Union match reports

Match report: NYCFC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union let three points slip through their fingers in the Bronx on Saturday afternoon, as late goals by Maxime Chanot and Alexander Collins fired NYCFC to a 2-1 victory. Fafa Picault’s sweet goal in the 69th minute failed to stand up in a match marked by a slippery pitch and a number of injuries.

With Alejandro Bedoya away on international duty, Jim Curtin made one change to the lineup that fell Real Salt Lake last weekend. Warren Creavalle received his first start of the year, paired with newly minted captain Haris Medunjanin in the midfield. Josh Yaro, sidelined since February with a shoulder injury, appeared in the 18 for the first time this season.

Both teams began the match feeling each other out, adjusting to the narrow, uneven pitch at Yankee Stadium. Maxi Moralez got behind Jack Elliott in the 12th minute, but his shot from a dangerous position floated harmlessly over the bar. Ilsinho notched the first shot on goal for either side in the 24th minute, ripping a blast across his body from 25 yards and forcing Sean Johnson into a neat save.

NYCFC should have taken the lead eight minutes later. Off the corner, the ball fell to Alexander Ring, who blasted one off the goalpost. David Villa followed up with a close-range shot that Andre Blake batted away, and Fabinho scrambled in to clear the rebound.

Oguchi Onyewu, who missed a few minutes following a nasty collision in the box in the 25th minute, eventually could not continue and was replaced by Richie Marquez.

Blake produced a quality save on Villa in first-half stoppage time. Jack Harrison roasted Fabinho on the end line and found Villa in the box, but the Spaniard’s low drive was batted aside by the Union’s All-Star keeper. The sides went into halftime level.

The Union started the second half on the front foot. On a 56th minute counter-attack, Ilsinho sent Chris Pontius into space. The burly winger bulldozed his way through ex-Union man Ethan White and hit a shot that forced Sean Johnson into a good save.

Villa, who scored a spectacular goal from distance the last twime these teams met, nearly added another one when Moralez found him at the top of the Union’s box. Villa’s blast beat Blake but could only rattle the crossbar.

The Union broke through in the 69th minute through Fafa Picault’s third goal of the campaign. The winger stripped the ball on the wing, then ran into space where he received a pass from Sapong. Cutting inside a defender at the top of the box, Picault finished cooly past Sean Johnson low and away.

Immediately following the goal, Creavalle could not continue, and Yaro made his season debut in central defense, with Elliott switching into the midfield.

New York City nearly leveled the match moment’s later when Villa snuck into the Union’s box. But Blake got down low to make two great saves — the first on Villa from ten yards, the second on Ring’s follow-up drive from the top of the box.

Maxime Chanot evened the match for NYCFC off an 80th minute corner kick. Running into the box, Chanot got in front of Marquez and placed a glancing header into Blake’s goal, sending the Yankee Stadium crowd into raptures.

Philadelphia nearly evened it up right away at the other end of the pitch, when Roland Alberg’s free kick beat everyone but caromed off the goalpost. The Dutchman couldn’t believe his luck as the ball trickled away from danger.

Moments later, the ascendant hosts snatched the lead. Off a corner kick, the Union failed to clear, and a dangerous shot saved by Blake fell to Alexander Callens. He made no mistake with a gaping, empty net ahead of him, finishing right in front of the Third Rail.

After two straight defeats, the Union have a week off before opening U.S. Open Cup play against Harrisburg City Islanders on June 14 at 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia’s next MLS match is at home on June 18 against the New York Red Bulls, in a match that will be nationally televised on ESPN. Kickoff for that match is at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Three points

  • Fafa’s quality. It was a sweet finish for the Union winger, who’s cemented a place in the starting lineup with another dangerous performance.
  • Late-game follies. Without Alejandro Bedoya, the Union could not control the last moments of the match, leading to two goals from NYCFC.
  • Reshuffled defense. Between an injury to Oguchi Onyewu and Warren Creavalle being forced out of the match, the Union had three players in new defensive positions at the end of the game. It showed in the two late goals.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Ray Gaddis, Oguchi Onyewu (Richie Marquez 39′), Jack Elliott, Fabinho, Warren Creavalle (Josh Yaro 71′), Haris Medunjanin, Chris Pontius, Ilsinho (Roland Alberg 79′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Keegan Rosenberry, Marcus Epps, Jay Simpson


Sean Johnson, Ethan White (Sean Okoli 73′), Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat, Maxi Moralez, Tommy McNamara (Jonathan Lewis 79′), Alexander Ring, Jack Harrison, David Villa, Miguel Camargo (Ronald Matarrita 60′)
Unused subs:
 Eirik Johansen, RJ Allen, Frederic Brilliant, Mikey Lopez

Scoring summary

PHI: Fafa Picault (C.J. Sapong) — 69′
NYC: Maxime Chanot (Maxi Moralez) — 80′
NYC: Alexander Callens — 85′

Disciplinary summary

NYC: Miguel Camargo — 30′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 64′ (unsporting behavior)
NYC: Maxi Moralez — 70′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Roland Alberg — 83′ (dissent)

New York City FC Philadelphia Union
 15 Shots 8
 9 Shots on Target 5
4 Shots off Target 2
 2 Blocked Shots 1
 6 Corner Kicks 9
 12 Crosses 17
 1 Offsides 3
 11 Fouls 12
 2 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 0
 447 Total Passes 253
 79% Passing Accuracy 68%
 63.1% Possession 36.9%
 61 Duels Won 43
 58.7% Duels Won % 41.3%
 13 Tackles Won 12
 4 Saves 7
 24 Clearances 33


  1. Didn’t Curtin predict 4 points from the last 2 games?

  2. Didn’t see game. Was it a coincidence that NY scored two almost immediately after Alberg came in> ?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Both were off of corner kicks. Neither had anything to do with Alberg. He almost came up a hero on a free kick off the post but the Union didn’t bother to hustle and try to get the rebound.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Union got what they deserved. Defense was horrible all day, especially on the left. Only reason it was close was Blake.
    Field is a joke. MLS should make them play somewhere else that actually meets FIFA regulations rather than a field meant for 4th graders.

    • Tim Jones says:

      I looked up the dimensions. Peter Vermes states it is in fact 106 long and 68 wide. That is the size of the varsity pitch at Haverford School, if memory serves.
      That is 14 yards shorter than normal.
      To a short pass game’s rhythm, that is one pass fewer to get into the box.
      It is said of adult male Spartan citizens during Sparta’s undefeated run between a defeat to Argos sometime very early in the 5th century (400s) BCE, that they preferred war to peace because war was easier than training for it.
      Perhaps to train for games at Yankee Stadium, visiting teams should practice on pitches 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. Then t Yankee stadium pitch would feel roomier.

      • scottymac says:

        That comes up on those blind clearances where they’re used to clearing a certain distance and at YS it’s out of touch. The real crime is the sod job on the dirt infield. Guys from both teams would hit that circular cutout and go down. It hurts NYC as much as us, couple times Villa or McNamara looked to get behind and slipped when making their cuts.

  4. This team with allowing set piece goals…. how does a former centerback not have a good system to prevent this kind of crap? A player on the post would have easily stopped the first goal if nothing else.

  5. pragmatist says:

    I’m curious how much Onyewu would have helped on those two goals. They didn’t play well leading up to them at all, just curious if he could have organized anything.

    • Tim Jones says:

      Does anyone know, or can anyone find, stats on rate of goals allowed on CKs when Marquez v Onyewu are on the field? Yaro as well, if you can find it?
      Anecdotally, they are better on restarts with Onyewu IMO, but I’d love to know if my impression is backed by data.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        That’s the impression that I get, too. Richie and Yaro are not good on set pieces, and part of the responsibility for that is on Curtin, but most of it is on the players who keep leaving their marks.

  6. philpill says:

    Lose late on set pieces – again. Another Blake gem wasted.

  7. Fabi got worked all game long, save maybe the first 15 mins. That was a clear issue. Blake was at his best. That guy is a total shot-stopping beast.
    Ilsinho is obviously hurt and I’m guessing will miss time. This team is so desperate for a #10. Please find one somewhere.
    In my mind, this was another winnable game and the Union blew it. The third game in seven days for NY and the Union couldn’t take advantage. Good teams do that. The Union are obviously, middle of the pack at best.
    Last thing I’ll say is: I agree with anyone who mentioned and will mention that field. It is an absolute joke. And it ruins the game.

  8. Ryan Dietz says:

    Another note on the terrible pitch. There were a ton of occasions where players fell down while trying to cut, stop, or just running straight. This is a different issue from the size of the pitch. I’m curious if most other matches there have the same issue.

    Bedoya was certainly missed, but Creavalle played well before being subbed.

    I’d like to see Alberg get transferred anywhere. Unload his salary and find someone who can actually play the 10. Ilsinho is serviceable but is lacking with his final pass every single match.

    Any correlation between Marquez and the set piece goals? I have zero evidence, but it just feels like he has a hand in most of them.

    I love the play between Sapong, Fafa, and Pontius. All three work their asses off.

    I’d like to give Winajldum a go at LB. Fabinho torched endlessly today.

  9. el Pachyderm says:

    Apparently the only thing that sucked more than this Union game was the Champion’s League Final…Just one more blow-out in a long string of shitty post season professional sport experiences, less you are a hockey fan, that is…..Anyway….. So Union…grateful for a dance recital instead of watching the game today as I’m sure I’d be apoplectic.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      …on second thought, on a field this small, how does one team only have 36% possession. Does this seem as difficult as it sounds?

  10. The pitch is no excuse for Union’s performance. New coach please. And if that doesn’t work new sporting director.

    • And if that doesn’t work? Not defending Curtin but at what point do we start recognizing that the players win or lose games. We have mid to bottom league talent. Our results show that. We beat below average teams and lose to good ones. People call for more player rotation but really it won’t change the results. This team needs difference makers. Until then it won’t matter who is coaching…

  11. If no one wants to mark a man on a corner kick, getting a new coach to tell them to do it in another way or with an accent probably isn’t going to fix the problem.

  12. scottymac says:

    I agree with those who say sit on Curtin. Don’t fire him because change is scary.
    1.22 PPG is all we can handle. Let’s never try anything different because this going pretty good! We’ve scored 2 (two!) postseason goals! We’ve got it pretty good and you naysayers who want “better” can GTFO!

    • Whether we fire Curtin or not is not the point. Go ahead fire him. The level of talent on the field will go unchanged. We can talk ourselves into the upside of the current roster, but there is very little evidence that they can be anything more than mid table. We need better talent. I think that’s the point that’s trying be made.

    • Coaching changes rarely make teams better, though they’re certainly the easiest thing to do on a team with issues.


      • scottymac says:

        Nowak had a 1.16 PPG.
        Hack and Jim are both at 1.22 PPG.
        Arguably the talent levels this year and last were deeper and better than ever. Results remain mired in mediocrity. So the club has increasingly provided better talent yet the coaching staff has not delivered better results.
        But god forfend we rock the boat and change coaches and risk our 9th out of 11 and 16th out of 22 standing in the table. This club needs change. At this point if they hung some Successories posters in the conference room I’d nod my head they were headed in the right direction.

      • Yeah, but is the change in talent on the Union greater than the change in talent in MLS overall?

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        I guess the way I see it is this: their best season was because of a few really substantial locker room leaders (Mondragon and Valdez, among others) who wouldn’t let anyone give up an inch on the pitch. It clearly had nothing to do with the coach or organization, one of whom was abusing his team and the other who was allowing them to be second-rate in their infrastructure. Thus, when the coach was replaced the team wasn’t better off because, instead of a new coach having an immediate impact, those two players were no longer positive influences on the squad and were their own variable in the equation, far more influential than the coach.

        I think Curtin’s a decent coach who represents the organization well, engages the community, and tries to put his team in the best position to win as he can. Replacing him might give you a temporary bump in winning percentage, but there’s no evidence that will happen or that it will last.

      • scottymac says:


        ” Replacing him might give you a temporary bump in winning percentage, but there’s no evidence that will happen or that it will last.”
        Nevertheless,the Union persisted. The only thing that has lasted is a lack of success. What, exactly, are we clinging to with Curtin? Fear of a worse coach? Some of the comments on this site (and all of them on Reddit) start to sound like a gamblers anonymous brochure. It’s just a little bad luck. Wins are right around the corner, I can feel it.

      • Chris Gibbons says:


        I don’t view it like that, but I read what you’re reading, too. I view it like this: most of the data says that changing the coach won’t make a difference, but it will cost money. For me, they should go get a DP #10, ship out some underperformers, and perhaps bring in a high quality CB, too. Those things are more likely to have an impact than a new coach with the same players.

  13. The Truth says:

    Couldn’t watch, oh well. NYC shouldn’t have such a pitch advantage – and that’s not just soreness talking. In ten years we’ll talk about it and laugh out loud.
    Unhappy to not getting any points from these two matches. Looking forward to the fresh restart after the break.
    One positional note: Why not play Yaro or Rosenberry at the 6? By game’s end I don’t think both CBs should be new. Defending set pieces is always going to come down to consistency. Amateur or not, Elliot could have done better to organize the boys based solely on the fact he’s been getting the most minutes in front of Blake. Very unfortunate to lose Gooch, anyone know the prognosis?

    • You want to blame Elliot for not orgainzing the D. A fourth round rookie. Not Marquez or even Blake himself?

      • The Truth says:

        I’m arguing he should have been left at CB and from that position he would have been able to better organize a backline where’s he’s played more than Yaro or Marquez (this season), with more intelligence than Gaddis, and more clarity than Fabi. Blake can only do so much and having two fresh CBs who aren’t on the same page isn’t going to be the most organized line.

  14. NYCFC Fan says:

    Agree on the pitch guys. It totally sucks and we all hate it. Not only is it small but it has been so slick the last couple games that the players can’t keep their footing. NYCFC fans are beyond frustrated by the situation.

    On another note, Andre Blake was hanging out after the game outside the stadium. He seemed to have a lot of family in NYC for the game. He was incredibly gracious, signed autographs for my kids, and took pictures with a bunch of people. Such a class guy and an incredible talent. You are lucky to have him.

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