Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-3 Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver Whitecaps handed Philadelphia Union their first loss at home in 2016. Former Union man Andrew Jacobson, Kekuta Manneh, and Christian Bolanos scored for the visitors.

Roland Alberg maintained his good form and opened the scoring in the 14th minute, notching his seventh goal in the last four games, and Chris Pontius added a consolation goal late in stoppage time for Philadelphia.

First Half

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that defeated Chicago on Wednesday night. Josh Yaro started in place of Ken Tribbett and Chris Pontius made way for Sebastien Le Toux. The midfield of Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta, and Roland Alberg was kept intact.

Philadelphia created the first chance of the match in just the 5th minute. Keegan Rosenberry’s long throw-in from the right was flicked on at the near post by Richie Marquez and straight into the path of Tranquillo Barnetta. The Union midfielder couldn’t get the ball out of his feet quickly enough and his effort was smothered by the onrushing David Ousted.

The Union took the lead in the 14th minute through the in-form Alberg. Fantastic interplay near the top of the box from Barnetta and Ilsinho eventually got the ball to Fabian Herbers in good shooting position from 18 yards out on the right. The rookie striker hit a fantastic shot that smacked squarely off the crossbar. Sebastien Le Toux couldn’t get a clean touch on the rebound, with the ball hitting off his thigh. But, as on Wednesday night, Alberg found himself in the right place and finished low into the left corner.

Vancouver struck back quickly, equalizing in the 19th minute from a corner kick. Andre Blake seemed to have a clear path to catch or punch the ball but did neither and it squirted through his hands and onto the head Andrew Jacobson, who nodded it home.

Blake redeemed himself with a fine save in the 25th minute. Nicolas Mezquida laid into a fierce drive from 30 yards out that Blake had to push away at full stretch.

The Whitecaps took the lead in the 41st minute. Barnetta couldn’t find his pass  just outside the Union box and the ball fell to Pedro Morales who spotted the speedy Kekuta Manneh. The winger drove hard at Josh Yaro, exploiting the rookie’s indecision to burst by him, rounded Richie Marquez, and finished the move with a shot off the left post and into the net.

Second half

Philadelphia started the second half strong, earning three corner kicks and a dangerous set piece opportunity in the opening ten minutes of the half. The closest they would come to equalizing in that span was Barnetta’s cross/shot that had to be pushed away by Ousted in the 54th minute.

The Union brought on Chris Pontius for Ilsinho in the 65th minute and Walter Restrepo for Fabian Herbers in the 76th minute as they searched for an equalizer.

Vancouver remained content to sit back and absorb pressure throughout the second half. Leo Fernandes replaced Fabinho as the Union went to three in the back in the 82nd minute.

The Whitecaps made Philadelphia pay for their gamble, scoring a third goal in the 84th minute. Erik Hurtado found Christian Bolanos with acres of space on the Vancouver left side. Pushing the ball around Rosenberry, Bolanos’ shot took a heavy deflection off Rosenberry and beat Blake at the near post.

The Union are next in action on Wednesday night when New York Red Bulls come to Chester for U.S. Open Cup play.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Fabinho (Leo Fernandes 82′), Richie Marquez, Joshua Yaro, Keegan Rosenberry, Brian Carroll, Roland Alberg, Tranquillo Barnetta, Ilsinho (Chris Pontius 65′), Sebastien Le Toux, Fabian Herbers (Walter Restrepo 76′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Warren Creavalle, Ken Tribbett, Ray Gaddis

Vancouver Whitecaps
David Outsted, Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey, Jordan Smith, Pedro Morales (Russell Teibert 65′), Matias Laba, Kekuta Manneh (Cristian Techera 79′), Christian Bolanos, Nicolas Mezquida (Blas Perez 75′), Erik Hurtado
Unused subs: Cole Seiler, Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Fraser Aird

Scoring Summary
PHI: Roland Alberg (Sebastien Le Toux) — 14′
VAN: Andrew Jacobson — 19′
VAN: Kekuta Manneh (Pedro Morales) — 41′
VAN: Christian Bolanos (Erik Hurtado) — 84′
PHI: Chris Pontius — 90+4′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Tranquillo Barnetta (unsporting behavior) — 36′
VAN: Kekuta Manneh (unsporting behavior) — 51′

Philadelphia Union Vancouver Whitecaps
 21 Shots 10
 4 Shots on Target 6
 11 Shots off Target 2
 6 Blocked Shots 26
 6 Corner Kicks 5
 30 Crosses 15
 1 Offsides 1
 7 Fouls 14
 1 Yellow Cards 1
 0 Red Cards 0
 458 Total Passes 410
 84% Passing Accuracy 79%
 53.4% Possession  46.6%
 55 Duels Won 48
 53.4% Duels Won % 46.6%
 16 Tackles Won 19
 3 Saves 2
 13 Clearances 27


  1. I really thought this game would be 3 points. very disappointing result. But, there were positives. The movement in the offensive end (especially in the first 30 minutes) was incredible. One and two touch passing with accuracy, movement and purpose. Really thought we played in the attacking third even better than we had against Chicago, at the very least when Ilsinho was on the pitch.
    Which brings me to my big problem: Why did Curtin sub Herbers and not Seba? Seba, for all the qualities he does have, makes decisions in traffic very slowly. Everything Vancouver was doing was clogging the box and making us play in tight quarters. Herbers was part of a few really excellent sequences and looked as fresh as he could having just played 70 minutes.
    Summary: Young team plays well, makes young team mistakes, concedes goals, drops points. All will be ok. In Earnie we trust.

  2. I kind of thought this was the Chicago game all over again… except against a better team… which made the Union pay. The Union currently have some serious defense issues… Union weren’t awful on O tonight, but didn’t shoot enough. A few too many passes in my opinion. Can’t win em all but he D needs to be fixed ASAP.
    Also wanted to to say thanks to the Union for the really awesome Town Hall tonight before the game with ES and Tim McDermott. Insightful and informative. Really cool to be a part of. Only real news I thought to come from it was the real reluctance of Stewart to talk about Edu and when he may return. I have a feeling rehab is not going as well as planned. To be clear – That’s my opinion I inferred from on my own… not something Stewart said.

    • Oh and Blake is still not himself. 1st goal was on him. Not trying to kill him cause he made a stellar save a short time later, but he’s just made a few mistakes lately that he wasn’t making earlier in the season.

      • For sure. Blake is a bit off. I still feel like he’ll right the ship soon, but we’re starting to learn how close games go when superman isn’t between the pipes. Appreciate the insight from the town hall too. Hoping you’re wrong, but I get that feeling every time a presser comes and goes without mention of Mo

      • Yeah regarding the Town Hall – I have zero concern about the direction and vision for this club, ES and McDermott are focused. We are in good hands.

    • The town hall was informative and reassured my faith in Ernie Stewart. When asked about DP’s he reiterated that he would not be buying anyone with a big name that is just coming here to retire and get paid millions. He specifically referenced Giovinco as the exact kind of DP that he wanted: young and in his prime and wants to play. He had some slight digs at NYCFC and their DPs without saying it outright, and he said the MLS needs to be careful because it could easily become a retirement league, and that is the last thing he wants at Philly. Ernie also talked up the academy and mentioned that there were several players he really wanted to go to the Steel and not to college because the college season is too short and it would stunt their growth.

      As someone that lives in South Philly I did find it disturbing that Tim Mcderrmit (sp?) and the Union were not really reaching out to anyone in Philadelphia. It seems like there is some outreach in the suburbs, but it also seems like the Union are missing a massive and concentrated market that is only 20 minutes away. Youth tournaments, camps etc are all ways that this team could easily expand the brand and increase awareness. He also mentioned the lack of transportation options to the stadium, which is the number one reason people in my neighborhood don’t go to games. I guess acknowledging the problem is the first step, and he is new to his job, but there were also no solutions offered. There was my first townhall meeting, but I would recommend it to anyone that wants a little insight into the back rooms of the Union. Also I got the impression from Ernie that Edu is not coming back anytime soon, as he “keeps missing deadlines,” so hopefully he has some reinforcements lined up when the window opens up.

  3. Also mike, Barnetta lost the ball just outside the caps penalty area on the Manneh goal. The turnover at midfield was a couple minutes earlier which resulted in his card, for what its worth

    • Mike Servedio says:

      Good call! Fixed!

      Bad few minutes for Barnetta there. Kevin tweeted it and said it to me at halftime, difference between Nogs and Barnetta is those loose passes deeper in the midfield. Can get away with that as the 10, less so as the 8. He knows it though, said it after Chicago game. I think he’ll improve.

      • Thanks! I’m on board with you on Barnetta. He’s a quality player learning to play a new role. Vince had years with this team knowing when to press our advantage and when to hold back. Tranquillo will figure out the balance.

  4. Two mistakes – one by Blake, the other by Yaro. LeToux’s leaden first touch continues to cost us. He should’ve come off for Pontius. Barnetta was mugged all night. Gutsy for JC to go with 3-5-2. Good minutes for Leo & Restrepo.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    So…. I’m okay with this honestly. Obviously giving up three goals is not ideal but from what I was able to watch with only one eye on the screen is a team clearly playing a more appeasing brand of game which is paramount for me.
    Defensively we are going to have to figure some stuff out. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE if the solution to that problem was one Maurice Edu. No timetable it seems on that which is rather foreboding.

    • John P O'Donnell says:


    • Ok I’m sorry but this vexes me. Pachyderm you can have whatever opinion you want, but can I just say my part? I watch you criticize the living day lights out of this team when they win, but don’t play up to your standards of play. Who cares if they play appeasing. Who cares?? To me giving up like 15 goals in 5 games is not all appeasing. It should only be about winning and the way this team is playing right now, I’m not sure how much more winning they’re gonna do. Losing Nogueira really hurt them. Back to my point though, that’s why the euros are boring, but a European team will undoubtedly win the next World Cup. They play organized and compact and don’t take a lot of risks. I’d rather have a team like that that wins a lot than one that’s appeasing but does jack squat. I just don’t understand how you can be a fan of a team and not want them to win. That’s like the Golden State Warriors fans being happy right now even though they lost to the Cavs, but they still played their attractive style of play (shooting 3s, ball movement, ect.). You know they’re mad and they should be to an extent. I’m sorry it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I guess we just have different goals for the team.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        You are correct… we have different goals.
        For my part less Fight or Flight and more parasympathetic nerve tone.
        In other worlds the game means more to me than the sum of activity and how it leads either to victory or defeat.
        The game is a moving meditation for me first. I need it to be appeasing visually as I rely on the game for a kind of trance…. evened out breathing & gaze point.. First play beautifully…..
        then win. I want to win. That’s the point ultimately of a game but more importantly I want to feel less hectic.
        Make sense?

      • el Pachyderm says:

        BTW, re: euros.
        Stalemate is an outcome in chess.
        Sometimes a game just needs a goal for engagement to really begin, but they aren’t given out.

  6. Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

    Kekuta Manneh, what a wonderful phrase. Kekuta Manneh, ain’t no passing craze …

  7. I watched the condensed match. Union looked better. First time in years in a loss.

  8. That was the kind of game I think we were expecting to see all season long, so the only surprise for me is that we’ve been spared that kinda good/bad/ugly mix more often.
    Seeing that first goal develop the way it did was certainly a nice taste of what I *think* El P has been preaching since the end of last season. Quality stuff.
    In my opinion, tonight was another example that Le Toux may be past is days as a useful starter (for this team anyway). The crazy hustle is always great to see, but when it takes him into goofy, ineffective places, it’s like water being poured into the sand. The lack of touch and control is starting to glare quite badly in comparison to the improved quality around him.
    I’m not saying Seba “sucks” or “should go”, but it appears his most effective contributing role now is making already tired opponents bat nuts crazy for that last 30 minutes and forcing errors from the fatigued.
    This team is much improved, but it is still just the first iteration in an roster evolution.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      You are correct. LeToux is sub and should be a viable backup for Ilsinho… but no longer a starter. There have been a lot of games in a lot of days, so rotation is/was necessary, and I think that’s what I chalk a lot of the recent struggles up to.

  9. Ball movement has never been better with Barnetta, Ilsinho and Alberg on the field together. But we are giving up a lot more goals with that combination on the field. What to do?

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      You’ve forgotten the fourth members of the creative quartet, Herbers. Inadvertently I’m sure.
      They are of a piece and four of them together make the minimum critical central mass. Three has not seemed enough. The Brazilian, the Swiss, the Dutchman, and the German.
      Le Toux, Pontius, Rosenberry, Fabinho, and Yaro can all provide the outside vertices of supporting triangles. Others may get there.
      How Sapomg integrates into it is unknown, but will be intriguing to discover.
      Others may learn to adapt.
      Whether we can afford the defensive liabilities that come with this core group will be interesting to discover.
      In a straight line, Ilsinho can sprint well, better than I thought. I cannot yet identify it, but something about his sprinting technique makes me think he lacks maneuverability at high speed in defense.
      Watching them flood the box, the six yard box in particular, was a sight I had never before seen when watching the Union. It was fun.

  10. Agree that Pontius would have been a better fit vs vancouver and seba vs chicago because of their team speed.

  11. In the 2nd half it was obvious that Ilsinho and Seba were constantly being pulled into the middle of the field. The formation resembled a beaker with 4 defenders and then everyone else just bunched up like the neck of a beaker through the middle of the field.
    There were times when (before Pontius entered) there were zero wingers playing position. Zero. Seba was so out of position that he was hurting the team with his gazelle runs into nowhere with no purpose leaving him out of position and the formation in tatters.
    The defense has fallen apart since Nog’s left. The team misses the way that Nog’s could take pressure off the defense while spreading the field to open things up, that is now missing badly.
    Bottom line, this team is not good enough to be considered ‘top tier’ with its current roster. We are a couple of years away.
    Still entertaining to go see live pro soccer in Chester though, so I’m not complaining. It could be the 2013 Union out there.
    Porfirio Lopez… that is what the Union used to be about, things have changed.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      First RE: defense, I agree.
      Otherwise, funny, I love that the wingers are sucking in and having runs of play centrally and ask the OB to then bare responsibility for providing width at certain points… just like I’d like to see the OB with more willingness to pinch in as the wingers provide width.
      For the first time ever, I see this team overloading zones of the field and controlling tempo with numerical advantages. Not playing (as much of) this frenetic run run run game that is unfortunately a hallmark of MLS.
      More please.

      • Yeah watching Ilsinho get into the middle and give the defense something to think about is fantastic. Big part of why the attack has been working so well. Rosenberry loves filling the wide space he leaves behind, and is really good doing it. Im with you El P. Forget that result. If we play like that we’re going to win games and be fun to watch at the same time. Find joy, not just results.

    • Also agree, RE: defense. Currant barrage of goals against began literally a few minutes after Nogs was subbed-off- for what would be the final time for the U- in the Open Cup match against Harrisburg and have not stopped since. 11 g-a in 4 matches, including the USOC match… WOW. Nogs made a bad team (2014, 2015) good and a good team (2016) exceptional. For now we are just good again…

    • re the defense: one goal from a set piece that was a GK error, 2nd goal from open play that was a bad giveaway followed by a defense error, and 3rd goal a kinda giveaway and counter when pressing to get back into game. Maybe a couple of good Vancouver chances the rest of the game. Vast stretches of Union pressure. At least 7 good chances. Errors have to stop but from my POV, finishing needs to get better.

      • pragmatist says:

        +1. We should have had at least 2-3 more goals in this game. The VAN goals were against the run of play.
        Personally I find it hard to believe that you take one player away, and suddenly the rest of the defense isn’t capable of defending a Sunday Men’s league.
        This was an off night by Blake, and the defense has had two games that are not up to their standards. But they had three months of good games beforehand. They’ll level it out.
        But it may also be that we have a weakness against fast forwards. Maybe it’s now been discovered.

      • +1. When our defense makes errors, remind yourself the “experienced Vet” on that backline is the sun rocket himself. Marquez at age 24 is our rock.
        Mike alluded to this further up the discussion, but the counter attack came when Barnetta gets caught up the pitch and loses the ball just outside the box. If he’s still the number 10, as he’s accustomed to, that’s no big deal. But since he’s supposed to be filling the Nogueira role right now, there weren’t nearly enough players behind the ball (watch to see how high rosenberry is up the pitch when this happens too.)
        The real story is how the attack is developing. If you show me this game, remove all the goals, and ask me to guess the score based solely on the run of play, I’d say 4-1 union.

  12. Haven’t most of these 9 goals allowed come from set pieces? A couaple were off counters by gazelles. Blake made superhuman saves earlier, but not as many lately. No doubt fewer turnovers with Nogs, but this was only The Calm’s second game at #8. Still two rookies in our backline! Another at striker the past two matches with a different style. Hopw Edu is back in July but I’ll trade falling to midtable this summer for playing a style that promises to feature technique & formation that are taught from Academy to first team. Long term, not just this year.

  13. Looked like two decent teams out there. Even in defeat, Philadelphia is much more enjoyable to watch this season.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Agreed. It’s nothing short of a miracle, coming from teams of just a year or two ago, to watch players combine with skill and drive an attack forward. Even when down, I feel like this team can and probably will score at least one. Now just get the D tightened up. Less games, and actual practice and training, could and should help the set piece / corner defending that has been not-so-good lately.

  14. Tough one, looked great going forward…….crap in the back. Learn from this JC, if you are going to play a nice possession oriented, attacking brand of football…..you still have to condense the pitch. Your back four have to play a higher line……way too much space and gaps in our shape…especially in transition. If your going to play the way you did yesterday…..your CBs have to be at the oppositions circle…..and don’t let them out. Marquez and Yaro have the recovery pace. Lastly, I know you hate playing this brand of football…it’s written all over your face, lol! You basically said as much in your “it’s great for the fans” loaded comment….the other half of that sentence is…….,but it gives coaches seizures! Lastly, while Herbers may combine better with the midfield…..CJ could have come in handy yesterday, he’s a poacher…,and he beats the crap out of the oppositions CBs….something they took great delight in doing to Herbers yesterday!

    • Fair point. Thought the officiating on the beatings herbers took was… suspect at best, especially against a goon squad like Vancouver. Thank god Waston wasn’t in there, he might have been decapitated.
      For what it’s worth on the defense though, the only goal I’m laying at their feet was the 2nd one. The first one Blake has to catch and the 3rd we had taken Fabinho out to chase the game the last 10 minutes. Go back, watch that play and look just how high up the pitch our defense is when the ball is lost. Rosenberry is almost in the box, everyone else is in the opponents half. No reasonable CB is going to be in the vicinity of where that ball is lost when the first pass comes out. It’s on the midfield to get back in that situation (Ilsinho in this case, since he’s pulled centrally and Rosenberry is on the wing in the space he vacated.)

      • Alicat215 says:

        That’s funny about Herbers. And I agree about goal one, completely on Blake, and fair point about goal three. I understand what your saying about the second goal too……it’s a gamble. But as you hinted at….they shouldn’t have to gamble there. And yes at times they are high…….I guess I just need to see it faster and sustained…..not in spurts. And I’m generally talking about the last couple matches….not just this last one. We are conceding a lot lately…..that’s not good.

      • Alicat215 says:

        As you hinted at above as well in an earlier post……it’s the double pivots job to break that up in the 4-2-3-1 on the second goal……they get caught!

      • Yeah, I guess I’m seeing it more as Tranquillo growing into the role. When we were rolling Carroll and Creavalle out there together we weren’t linking play forward effectively, but always having the athleticism of Creavalle and the brain of Carroll screening our young Defenders was paying huge dividends on that end. Lots of low scoring affairs and draws. When Nogs was healthy and in there, he was MUCH better distributor. Facilitated forward play when he could, but minimized risk by never being caught forward himself. Barnetta, on the other hand, LOVES to run at people. It’s part of why we’ve looked so good attacking these last 2 games. It’s also caused the defensive frailty we’ve seen.
        I think we’re both on the same page with the problem we see, re: Barnetta likes to get forward. Its the solution part that i think we see differently. Part of it is Barnetta adjusting to his role, which comes with reps over time. second part is teammate adjusting to his tendencies, see rosenberry getting too high up that wing and Ilsinho making zero effort to get back.
        The third is personnel: Carroll vs. Creavalle. BC isn’t athletic enough to cover the whole of the middle of the park anymore, and maybe we consider going to warren against fast, counterattacking teams.

      • I don’t think we are as far apart as you think, I’ll take Barnetta learning to stay home over Craeville and Carroll double holding any day of the week…..no doubt. I’d like to see what Craeville does in there in place of BC…..as you said, covers more ground, more athletic. Especially if Barnetta still bombs forward from time to time.

  15. Really tough for our young defence the last couple of games. I agree that this is just the hiccup of losing Nogs and needing to figure out how to get back to the solid D from the early season. So nice to see the attack looking better. Love the inter play and invention the team is starting to find…Union 2.0 is more pleasing on the eye. The team believes they can win every game. Remarkable turn around! Thank-you Mr. Steward!

  16. Well, this team can certainly attack and create chances.
    It is true that as a trade off of Barnetta playing deeper that he gets caught forward more often and so the defense is more exposed but I do not see that as a cause for any of the goals given up this game:
    The first, I have to say is mostly on Blake – he should have punched it clear instead of trying to catch it. The second, I count 4 Whitecaps and 5 Union players (two making recovery runs so initially a 4v3 situation). Yaro has to be better and know that he cannot be beaten there. He does not need to win the ball but just slow up Manneh or shade him to outside to allow the other two Union players to recover. Not sure if it was indecision or what but he halfheartedly tried for the ball and got burned. If he commits to going for the ball and doesn’t get it then he has to take a professional foul or something to stop Manneh. The third goal is just a case of the Union pushing high looking for an equalizer in the final 10mins of the game. It takes a pretty bad deflection to get past Blake.
    Anyway, took nearly half the season to lose a game at home so it should not be too upsetting.

  17. Craigslist is the BEST place to post things for locals to see. Post it in the services area AND in the pets area. Pets is under community. Have you been on Craigslist before? It’s legit and easy to get through to locals in your cinaytowt/st/te however far you are willing to travel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *