Union / Union match reports

Match Report: Philadelphia Union 2-0 Sporting Kansas City

Photo: Earl Gardner

Roland Alberg scored with a spectacular effort and Tranquillo Barnetta added an insurance goal in stoppage time as the Union defeated Sporting Kansas City 2-0 on Saturday night in Chester.

Substitute Alberg scored his 9th goal of the season with a sublime curling effort into the top corner in the 67th minute and then set up Barnetta’s insurance goal in stoppage time.

Kansas City was reduced to nine men in the second half after Jimmy Medranda received his second yellow card in the 59th minute and Roger Espinoza was sent off with a straight red in the 87th minute.

First Half

Jim Curtin’s team was unchanged from the group that defeated Columbus midweek. Ilsinho missed out on the gameday roster for the second straight game with a foot injury.

Philadelphia would get off to a quick start and have a number of opportunities to open the scoring in the first 20 minutes. Barnetta danced past four KC defenders and forced a save from Alec Kann on 10 minutes. C.J. Sapong was just a step slow to meet crosses from Fabinho in the 12th and 14th minutes. Chris Pontius nodded a perfect Barnetta free kick wide in the 18th minute.

Pontius would get another chance in the 28th minute. Barnetta’s pass played the winger in behind the KC backline, but Pontius could find a way to beat Kann from a tough angle as the keeper did well to make himself big and save with his chest from 7 yards out.

Barnetta would come close again in the 30th minute. Fabian Herbers did well to beat his defender and cross from the endline, lofting a ball to the Union captain. Barnetta went for the spectacular, but his overhead kick sailed over Kann’s crossbar from 16 yards.

Second Half

Kansas City was reduced to ten men in the 59th minute when Medranda was shown his second yellow card for pulling back Keegan Rosenberry.

The Union would respond by bringing on Roland Alberg for Fabian Herbers and moving Barnetta out to the right side. Alberg would make an impact immediately, scoring in spectacular style in the 67th minute.

The ever active Fabinho did well to advance down the left and find Alberg near the top of the KC box. The midfielder took a touch to make room for a shot and then curled a fantastic effort into the top corner of the goal from 18 yards, giving Kann no chance to make a save.

Charlie Davies replaced Chris Pontius in the 79th minute and almost had an instant impact as well. Chasing down a ball over the top on the right, Davies picked out Alberg making a run to the near post. The Dutchman directed his shot on goal but a spectacular save from Kann pushed the shot over the bar from close range.

Kansas City would be reduced to nine men in the 87th minute when Roger Espinoza was shown a straight red card. He appeared to catch Alberg in the chest/neck area with a stray arm, but the call seemed harsh and Sporting will have a good chance to appeal.

Barnetta would make sure of the points, sealing the game with a great counterattacking goal in stoppage time. Warren Creavalle did well to advance down the right side and the ball was eventually worked to Barnetta on the left through Alejandro Bedoya. Barnetta traded passes with Alberg, with Alberg laying a perfectly weighted ball in behind the KC defense that Barnetta ran onto and finished cooly beyond Kann into the low right corner.

Announced attendance was 17,911 at Talen Energy Stadium. The Union are next in action when they travel to Chicago to take on the Fire next Saturday (8:30 p.m.).

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Joshua Yaro, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle, Alejandro Bedoya, Tranquillo Barnetta, Fabian Herbers (Roland Alberg 65′), Chris Pontius (Charlie Davies 79′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis, Walter Restrepo, Ken Tribbett, Leo Fernandes

Sporting Kansas City
Alec Kann, Ike Opara, Jimmy Medranda, Matt Besler, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Soni Mustivar (Diego Rubio 90′), Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber (Brad Davis 77′), Graham Zusi, Jacob Peterson (Ever Alvarado 61′), Dom Dwyer
Unused subs: Emmanuel Appiah, Paulo Nagamura, Jon Kempin, Connor Hallisey

Scoring Summary
PHI: Roland Alberg (Fabinho) –67′
PHI: Tranquillo Barnetta (Roland Alberg) — 90+3′

Disciplinary Summary
KC: Jimmy Medranda (unsporting behavior) — 20′
KC: Roger Espinoza (dissent) — 20′
PHI: Warren Creavalle (unsporting behavior) –51′
KC: Jimmy Medranda (unsporting behavior) –59′
KC: Roger Espinoza (red card – violent conduct) –87′
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya (unsporting behavior) — 90+3′

Philadelphia Union Sporting Kansas City
 12 Shots  10
8 Shots on Target 2
4 Shots off Target 5
0 Blocked Shots 3
4 Corner Kicks 4
 17 Crosses 10
 0 Offsides 1
 17 Fouls  11
 2 Yellow Cards  1
0 Red Cards  2
392 Total Passes 346
 80% Passing Accuracy  70%
53.8% Possession  46.2%
 48 Duels Won  51
48% Duels Won %  51%
 10 Tackles Won 14
 2 Saves  6
 14 Clearances 19


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

    Alberg = Instant Offense. Absolutely has a striker’s mentality. Love it.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I texted a buddy and suggested Alberg at the 9…. over CJ as the starter. Sorry. Just the way I feel.
      Till Charlie is up to starting and going 75 or so.

      • Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

        I could get behind that plan.

      • Totally fine with this, though he has proven to be quite lethal in the back third of a match when the opposing team has been worn down physically and mentally.
        So, I’m fine either way, as long as he continues to produce.

      • I like that idea, too. Guy is a goal scorer. Makes defenders pay attention because he can find the back of this net from anywhere in and around the box.

      • I’ve been saying for months now that Alberg plays like a striker, not a CAM. However, people also seem to forget him disappearing for entire matches when he starts. Also, I don’t think he works as a solo forward. He doesn’t make space for himself. He doesn’t play hold-up. I think the offense would be stymied. (Not that CJ is doing much better lately…)

      • I could see that and was thinking it as well. But I feel like CJ has a way of drawing and attracting defenders just because a he’s CJ that no one else on the team can do. Idk if Alberg can be that nusense that makes CJ so valuable

      • Alberg seems more effective running off of someone as a 2nd striker though. When he was a direct replacement for CJ earlier this year, he wasn’t as effective. I still think he’s best as first man off the bench.

    • Rob, Pachyderm, that first strike had me thinking the same. We’ve had few players thus so far that would try that. Fewer that would succeed. Does he have the bullish stubbornness of a solo, though?

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    This team needs to prove to me it is trustworthy. This is not news. Tonight was a step in the right direction- in this quest to play well. See as you all know I could tolerate a 1-0 defeat at home to Kansas City if the team showed me it could play- which for a few weeks now had been in absentia… My aim is to be enthralled, the ebb and flow of the receding tide needs to move me- the movement of players washing in and out on a field of green…is its own kind of beauty and I count on clean play even when the pace is too high. The rhythm of the game matters and tonight… I was able to even out my breathe and allowed for rest and repose over fight or flight. I live for rest and repose in this game, subtle meditation of like-minded movement and when I saw Keegan Rosenberry settle the ball around the 73rd minute contemplating knight to king IV – standing there doing nothing with the ball at his feet… I exhaled and though annoyed at various times over countless various things as is my albatross…was generally pleased. The Alberg is pure class…and as if the finish wasn’t enough, the slide rule pass that unhooked Barnetta for a Henry-esque open hipped side net finish was buoyancy over ballast. So I thank you Union. Well earned….with some aesthetic.


    Hey You, henny penny. Hey You, elitist. Hey You, eurosnob. That’s right.. I am el Pachyderm the Pundit… and I can give love when warranted ———- as easily as the sword.

  3. Is it just me, or is Ale rapidly becoming frustrated with his pivot partner?

    • He was quiet tonight and I agree… I think he’s getting a little frustrated

    • Midway through the first half I said, “I cannot wait for Brian Carroll to get back.”
      Words I never thought I would say…

    • el Pachyderm says:

      … passed over him a few times in space to go negative to Yaro.

    • On multiple occasions, Ale raised his arms as if to say, “What are you doing?”
      On one occasion, when Warren intercepted a pass intended for someone else, Ale even looked in Jim’s direction after his arm raising.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Yes, I noticed that too. Bedoya seemed to be perplexed when Creavalle was treating the ball like a hot potato when he didn’t need to. Creavalle seemed to be flustered by SKC’s high press. I remember that play as Bedoya was playing it to Barnetta who was behind Creavalle. It was hit with some pace and Creavalle slid forward and trapped it.

        I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but the movement of his body and feet when either receiving or passing the ball is excessive. He then ends up in poor positions for his next movement or misplays the ball (he hit a few passes off of his shin last night ). At least Carroll and Edu are both practicing as they can’t come back soon enough.

    • I certainly was-can’t keep his feet either. Looked like he was playing on skates. Every defensive attempt was a lunge and his distributions were scary, hospital balls.

    • I think you can definitely see now he is really the 4th option at that role. Clearly they would prefer to have Nogs, Edu and Carroll out there ahead of him. Thankfully Carroll should be back for Saturday but if he isn’t whats the alternative? Move Quillo back there and start Alberg?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        You may have to do that anyway if Ilsinho’s still out and Bedoya’s with the national team.

  4. Awesome from Alberg. Awesome from Barnetta to get the insurance goal. Good win at home. Starting to separate from the red line a bit which is good news. Win next week against a poor team and its all but assured.
    I understand your sentiment Pachy but let’s also enjoy the win and the season. They are far from perfect but they are a playoff team for only the second time in existence so let’s celebrate that. I know you did a bit in your comment but sometimes I wonder if you truly mean it 🙂

  5. I just love beating SKC. Means irrelevant to the end.

  6. Sapong needs to start putting some of those chances away.

  7. Although Alberg was great, man of the match for me was Fabhino. Should have had 3 assists if CJ could finish. Kept Zusi from doing anything dangerous at the other end (once Zusi switched over to that side). He was the MAN tonight.

    • He was good. He’s a coin flip tho. He’d be a top 3-5 LB if he could be consistent. Agreed… Solid tonight tho.

    • Fabi was excellent. Got his assist finally after a simple pass to Alberg went very, very right. He did dribble into bad situations a couple times and his total lack of a right foot showed, but I can safely say he was, at worst, our 3rd best player on the night.

  8. Sapong is settling too deep, dragging the fullbacks upfield with him. It is unfortunate since there seems to be the opportunity for more offense if he does so. I liked the control and establishment of attempts at combinations more frequently,as well as the shut down defense. Too many touches by Blake in the first half, but they settled down after that. Solid home win.

  9. Grinded out a solid win tonight. Great sub by Jim, immediate impact. Lines moved well together, no gaps. I thought the team played very well.

    The continuing negative is Blake’s distribution. It is getting worse and worse. His goal kicks were nothing short of atrocious tonight, collectively. That needs to get fixed.

    • Darth Harvey says:

      Edu would do better at GK I’m sure….

    • Zizouisgod says:

      He did hit some knucklers in the 2nd half and we were lucky that SKC didn’t take advantage.

    • It’s mental. Watch Blake instead of the flight of the ball. He reprimands himself severely after a bad kick. It’s almost like he’s saying, “Don’t fuck it up, don’t fuck it up,” over and over in his head and then, well…
      I also find it interesting that Blake seems to prefer putting the ball on the carpet and kicking rather than punting. I wonder if that’s also related.

  10. Nights like this one I’m glad they built their home where they did. The Delaware took a few degrees off a very warm evening.

  11. MikeRSoccer says:

    I really feel that it’s time we see Alberg start and Barnetta pushed to the right. Huge step up from Herbers or Ilsinho on the right imo. Herbers just is not quite “there” yet and I think you can see that in games he starts.
    Call me crazy, but I would really like to see Fernando Aristeguieta return to the Union. This season in general, but today in particular, there were probably 4-5 opportunities that Sapong needed to get on target. And, based on what we saw of him last season, you have to figure that Nando finishes 1-2 of them. He is essentially a slower version of Sapong who can finish, score with his head, and can give a spectacular shot here or there. I think we gave up on him too soon.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      You’re crazy.
      You did ask for it.
      My lasting memory of The Striker…. downcast eyes and head shake after soaring another ball out of the River End….. like actually out of the River End and onto the walkway next to The River’s End.

    • You’re forgetting the games Alberg had had little to no impact. Everyone talks about Albergs goals per 90 (nevermind the 4 pks), but look at Herbers goals created per 90. Pretty darn good, and he’s younger

      • MikeRSoccer says:

        A valid point, but I think the Alberg that we have seen these last two games is a changed player. He has hustled and played excellent defense in our press system.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      He’s not trustworthy on defense for ninety, to me.
      Remember, he came on only after they were a man down.
      If Curtin makes that move without the man advantage, … . Much riskier, much.

      • Lucky Striker says:

        + 1

        Alberg is a nice player, who has done the best job in adapting of all the imports, but the problem for him is the inflexible scheme. He’s just not a good fit in it, hence the enhancement factor when he subs-because in that role, wherever he sits-he functions as THE change agent.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        +1 more for change agent.

  12. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I thought Herbers showed he should start at the right flank mid. He has the technical skill to play at speed with Barnetta, Bedoya, and company.
    Ilsinho has a role, but it is to be a bunker beating specialist.
    SKC’s left back is scary.

    Dom Dwyer is a handful.

    • Yes, on all points.
      On Herbers, I like him the more I see him and want him to keep starting for the reasons you stated. He should only get better as he grows into the role.
      Off-season answers are needed at the 6 and 9. Either someone stepping up or someone acquired.

    • In addition to everything in your first paragraph, OSC, I’ll also add that Herbers and Rosenberry seem to have chemistry already. Watching Rosenberry tuck inside when Herbers pulls a defender wide is a thing of beauty…

      • Totally agree on this. Rosenberry had a fantastic night, and it was greatly helped by Herbers and their fluid interchange. That could blossom into a fantastic partnership.

      • I have to say that Rosenberry and Yaro definitely have that chemistry down from collage. And Herbers and Rosenberry seem to be getting it too. Can’t hurt that they are roomates either.
        Honestly the whole team seems to like each other and they were really covering on d for each other this game and honestly the last 2 games. Really starting to build that killer end the game instinct.

  13. el Pachyderm says:

    Watched #6 goal again…. the two touches before the strike are so clean. That is the model. Makes me smile each time. Simple. Clean. Quick. Lethal. The hallmarks of top tier players.
    A player with technique that good in a league and on a team struggling with that type of proficiency needs to play more—- dispatched ideally.
    Hard to imagine the guy couldn’t get on the field in the first ten games or so.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Don’t forget he was seeing some early playing time until he had the 2 yellows against Seattle. Obviously that cost him the suspension and then I think Curtin wanted to keep him out while he thought about not committing dumb yellow card fouls.

      • Yeah, he made 2 or 3 boneheaded tackles early in the season and was quickly earning a rep for being a dirty player. He wasn’t ready, for whatever reason.
        He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder now. I think he’s a fantastic sub, but I’m not 100% sold on him going for 90, given his penchant to give up on defense. But he is getting better there, too.

  14. Times I’ve seen Sapong out on the wing, he has been effective. How about Pontius and Sapong on the wings with Alberg/Herbers up top?

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Curtin did sort of do that for a bit in the 2nd half. Switched Sapong and Herbers. Probably because Sapong wasn’t going to overpower Opara or Biesler and also Herbers was more adept in dropping deep into the midfield to get the ball which was a little confusing to the centerbacks.

      He also had Barnetta move out wide to the right when Alberg came on.

  15. How can anybody watch tonight and not think Rosenberry isn’t the future US National team right back…just based on soccer IQ. It astounds me how well his decision making is on the ball, especially going forward. My only complaint early in the season was that his crosses were predictable, but I’ve long since dropped that because most of them are good when they need to be.

    • He lacks pace. I don’t see him as an international. Glad he’s on our team, though.

      • I completely disagree. He’s not Yedlin, but he’s not slow. Dude has probably been the best RB in the league this year, he’s without a doubt going to get his chance on the national team, and I think he’ll run with it, but we shall find out in time I suppose.

      • Isn’t his ceiling at least Steve Cherundolo high? He wasn’t blazing fast, but very effective.

    • He’ll be playing for USMNT in January. We’ll find out more about his future then.

    • I think he’ll be solid depth for the USMNT, but unfortunately for him he just happens to be the same age as Yedlin.

  16. What was wrong with the field last night? It seemed to be coming up in chunks and footing was a problem for both teams.

  17. Another tidy win at crucial playoff push time. Depth up front is a good non-problem to have. Still wish CJ was quick enough to get to more chances that are set on a platter for him. Fabinho is now owning his starting position. Get well soon Edu and Carroll before Bedoya tosses Creavalle into the Delaware. SKC fans are calling Alberg a diver and a disgrace to the game. Just reminded them that Alberg is not known for diving and feigning injuries and that they all live in glass houses. They have no room to talk with Feilhaber, who has made a career as the biggest diving, injury feigning , drama queen in MLS. If Alberg ever needed lessons he’d contact Feilhaber.

    • You have to admit that that was some top-level Dark Arts from Alberg.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Yeah that was a red only because Alberg sold it… But the ref was also right there so…

      • And the dude kicked the ball and then backtracked just to hit Alberg. It was totally unnecessary and a very clear foul/card. Even if Alberg sold it to get a red, it should be a yellow no matter what. You just can’t go after guys like that.

      • And even if it was a yellow, it would’ve been his second of the game so he’d get red anyway.
        So, at the very least, the end result was right.

  18. As one of the crowd on PSP that wants us to sing the National Anthem, I changed my mind last night. That gentleman can sing! I hope he is back again.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      He sings very well. But for whatever reason, he was continually going sharp. He was quite a bit higher in pitch from where he started by the time he ended.
      I wonder what his story is.

  19. My only complaint from the game is that Alberg was subbed on for the wrong guy. Creavalle should have been yanked as he was a second yellow waiting to happen.
    And although we benefitted from some spotty reffing mr Guzman was quite terrible overall. But again its mls reffing so what else should we expect.

  20. Got to say love Alberg’s play the guy just has skills. Yes he has disappeared in games and yes he had defensive problems (I think this has gotten much better), but dude can score. Everyone has to think too, its his first season in MLS he is 24 and came from the Netherlands not an easy adjustment and he has 9 goals and 3 assists those stats beat most on this team (including CJ). They also beat most players per season stats during the Union’s history.
    Agree with everyones comments on Creavalle and Bedoya I noticed it the first game and it is getting worse. Bedoya absolutely despises Creavalle and whatever skills he has. Bedoya blatantly passes over Creavalle. Bedoya is basically playing the 6 and the 8 cause Creavalle can’t stay in a spot positionally. At this point I’d like to see a starting midfield of Bedoya (6 – he is playing it anyway cause Creavalle doesn’t) Barnetta (8 – because why not put him closer to Bedoya and they can work off each other) Pontius, Alberg, Herbers, and Davies up top. When Carroll comes back Barnetta moves out to the wing and Herbers goes up top or Pontius could go up top, but I prefer him to continue on the wing right now.
    I’m tired of CJ he could have had at least 2 goals in the first half if he just could finish a run. I’m tired of him and his supposed work up top. Forget getting fouls, flicking the ball on, and chasing shadows, Finish a run and score the ball. If he wasn’t chasing up top so much maybe he could actually score. This game could’ve easily have been 3-0 at half if CJ could learn to get on the end of a cross. Fabi only had 3-5 perfect crosses in the half that CJ should’ve been on the end of. Any striker would’ve killed for service like that.

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