Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 New York Red Bulls

C.J. Sapong scored a hat trick inside 11 minutes in the second half, and Philadelphia Union finally won their first game of the season with a 3-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls.

The Union’s leading scorer netted in the 74th, 81st, and 85th minutes to give Philadelphia a much needed three points and move into a tie with Erick Torres atop the MLS scoring charts.

Jim Curtin was forced to make one change from the team that drew in Los Angeles last weekend. With Richie Marquez ill, Oguchi Onyewu came in to partner Jack Elliott at center back. Ray Gaddis and Fafa Picault kept their places in the starting 11.

The first half was an uneven one with few chances at either end.

Alejandro Bedoya made a nice weaving run through midfield in the 19th minute, but his left-footed shot was tame and easily saved by Luis Robles in the end.

Andre Blake was called into action in the 20th minute and did well to get down low and push away Kemar Lawrence’s effort from close range.

The second half began much the same as the first with most of the game being played in the midfield. Ray Gaddis collided heavily with Kemar Lawrence and had to be substituted in the 62nd minute. Roland Alberg was also forced out with an injury, with Derrick Jones taking his place.

Philadelphia earned a great chance in the 70th minute. Sapong and Chris Pontius traded passes after Sapong brought down a long ball. Pontius floated a cross to the penalty spot, and Sapong’s header was pushed away brilliantly by a diving Luis Robles.

Sapong would not be denied in the 74th minute though. After stealing a poorly cleared ball from the New York defense, the striker drove forward and took a shot from just inside the 18 yard box that deflected off the sliding Damien Perrinelle and spun over the outstretched arms of Robles into the net.

Sapong netted his second in the 81st minute. Substitute Fabian Herbers lofted a ball to the far post for Chris Pontius who headed the ball back across goal for Sapong to flick into the empty net from close range.

The striker completed his hat trick in the 85th minute. Perrinelle was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the Red Bulls area and Silviu Petrescu was quick to point to the spot for a Union penalty. Sapong stepped up and sent Robles the wrong way before slotting into the lower right corner.

Philadelphia is next in action when they travel to the nation’s capital to take on D.C. United next Saturday (7 p.m.).

Three points
  • Three points indeed: Philly needed them badly. Jim Curtin may have needed them even more. The fans have certainly been clamoring for them.
  • C.J. Sapong: The Union striker took a mistake from New York’s young defender and turned it into a desperately needed goal. It sounds like what usually happens to Philly, but — finally — they were the beneficiaries.
  • Blake’s right hand: What a stunning save. Saved the ball and the confidence of an entire club and fanbase.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis (Keegan Rosenberry 62′), Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Fabinho, Fafa Picault (Fabian Herbers 77′), Roland Alberg (Derrick Jones 62′), Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Chris Pontius, C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Giliano Wijnaldum, Jay Simpson, Ilsinho

New York Red Bulls

Luis Robles, Damien Perrinelle, Michael Amir Murillo, Aaron Long, Kemar Lawrence, Alex Muyl (Fredrik Gulbrandsen 72′), Felipe (Derrick Etienne 81′), Tyler Adams, Sacha Kljestan, Daniel Royer (Mike Grella 76′), Bradley Wright-Phillips
Unused subs:
Sean Davis, Hassan Ndam, Sal Zizzo, Ryan Meara, Derrick Etienne

Scoring summary

PHI: C.J. Sapong— 74′
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 81′ (Pontius, Herbers)
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 85′ (PK)

Disciplinary summary

NY: Aaron Long – 9′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Fafa Picault — 25′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Haris Medunjanin — 26′ (dissent)
PHI: Jack Elliott— 66′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Andre Blake — 87′ (time wasting)

Philadelphia Union New York Red Bulls
 11 Shots 14
 6 Shots on Target 4
 3 Shots off Target 5
 2 Blocked Shots 5
 4 Corner Kicks 4
 20 Crosses 23
 4 Offsides 1
 12 Fouls 17
 4 Yellow Cards 1
 0 Red Cards 0
 364 Total Passes 367
 71% Passing Accuracy 71%
 49.8% Possession 50.2%
 52 Duels Won 59
 46.8% Duels Won % 53.2%
 11 Tackles Won 12
 4 Saves 3
 22 Clearances 26


  1. Ugly yet beautiful: lets keep it up: Two or three wins in a row, back in playoff contention.


  3. Look out Barcelona here come the Union!!!!!

  4. Ha! They won! WTF?! Blake was a stud. CJ eanred every goal. They werent great by any stretch but they won. Do it again next week and we’ll talk 🙂

  5. pragmatist says:

    They can climb the standings, but there is still much work to be done..
    I like Ray, but hopefully this is the end of his time on the right for a while. The offense opened up when KR came in. Coincidence? Maybe, but he needs to play to 2106 levels.
    Pontius disappears for large stretches, and then finds a way to play the perfect ball when needed. CJ could have had another if not for Robles’ ridiculous save off a Pontius pass.
    No one will confuse us with TFC, Dallas, or Orlando, but this restores a little faith that they can find their way.
    Do it again and we’ll believe this was more than an anomaly.

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    All you got to do is win,
    That’s all you got to do
    It ain’t over, no-no

    Wuhoo all you’ve got-
    It ain’t over
    It ain’t over.
    Bowie. Win.
    Some shit. First game I’ve missed in years due to work committiment keeping my eye from the screen.
    Part of me wants to offer gratidtude. Part of me just senses relief. I imagine this is the way of it down Talen Field…. bled every one of those games but bled it together.
    A dark time.
    Let there be some light now for awhile.

  7. The “streak” is finally dead…and with emphasis. 🙂

  8. Andy Muenz says:

    70+ minutes of lackluster performance capped with 15 minutes of greatness. Even with the hat trick, Blake was still man of the match for me. The Union spent the first 25 minutes of the second half standing around watching the Cows run roughshod over them.
    Just because I like to complain, I thought it was ridiculous that Blake got the yellow card considering he received no warning whereas Robles received multiple warnings without a card when the game was still tied. It would be nice if there was some consistency in how the game is called but I guess that’s too much to hope for.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      I thought it was better than lackluster in the first half. Here was an edge in the air, there was possession, the ball was primarily in the middle third or the offensive third. BLake had two game savers. But the high press was effective.
      The second half the edge was gone, unsurprisingly. The double injury sub led to an expected period of disorganization.
      Luck played a part, NY shots missed the far post by inches twice in the second half.
      But that they won, against NY Red Bulls no less, and kept a clean sheet could not be better. Who else would you rather beat?
      They made a supreme effort. They will not rise to that level next week, here simply will not be the emotion.
      I do not,like Jesse Marsch. He did see this coming, however. But he was unable to do much out it.
      Alka Seltzer. Plop, plop. fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        You’re right that they looked better in the first half but still never really threatened. All of their shots were from outside the box.
        I actually thought the weakest part of the second half was before the double injury. About 10 minutes into the second half my neighbor commented about how bad they were looking and I made the sarcastic response that it was only recently that they were told that the game lasts longer than 45 minutes and hadn’t gotten into shape for that yet. Fortunately, I was proved wrong in the end.

  9. Golden boot CJ.

  10. Fun to watch, and what a great feeling when the second goal came late. Flipped the script completely from Montreal. I thought Fabinho had his best game of the season. CJ of course was irrepressible and I was happy w Fafa and the speed that he brought to the match. I would love to have seen more from Alberg but thought that Bedoya and Medunjanin were beginning to work together better. Side to side distribution and some Route 1 attack mixed in; more creativity on offense than I have seen this year. Keep it up, boys!

    • Agreed on all points. Switched the field all game long. Was a noticeable difference. And oh, HEY, you got a win! See how that works… hehe

      • On the drive home, I was thinking more about the game, and realized that the defensive changes were both significant, with three of the four usual suspects out, but they actually played like a unit as well. Less odd man rushes this week than we have been watching, and even Elliott’s professional foul was done reasonably, and not from too far behind. I hope that whatever they put in the water this week is available in volume, so that they can keep it up for the year. Wolfpack, you nailed it. Creativity and control, leading to a come from even win. Good to see.

  11. Mark Butters says:

    If you don’t take the 3-0 lead until the second half, there isn’t enough time to give it up! Now that we know the formula…!!!

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Made me laugh!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I was thinking the same thing when it happened…actually even when they scored the first goal I was hoping there wasn’t time for NYRB to get it together and come back…and thanks to Andre and a missed shot or two, I was right.

    • There’s some strange truth to that, even though you meant it as an ironic joke…

    • I was in 127 with my dad and the lady next us shushed us like 3 times to not say they were gonna win it. Even after they were up 3-0 with like 3 mins left. Ha. Zero confidence we all have.

  12. as an aside- if anyone wants to see jim curtin get angry you should watch his response to kevin kinkead’s question about cj during the press conference. i don’t think i’ve ever seen him get so mad

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Kinkhead gives Curtin a purple-nurple.
      Curtin responds in kind with a raspberry.

    • pragmatist says:

      Maybe Curtin should get mad more often.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        That works as a coaching technique in limited circumstances.
        1. It has to be totally authentic, taking you the deliverer as much by surprise as your players.
        2. It can happen once. After that it is old news.
        3. It works only if your players respect you and care what you think.
        Unless those pertain, it is an alienation.

    • First time I can recall Curtin emoting. Curtin was unfair there and a little bit small.

  13. We NEEDED this WIN! Jim Curtain’s coaching is not good. Would we have won this game if we had waited for Jim to make his normal subs in the 70ish minute???? The two injuries forced Jim to make early subs. Prior to the subs, the Red Bulls were beginning to dial-in our net and back line.
    Why can’t we defend on set pieces? That Red Bull’s cross got headed just wide of the net. WHO was marking that man? A lot of the mistakes we see should have been addressed by coaching staff early in the season and yet they persist. Win or lose I will continue to support the “U” they are MY team. But I want to see them play a whole game like they played the last ten minutes of tonights game. Good possession, controlled passes, and nice movement both on and off the ball. Show me that team game in and game out and we will have a lot more wins.

  14. Zizouisgod says:

    Good win (finally), but as we’ve seen many times in sport, it’s a fine line between winning and losing. If Red Bull finished their chances better, the result may have been different, but that’s for them to lament and we can enjoy our three points.

    Good to see Rosenberry and Herber both back making positive contributions.

  15. I don’t care how ugly it was, they won. I’m going to just enjoy it and be happy.

  16. 700 Chopper says:

    I am totally enjoying this win even thou if you take out the 15 minutes of good footy they played and Blakes great play the rest was total crap. I almost forgot Curtin is still terrible

  17. Great One says:

    There will be other times to analyze, but for today I’m grateful for the win. NY back line somehow looked more disorganized than ours.

  18. scottymac says:

    Good W. Climbing the standings, up to #21!!! And #20th is in sight!!!!

    Curtin looked foolish in the presser snapping at Kinkead. He’s had both the SD and the owner make public comments recently and give confidence votes. Don’t be surprised you’re criticized.

  19. philpill says:

    One team was organized offensively and passed reasonably well in final third. The other team won.

  20. Alicat215 says:

    A wins a win, I guess. Again though………Saturday night, 7:30 match against RBNY…….a Darby of sorts……and Talen was pretty cavernous last night. At least that’s the way it looked on the tube. That has to trouble ownership……..

  21. el Pachyderm says:

    First win in forever and 30something posts?
    No wonder we earn this reputation as Negadelphians

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Perhaps the emotional energy already spent during the streak has caused people to withdraw into their protective shell… one win will not bring them out.
      Or, perhaps more people have moved on than we realize?
      Either way, it may take a season or two of consistent good football and results to bring them back.
      Personally, I still haven’t watched the match. Other commitments.
      But to your point (thank you for stirring the pot in the positive direction), congrats to the club on getting the 3 points at home.
      Make it the start of the upward trajectory.

    • pragmatist says:

      It’s always easier to complain than compliment. Doesn’t matter the location or subject.

    • More than ever I’m in wait and see mode. I have no faith or trust that this win was one of many. They need to throw a few together before I can believe in their direction. Have we as fans not earned ONE week of enjoyment? Or we could talk about the “Fresh Prince of Chest Air”?

  22. Are we going to talk at all about Medunjanin’s liability in any defensive capacity whatsoever? Or nah? Yes, he has a mean left foot and places the ball wherever he chooses on the pitch. But, holy cow, how many times did he have the ball simply taken away from him?

    Sit him out in DC. Let Bedoya and Jones pair up.

    Speaking of Jones – he showed some great confidence and movement. Fingers crossed it develops into consistent performance.

    Also, we need a cage for Jesse next time he’s in Philly. The loud mouth strays too far from his boundaries and officials should’ve ejected him again. Now, THAT would’ve made the victory even sweeter!

  23. Great win !! Possession was a lot better, and it seemed they had a little more pep in their step. I still think they could produce more movement. Overall, I’m happy with how they played. Derrick Jones , Derrick Jones, Derrick Jones! Although he didn’t have the biggest impact, he is something special and I think he needs to start on this team. The plays he breaks up in the midfield and the progression of attack that he creates for this team is so impressive and vital.

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