Union match reports

Match report: LA Galaxy 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Peter Andrews

A dour match between two flailing teams finished scoreless in Los Angeles, with the Philadelphia Union and Los Angeles Galaxy each earning a point at StubHub Center on Saturday night.

The Union failed to end their sixteen-match winless streak, but picked up their fourth draw of the season. The first clean sheet since the opening match against Vancouver came courtesy of some strong saves by Andre Blake and a defensive rigidity after Derrick Jones entered the match as a substitute.

Jim Curtin made one change from the team that drew against Montreal Impact last weekend. With an illness keeping Ilsinho outside the 18, Fafa Picault made his first MLS start at left wing.

The hosts put the pressure on from the first minute. A botched clearance from Alejandro Bedoya fell to Roman Alessandrini, unmarked in the box, but the winger couldn’t get enough on it to trouble Andre Blake.

The Union’s best chance of the half came from Roland Alberg. Bedoya broke away down the right wing and fired a looping ball into the box. Alberg took it on the volley, trying to bounce it off the turf and over Brian Rowe, but the Galaxy keeper made a good reflex save to push the ball over the net.

Only a fortunate bounce saved the Union from trailing in the 21st minute. Joao Pedro loaded up from outside the 18-yard box and ripped a low shot that beat Blake. It seemed a certain goal, but the ball bounced off the inside of both goalposts without crossing the line.

Blake kept the match level later in the half with a strong save on Emmanuel Boateng. Jermaine Jones found Gio Dos Santos from deep in the midfield, who slipped Boateng through the Union defense. But Blake made himself big and smothered the dangerous, close-range effort.

To end the half, the Union wasted a dangerous free-kick opportunity after Jelle Van Dame picked up a yellow card. Haris Medunjanin’s cross into the box couldn’t find any Union heads, and the teams went into the halftime break level.

The Galaxy began to ratchet up the pressure in the second half, yet their final ball proved lacking. Jermaine Jones managed to find space for a free header in the box off a 55th minute corner kick, but his header improbably sailed well over the net.

Curtin inserted Derrick Jones for the ineffective Roland Alberg in the 65th minute, seeking to fortify against the Galaxy’s assaults. Moments after Jones’s entrance, Medunjanin forced a good save from Rowe off a driving run and shot through the midfield.

Bringing Jones into the midfield seemed to stabilize things for the teetering Union. Former Union man Jack McInerney made his Galaxy debut in the 77th minute, replacing Boateng, while Jay Simpson replaced Picault.

Los Angeles had one final chance to break the deadlock, but Biallo was offsides before Jack Elliot came across to make the stop. Loud boos rang around the crowd of 25,008 at the final whistle, with both teams continuing their season-long slumps.

The Union return to Talen Energy Stadium to face the rival New York Red Bulls next Saturday, May 6. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.

Three Points
  • Bend, don’t break. On the road and facing a desperate opponent, the Union spent the entire night under pressure and allowed their opponents the bulk of the chances. But none got past Andre Blake — a clean sheet the beleaguered team certainly needed.
  • Not much offense. Most of the Union’s offense came not through their attackers but through driving runs by Haris Medunjanin. That’s fine on the road, but the performance of the front four left something to be desired.
  • Sixteen winless. A West Coast draw isn’t a bad result in the abstract. But it doesn’t get the winless monkey off the squad’s backs.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Fafa Picault (Jay Simpson 78′), Roland Alberg (Derrick Jones 65′), Chris Pontius (Fabian Herbers 90+2′), C.J. Sapong.
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Oguchi Onyewu, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle.

Los Angeles Galaxy

Brian Rowe, Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, Daniel Steres, Bradley Diallo, Joao Pedro (Jose Villareal 89′), Baggio Husidic, Emmanuel Boateng (Jack McInerney 78′), Jermaine Jones, Romain Alessandrini, Giovani Dos Santos.
Unused subs:
 Jon Kempin, Dave Romney, Nathan Smith, Rafael Garcia, Jack McBean.

Disciplinary summary

LA: Jelle Van Damme — 44′ (unsporting behavior)
LA: Bradley Diallo — 90+3′ (unsporting behavior)

Los Angeles Galaxy Philadelphia Union
 13 Shots 8
 3 Shots on Target 6
 2 Shots off Target 0
 2 Blocked Shots 0
 5 Corner Kicks 4
 19 Crosses 17
 1 Offsides 1
 15 Fouls 11
 2 Yellow Cards 0
 0 Red Cards 0
 568 Total Passes 328
 83% Passing Accuracy 75%
 63% Possession 37%
 39 Duels Won 44
47% Duels Won % 53%
 13 Tackles Won 13
 2 Saves 3
 11 Clearances 24


  1. Not all bad. Haris should shoot more.

  2. Based on my research and hoping someone could comment if I am wrong, I believe we are on statistical pace to be the second worst team in MLS history based on PPG.

    • Adam Schorr says:

      Third worst I think, but it’s a bit early to be looking at that. A loss in our next game and we’re back to the worst ever. A win and we’re back to just regular “one of the worst teams” territory. Two wins and we’re back to 1 PPG.

    • We’re not good enough to be worst.

  3. Thank god there was no on on LA who could finish.

  4. Can anyone explain the Herbers substitution with one minute left?

  5. el pachyderm says:

    I’d rather lose every game then watch a professional level team time and time again:
    1. Punt the opening kickoff in a game you KNOW you are going to cede enormous amounts of possession in.
    2. Have an offensive identity which stops attacking space outside the box in order to put foot on the ball and hoof a cross into two defenders to cede possession.
    3. Have an offensive identity which tries to build play for five whole passes, only to give up totally on it, pass the ball back to the goalie who lumps the ball up field to cede possession.
    4. Have your #6 and #8 at multiple points in the game deeper than your #4 AND #5 with a your CAM a whole 60 yards up field creating a GAP between the lines so large you actually could not see ANY union players in the attacking half.
    5. Have the only legitimate threats on goal come from a Defensive Midfielder on the ball 30 away.
    You all can be happy will the sacred point. You can argue all you want about who’s to blame why this is God Awful Unwatchable and easily by such a wide margin right now the worst PLAYING team in MLS but I ain’t buying it.
    I love the Vision with the Academy. I am all about building youth. I can’t stand behind this first team methodology of no methodology without ruthless truth.

    • Agree with almost everything you say. This team is unwatchable. I have said it since day 1. Ernie’s biggest mistake was not replacing Barnetta.

      There is no rythm. Or plan of attack on offense other then hit long balls over the top or crosses from Fabs.

      They desperately need a q.uality CAM.The lone striker offense sucks.

      Curtin is incompetent but to be fair the quality of players is not there and he has proposed playing out of their natural position.

      I think the players played with good effort overall but they would have been easily beaten but by someone just a little better offensively. LA is a shell of a teammates to what they were a couple of years ago.

      Curtin will be fired about June 5th_8th.

      Ernie’s must get a quality CAM by this July or face a massive loss of season tickets and casual attendence next year. Ideally like Blake but he is the only asset that could get you That CAM and the cash you need for another field player a good CB.

      Alberg Ilsinio must not be resigned.
      If Edu can’t play by July he has got to go.
      Bdo6a s is a decent player but he is the answer without having quality CAM.

      I think that about 3 million dollars in the above paragraph that Ernie must trade and or release.

      Sugarmrman needs to get a sponsor and new partners with cash or this team is destined for another losing season or mediocrity at best

      Very Sad for Union fans.

    • I agree it’s disappointing, and Blakes distribution made me sad, but you see this all over the world when a team is out matched- talking about #3.

    • I couldn’t agree more. The second we lumped that opening kick I, I knew we were in for a long game. Them worst part is that I think all of your complaints are actually planned by the coach. This is what we aspired to in that game.
      Why do you think Haris had the only shots, bc he was literally the only person who took space. CJ, Alberg and Pontius may as well have just not played.

  6. sorry I could not edit my comments but You get the point.

  7. 700 chopper says:

    Blake was really good tonite. Our manager is still clueless. We were lucky to get that point and that’s all it was pure luck. Finally we suck and the game was painful to watch.
    Union till I die and that might be soon lol

  8. Today is the 250th day without a win in MLS competition for the Union.
    250 days is a long freaking time.

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    There were times when I wasn’t sure if I was watching an MLS game or an episode of The 3 Stooges. Some of the play was so bad it was laughable (such as the Bedoya clearance that went backwards to Alessandrini (and the reason Alessandrini was unmarked was that he would have been a yard offsides if it was his teammate who played it to him).
    While the officiating was good overall, the AR got the offsides against the Union wrong. On the initial pass, there were two Union players forward (I don’t remember which two) with one onsides and the other off. The pass went to the player who was onsides and then they were both onsides once he played it. The keeper made the initial save but the play was blown dead before we got to see what happened with the rebound.
    Also, like the game against Toronto, the final whistle came as the Union were on the attack.
    Once Simpson came in it seemed like CJ became the Union’s best defender.

  10. On the bright side, Curtin was the better coach in the game. How does Onalfo not use all three subs, when he’s home and tied with the worst team in the league?

  11. You know, I’m still optimistic they can pull out of bottom and be top 4 contender in conference.
    They are only 3 games out of 3rd place with 26 games to play.
    Something happens with a player added, or someone steps up to motivate locker room, or even a coaching change(Sorry Jim) can make the difference.
    Too early.

    • Just wondering what that kool-aide tastes like. I guess someone has to stay positive. Good on ya Union Goal.

      • Kool-aide has way too much sugar for me.
        And unfortunately no alcohol in my system when I posted that.
        No, seriously, 26 games is a long time and anything can happen.
        I don’t think Stewart and Curtin and the players act in a vacuum–they are clearly aware of fan displeasure, losing respect of their peers, and possibly becoming laughingstock of soccer.
        I am optimistic that the pressure forces a change needed to turn around the season. However, time is running out.
        If they don’t have 13-14 points by June 1st, then yes, would need one helluva winning streak to turn season around.
        DC United, Colorado, and RSL are winnable games. Red Bulls–well never know what to expect when they host red bulls but would be happy with another draw.

      • UnionGoal says:

        Kool-aide anyone?

    • You so crazy

    • The Truth says:

      This optimism is intoxicating.

  12. Wow what a shit show that was. By both sides. Granted LA definitely looked more skillful at their shit, but they were still stinky. It honestly reminded me of a 3rd grade intramural soccer match. The ball would get close to the goal and everybody would rush in together, trying to kick the ball the hardest. Mostly whiffing and kicking shins instead. Ah the progress.
    I do admit the end result was better than I expected. They still suck so much.

  13. River Schuylkill says:

    I just wish they would change formation, philosophy, anything. They’re so resistant to changing anything on-field and it’s the same disjointed mess every week. When we can’t compete talent-wise, let’s try something different tactically to shake things up. Sure playing CJ and Simpson up top together, or trying something drastic like a 3-5-2 may not work, but what is there to lose? At least failure will be more interesting.

    • I agree. I’d take a 5-0 thrashing if it meant a change in formation/philosophy. Something to try and jumpstart the season – that is almost lost… before Mothers Day 🙁

  14. I won’t add on too much to how awful the game was. One thing I noticed was that with Gaddis and Picault back on our free kicks, there were no counter attacks. Their speed just wiped them all out. I’d love to see Picault get another start. However, Gaddis is not really doing much more than Rosenberry. I’d rather see Keegan struggle and learn and have Gaddis play for Fabinho. Gaddis is not getting forward on either side, and it stops Fabinho’s wasteful crossing.
    We need a game with some change, just to break the current run of form. Give us a 4-4-2.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Glad to know it’s easy to install a new formation with just a week of practice.

      • I didn’t say it was easy. If they haven’t even looked at or practiced another formation even at all, then thats a huge mistake. So you’re saying our choices our just continue status quo or just swap players in positions? Boy that’s a great outlook for the season.

  15. Jimmys pregame plan to roofie Zardes worked a charm.

  16. When will this team win a match it deserves to win?

  17. Things I think I learned from last night:
    Picault is not very good.
    Pontius can win an aerial dual but that’s it
    CJ is busting his ass out there and deserves our respect
    Blake is still a world class shot stopper
    Simpson has proved completely worthless
    LA is not your father’s LA… wow they aren’t very good at all
    The Union may not reach double digits in points till July
    Thank god for Yards Pale Ale… kept me going last night as I watched, whatever the hell that was 🙂

    • Simpson looks good in spurts, and he is good with his feet and can link up play fine.

      I blame Curtin for being an idiot again, and failing to realize maybe CJ looked so good BECAUSE he was a super sub.

      Simpson needs to go back to starting.

    • Agree with all points, also I love that LA sucks at the moment and i’d almost be surprised if the union reach double digit wins by July it seems like they’ll never win again. I too enjoyed a few philly pale ales and threw in a few double nickle Vienna lagers to try and change our luck, didn’t work

  18. My takeaways:

    1. I am not buoyed by the clean sheet. The Union looked pathetic, particularly on offense.

    2. That said, Jack Elliot looked not bad, and, incredibly, Fabinho was Man Of The Match.

    3. Watching this match honestly made me realize that firing Jim Curtin would likely accomplish little. He simply doesn’t have the pieces. When you’re reduced to playing Roland Alberg in the 10 spot because your SD hasn’t given you anyone better, it ain’t your fault. Alberg should not be on the squad at all, never mind starting, never mind making $345K.

    4. Jim needs to change formations NOW. He needs to tell Earnie: “If you want me to play this way, you get me a damn CAM. Until then, I’m doing what I need to do with what I got.” Once the Barnetta replacement arrives — and that HAS to be in the works, right? — they can go back to the 4-2-3-1. For now, with no #10, they can’t play this way.

    5. I thought Derrick Jones looked quite sharp in his 28 minutes. We might need to get him back starting. Put him next to Haris as the destroyer, and move Bedoya out to the wing (where we aren’t getting any production anyway). Put Ilisnho at the 10 as our best stopgap option. (Unless they change formations. Which they really, really need to do.)

    • I’d rather play Najem at the CAM. At least there’s room for growth there.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Please leave him at Bethlehem. Let him grow there until he begins to dominate offensively, and be more than competent defensively.
        His defensive positional sense is quite good. He needs more physical strength to become more effective as a ball winner in a 1 v 1 confrontation.
        Rosenberry Yaro, Marquez Fabinho; Elliott, Bedoya, Sapong?; Herbers/Ilsinho, Simpson, Pontius/Picault when the time comes.

    • Re: #4 – Curtin is a grown man. If its REALLY ES who is demanding this formation (and who the hell knows for sure), then if it took a 16 game winless streak for Curtin to put his foot down, that’s his problem.

      I don’t get Curtin any credit for following the company line during this streak (again, if it really is). It just means he is loyal to a fault and couldn’t turn the Titanic if he had a 5 mile head start.

  19. Imagine if NYRB fans outnumber Union supporters Saturday….

  20. I think at this point it’s way past personnel issues or ownership issues or ES issues. It squarely on the coach.

    Newsflash: Most teams would love a better CAM.

    Most teams have overpaid players they wish to get rid off.

    Most teams would love to have a strike you can count on for 15+ goals.

    Most teams would love to have dangerous wingers who can bag assists game after game.


    This is on Curtin for letting it get that bad and being unable to do anything besides look like the worst coach in the league.

    Curtin out.

  21. In the meantime, Le Toux has scored more goals than the entire union wing corps.

    Sabastien La Toux: 5 GP, 238 minutes, 2 goals, no assists

    Fabian Herbers: 8 GP, 316 minutes, 0 goals, 1 assist
    Ilsinho, 5 GP, 326 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists
    Chris Pontius, 8 GP, 623 minutes, 0 goals, 2 assists
    Rafa Picault, 5 GP, 127 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists.
    TOTAL Union wing 1392 minutes, 0 goals

    • el Pachyderm says:

      one thousand three hundred ninety two.

    • Was thinking the same thing. This team has lots of problems but the wings may be the worst. We have a ton of money invested there too and other than Pontius winning aerial duels nothing to show for it.

    • But they’re playing le Toux as striker right?

      • True. he’s playing #9 slot in a 4-3-3. Was watching Atlanta – DC yesterday, and he was playing from the right side a lot. Acosta takes up a lot of space from both sides. What I wouldn’t do for that guy on our squad.

        DC did a lot of what the Union did in Curtin’s first half a season. They had 5 to 6 guys across the back just absorbing Atlanta and would snap off the counter. Atlanta could not crack them (Hamid helps)and DC punished them for playing so high.

  22. A few points. Derrick jones needs to start. He’s the only player at this point forcing this team to move. He holds down the midfield as well. Looks good as the Dmid, but at this point try him anywhere idc as long as he’s starting. Try bedoya outwide. Try ilson jr. as the # 10. He won’t have to track back as much to defend, he will most likely be in a great position to strike on goal, and he can beat players and be that driving force toward the opponents end. I’m not saying I’m certain it would work but I think it could be a positive change.

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