Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 New England Revolution

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union won their second straight MLS match behind a penalty kick by C.J. Sapong and two sensational goals by Ilsinho and Roland Alberg, toppling New England Revolution 3-0 on a humid afternoon at Talen Energy Stadium.

Coming off a loss in penalty kicks to the New York Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup in midweek, Union head coach Jim Curtin reverted to the lineup that defeated D.C. United last weekend. The only change saw Derrick Jones return from suspension to replace Alejandro Bedoya, who is with the U.S. national team. The visiting Revolution, meanwhile, were missing three starters — Kelyn Rowe, Juan Agudelo, and Diego Fagundez — through national team duty or suspension.

Just four minutes in, Philadelphia snatched an early lead through C.J. Sapong. Surging down the left wing, Sapong crossed a ball into the box and off the arm of Benjamin Angoua. Though there was some debate whether Angoua was in the box or not at the time of contact, there was no debate about the finish. Sapong opted for pure power from the spot, and Cody Cropper could do nothing as the River End erupted in delight.

After an excellent tackle deep in his own box by Giliano Wijnaldum, the ball sprung to the right side for Fafa Picault on the wing, and his 90-yard lung-busting run was matched almost stride-for-stride by Andrew Farrell. Cropper made a brave save on the onrushing Picault to deny Philadelphia their second goal in the first nine minutes.

New England would have one of their best chances in the 12th minute when a poor pass by Haris Medunjanin led to a Revolution 2-on-1. Sprung into space, Kei Kamara had only Andre Blake to beat, but Philadelphia’s star keeper stoned Kamara’s low drive at close range.

Just before the necessary water break, Kamara, attempting an audacious bicycle kick, provided a scary moment when his smash made contact with a charging Oguchi Onyewu. The sound echoed around Talen Energy Stadium like a gunshot, and observers feared that Onyewu had been kicked full in the face. Replays, however, showed that most of the damage was done by the ball, and Onyewu was good to continue.

Philadelphia doubled their advantage early in the second half, this time courtesy of a class finish from Ilsinho. Picault controlled a long pass from Haris Medunjanin on the right wing, paused, then lofted a soft pass towards the Brazilian streaking into the box. Ilsinho sized up the ball, took it on the volley, and smashed it past a helpless Cropper into the far side of the goal.

The Union threatened to notch a third goal, but the Revs defenders did just enough to neutralize Picault and Ilsinho on multiple occasions. Jack Elliott suffered an injury in the 63rd minute, and Josh Yaro entered the match to replace the rookie.

With a comfortable lead, Philadelphia moved on the front foot, with Ilsinho’s lively passing and dribbling providing much of the impetus. A 40-yard run by the Union’s No. 10 earned a free kick just outside the box, which Medunjanin curled mere inches wide of the post. Moments later, Ilsinho and Sapong worked it to a wide-open Picault, whose strike blazed wide of the net. And just after that, Sapong ran along the end line and cut it back to Ilsinho, who fired a low shot just wide of the post with the net gaping before him.

Roland Alberg watched Ilsinho’s performance from the bench and decided to one-up his counterpart. Coming on in the 77th minute, Alberg took his first touch and fired an absolute howitzer from 30 yards out, bending around Cropper and into the upper 90. It was a sensational golazo, possibly the best of Alberg’s collection of long-range goals in his Philadelphia career.

The Union celebrated their three-goal lead by handing Ken Tribbett his first MLS minutes of the year, and they saw out the final 10 minutes with little fuss.

The Union, winners of two straight, are back in action after a short week this Thursday, when they travel to Children’s Mercy Park to face Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City. Kickoff is at 8:30 Eastern.

Three points

  • Penalty prowess. The Union were on the lucky side of a penalty call this week, and they took full advantage. Sapong made no mistake with the finish, and the goal set a short-handed opponent on the back heel from the first five minutes.
  • Center midfielders producing. The No. 10 has been a black hole for the Union this season, but today both Ilsinho and Alberg showed their quality. Ilsinho sprung runners multiple times with smooth passes, and his finish was sublime. Alberg’s rocket wasn’t half bad either.
  • Seeing out the game. The Union showed a killer instinct after a sloppy first half, with Ilsinho’s goal putting the team into a comfortable situation that they didn’t squander.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott (Josh Yaro 63′), Ray Gaddis, Giliano Wijnaldum, Fafa Picault, Chris Pontius, Haris Medunjanin (Ken Tribbett 87′), Derrick Jones, Ilsinho (Roland Alberg 77′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Keegan Rosenberry, Marcus Epps, Jay Simpson

New England Revolution

Cody Cropper, Andrew Farrell, Joshua Smith, Benjamin Angoua, Donald Smith (Brian Wright 52′), Scott Caldwell (Chris Tierney 78′), Gershon Koffie, Teal Bunbury, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lee Nguyen, Kei Kamara (Femi Hollinger-Janzen 71′)
Unused subs:
 Brad Knighton, Zachary Herivaux, London Woodberry, Antonio Mlinar Delamea

Scoring summary

PHI: C.J. Sapong (PK) — 4′
PHI: Ilsinho (Fafa Picault, Haris Medunjanin) — 48′
PHI: Roland Alberg (Haris Medunjanin) — 78′

Disciplinary summary

NE: Je-Vaughn Watson — 45+3′ (unsporting behavior)
NE: Benjamin Angoua — 68′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union New England Revolution
10 Shots 10
 6 Shots on Target 3
 4 Shots off Target 4
0 Blocked Shots 3
 2 Corner Kicks 6
 5 Crosses 19
1 Offsides 1
9 Fouls 14
 0 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 0
362 Total Passes 432
 77% Passing Accuracy 80%
 44.5% Possession 55.5%
 55 Duels Won  47
 54.6% Duels Won %  46.4%
 14 Tackles Won 15
 4 Saves 3
 18 Clearances 14


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    This comment is for The Chief.
    I’m here to laud and applaud this Philadelphia Union- Won a big game today, played well in the words of the manager at halftime and the color analyst’s “Blue Collar Type Philadelphia Effort” imagery for this Union~::::
    :::::~No matter Diego and Juan were not there for NE. No matter Alejandro was not there for this Union. No matter the FS1 analyst and color guy were so bad yet again leaving a pock mark crater in the crevasse of terrible announcing…displaying with alacrity how far behind US Soccer Media is. No matter that FS1 thought the fair haired ball kid was Jim Curtin pregame. No matter that OO has never in his 25 years of high level soccer been so lucky not to have been cleated in the face. Lacerated. No matter there is no way the hand ball was inside the box.
    No matter this team still lacks any sophistication offensively and is so difficult to watch sometimes I’m left wanting a new manager so badly. No matter to any of this … I have simply shown up in the name of VICTORY….I am here to applaud three points in honor of The Chief Our Head of Last Week’s Department of Condescension.
    In other original ideas, here’s one— can you imagine Giliano Wijnaldum thinking to himself after watching Fabinho play every Union game, as he takes the 180 minute ride up to and back from Lehigh each Saturday– “I’m here to play behind this guy?”
    I am uncertain the triggers which led to Fabinho being benched, but thankfully it happened and I am thankful thankful thankful as watching him play week in week out was its own sadistic torture…
    el Poacher… did I steal these ideas- cause I know original genius is in short supply in 21st Century Civilization.
    Alright- In the name of Independence Day, have a Happy 4th..

    • The Chief says:

      I think that qualifies as sarcasm? Anyways glad you’re happy to see ’em win and so am I. And for the shout out! You’re right it’s not pretty soccer but they got the job done when they were supposed to. I know we disagree on goals but hopefully we can both soak in the goodness of thisvictory for at least 6 and a half minutes and enjoy it cause that’s what sports are for. Happy 4th of July and ‘Murica

    • Tim Jones says:

      Wijnaldum is still being tested, but his is passing th increasingly difficult tests.
      His first start a game or two ago was against a pedestrian match-up. He did well.
      Teal Bunbury is not a pedestrian matchup. After completely failing to see and follow and explosive run from distance in the first few minutes, the young Dutchman did well. Bunbury had little impact.
      WE have yet to see how he will do against truly elite wingers/flank midfielders.
      He has been brought along in such a way that he is experiencing success. He is learning he belongs. That’s good personnel management.

  2. pragmatist says:

    That felt pretty easy. But with NE missing three top guys, it may have been a slight false positive.
    With that caveat out of the way…damn, were there some pretty plays. And Picault is blur when he turns on the jets.
    The second goal was my favorite. While Alberg’s was ridiculous, I loved the build-up on Ilsinho’s goal. Fafa’s first touch was feather-soft, and his assist was perfectly lofted. And Ilsinho’s finish was never in doubt.
    They looked like a team that should be planning for the playoffs. Now if only they can look that way consistently…
    Last point…my God, are the refs in this league atrocious. If you get the direction of a throw in wrong more than 5 times, you qualify as an absolute train wreck. And that was their highlight.

  3. Buccistick says:

    Lots of energy conservation on display tonight if your name wasn’t Picault.
    … which includes the fans. What should we interpret about paid attendance not getting announced in the stadium tonight? That this scheduling doomed turnout? (MLSsoccer.com puts it 16,143).

    • pragmatist says:

      This is a tough date. I had an extra ticket and asked 7 people – all were out of town. It’s just a tough date, especially when the team has been underwhelming. People aren’t going out of their way to cancel vacation plans for the game.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      The attendance was announced at the stadium as 16K+ (I don’t remember the exact number).

      • el Pachyderm says:

        If you count all our invisible friends… then its a likely clean MLS read on attendance.
        Sadly my invisible friend and I are not speaking.
        I can think of 1.4 million invisible friends not in Jay Sugarman’s wallet and not on the field as a #10 since our prized Sakiewicz DP was injured almost 2 full seasons ago.

      • Buccistick says:

        Whew. Thanks for the reality check, Andy. Must’ve been taking a hydration break of my own at the critical moment.
        Cancelling the conspiracy now… 😉

    • Tim Jones says:

      Particularly in the second half I began to see a correlation between energetic legs and legs that had not played 120 minutes in New Jersey on Wednesday. SApong was an exception to that.

  4. John Harris says:

    This defense is pretty good. They bottled up Nguyen pretty well.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    I thought it was a strong showing inasmuch as they kept adding to the lead until it was 3-0.
    Nice to see Haris come off and get a rest for the last few minutes.
    Glad I spent my birthday at Talen rather than going away for the weekend.

  6. That was a fun game despite the sweltering heat. All three goals were great (inasmuch as a penalty can be great). I love watching Fafa play; he has such an entertaining combination of physical, technical, and mental ability. I only wish he would have finished that lung bustng run

  7. scottymac says:

    Good win against a trash opponent. They should take care of business at home against mediocrity.
    @SKC @MTL @CMB
    The season turns on this trip. Minimum 5 points needed.

  8. Tim Jones says:

    Ken Tribbett has done well for Bethlehem at DCM. Nice to see him get a cameo there with the first team.
    Fabian Herbers looked good for about twenty minutes, then got smacked pretty hard in a foul. Came off at thirty minutes. Clearly needs more time with the Steel to stretch his endurance capacity.

  9. They won against a bad opponent. Guess we should be glad they play D.C. and N.E. If they continue with some points on the road, I may actually not feel too bad about how this season is going. IF. May. Hey Stewart, how about that true #10?
    I can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with Alberg. After the OC and his laser beam last night, I just want to poor the love. Then He pouts and throws up hands when Fafa can’t see past a few defenders to his waiting self. Frustration.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Crazy person award goes to Teal Bunbury for playing 90 minutes in a long sleeve shirt.

  11. I think Fafa Picault may among the maddening players the Union has ever had. He is so fast and works to consistently put him self in dangerous spots with the ball at his feet, but how many golden chances did he waste between the Open Cup game on Wednesday and this game? I get Alberg’s frustration with him on that counter at the end of the game.

    • To answer your Fafa question, a lot. Alberg was all by himself when Fafa made that great run but he never looked up to pass it. His final touch for the most part has either been too heavy or he tries to pass it to himself and cut in front of a defender but constantly gets muscled out of the way. If he can improve just a little when he gets inside the box it will really be a huge lift to this team. He’s provided great energy since he’s come into the lineup and hope he can keep improving. Barring injury he has that spot locked down.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      A coach who earned his badge 10-20 years ago would know how to harness a rocket like Picault. Unfortunately, our coach…

    • Outside the Box says:

      FaFa is in the MLS for a reason…but I’m OK with that!

  12. The Oenophile says:

    FS 1 coverage and commentators were below par, I miss JP and Tommy. The funniest part was at the start where they focused on some young, red haired guy with a Union shirt on and said it was Jim Curtain … note to Fox Sports: not all redheads are Jim Curtain!

  13. John P. O'Donnell Jr. says:

    I’m sorry but I just don’t see the blazing speed that Fafa is suppose to have. Twice he got caught from behind by a defender on a breakaway. And the defender didn’t look like he had the body of a gazelle.

    That being said for the game in K.C. I would love to see him and Epps get the start. Pontius looks like he needs a rest and this would be the perfect time for it.

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