Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Orlando City SC

Photo: Earl Gardner

Substitute Tranquillo Barnetta curled home a sensational free kick in the 90th minute to give Philadelphia Union a 2-1 win over Orlando City and their first visit to the top of the standings since the Peter Nowak era.

C.J. Sapong got the scoring started early with a close range finish in just the 2nd minute before Adrian Winter was able to equalize for Orlando with a clever run and finish just before halftime.

First half

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that lost in Chicago last Saturday. Vincent Nogueira returned to the starting lineup in place of the suspended Warren Creavalle. Ilsinho also missed out after picking up a late injury, and Sebastien Le Toux replaced him. Walter Restrepo was named in the 18 for the first time.

The Union started brightly and were on top in just the 2nd minute. Keegan Rosenberry found time and space to cross from the right and put in a fantastic teasing ball. Rafael Ramos misplayed the ball, and it squirted across the goalmouth to Sapong, who bundled it home.

Orlando City grew into the match after Philadelphia’s early pressure. A series of set pieces were Orlando’s best opportunities, with Seb Hines heading just wide and Andre Blake forced to claim two very dangerous crosses from Kaka.

The Union would generate another good chance through the heavily involved Chris Pontius in the 30th minute. Roland Alberg found the winger with a good ball into the box. Pontius cut back onto his left foot and fired a shot from eight yards, but Joe Bendik made himself big to repel the effort.

Adrian Winter equalized for the visitors in the 43rd minute. Kevin Molino fed a bouncing ball to Winter, who took a great touch around Rosenberry before finishing coolly with his left foot into the right corner of Blake’s goal.

Second half

Winter would have a glorious chance to give Orlando City the lead just four minutes into the second half. Kaka latched onto a looped ball into the box and cut back for Winter. With nearly the entire goal to shoot at, the winger blasted his shot right at Blake, who reacted brilliantly to tip the ball over the bar.

Philadelphia would have a good chance to take back the lead in the 51st minute. Le Toux’s long touch became a through ball into the Orlando City box that Sapong gathered, but Bendik was quick off his line to smother the striker’s effort.

Fabian Herbers and Tranquillo Barnetta were brought on in the 63rd minute, replacing Le Toux and Alberg respectively. It would be the first time Sapong and Herbers would be on the field together all season, with Sapong moving out right and Herbers playing center forward.

Philadelphia generated a series of good opportunities from set pieces as the half wore on. Ken Tribbett and Herbers both had chances after Aurelien Collin fanned on a clearance in the 66th minute, but neither could find a clean strike on goal. It was Tribbett again with an opportunity in the 70th minute, this time forcing a point blank save from Bendik.

Leo Fernandes replaced Chris Pontius in the 85th minute as the Union searched for a winner.

Philadelphia found that winner in the 90th minute. Sapong won a free kick 22 yards from the Orlando City goal, slightly toward the right side. After skying a previous effort, Barnetta stepped up and spun a perfect free kick that clattered the underside of the crossbar, fell to the turf, and settled in the back of the net as Joe Bendik stared on motionlessly.

Philadelphia travels to CenturyLink Field next Saturday to face the Seattle Sounders in a 10 p.m. match.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Ken Tribbett, Richie Marquez, Fabinho, Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira, Roland Alberg (Tranquillo Barnetta 63′), Chris Pontius (Leo Fernandes 85′), Sebastien Le Toux (Fabian Herbers 63′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: Matt Jones, Ray Gaddis, Anderson Conceicao, Walter Restrepo

Orlando City SC
Joe Bendik, Rafael Ramos, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines, Luke Boden, Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco, Antonio Nocerino (Julio Baptista 90+1), Kevin Molino (Carlos Rivas 90+1), Adrian Winter, Kaka
Unused Subs: Earl Edwards, David Mateos, Kevin Alston, Hadji Barry

Scoring Summary
PHI: C.J. Sapong – 2′
ORL: Adrian Winters – 43′ (Kevin Molino)
PHL: Tranquillo Barnetta – 90′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Fabinho (foul) – 30′

Philadelphia Union Orlando City
13 Shots 14
6 Shots on Target 3
3 Shots off Target 7
4 Blocked Shots 4
 4 Corner Kicks 7
 20 Crosses  18
 1 Offsides 1
 6 Fouls 16
1 Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards  0
 485 Total Passes 449
 79% Passing Accuracy 76%
 51.9% Possession  48.1%
 47 Duels Won 46
 63% Duels Won % 57%
4 Tackles Won  12
2 Saves 4
15 Clearances 22



  2. pragmatist says:

    Mic drop.
    – Barnetta

  3. pragmatist says:

    At the risk of being too critical after the elation, this article failed to mention the absolute heroics of Blake at the end of the game.
    We may win Goal of the Week, and Save of the Week.

    • Both in about a one minute stretch.

    • I was thinking the exact same thing

    • Yeah. I can understand the initial omission after that goal, but let’s correct it. Blake burying the pre 2016 Union MO of blowing late leads.

      • Mike Servedio says:

        I’m going to leave the correction in the comments and acknowledge it should have been in the report. Really just a matter of me trying to finish writing and make it down to the post game press conferences. It was a sensational save to preserve the points.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Not to worry Mike. You’re a reporter with deadlines. We know that. You post before I, for one, finish my drive home. Much appreciated.

      • pragmatist says:

        Sorry, Mike. We love what you do. It was just a matter of the excitement of all of it. Insane goal, followed by insane shot. I just wanted to highlight Andre’s play, too.
        Not trying to give you s hard time, I promise!

      • As editor, that should’ve been something I caught.

      • pragmatist says:

        Please don’t read into it. You guys are awesome and appreciated. Sorry I brought it up!

      • Buccistick says:

        Also lost on the editing room floor … for the second week running … in the summary statistics: “Duels Won %.”
        In Mike’s write-up for the Chicago game, the opposition’s column shows 57% rather than the correct 37%. Friday’s game report appears to have carried those half-broken figures forward despite completely fresh and different data.
        That said, let me be first person to also say that I would rather Mike score a good seat at the post-game press conference than fiddle with a calculator.
        … and let me be the umpteenth person on this So Fine Blog to cheer another doopin’ win?! and first-place standing?!

  4. Carroll was my MOTM. Broke up TONS of passes; his pass forward early in the game nearly sprung a Le Toux goal.
    Sapong has unreal stamina; I think Alberg could learn a thing or two from his work rate.
    Herbers and Le Toux have the touch of the Iron Pillar of Delhi.

    What the heck happened on the OCSC goal? The ref seemed to wave off the linesman’s foul committed by Molino. Were the Union caught napping? The TV feed didn’t catch any of it.

    That said:
    Richie Marquez is the best tackler in MLS, bar none.
    Blake save was MASSIVE. Barnetta goal was MASSIVE.

    • To me it looked like the Union did assume they were getting the foul and paused for a second… allowing the Orlando to get ahead

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I thought it was pretty bad of the ref to ignore the linesman’s call give how much closer the linesman was. For awhile after that I thought the game was going to get completely out of control given the number of cheap shots away from the ball that the ref didn’t see.

      • How in the world did Winter not get a yellow on Rosenberry in about the 87th minute? He did everything but just plain tackle him as he was trying to break up field.

      • Agreed.

      • The referee went to his pocket, got distracted and then never pulled it out!

      • I thought I saw that, too. TV camera cut away from him for 2 seconds as he was reaching, then when they went back he was running down field.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Two teams that have definitely improved since last season. It was nice to see the U come away with 3 points at home. Now if we could just get some warmer weather…
    Awesome save by Blake at the end. Surprised to see Nogueira go 90. I actually thought there were several times where the Union could have pressed forward but Vince pulled the ball back and gave Orlando a chance to get behind the ball.
    Unsung hero was Brian Carroll. BC did a good job at frustrating the Orlando attack and making some good passes all night.

  6. A good win. Well done…. there is quite a bit to be trouble by but I’m not going to get into that this evening, beyond saying…
    …the amount of crosses this team becomes dependent on simply has to stop as they demonstrate an inability to solve the problem of the other team.

    • I agree they cross the ball a lot and too much at times but it is really nice to see them play out from the back and look to the middle of field to start the attack. That is a positive change.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Fabinho had 8 of the 20, but to be fair to him, he hit most when he can gotten north of the 18 and had a step on his man. Barnetta had 5, but most of those had to be set pieces.

      Maybe I had gotten used to seeing the constant pumping crossing into the box that anything below that doesn’t seem like a lot. I do feel like that the team is more patient around the box and have stopped hitting those early crosses from 25+ yds like they’ve done in past season.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        In the second half once Orlando forced us up the outside channels by taking away Carroll deep the game IMO devolved to cross after cross.
        My breaking point was watching a ball rebound out to Noguiera at the 22 and him stop it with the bottom of his foot and stare for about 3 seconds while his lemmings, er teammates stood still and filed into a single line along the fence… not one of them moving to retain possession or God forbid take an angle run or withdrawal. Another hands in the air moment.
        I see an effort to retain possession but too often I see the 4th player receiving a pass route 1’ing the ball or simply too willing to cross the ball.. in truth by the end of the game I was rather frustrated.
        It was Cruyff who made the searing ‘cross’ commentary and I’m inclined to agree. I appreciate the philosophical ideals of possession but if the possession only leads to a cross what’s the point which leads me back to my concern with the manager..
        I guess I’m expecting a bit too much and if that’s the case then I apologize but the aesthetic matters as much as the outcome for me.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        My 3rd born is a viewing buddy of all games futbol and he asks who are we rooting for and I tell him all the time, ‘son, I’m meditating’ this is the peaceful place feel free to join.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Yes, I see the concern. We played possession with a mix of cross and through balls for the first fifteen minutes or so doing an excellent job of maintaining our shape. For the rest of the half, Orlando did something, I’m not smart enough to know what tactic but I saw the result, that created a much more fluid kaleidoscopic tactical shape that disrupted us. That continued for about ten minutes at the beginning of the second half. And then the Union did something, again, not smart enough to know what, that reduced Orlando to playing – dangerously – for the counter attack through Kaka and Winter at Rosenberry’s expense. That latter Union adjustment roughly corresponds to the time when Barnetta and Herbers subbed on for Alberg and Le Toux.
        We may have seen the importance of Alberg and Ilsinho combining together through its absence from this particular match, certainly the importance of Ilsinho. He was missed. His presence is a silver lining to the the cloud of the Ukrainian civil war.
        The other I noticed that is worthy of comment. When Orlando had its period of being the dominant offensive force referenced above, the Union were picking up at the edge of the center circle in their attacking half and defending with a very high line, at times it looked like a textbook illustration of compressing space and obstructing the opponent’s ability to work the ball through it. We got away with it, to the degree that we did, because Orlando’s speed in its attackers was depleted. They really missed Larin. Kaka and Molino were quite the handful. Had Larin been on the field with them, … Well, let us say I worry about that eventuality down in Florida in the future.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        OSC – I think your point about Ilsinho is spot on. Rosenberry really missed his presence as he and LeToux struggled to get on the same page for much of the match

      • +1. I love Le Toux, but he can’t play the same type of possession game with Rosenberry that Ilsinho can.

      • Ilsinho. Why don’t we just call him The Spark? His presence on the pitch seems to generate opportunities even when he’s not near the ball. So, yeah, missed him on Friday as well. His theatrics with Fabinho alone are worth the price of parking at the stadium.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I hear your point about crosses. My only point is that there are different types of crosses and I haven’t seen nearly as many of those early (and hopeless) crosses from 25-30 yds out.

        I also saw periods of the old Union attack with four players in a straight line across Orlando’s back four, all waiting to run directly towards goal which is terrible to see. There were also many periods in both halves when Fabinho or Rosenberry had the ball on the wing near midfield and had no options to pass to. Those are troubling signs, but hopefully they will be pointed out and corrected in training.

  7. The ONE GAME I had to miss

  8. The biggest thing I’m taking away from this is the late game mental toughness. Last year we miss that free kick and let in the volley on the other end. Jim curtin’s having the best week ever right now
    The game itself stagnated for long periods. You could tell we miss ilsinho, and alberg clearly isn’t going 90 anytime soon. In any case, great result. 2 for 2 at home now.

  9. Only the Union score a winner like that… and then immediately have to have their goalie and the post, save their ass. Sorry, I just had to say that, haha… Anyway, that goal was UNREAL… What a game… and it wasn’t that good at all. 1st place baby!

  10. I loved when the ball went out of bounds by Heath right after the Barnetta goal and he volleyball spiked it straight into the ground then sat down pouting on the bench. Seeing his despair really lifted my spirit!

  11. Ok last one… so that Barney free kick was eerily reminiscent of Kleberson 2 years ago… also against Bendik… in that same goal… AWESOME

    • On the broadcast, the roar that went up from the crowd was awesome. The sound of 15,000 being shocked and happy at the same time. I even watched it 3 or 4 times. A lot like the roar after Kleberson.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Mikex – That’s great to hear. I was there and there was a sense of shock for a second as the ball kissed off the crossbar and then everyone went nuts.

      • Saw Marquez made mention of the roar in the post game quote post. There was a bit of delayed response while everyone tried to figure out what happened, then an explosion. It was great. It was obviously noticed by the players.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        15,000 may have been announced as the paid attendance but it was really probably under 10,000.

    • Hoppenot tweeted out a photo of Bednik’s look watching Klebberson’s shot go past him, as he realized he couldn’t move to save it. TV replay showed an identical look and posture from Bednik tonight as Barnetta’s shot hit the crossbar and went in.

  12. Por favor, no mas matches on UniMás

    • el Pachyderm says:


    • Yeah, no kidding. Too much talk. Too much Spanish. I watched from my computer through the tv to get the English. Stupid Fios.

      • The English feed (through SAP) has not worked once this year on UDN/Unimas. I have DirecTV, have called and brought the matter to their attention, have let MLS know on Twitter–all to no avail. One of those let’s-blame-the-other-and-not-fix-the-problem situations.
        DirecTV changed the channel this year from 455 to 464. When it was on channel 455 last year, it worked great (even though the English announcers are really awful). I know a bunch of other TV content providers are not providing English SAP on these Friday night games; not sure who else I can contact to get it fixed.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        What’s funny to me is the manager this week commenting how it’s a Friday Night ‘Lights’ kinda game -nationally televised or something or other~ meanwhile God forbid if Comcast or Philly 57 or public flipping TV picked up the game… no no no Unimas, a Mexican TV station covers it.
        Frustrating how the game is marginalized… NFL and MLB must love the bass ackwardsness of it all.
        Okay so I’m broaching the points of contention I was trying to avoid this evening. Damn.
        3 points closer to promoting back into first division play…. earning it…wait a minute…Stay focused elephant.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        $20.00 for an over the air indoor HD antenna and problem solved. Game looks better in with the antenna than it does on comcast.

      • El espanol no me molesta. NO HD ME MOLESTA!!

    • Seriously. The quality of the broadcast itself was just horrible. It kept breaking up into pixels for several seconds before recovering, and this happened over and over and over again. Did other people have that problem, or was it just me?

      • I don’t remember having any of those problems. I live down in Florida though. Must have been a local relay issue within your area and carrier.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        I did. I felt like TV Mike from Willy WOnka.

  13. Well worth the price of admission… UNION – UNION – UNION !!! Up over the wall, PINCHES in under the bar across the line… the place exploded, I couldn’t stop jumpin’ up & down… WELL worth the price of admission… Great win, 1st Place… UNION – UNION – UNION !!!!!!!!

  14. el Pachyderm says:

    Really good article in fourfourtwo about your precious MLS as it relates to DC United and supporters groups.
    You guys walk out tonight at the River End in a show of solidarity… Any chants or just happy happy?
    Come to think of it…why have I not read one single thing on these pages from a SoB member regarding this?
    Very interesting if I do say so myself, that a hack like me seems to be the only one bringing this up… opps, there I go again.
    Someone has to do it.
    proxy SoB member speaking out against the monopoly while others widdle away happy happy.
    The elephant in the room.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      The article that starts out with something about smoke bombs in a tunnel? Written by a labor Union member who is also a longtime DC United supporters group person? Last name Kent, maybe?

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        There is a crucial difference between an actual family, and the “family” of a soccer team supporters group, or a school faculty for that matter. The members of the real family do not pay money to be members, they are not sources of profit.
        Actually, I need to amend “actual family” above to “actual non-farming family” since children on farms have been labor-less-expensive-than-hired ever since the emergence of mass agriculture.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Just stirring the pot…is all. ‘Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine I’m on the pavement thinking bout the government…’
        or so to speak.
        It is a rather important topic and I am surprised it has not been considered.
        for me it is just one more indictment against the league of which, you all know, I am not a fanboy of.

  15. Phil in Wilmington says:

    What’s encouraging to me is seeing portions of the game where they are able to circulate the ball on the ground with tempo and confidence. That and we’ve seen several weeks going now that there are players in the team willing to try audacious things and actually getting it done.

    I’m glad Blake is back there, but I wish he didn’t have to work so hard. That said, if the back four can stay healthy and keep telling they just might tighten up.

    First time in a long time that I’m truly looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  16. Blake save
    Barnetta Bend
    … but how about that Tribbett bicycle kick clearance earlier.
    It’s like we have actual honest to goodness football players finally.

  17. LeToux played too far upfield for Rosenberry to find and Fabinho had too much to do defensively to connect with Pontius – even if he wasn’t a crossing machine. Blake seems forced to launch 50/50 balls instead of build up from the back. We were lucky. Could just as easily have been 2-1 L.

  18. That goal was so beautiful that I’m willing to overlook Barnetta’s man bun.

    • I’m not sure we can consider it a full “man bun” yet.
      It is more a “nascent man bun” or “mini top-knot” at this point.

    • +1.

    • Yeah, I’m not a big fan of that hairstyle. But if he grows his beard long enough that he can braid it under his chin, I might get back on board. It’s certainly better than Lee Nguyen’s “Miley Cyrus” ‘do, though.

  19. The biggest problem I have with that match was the way rosenberry was basically neutered and not allowed or able to push forward into the acres of space that Orlando city left up their left flank. I don’t know if that came from curtin since Ilsinho was out and he was scared le toux couldn’t cover for him or what but it was infuriating to watch.
    Also can we please learn to switch the field quicker. It kinda falls in with point one but there is so much space on the flanks for our fullbacks to exploit if we can just get someone to play a damn diagonal ball into space.
    Other than that and some poor fitness from Alberg this team might just be a half decent squad.

    • Section 114 (Formerly) says:

      CPfeif has it right. The biggest problem, by far, with that match was Barnetta’s hair. With a haircut he buries both set pieces. I can live with this win.

  20. The Oenophile says:

    Univision means “Goooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaallllllll ….”

  21. Man, CJ is just a machine…his hold up play has been impressive so far this year, although I think we get into to many 50/50 balls he just seems to come down with them so often…and that work rate

  22. Laying this out there for discussion….
    Was I the only one not impressed with Alberg last night? Maybe it was the fact that Ilsinho was missing, but he was just…mediocre.
    I thought Barnetta should have came on earlier for him.
    Still, a fun game to attend…and a win is a win is a win.

    • Yea… I don’t understand…. Is there a rule that you can’t sub until the 60th min…. Le Toux and Aldberg needed off the field at the half…

    • No, I was also generally unimpressed by Alberg’s play. I was actually hoping to see Barnetta come on as a halftime sub.

    • Alberg did not have a good game. I’m not gonna write him off, because the guy is obviously talented. But at this point he should be behind Ilsinho and Barnetta on the depth chart (and maybe behind Le Toux).

      • Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking to write him off, but I think if Barnetta is game-ready condition wise, he has earned the start next week.
        Everyone has off days. Curtin needs to recognize it and fix it sooner, though.

      • Lol. Le tou was even worse. That guy couldnt play possession soccer if you out him on an u15 team.

      • I’m glad someone finally said it James. LeToux should not see another min on the field as a winger. The less touches he has the better. Let Hebers,Restpro,and leo get mins on the wing, LeToux should be CJ’S backup.

      • Agree. The less I see of Letoux the better.

  23. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Was fuer einen fabelhaften Freistoss von Barnetta!

    Der Torhueter Blake hat am Ende auch sehr gut gemacht.

  24. Well that was a great game to take on in person. I thought for a Friday night the crowd was pretty good! Lots of noise.. We all just held our breath on Barnett’s sweet free kick…just to be sure it was in the net. ThenDOOP!! As mentioned above,there is still plenty of work to be done. But at least there is improved play to watch. It’s a young defence that is growing. And the team still needs time to find the mix. Or gel,or what ever.I know it’s still early but they have more presence in the game. I didn’t get the feeling that a loss was about to happen. I guess mental toughness is a better description. Nice job Union!

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