Union match reports

Match report: Seattle Sounders 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

In an eerie echo of their last away game, an early second half red card doomed Philadelphia Union on Saturday night, falling 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC.

After Chad Marshall opened the scoring with five minutes left in the first half, Roland Alberg earned his second yellow after eight minutes in the second half. Jordan Morris doubled the Sounders’ advantage with his second professional goal, and Sebastien Le Toux’s goal in response was not enough for the visitors.

“We still pushed, had a lot of the ball, created chances,” said Union manager Jim Curtin, “but in the big moments we came up a little bit short.”

First half

Dealing with injuries and 3,000 miles of travel, Curtin made two changes to the side that defeated Orlando last Friday. A training ground injury to Ken Tribbett gave Joshua Yaro, the second overall pick in this year’s SuperDraft, his first MLS start as Richie Marquez’s centerback partner. Meanwhile, Warren Creavalle returned from a red card suspension and replaced Brian Carroll in the holding midfielder role. Sebastien Le Toux wore the armband as Union captain for the first time.

In the early stages of the match, the Union held possession in Seattle’s half of the field, while the home side looked to test Philadelphia’s young center backs with balls over the top. The Union produced few clear-cut chances as they poked and prodded at Seattle’s defense.

Andre Blake was called into action against national team starlet Jordan Morris, who had a free shot after beating Yaro. Blake, though, was equal to the chance.

Still unable to get much on target, the Union’s best chance came on a long distance smash by Vincent Nogueira in the 30th minute, but Seattle was able to deflect the shot out of play.

The Union, said Curtin after the game, struggled to make the final ball one that could break through the Sounders. “Instead of a good firm ball on the ground that penetrates them, it was kind of a chipped ball into the box and Chad [Marshall]’s gonna come away with all of those.”

In the final 15 minutes of the half, the Sounders were ascendant. Roland Alberg and Fabinho picked up yellow cards within minutes of each other. The goal was coming, and it arrived in the 41st minute off a set piece. With Richie Marquez picked in the box, Chad Marshall was all by himself to neatly deposit Andreas Ivanschitz’s curler into the back of the net, sending the Cascadia crowd into raptures.

Just minutes later, it looked like the Sounders would double their advantage when Ivanschitz cracked a one-timer from near the top of the box. But Blake produced yet another acrobatic diving save to tip the ball over the crossbar, ending the half with the score just 1-0.

Second half

No changes were forthcoming for either side to start the second half, but the game would change permanently just eight minutes later. Cristian Roldan took the ball away from Alberg as he crossed the midfield line, and the Dutchman responded by fouling Roldan from behind for his second yellow card. It was a daft challenge from Alberg, who was too physical all game, and the Union were reduced to ten men as a result.

After the game, Curtin was not happy with the decision to send off his midfielder. “Once you leave it in the referee’s hands, it can always go against you. I don’t think it’s a red card. I don’t think his first yellow card in the first half is a yellow card either.

As the Union struggled to rebound from the sending off, Seattle continued to apply the pressure. Oalex Anderson slipped Morris past the Union defense, but an onrushing Blake perfectly smothered the shot.

Tranquillo Barnetta replaced Chris Pontius in the 62nd minute as Philadelphia chased a result, while Seattle brought on Nelson Valdez. Barnetta wasted no time bullying into the box and challenging Stefan Frei.

But it would be Seattle who would strike next. A beautifully lofted ball from Ivanschitz found Morris in the box, who shook both Yaro and Marquez and then neatly deposited the ball past Blake. It was a classy finish for the Stanford product’s first professional goal, and the crowd of over 39,000 went into hysterics.

In fact, they had barely calmed down when the Union pulled one back. Sapong, playing with his back to goal in the box, cushioned a header perfectly into the path of Le Toux, and the Frenchman blasted it one-time past Frei for his second goal of 2016.

“CJ knocked me a great header, laid back to me, and I just hit it pretty good,” Le Toux commented post-game. “It was a good goal but it didn’t really help us to get anything.”

It would be Le Toux’s last action of the match, as Fabian Herbers replaced him, while Herculez Gomez came in for Seattle. The Union also brought in Leo Fernandes for Fabinho in the 82nd minute as they chased a result, while Seattle brought on Joevin Jones around the same time.

Despite the tight nature of the game, clear-cut chances were few and far between in the final 15 minutes. Philadelphia’s aggression couldn’t make up for their shorthanded numbers. Both Fernandes and Valdez picked up yellow cards in the 87th minute.

With the Union caught upfield, Gomez had a golden opportunity to put the game away, but his shot went just wide. The Union could do little with two late free kicks from Tranquillo Barnetta, as last week’s magic proved difficult to duplicate, and the home crowd went home happy.

Though the Sounders spoiled his MLS debut, Josh Yaro sounded a positive note about his team’s resilience after the game.

“I know that it’s a group of guys out there that will fight. We have a lot of strong characters on this team, that although we lost tonight we’re looking ahead to the next game.”

Philadelphia falls to 3-3 on the season, and will be back in action next week at Talen Energy Stadium, hosting NYCFC on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Joshua Yaro, Richie Marquez, Fabinho (Leo Fernandes 82′), Warren Creavalle, Vincent Nogueira, Roland Alberg, Chris Pontius (Tranquillo Barnetta 62′), Sebastien Le Toux (Fabian Herbers 75′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: Matt Jones, Ray Gaddis, Anderson Conceicao, Brian Carroll

Seattle Sounders FC
Stefan Frei, Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick, Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan (Herculez Gomez 74′), Clint Dempsey, Oalex Anderson (Nelson Haedo Valdez 62′), Jordan Morris (Joevin Jones 82′), Andreas Ivanschitz
Unused Subs: Tyler Miller, Michael Farfan, Aaron Kovar, Zach Scott,

Scoring Summary
SEA: Chad Marshall – 41′ (Andreas Ivanschitz)
SEA: Jordan Morris – 71′ (Andreas Ivanschitz)
PHL: Sebastien Le Toux – 73′ (C.J. Sapong)

Disciplinary Summary
PHL: Roland Alberg (yellow) – 32′
PHL: Fabinho (yellow) – 34′
PHL: Roland Alberg (yellow turned red) – 53′
SEA: Dylan Remick (yellow) – 55′
PHL: Leo Fernandes (yellow) – 87′
SEA: Nelson Valdez (yellow) – 88′

Philadelphia Union Seattle Sounders
13 Shots 19
3 Shots on Target 8
4 Shots off Target 7
6 Blocked Shots 4
7 Corner Kicks 3
 28 Crosses 11
 0 Offsides 0
 15 Fouls 12
2 Yellow Cards 3
1 Red Cards 0
 472 Total Passes 455
 80% Passing Accuracy 79%
 51.6% Possession 51.6%
 56 Duels Won 45
 55.4% Duels Won % 44.6%
18 Tackles Won 12
7 Saves 2
10 Clearances 24


  1. I’m sure others will cover the red card and the lost oppurtunity.

    But can we please take a moment to appreciate the fact we went into Seattle and not only did not look scared, we had 60% possession?

    I know it’s early, but it looks like Stewart really is getting us on the right track.


    That tweet from Ives says it all.

  2. Proud of the guys. But Curtin’s reliance on the 4-2-3-1 is hurting this team. The Union’s goal demonstrates what everyone except Curtin knows: both Sapong and LeToux like playing centrally and up top. LeToux isn’t a midfielder! Play a 4-4-2 and let Sapong and LeToux play off each other. It’s not that freaking difficult.

    • I feel like out better course of action is to put Le Toux back on the bench when Ilsinho is back. Le Toux is a bench player at this point in his career. No need to change our style and identity to accommodate a one dimensional player past his prime.

    • Biggest problem I see is a lack of quality on the finish. This team can’t shoot. Alberg’s attempts were laughable. The possession and passing are so much better now than last season, but this teams inability to put a quality shot on frame is really frustrating.

  3. Nogueira was good tonight and had a beautiful back heel pass in the Seattle corner of the field. Tidy game from him.
    Didn’t see any major mistakes from Yaro. He had some nerves, but not bad overall.
    Marquez cannot allow himself to get hung up like that on the first goal.
    Alberg has to know better than to scissor a guy from behind when you’re on a yellow. Not smart at all.
    Lots of possession, but a lot of useless crosses too. Really poor on set piece delivery.
    We seemed to play better after Alberg was sent off.
    3-3-0 after six with four of those being away from Talen Energy; I’m not going to be too greedy considering where we’ve come from.

    • pragmatist says:

      With 3 of our best players hurt (granted, Ilsinho’s been healthy for a few).
      Not too greedy, but very optimistic.

  4. Annoying things:
    1) First yellow to Alberg was not even a foul. He slides studs down and Seattle player cuts into his legs and then falls down.
    2) Alberg getting deservedly sent off for leaving his feet with the scissor style kick.
    3) Having to watch the game on MLS live with Seattle homers not able to understand why Rosenberry would cross in expectation that someone would make a near post run for him. Yeah, it’s going to go straight to the keeper if no one makes the run!
    4) My team telling me the game is on TV on a channel that seems to not exist

    All that being said, I was very happy in this loss that the Union seem to be willing to try to win road games this year.

    • MattMilford says:

      I also had to watch the Seattle feed, on Direct Kick. Did you enjoy Kasey Keller replacing the words good, controlling and even acceptable with the word BOSSING?
      I thought about Turing this obnoxious attempt to be hip into a game by drinking every time he said it. Then I quickly realized I didn’t want my stomach pump.
      Great keeper. Also apparently a huge dork!

    • Watching other teams local broadcast really shows how much better JP is than these other homers. It’s absolutely ridiculous some of the comments being made and clearly show how they know nothing of the visiting team. Kasey Keller made up some s*&% about Rosenberry isn’t known for his offensive game… which has probably been his hallmark feature since his debut.


      • el Pachyderm says:

        It all speaks to how far we have yet to go. The audience needs incisive tactical commentary.

      • Exactly. Lalas for Fs1 offers nothing tactical about the match. He just likes to answer his own questions. “Is it a yellow?? Not for me.”

      • The Little Fish says:

        That is really funny! @SJ Doc

  5. We actually looked good tonight. After the red, it looked more like 10 v 10 then anything. Disappointed we didn’t leave with at least a point but very encouraged by the play on the field.

    Listening to Kasey Keller on the Sounders’ broadcast tonight was painful. Apparently Anderson was on the field for us and the league should take back Valdez’s phantom yellow (never mind the clear studs up challenge). Vomit. I’ll take JP and Pete any day!

  6. They lost, yeah. Alberg got a red, yeah. Morris scored his 1st pro goal, yeah (of course this would happen against us). A missed opportunity at road points, yeah. But damn, this is a different team… and I mean that in a good way. They possessed. They stuck with it. They have ability. They aren’t out of any game. They are better then last year and they are a playoff team.
    I’m really not mad at all… but some thoughts: Sapong gets ZERO respect. Nogs was the best player on the field… for either team… Considering Yaro’s recent playing history he was ok tonight, that was good to see… Blake, per usual, was great…
    We have a good team, especially given the Eastern conference.
    Seattle is not the Seattle of the last few years… not even close… truly a missed opportunity. The red to Alberg… eh…

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Agreed on all fronts. This was a lost opportunity, but I was encouraged by the performance and feel like we’re building something with the young players who were out there. Yaro’s quote was spot on

      I also liked the way that Nogs and Creavalle looked together in central midfield. They seemed to have developed good chemistry and were coordinated in how they moved around the pitch.

      While it was frustrating to watch Rosenberry consistently hitting that near post cross into Frei’s mitts, it was clear that this was being done as part of a game plan. Curtin must have saw something in Seattle’s back four set up that made him think that we could exploit it.

      Can’t wait to read MLS website’s breathless coverage of Morris’s first MLS goal. I’m sure it will be the GOTW winner this week.

  7. Re: send off
    Curtin’s defense is “that’s MLS in 2016.” If you knew that Jim, why’d you leave Alberg in the match? It was obvious Alberg wasn’t having a good game, why leave a liability out there?
    I have confidence in a player like Fabinho to play solid on a yellow. Down a goal, with a liability, that’s all on you Jim.

    That aside, a nice effort by most.
    I thought Yaro was gonna be the weak link after the last 2 BSFC matches but he did well in his debut.

    Blake. We are truly blessed.

    • pragmatist says:

      In his (slight) defense, this is a new dynamic, and coaches across the league are still getting used to this quick-trigger of the refs. This is twice now. I expect different decisions going forward.

    • Also in sort of Curtin’s defense, I’m sure he told Alberg to be careful at halftime but left him on there to show confidence in him. Sometimes you have to take risks like that as a coach to bring out the best in your players.

    • agree that red was partly on Curtin for “leaving it in the ref’s hands” He should have swapped Alberg for Barnetta at the half, instead of his usual waiting until the 60th minute..

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    I don’t believe in the any given sunday NFL version of MLS…so this was an expected result. Seattle is a team in need of 3 points and they earned them…(well mostly).
    Two games out of three with a red card just screams ineptitude to me… yes the second foul was dangerous but that should have been the 1st! yellow card. The league is a mockery and it is dissapointing – fly across country, settle in to a game you are playing lovely in- shit yellow, earned yellow — there you go ten men again… muy estupido.
    I think more and more we are seeing an identity take shape with this team a vision obviously by the leadership and a plan and philosophy of play…what a pleasure to know we are heading in the right direction contrary to many contrarians regarding this.
    I thought KR handled himself rather well expecially after chocking on the oms burn of Anderson in the first half of the first half. I enjoy the work rate of CJ Sapong, I really do and I recongize his assets… but am just unsure about his ability to be a single striker who can carry a team with goals in a team that, at least to my POV is favoring a controlled build up type of play. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong.
    I thought Barney on was right play but IMO it should have been for Creavalle and Pontius should have stayed… all out attack with a back four.
    In other news…
    Any way…wondering if anybody noticed the attendance and crowd tonight at the Cincinatti FC – Lousiville City game…hmm 20,000 people watching… stands packed and rocking… for a USL game… but hey what do I know… our country could never support a pyramid based on promotion and relegation. Keep drinking the fear Kool Aid MLS is serving at their members only club…er franchise.
    Ahh… yummy.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      A league mind you where the fans of Sacramento FC actually carried around cardboard placard head cutouts of the star of his very own show this week – Mr. Don Garber.
      Don is such an apt name for The Don of the MLS… don’t you think.
      Four points from NYCFC SJ in the next two games and all is “Moving Right Along” as Fozzy Bear sings.
      BTW, Peter… digging the new photo…very regal.

    • John P O'Donnell says:

      Most frustrating thing about this season is we still haven’t seen the best eleven on the field together yet. Somehow someway, players have to understand that you can’t go to ground with a yellow this year. Overall they played well but it would still be nice to see the best eleven on the field for a stretch of games.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Chandler Hoffman had a first half hat trick for Louisville. Austin Berry also scored for Cincy. It’s impressive what Cincy is doing with their stadium and being able to draw so many fans.

    • pragmatist says:

      If Cincinnati is still pulling in 20K/game in 3 years to watch guys like Chandler Hoffman, we can revisit. But right now, they are a novelty auditioning for MLS’ egregious expansion plan.
      It’s cool to see, but it’s not likely to be sustainable.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Once again my greater point I feel is being missed… yes I get it lots of people for the audition and the right to kiss The One Ring on The Dons hand… if Cincinnati FC knew it had to earn its way through the pyramid the crowd would be the same…. mater of fact it is the current model and structure that creates a sense it is not sustainable because if Cincinnati FC is not successful in its MLS bid some of those fans may walk away as the cause is lost. Just like raising kids… the sense of entitlement hampers the growth associated with the hard work of earning something worthwhile.
        It is not the NFL. It is not the same as the other professional sports. Soccer is a unique game the world over except in America where strangely franchises are give the right to make an owner billions.. You are the pragmatist. I am the Idealist.

      • pragmatist says:

        You are the voice of the fan. I am the voice of the owner.
        Unfortunately, in this society, the owner’s voice is much more powerful.
        I love the pro/rel idea. But then I see crowds in the NBDL, and the Trenton Thunder, and Wilmington Blue Rocks and realize our society is not conducive to the ideal.

  9. Thoughts
    -This was a pretty fun game to watch warts and all the Union are coming along.
    -That being said we lost and even without the Red Card I am pretty certain that Seattle was the better team on the day.
    -We need a second credible scoring threat out there. Most of our possession was meaningless when ultimately there would be a ball to CJ Sapong who would have 2 defenders draped all over him to nullify the attack and start the counter attack.
    -If Seattle could string together three passes on the counter attack we could have been down 3-0 on the first half.
    -We need to start getting at least 60 min a game out of Barnetta
    -Blake is magic
    -I heard Chris Pontius was playing in that game but I don’t believe it.

  10. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I am amused by the evidence that the Dutch League plays a more physical brand of soccer than MLS. Alberg accumulates fouls consistently game to game.
    The referees association has been told by ownership to protect their millions of dollars invested in player contracts. Look what that did to baseball.
    We played soccer last night.
    Yaro made an almost disastrous mistake at the end, but I was wrong to conclude the game was lost from the moment his name was announced. Judging by his play, they are training in such a way, and have accumulated squad depth such that, “next man up” is no longer an empty cliche. To do so in a salary capped league with small total roster size suggests good management by the technical staff, sporting director on down. Hopefully Mr. Sugarman has learned something from the contrast between Mr. S1 and Mr. S2. In fairness mr. Sugarman was beginning as a tabula rasa in this particular industry.
    It was not Richie Marquez’s best game. That said, the picks thrown in MLS penalty boxes on restarts would earn ejections in the NBA. And the second goal illustrates how dependent we are on Andre Blake being brilliant in the fullest meanings of that word. You knew as soon as you saw the lofted pass curling towards Morris that we were in trouble, a beautiful play.
    It is a shame we do not get another crack at Seattle later in the season.
    I agree with all those above that at some point it would be nice to see our best eleven on the field together.
    Does anyone know the nature of the injury suffered by Le Toux?

    • Zizouisgod says:

      I thought LeToux just cramped up. Didn’t look like an injury, but just muscle cramps.

    • Speaking of Marquez, that is the first time I recall that he got straight up burned by a forward. Not many players in the league can outrun him like that. Watching the replay again, you can see Marquez look over his shoulder and see Morris starting his run a good 5-10 yards further away from goal then Marquez but still beats him to the ball.

  11. Imagine your April ’15 Union XI in place of these – major upgrade agreed!
    Glad to get Yaro the start. Tough place to debut, but he was up to it.
    Jordan Morris is the real deal -:beating Marquez shows his 6th gear.
    Even if Marshall was free because of our new faces, set piece defending isn’t a new problem.
    Again Blake alone prevents a rout. Again only 3 shots on goal. If not fixed, luck will turn.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    For all the good the Union did by playing “better” than in the past, they still need to learn to create more actual chances and actually convert them. Possession is nice but by itself it doesn’t win games. They need more consistent first touches in the final third and have those lead to goal scoring opportunities…like they had on the actual goal.
    For all that they “looked good”, they are blown out if not for some more Andre Blake magic.

  13. When Mo Edu comes round, I’d like this team to switch to a 4-3-3.
    I am firmly in the camp that he has the tools to patrol the DM position alone, spark the build up and provide deep outlet in the final third to cycle play.

    • how would you line them up?

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Not certain I agree with el P, but here’s my though about a 4-3-3, assuming all are healthy and available.
        Blake; Rosenberry, Tribbett, Marquez, Fabinho; Edu, Nogueira, Barnetta; Ilsinho, Sapong, Pontius/Alberg. Ilsinho has to be in top shape for this to have any chance.

      • If jk sticks to 4-2-3-1, it would be really interesting to see:
        Nogs; Alberg
        Ils ; Barnetta, Pontius;
        Would have a ton of firepower, but defensively vulnerable.

  14. Just finished this on DVR…really nice to watch the game and read the recap at the same time. I think Union 2015 looses this game 5-0! That said….this team is far better! They need a better idea in the final third. The Manager said as much. So hope for improved chances in that area. The best part from my POV is that the young guys are not getting their heads handed to them. This young group of players is skilled and calm/confident on the ball! As the elephant says…vision plan,philosophy! We can see it taking shape!

  15. The refs make this league complete joke. I quote Isinho after th red he took in Florida, ” that’s not even a foul in the Ukraine!” I think it’s going to be learning curve for newcomers…….MLS doesn’t like footy being a contact sport! Talk to anyone from Europe, South America, and Mexico…….and they laugh. Look at any match this weekend from the EPL or the Bundesliga and see what goes and on and the refs allow…..then watch the MLS…..it’s ridiculous. Its also another reason why the MNT looks so soft against opposition…..JK has talked about this, not that I agree with everything he does…but he was spot on here. Patty cake football…….

  16. el Pachyderm says:


  17. der Fussballzuschauer says:

    Patty cake football – dass klingt ganz richtig

  18. Alberg’s first yellow was for persistent infringement as the referee clearly and correctly indicated, and JP noted in his commentary. If people want to whine about the second yellow, fine, but the purpose of the first yellow was to get him to calm his play. It was far too rough early on.

    • Then how do you explain alonso not getting a yellow til second half stoppage time……again the refs in this league are a complete and utter joke. Look no further than that horrendous end to the Orlando vs. NE game.

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