Union match reports

Match report: NYCFC 3-2 Philadelphia Union

After falling behind 3-0, Philadelphia Union spent forty minutes fighting back only to fall 3-2 at Yankee stadium to NYCFC.

Frank Lampard, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo scored for the home side, and Roland Alberg dispatched a penalty for the Union. Frederic Brillant was credited with a late own goal after he deflected Brian Carroll’s header into the net for the visitors’ second. It was Brillant’s second own goal in as many MLS matches.

With CJ Sapong injured and Vincent Nogueira’s contract terminated, Jim Curtin turned to Fabian Herbers up top with support from the entrenched trio of Chris Pontius, Tranquillo Barnetta, and Sebastien Le Toux. Warren Creavalle and Brian Carroll sat deep in front of Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, and Keegan Rosenberry.

First half

The home side announced their intent from the outset. A poor pass out of the back allowed Ronald Matarrita — recently returned from Copa America duty with Costa Rica — to curl a cross behind Ken Tribbett that Frank Lampard redirected just wide of Andre Blake’s net.

In the eighth minute, Lampard did not miss. RJ Allen carried the ball the length of the pitch in a straight line, with only a half-hearted challenge from Ray Gaddis to slow him down. After rounding the Union fullback, Allen crossed for Tommy McNamara, whose mishit shot fell to Lampard to sweep home from the center of the six yard box.

Philadelphia pressured New York City’s goal through Sebastien Le Toux, who put in a cross that Josh Saunders had to smother.

Lampard nearly doubled his tally in the 13th minute following a moment of elite awareness from David Villa. The Spanish striker turned and tried to beat Andre Blake from fifty yards out, only to have his effort bounce back off the crossbar as Blake tumbled into the netting. To his credit, the Union keeper bounded back out to save Lampard’s half-hit follow-up.

Following a Union corner, NYCFC got their second goal of the day. Josh Saunders claimed Barnetta’s set piece and flung the ball out to David Villa. The striker’s athletic touch fell to Brian Carroll, but Jack Harrison brilliantly dispossessed Carroll and broke from the center circle toward goal. Warren Creavalle’s attempts to drag down the attacker were useless, and after driving into the box, Harrison backheeled a pass to Villa who perfectly placed a curling shot inside the near post.

The home side continued to dominate the Union in transition, and after his free kick was cleared, Barnetta earned a caution for scything down Matarrita as the fullback raced up the right.

In the 37th minute, Harrison was involved again when Blake had to punch away the number one pick’s cross. Matarrita followed up with a low strike that the Jamaican quickly smothered.

As the half wore down, Philly finally showed signs of life, and NYC showed a bit of a temper. Lampard and RJ Allen were both booked before the teams hit the lockers.

Second half

Jim Curtin wasted no time making changes, with Roland Alberg inserted for Warren Creavalle coming out of the break.

The bigger change came five minutes later when Andrea Pirlo added a three to the scoreboard.

After Ray Gaddis earned a caution for a hard foul just outside the box in the right channel. David Villa ran over the free kick then, after a pause, Pirlo stepped to the ball and crushed it on a hard curve around the wall and beyond a stranded Andre Blake.

Ilsinho replaced Chris Pontius in the 53rd minute.

Two minutes later, the Union found a route back into the match when Fabian Herbers cut inside of Matarrita and was bodychecked to the ground. Roland Alberg coolly stuffed the penalty to Josh Saunders’ left, bringing the visitors within two.

Alberg was involved moments later when he found space atop the box to fizz in a low shot that Saunders beat away for a corner.

Former Union defender Ethan White replaced Tommy McNamara in the 64th as NYC looked to solidify their leaky defense, but Fabian Herbers was undeterred. The rookie striker got to the endline then cut the ball to Ilsinho who hit his shot into Saunders’ waiting arms.

Lampard, Herbers, and Harrison all exited the match in quick succession as the managers made final adjustments down the stretch. Walter Restrepo came into the match to earn his first MLS minutes of the season.

Alberg continued to be influential, winning the ball back in midfield then setting Le Toux off on a footrace with Jason Hernandez. The defender, already on a caution, hauled down Le Toux and saw red in the 85th minute.

Three minutes later, Brian Carroll deflected a corner kick toward net on a near post run. Frederic Brillant attempted to block the shot but only managed to wrong-foot Saunders and bring the Union to within one.

It was as close as they would get. The match finished 3-2 to NYC and the Union will need to rebound Wednesday night when they welcome Chicago Fire to Chester (7pm EST, Comcast Network).

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Keegan Rosenberry, Brian Carroll, Warren Creavalle (Roland Alberg 45′), Chris Pontius (Ilsinho 53′), Tranquillo Barnetta, Sebastien Le Toux, Fabian Herbers (Walter Restrepo 77′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Anderson Conceicao, Fabinho, Leo Fernandes

New York City FC
Josh Saunders, Ronald Matarrita, Frederic Brillant, Jason Hernandez, RJ Allen, Andoni Iraola, Andrea Pirlo, Jack Harrison (Kwadwo Poku 81′), Frank Lampard (Mikey Lopez 75′), Tommy McNamara (Ethan White 64′), David Villa
Unused subs: Eirik Johansen, Jefferson Mena, Tony Taylor, Steven Mendoza

Scoring Summary
NYC: Frank Lampard (McNamara, Allen) — 8′
NYC: David Villa (Harrison) — 21′
NYC: Andrea Pirlo — 50′
PHI: Roland Alberg — 55′
PHI: Frederic Brillant (OG) — 88′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Tranquillo Barnetta (unsporting behavior) — 31′
NYC: Frank Lampard (unsporting behavior) — 43′
NYC: RJ Allen (unsporting behavior) — 45′
PHI: Ray Gaddis (unsporting behavior) — 49′
NYC: Jason Hernandez (unsporting behavior) — 54′
NYC: Jason Hernandez (unsporting behavior; red) — 85′
NYC: Ronald Matarrita (dissent) — 90+5′


NYC FC Philadelphia Union
 14 Shots 10
6 Shots on Target 4
7 Shots off Target 5
1 Blocked Shots 1
0 Corner Kicks 6
 10 Crosses  14
 1 Offsides  2
14 Fouls  16
 3 Yellow Cards 2
 1 Red Cards 0
398 Total Passes 397
 76% Passing Accuracy 78%
 49.8% Possession  50.2%
 50 Duels Won 47
 51.5% Duels Won %  48.5%
 17 Tackles Won 7
 3 Saves 3
 22 Clearances 12


  1. That shit was ugly

  2. Such a small field, at times I had the feeling I was watching a basketball game…

  3. MikeRSoccer says:

    Not really sure what Curtin was thinking when he started Creavalle and Gaddis. Yes, Fabinho was torched by Shelton last time. However, on a smaller pitch, speed matters less and crisp passing is more important. Moreover, we knew what Gaddis and Creavalle brought to the table in terms of passing and ball control. It was completely unsurprising to see them giveaway the ball as much as they did given them having less time to think and being under more pressure because of the dimensions. What was surprising, however, was how poor Gaddis was one-on-one. I am overly critical of Gaddis, but I think few would disagree that his primary strength, and possibly the only reason for him being on the field, is his ability to shutdown attackers. Harrison made Gaddis look like Fabinho on one the later’s bad days.

    When you look at what happened in the first half and what happened in the second half, Curtin needs to see a neurologist if he decides to start Creavalle over Alberg on Wednesday.

    Lastly, the team does not have a single #8 on the roster now. (I’m not counting Edu because Curtin has consistently maintained that he views Edu as a #6.) I hope and expect that the Union will be making a trade in the near future to address this position. Personally, I’d like to see Dillon Powers, Tommy Mcnamara, Eric Alexander, Baggio Husidic (stretch), or even Servando Carrasco come into the team. While we have cap space, we do not appear to have a substantial amount of allocation money. As a result, I think we need to strongly consider putting Herbers and his international roster spot up on the block. I really like Herbers, but this team has an established identity as a team that plays with a lone striker. This is a good thing. If you know that your team will play a certain system, you’ll avoid wasting money on players who do not fit into the system. Unfortunately, Herbers is neither a center forward or a winger. I think it would be best for Herbers and for the Union to move him. I’m not sure if the other players I’d be OK with trading (Fernandes, Restrepo, Creavalle, and Gaddis) would bring in enough value to bring in a #8 who can slot into the starting 11.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    First major hiccup for our new sporting director occurred yesterday.
    Wonder Wonder Wonder.
    Probably best I didn’t see game today.
    What I know is Roland Alberg has now scored in back to back games… and maybe JC needs to figure how to get him in the starting XI…
    No engine anymore, so now will the wheels fall off too. Wonder Wonder Wonder.

  5. pragmatist says:

    A clunker. It happens. One is allowed. I’ll be concerned if it becomes a pattern.

  6. They’ve got to play the 4-1-4-1 moving forward to get Alberg on the field and play Ilsinho over Le Toux in order to help hold some more possession.

  7. Where did JC expect the offense to appear from that XI? Some of Fabinho, Alberg & Ilsinho should have started.

  8. Old Soccer Coach says:

    When Patrick Viera inserted Ethan White and took off Frank Lampard, NYCFC went into bunker, with only David Villa remaining outside the defensive third consistently as an outlet for long clearances.
    Alberg and Ilsinho were already on the pitch, Restrepo came on shortly thereafter and the three combined with the rest to do one of the better jobs trying to break down a bunker that I bring to mind without any systematic research. We got one, and had some chances for a second.
    Two other points – we also found out how much the Union are used to playing with CJ Sapong and his defensive pressing (how the small field would have affected that I am uncertain).
    And, I will go public with the tentative hypothesis that while Fabian Herbers is the second best striker on the first team roster, Corey Burke plays striker in a fashion more closely akin to that of Sapong than does Herbers. Judge for yourself on you tube in the videos of the Steel v. Wilmington Hammerheads last Friday, and against the Charlotte Independence the Friday before that.
    A whimsical closing thought. Would Josh Yaro’s pace have matched that of Jack Harrison? That might be an interesting match-up for quite some time to come.

    • der Fussballzuschauer says:

      Thoroughly agree with the assessment that the Jamaican striker Corey Burke plays a style much more similar to Sapong than does Herbers – who has often left me with the impression that he is actually a misplaced central attacking midfielder.

  9. Alicat215 says:

    First time I’m going to criticize the gaffer here today, I think this one goes on coaching decisions a little bit. I know Alberg ran 90 on Wednesday and I believe Isinho did too, but friggin start them both. The match changed with them in. By putting Alberg in at halftime and Isinho in the 52nd I believe……you almost implied it was a screw up. Start them so your not 2-0 in the hole and chasing the match. If your going to run one 45 and the other almost 40…..why not start them and try to get 60 out of them? It’s not like they have been playing often. Gaddis got torched today…..Fabs the better option. You can’t sustain an interior with Craeville and Carroll, they got exposed badly. Particularly Carroll, the transition goal said it all. Lastly, Herbers doesn’t work as your target without clever guys around him….hence why he was more active in the second half. Seba may be a better option as the target. Fabs, Alberg, and Isinho should have been on the pitch from the get go…..probably would have at least got a point today. That Harrison kid can play. Think about it….your going to ask Craeville and Carroll to deal with Lamps, Pirlo, and Villa dropping in as a false 9? I know we’ve got away with Craeville and Carroll as the double holding……buts that’s exactly what it’s been….getting away with it.

    • I agree with a lot of your points. Alberg should have been the number 8 I think. Yes Herbers struggled to receive the ball as a lone striker. We basically had 2 DMs on the pitch. That left the move to going forward and side to side sparse. Ilsinho needs to have a better final decision. He has been so poor on that level. You can be Messi for all I care but if your final touch/distribution is poor then all that skill with the ball at your feet means shit. He needs to learn that quickly. Honestly, we have just lost the worst player that you could lose on this team ……

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Probably the worst overall performance of the season, definitely the worst half. More accurate shooting could easily have seen the Union down 5-0 before they even started to get untracked.
    The team picked up steam when Alberg came in. I think he has to start Wednesday night.
    With Vincent gone and CJ still hurt, I’m a little worried that the Union are going to really start to test their depth at a couple of positions with 6 games in 17 days (including 2 open cup games). I’m hoping there is a way not to overtax Brian Carroll, given that Creavalle has had two clunkers in a row.

  11. Small field you’ve gotta think quick and be quick. Passes have to be to feet not blooped in the air. One touch passes and clean first touches. If you’re going to press you can’t chase you need to be on top of the opponent with speed and quickness and turn the play fast. The Union figured it out a little too late. The game got away from Gaddis early and he got sucked out of position again. He started to play better but NYC and most teams know Gaddis is weak with the ball in the air. Saunders kept bombing high balls to Gaddis’ side. Alberg and Ilsinho got the Union back in the game and they where dangerous. I don’t know what the problem was with Barnetta or why Creavalle couldn’t link up with him. NYCFC and their fans are old pampered pandered to punks and it showed because they almost lost this one. However Curtin has to do better. NY used the time off to prepare for the Union in order to take advantage of the questionable field. The Union were taken aback by the loss of Noguiera but they should have seized the day. They didn’t deserve 3 points. Write this off as a hiccup but remember it after Earnie upgrades during the transfer period.

  12. Quick turn around for the game on Wednesday.
    With the US Open Cup, NYC, and the Chicago game, and Nog’s leaving + Sapong getting an ankle knock… the team will have to adjust and not give up pts at home in a few days.
    They will definitely be looking for help in the FA market this coming transfer window.

  13. Curtin said he didn’t have them ready. I’ll go with the sudden departure of Noguiera there. I’d also guess lineup changes for the HCI USOC match had they known ahead of time. Would’ve still liked him to signal others will have to fill in and start at least one of them against NYC. Now 3 points against a poor Fire squad Wednesday is very bigas the Supporters Shield leader will be another natch on short rest. Yesterday at least Vincent proved irreplaceable to ne.

  14. Oops – Caps fell off the pace. Still a tough game.

  15. Section 114 (Formerly) says:

    Gaddis looked scared of the ball/contact on all three goals. Carroll wasn’t dispossessed, he coughed it up. And there was no connection at all between anyone at the back and anyone at the front. Unmitigated disaster and, unfortunately, what should be expected for at least a month until transfer and/or Edu arrives. Without Nogs, this team needs to flip the triangle to get more passers on the fired, and choose between Pontius and LeToux — the two of them are low possession luxuries we can’t afford with this squad.

  16. So we have two DMs starting with crevalle and Carroll. This could be a problem going forward. Unfortunately we have lost the nucleus of the team and no one on this squad can replace it. Those are just the facts. Sapong would have helped a lot. Wow NYFC, what a shit team when their ball kids don’t even do their job…..really ? Saunders could have had two yellows easily and we could have had a pk in the last min. When one of our players got clipped in the box. Overall, it didn’t look promising. Hopefully it’s Just was the break they had that causes this performance and not the loss of Nogueira. I would still would like to know the detailed reason why Nogs left. Ugh I hope this won’t chance the tempo of the team.

  17. Lucky Striker says:

    The decisions to start Carroll and Gaddis on that field was the death of the game. Only the opener at Dallas was comparable.

    Curtin has that much right……it is on him.

    They need to change the formation until/unless help arrives.
    They won’t though.

    That’s on him too………

  18. Worst game of the season so far, though I will say the team deserves some credit for fighting back to within one. Hopefully at the end of the season we can just write this game off as due to other factors – Nogs shock exit, coming off long break, away from him, CJ injured, unsually small field, etc.
    This team without CJ and Nogs has very little going forward – no connector to play quick balls forward and switch the point of attack and no target up top for long balls that bypass the midfield.
    I was surprised and am somewhat critical of Curtin’s lineup. The small field negates Le Toux’s strengths and calls for more technical players like Ilsinho, Alberg, even Leo instead of more physical/fast players. At the same time, I’m sure the Nogs exit caused him to scramble to put a gameplan and lineup together last minute. Also, I’d say he deserves some credit for realizing the problems and bringing on Alberg and Ilsinho pretty quickly.
    Have to think Earnie will be pulling some long hours looking for a replacement for Nogs but in the meantime it has to be Alberg. Even ignoring the goals, he has looked good the last two games dropping back to get on the ball or finding space to make himself available for a teammate. The sky is not falling, but this is the biggest challenge this team has run into this season. Things will fall to the coaching staff and front office to get through this and we will get to see if they sink or swim. Short term success falls to Curtin while the longer term to Earnie and Albright.

    • You’re absolutely right. Given the small pitch at Yankee Stadium, Saturday was a day for the Union’s more technical players. JC should have should have taken that into account when choosing his starters/subs that afternoon.

  19. Being at the game, it was obvious that NYCFC had a plan for using the field to their advantage. As soon as they got the ball, a creative player (Pirlo, Lampard, sometimes Villa) would peel off to one side for a short receipt to feet and the opposite side winger (mostly harrison) would get as far wide as possible and the ball would either be whipped in to space between the center back and opposite side outside back or down the middle to a Villa or late center mid (mostly lampard) run. Once we stopped allowing the ball to be distributed so easily out of the ball, we were able to sustain pressure.
    Saunder should have received at least 1 yellow. When the ref stars warning him for time wasting in the 30th minute and continues to do so EVERY time he had a kick for the rest of the game, something needs to be done.
    Pirlo was given MOTM after the game but that was clearly an advertising tactic. Harrison ran our defense ragged all game. Aside from his free kick (still not sure how he whips that around the wall, maybe partially poor wall placement, maybe partially greatness) he was non existant for much of the game.
    Lack of NOGS was very evident in build up out of the back.
    Still unsure at the end of the game, how the ref signals for advantage on a foul in the box and then blows the game dead.
    That field was an abomination. Does anyone know of the plan for their stadium? There is no way MLS can allow that to contine much longer.

  20. I’m not buying the fact that it was shock of Nogs leaving and poor planning. You had two weeks and they said that the conversation with Nogs had started long before this. They should’ve been ready and organized (if they weren’t thats poor coaching flat out). Its clear to me that regardless of whether you played Fabi or Gaddis they were both getting torched by Harrison this game the kids got some skills and worked well with Villa. Also with little tape on Harrison I can’t imagine there is much to go by on how he is going to play, kind of like how Rosenberry can get away with moves up the wing small sample size on them. Regardless I think both of our OB were going to get torched. Granted Gaddis did not look good this game (I think the hope was they would start Shelton), surprising to see Gaddis play as well since he went 90 on Wednesday. Clearly we need other options can’t play Carroll and Creavalle every game. I think Alberg is starting to break lose he needs to be on the field plain and simple whether its 60, 90 or less he needs to start impose on the game and let things move on from there. Backline and Blake looked confused on this field and spacing seemed off they need work on small fields.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m thinking they knew there was a possibility of Nogs leaving but I’m guessing they thought the likelihood was low until it actually happened. Otherwise he either wouldn’t have played at all Wednesday or he would have gone 90 minutes Wednesday to save BC for Saturday.

  21. Does anyone know what Villa was so pissed about after the game? Was it the fact that one of the NYC players cleaned out a Union player in the box right at the last second. ie should have been a penalty kick for the U

  22. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, so we know it didn’t work. But I had no problem with starting Gaddis over Fabinho. I figured Fab was only going to play one of Wednesday/Saturday, so when I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see him out of the lineup Saturday. Between saving the legs of one of the oldest players on the team and looking for a better defensive matchup, I had no issues with Gaddis starting.
    Where I will quibble with the starting 11 – without the use of that 20/20 hindsight – is Le Toux starting over Ilsinho. I love Le Toux. Absolute man-crush on him. This was the kind of game, though, that begged for Ilsinho’s on-the-ball skills. Playing on a U8-sized field leaves less room for running (Le Toux’s biggest asset) and requires more dribbling in tight spaces (Ilsinho’s specialty). This, to me, was a big mistake.
    Hindsight makes it very easy to say Alberg should’ve started in place of either Creavalle or Carroll. I would’ve been in favor of that myself, but I can at least see the argument for C&C starting, given that it’s an away match so playing a bit more defensive is OK. I would’ve gone Alberg – and said so to my daughter when we saw the lineup. But I can see the case for the other side of that coin.
    They’re in another tight pack of matches, thanks in large part to the Open Cup games. They are going to go Wednesday (HCI) -Saturday (Manchester West) – Wednesday (Chi) – Saturday (Van) – Wednesday (Cows USOC) – Saturday (Houston). After the July 2 match in Houston, they’ll get a week off before their next match. That’s six games in 18 days. So I have no problem with trying to pack it in against Manchester West and play for a draw, which is what it looked like from the starting lineup. They have to play for wins in their next three – all at home.

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