his man and fired a hard shot from close range that was blocked away. Barnetta was open in the center of the box, but Sapong failed to spot the run.

Blake again came to the Union’s rescue in the 79th minute. Former Union man Pedro Ribeiro used a hesitation move to shake free of Ethan White in the box and fired across his body toward the far post. Blake was tight to the near post, but sprung to his left to push the shot away.

Vincent Nogueira had a good chance to pad the Union’s lead in the 81st minute. Barnetta made one of many strong runs down the left side and squared a pass for Fernando Aristeguieta, who laid off a soft feed for Nogueira near the top of the Orlando box. The midfielder took the shot first time but dragged his effort just wide of the far post.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men after Crisitan Higuita was shown a second yellow card in the 86th minute. The midfielder’s physical play had been overlooked for most of the match, but he picked up two cards in 14 minutes once it was clear Orlando’s playoff hopes were gone.

Orlando threw numbers forward in the closing stages of the match, but Andre Blake was hardly troubled and Philadelphia held on to secure a win in their final match of 2015, meaning the squad finished with one more win than the 2010 and 2012 sides.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Ethan White, Richie Marquez, Fabinho (Warren Creavalle 86′), Michael Lahoud, Tranquillo Barnetta, Vincent Nogueira, Eric Ayuk (Fernando Aristeguieta 67′), CJ Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Brian Carroll, Andrew Wenger, Conor Casey, Cristian Maidana

Orlando City SC
Josh Ford, Luke Boden, Aurelien Colin, Seb Hines, Adrian Winter (Rafael Ramos 62′), Kaka, Carlos Rivas, Cristian Higuita, Brek Shea (Pedro Ribeiro 76′), Darwin Ceren, Cyle Larin
Unused Subs: David Mateos, Servando Carrasco, Eric Avila, Lewis Neal

Scoring Summary
PHI: Sebastien Le Toux — 41′ (PK)

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Richie Marquez (foul) — 15′
ORL: Brek Shea (foul) – 20′
ORL: Darwin Ceren (foul) – 35′
ORL: Luke Boden (foul) – 42′
ORL: Adrian Winter (foul) – 55′
PHI: Ray Gaddis (foul) – 59′
ORL: Rafael Ramos (foul) – 70′
ORL: Cristian Higuita (foul) – 72′
ORL: Cristian Higuita (foul – second yellow) – 86′
ORL: Kaka (unsportsmanlike conduct) – 86′
PHI: Vincent Nogueira (foul) – 88′

Philadelphia Union Orlando City SC
11 Shots 10
6 Shots on Target 4
2 Shots off Target 3
3 Blocked Shots 0
 5 Corner Kicks 2
 15 Crosses  17
 0 Offsides 0
 11 Fouls 9
3 Yellow Cards 8
0 Red Cards  1
 334 Total Passes 462
 75% Passing Accuracy 81%
 42.2% Possession  57.8%
 41 Duels Won 42
 49.4% Duels Won % 50.6%
11 Tackles Won  9
5 Saves 5
26 Clearances 20


  1. Decision Day for this team was any one of the bad losses that doomed their season before the Easter Bunny arrived. Better Decision Days ahead in the next several weeks better happen. Chaco should’ve been allowed to redeem himself today. If Curtin were as concerned with finding ways to use his skills as he is to send him a message, he’d be a much stronger candidate to manage this team. I’ll be surprised if Maidana returns. We don’t have enough talent to spurn it like that.

    • I think Chaco is gone as soon as the Union get the chance to move him. Curtin noted Barnettas defense in his press conference after the game. It can’t be more clear.

    • I believe Chaco is as good as gone. Maybe they can trade his rights to upgrade elsewhere. I also believe Barnetta is the better option in the middle. To me, this has been clear since Barnetta took Chaco’s place earlier in the season.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    By right of merciful conclusion I appreciate the end of season, final game high note – – now: draw the shades. pull the Curtin, turn out the lights. No more please.
    NO MORE please.
    As simply as possible this has to be rock bottom for this franchise…another absolute failure of a season…
    ..and damn this club for asking so much of us – for not allowing us to revel in the Light. Light. Light. In the Light. as Robert Plant sings.
    Rock bottom Mr. Sugarman. Rock Bottom. Has to be. And I damn well expect to here about the SD…. becasue every minute we move towards Halloween without one is a waste of precious, precious time.
    Jack’s Aching Futbol Heart

  3. Pretty clear why neither team was going to the playoffs. I was fine with Curtin’s lineup except I would have made a late sub to let either Casey or Carroll take a curtain call (no pun intended).

    • 2-0 game, OK.
      1-0 game, no.
      And don’t say it didn’t matter, because Curtin would have been crucified (again) if he brings those guys in, the defense suffers, and they give up a goal (or two).
      Win the game, always.

      • Bringing on a final sub when up by a goal (and a man) is a great way to kill time during stoppage time. And if he brings in Casey or Carroll for Sapong in that situation, no one would have an issue regardless of the result.

  4. That was the most dramatic penalty signal I think I’ve ever seen.

  5. Kaka looked so ordinary; so sad…

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Remember the time when all you saw was his upper body cause everything else was just a blur …. windmilling arms in full stride – hips this way and that…defenders useless to his blistering pace on the ball.
      There was a moment in time when Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite was the best player in the world.
      Difficult to know who received more joy from his play… us or him.

  6. It was a nice night at the stadium. They won. It’s over. That’s all I got on that. Now PLEASE get Stewart so we can move forward.
    Oh and I was kind of a Curtain supporter, but I think he’s gotta go. He’ll start the year but if Stewart is hired Curtain’s leash will be unbelievably short.
    As always it’s a pleasure chatting with everyone on his site. And to those who run it and write… well done all around. Keep it up! Thanks for another great year!

  7. Eight yellow cards? That’s not listless. That’s malicious. I hope the league punishes them.

  8. What a nightmare of a season that was! It was crazy how differently we could play. One week we would look listless and lose 1-0 at home and the next we would play absolutely incredibly and have a come from behind road win. Effing crazy. Hope Curtin goes to Bethlehem FC fingers crossed we hire Stewart.

  9. Really wanted to see the boys out, but last week took the fun out of that. Nice to win but winning ugly just isn’t fun. There was much absence of fun this season.
    If this continues I’ll at least have Bethlehem.
    As for the offseason, unlike last, there will be plenty to get excited about.
    We’ll have time to reflect on the bad and not much needed for the good. My highlight will be in Harrison’s quarterfinal and all the ridiculousness around it.

  10. el Pachyderm says:

    I liked the directness of Barnetta’s play in the middle and how…it seems, all of a sudden the miniature diagonal runs by CJ or Le Toux actually resembled futbol… with someone in the hole capable of delivering THAT ball.
    Poor Andrew Wenger…even a cameo of him sitting at his locker pregame produces a far-away and thoroughly uncomfortable countenance.
    I like the white kit…I know I know… keep coming back to the white kit. You know what. It works. It is sharp. It is the proper home colors for a team that is going to build a fortress along the river that says… you aren’t winning here.
    Rock Bottom 2015. Once we get the sporting director and a new game day manager shortly thereafter…the only direction to go is up. It’s not personal, it’s just business. The club failure…now that is personal.

    • The end of the season brings one “glass half full” moment: I only have to deal with the charmin kit for one more season.
      Color scheme I’ve no problem; execution is poor

    • One other thing I noticed Barnetta doing last night is directing Ayuk on where to go. I don’t know if I ever saw Maidana doing that.
      I do like Chaco, though, and wish the U could find a place for him. His creativity will be so much better deployed for us than against us…

  11. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I did not think Orlando was listless; I thought the Union came out pressuring in the Midfield, with the best speed available across the back line and on the flank kids to deal with their speed. A listless team does not earn eight yellow cards, for example, the Union in New Jersey last Saturday.
    Thierry Henry in MLS was a much better player than Kaka.
    I will continue to ask, why would Earnie Stewart want to make a lateral career move to a lesser league? The offer needs to be for more than just sporting director. Does his family want to come to the U.S. Of A.? Is his wife Dutch? Does he have kids, if so, how old? I would love it if he were to come, but I do not see that he has much to gain professionally, so what else might be the motive?
    I liked the midfield triangle of Lahoud, Noguiera and Barnetta. It both defended and created. It helped pitch a shutout against a team that had considerable scoring punch.
    I remember the left back for Rochester. He is a definite possibility, hope he showed well all week. Orlando did not attack Creavalle at all; should’ve. Nice to see the ovation for Fabinho when he came off. We no longer need a Saturn C5A.
    KEn Tribbett was interesting as a defender for Harrisburg. Probably worth at least a look next January.
    Thanks to Ed Farnsworth, Dan Walsh, Adam Cann, Mike Servedio, Eli Pearlman-Storch, and the other writers whose names are lost in the maze of my memory. Informative, enjoyable, worthwhile.

    • Very good question, re: Stewart. I wondered the same thing. I actually do think there is something to gain professionally, but it all depends on how you view it.

      North American team sports have a model in which the general manager typically outranks the head coach. Now, you have that with isolated clubs in Europe, but that is not the norm. You’re starting to see it emerge in MLS — NY Red Bulls are the best example — and Philadelphia seems to want to go in that direction.

      So if you truly want to run a club’s soccer operations without having to be the guy doing the actual coaching, MLS may be the best place to do it. And considering the league is an up-and-coming league, whereas the Dutch league is a good league that is fighting to remain stable as superclubs in England, Spain and Munich increasingly dominate, maybe it’s something worth considering.

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