Union match reports

Match report: New England Revolution 3-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

A sluggish Philadelphia Union side were overrun by hosts New England Revolution, 3-0, on Saturday night. A brace from Kei Kamara and a goal from Juan Agudelo earned the Revolution three points on a night where the Union produced little on offense.

Playing their fourth game in twelve nights, Jim Curtin selected a largely unchanged side from the squad that defeated Columbus just three nights before. Chris Pontius, returning from national team duty, replaced Ilsinho on the left wing, while Marcus Epps made his third straight start on the other wing. Fafa Picault returned from a hamstring injury to make the bench for the first time since the Montreal match.

New England could have opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Kelyn Rowe played Teal Bunbury behind the Union defense. Streaking past Oguchi Onyewu, Bunbury hit a shot to the near post, but John McCarthy got a fingertip on the ball to deflect it off the post and out of play.

After a long period of banal football, New England seized the lead in the 38th minute. Probing the Union defense for nearly 45 uninterrupted seconds, the ball finally found the feet of Kelyn Rowe. Rowe’s lofted cross found Kei Kamara in the box, who elevated and got an extremely high boot on the ball just ahead of the charging John McCarthy. The goal, Kamara’s sixth of the season, gave the Revs their first lead over Philadelphia since 2015.

Emboldened, the Revs kept pressing the Union. An ambitious blast from Rowe forced a diving save from McCarthy in the 44th minute. The visitors were happy to hear the halftime whistle sound after a poor half.

New England came out of the locker room on fire, and should have doubled their advantage almost immediately. In the 49th minute, Lee Nguyen and Bunbury passed their way through the Union back line and hit a pass to Diego Fagundez, standing at the six-yard box with a gaping mouth in front of him. But Fagundez hesitated just a touch, enabling Jack Elliott to recover and throw his 6-foot-5 frame in front of what would have been a sure goal.

Unable to generate any offense, Curtin swapped Epps and Roland Alberg for Picault and Ilsinho in the 60th minute. The team’s next offensive chance, though, came through a defender. Off a 69th minute corner kick, Onyewu’s high header looked destined for goal, but Kamara headed off the line to keep the shutout alive.

The Revs put the game away in the 85th minute thanks — once again — to Kamara. Played into space, Andrew Farrell ran down the wing and hit a low pass towards the streaking Kamara. Unmarked in the box, Kamara hit a simple one-time finish, leaving McCarthy left for dead.

Just minutes later, the Revs added a third. Scott Caldwell hit a looping cross to the back post, over Elliott and an indecisive McCarthy. Racing in, substitute Juan Agudelo jumped over Ray Gaddis to finish into an empty net.

Jim Curtin will have a lot to think about as the Union enjoy their first full week off since the Gold Cup break in early July. They next face Western Conference foe FC Dallas on Saturday night, back at Talen Energy Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:00 pm.

Three points

  • First gear. Sluggish all night long, the Union generated no offense whatsoever. Chris Pontius and Marcus Epps were anonymous on the wings, Roland Alberg failed to seize his chance, and the outside backs contributed nothing.
  • Too much time. New England had too much time on the ball in the first half, particularly on a frustrating 45-second sequence leading to Kamara’s first goal. Jim Curtin won’t have been pleased with the team’s shape and tackling on that play.
  • Inconsistency. Coming off a strong victory against Columbus, the Union sought to put forward a repeat performance. Instead, they put forward a limp display, losing every 50-50 ball and barely troubling the home team. Seeking an equalizer, they instead conceded two goals in the final five minutes.

Philadelphia Union

John McCarthy, Giliano Wijnaldum, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis, Marcus Epps (Fafa Picault 60′), Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Roland Alberg (Ilsinho 60′), Chris Pontius (Jay Simpson 84′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: Jake McGuire, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle, Josh Yaro

New England Revolution

Cody Cropper, Andrew Farrell, Benjamin Angoua, Antonio Mlinar Delamea, Scott Caldwell, Gershon Koffie, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez (Je-Vaughn Watson 83′), Lee Nguyen (Femi Hollinger-Janzen 90′), Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury (Juan Agudelo 67′)
Unused subs:
 Brad Knighton, Chris Tierney, London Woodberry, Daigo Kobayashi

Scoring summary

NE: Kei Kamara (Kelyn Rowe, Scott Caldwell) — 38′
NE: Kei Kamara (Andrew Farrell, Lee Nguyen) — 85′
NE: Juan Agudelo (Scott Caldwell, Lee Nguyen) — 89′

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Oguchi Onyewu — 29′ (unsporting behavior)
NE: Gershon Koffie — 34′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Giliano Wijnaldum — 76′ (unsporting behavior)

New England Revolution Philadelphia Union
15 Shots 12
 7 Shots on Target 5
 7 Shots off Target 4
1 Blocked Shots 3
 9 Corner Kicks 9
 21 Crosses 21
0 Offsides 0
12 Fouls 15
 1 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards 0
373 Total Passes 339
 77% Passing Accuracy 71%
 52.2% Possession 47.8%
 54 Duels Won 66
 45% Duels Won %  55%
 14 Tackles Won 17
 4 Saves 3
 35 Clearances 16


  1. MikeRSoccer says:

    If Ray Gaddis and Roland Alberg start the next game, my head is going to explode. The season is over, both of them are playing awful, and neither has a place in the future of this team.

    • yea that Article just praising Alberg a couple days ago seemed.. premature.

      • You mean entirely off-base??

        It was a nice contrarian attempt, though. I’ll give him that. Kinda like when Adam Schorr argued earlier in the year that Medunjanin was hurting the team and should be benched.

      • Adam Schorr says:

        To be fair, I argued that he should be benched because he wasn’t playing defense, at which point he started playing defense. It’s actually very noticeable the difference when Medunjanin is engaged vs. when he’s not.

    • Also, Gaddis did a great job getting up into the attack at the very end of the game. I really wish he had been doing that for the first 75 minutes. I was hoping for Curtin to sub him out for Rosenberry at halftime.

  2. Adam Schorr says:

    They allowed three goals
    Elliott P.O.T.G.
    Yup, that’s our Union

  3. This game represented in audio.

  4. A truly awful game. I never do this, but i turned it off early. I can only take the futility to a certain point apparently

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    a law of physics states somewhere for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. this law suspends for the Philadelphia Union.
    they exist in a Spaceballs sized vacuum sucking the every lasting life out of you…
    if I had just One Minute with the sporting director and was gumptioned up, hopped up or at least on a double espresso i’d ask him one simple question referencing a comment he made a while back about not being able to teach these players advanced tactical concepts-
    -i would want to know if this is one part of the reason this team is incapable of building play from the back out. if this is part of what he means because if this is the style of play, if this is The Philosophy i have so desperately begged for over the course of three years or so… i cannot be a part of it. the tam will literally have possession in the midfield, cycle it back to the goal just to watch the ball get rocketed over the heads of the players who JUST HAD THE BALL.

    upsetting in a way that is quantum.

  6. I do not understand why Curtin didn’t sub Simpson in for a defender instead of Pontius, and why he didn’t do it 10 minutes earlier. You’re down a goal, man, you got nothing to lose.

  7. Because subbing Simpson for a defender would have required a change in formation. Which this team doesn’t do.

  8. Andy Muenz says:

    What a surprise…the team playing their 4th game in a week and a half looks sluggish against the team who is playing their 2nd game in the same period of time. Why the fuck are the Union playing 6 games in a month with a two week break? Don Garber does about the same job running this league as Don Trump does running the country.
    Yes, the Union played like shit again but it’s two weeks in a row they are playing on the road 3 days after their previous game against a team with at least a week’s rest. Somehow that type of scheduling doesn’t happen in a real league.

    • Agreed on the “too many games” idea. Won’t argue it hurt them tonight. But they have to be able to pass to each other and possess the ball a little bit. The fact that it ended like 53-47 (against) is mind boggling. I’m willing to overlook tonight a bit but what waits ahead is brutal. Points tonight would’ve gone a long way

    • I agree the scheduling sucks. But shouldn’t 2 deep at every position help to mitigate this? Hasn’t that been the plan?

  9. Unreal. Fairly decent on Wednesday to can’t complete a pass on Saturday. Didn’t expect a 3-0 win AT ALL… but again – and I know I sound like a broken record cause I have posted this a lot recently – but this was another winnable game where the Union just didn’t have to suck and they just flat out sucked. 4th game in 10 days… sure… but they couldn’t even pass to each other. And McCarthy wasn’t good either – which never helps. Whatever. They have an extremely tough month of August ahead… I, unfortunately, have little faith they will do well.

  10. el Pachyderm says:

    I have an idea.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      There is precedent for this.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        I would like Jim Curtin to be relieved of duties and Earnie Stewart to coach the team for remainder of this season.
        Nothing personal, this is after all- Business.

      • At this point Elephant… I will get behind anything that makes this team better. The up and down – good and bad – routine is just soul crushing. The ESPN article linked in the news roundup the other day – had one sentence that sticks out to me – and I’m paraphrasing – “the Union are a team that seems to take its fan base for granted.” Couldn’t be more true. When are we gonna step up and join MLS 3.0 and spend some money or do something that drastically improves this team?!?
        We are the IRA… the 401K… of MLS. Long term growth despite short term concerns. See you in 30 years… MLS Cup

      • Third time’s a charm.

  11. Curtin cannot coach offense.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      to this I actually disagree.
      Even Pep Guardiola said he does not coach offense as it relates to solutions in the final third. He coaches the team TO the final third then gives the game to his players. He counts on creative spark, off ball movement obviously and players understanding each others tendencies to solve for X.
      We already know there is an issue with playmakers on the team which is why…
      ….I have stated again and again and come back to the same point again and again…why can this team NOT build play from the back. This is the most glaring insufficiency of the manager which again and again displays his inability to coach at this level.
      The sporting director has essentially blamed the players for this short coming….and its the one question in my humble opinion nobody is pressing anybody in the organization on.
      Why is the goalie allowed to kick the ball up the field nearly 90% of the time. There is no tactical solution- only fear…yet, the manager ‘is safe’ and “under no pressure” because there is no threat of relegation.

      • Problem is, it looks like Curtin has coached that creative spark in the final third right out of his players. “We need more crosses.”

      • You do not build up from the back just to build up from the back. It depends on what the defense is giving you and how the flow of the game is going. For example, if the defense is high pressing, one idea is to play short, cycle back, and then break multiple lines with a long diagonal. This way, you draw the defense even further out of its shape and make them less compact.. It happens all the time in the Big 5. Possession doesn’t mean jack if it doesn’t have purpose.

        The problem with the Union is not Curtin. It’s lack of talent and lack of depth. They cannot compete over a 34 game season with the playoff teams in this conference; there’s too much of a roster disparity. Sorry, that’s the truth, no matter how much flowery prose and complaints you want to throw out there.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Mike. You are correct, there are certainly points when a team is forced to take a direct approach to the game as a tactic. This is a given IMO and not what is at issue.
        Regarding talent as others have brought up. I’m not even discussing the talent necessary to win in this league. I’m talking the talent to COHESIVELY guard the ball effectively and not offer it to the other team as a 50-50…. which in my mind there is certainly the talent on this team to do.
        Which is why this is a coaching issue.

  12. Pragmatist says:

    Plan for next year.

  13. a technical point.
    New England scored against the Union in 2016 in the US Open Cup.
    yes, I am being picky.
    At least the Union only gave up three goals. The Steel leaked four.

  14. The Union looked so inept. They didn’t even look like they were playing the same sport as NE. I was so quiet watching this match you could have heard a pin drop. There was no excitement, no emotion. I was resigned to the fate that this is the same old Union.
    So I guess this off-season there will be huge turnover again. Alberg out. Ilsino out. Pontius out. Still need a right back because one is just serviceable, and the other has lost all confidence, either in himself, or from the coach. Simpson gone. Need a new striker. What’s a #10? Edu off the books(hopefully). Old man time, Brian Carrol, will he finally take a coaching position? Warren Creavalle, does he even stay? Do they risk Gooch for another season?
    After what could have been considered a positive start to Stewart’s reign last season, they got right back to Union ways this season. Really, what is there to look forward too? When, where, how, why is there any reason one should believe anything will change with this club. Sad state of the Union. Same as the old state.

  15. Closethecurtin says:

    Oh wise elephant,

    I so enjoy reading your blurbs of literary brilliance. This morning’s in particular made me laugh out loud in painful disgust..

    Flashback to last night watching the game early in the first half….

    “Dad, I have a question. Why do the Union always play it back to the keeper when they have the ball only to have him kick it to the other team? That doesn’t make any sense!”
    – My 10 year old son

    It is without question that it’s time for Jim to go. When the lack of anything that resembles a buildout is so glaring obvious that a child notices, it speaks volumes to the ineptness of this team.


  16. Zizouisgod says:

    Sounds like there’s a decent crowd over at the Union Cliff of Despair. Hope there are still some good spots available.

  17. Great One says:

    I’m not sure how Curtin still has defenders. He is completely bereft of ideas. I understand ES is in wait and see and change over time mode, but something has to be done. There are two options’ play Yaro, Rosenberry, Najem and Epps every game so they can learn and grow. Otherwise change the damn formation and have Sapong and Simpson/Alberg play together up top. This is such a waste of time. I’ve rarely ever missed a game, but it’s getting hard to be even slightly excited for them, especially knowing exactly what the coach will do every single game.

  18. Curtin, Sorber out, and Burke, Carroll in. Knowing that our slumlord owner won’t pay for anything higher profile, here we are.

    Luckily we have a Burke in stock 😉 or we’d be looking at Sorber…the leftover strategy guy from Hackworth.

  19. Is there another team in the world that wastes possession so frequently. If it’s not McCarthy booting a prayer to the opposition midfield, wijnaldum passing to who the hell knows in space nodoby is near, or crosses that fly over the box and everyone,then it’s gaddis getting it poked away or epps’3000 pound touch. It’s just same damn game over and over no plan of attack when on the ball it’s just panic, pass, and hope. They are just so unpolished and I was once told you can’t polish a turd

  20. Here are the teams ahead of us in the East, and each team’s attacking options.

    Fire – Nikolic, Akkam, Solignac, Schweinsteiger
    Toronto – Giovinco, Altidore, Vasquez
    NYCFC – Villa, Harrison, Wallace, Moralez
    RBNY – BWP, Sacha, Royer
    Atlanta – Martinez, Almiron, Villalba, Asad
    Crew – Kamara, Manneh, Higuain, Meram
    Orlando – Larin, Rivas, Kaka, Dwyer
    Revs – Kamara, Fagundez, Ngyuen, Aguedelo
    Union – Sapong, Ilsihno/Alberg, Pontius, Fafa

    Hmmm…which team doesn’t belong? The Ilsihno/Alberg combo at the 10 would not start for any of these teams. Pontius may start for 1 or 2 teams. CJ would possibly start for 1. Fafa maybe for 2, possibly 3.

    The team is bereft of attacking talent. In this kind of situation in professional sports, it doesn’t matter who the coach is. Not gonna achieve success over a 34 game season. You’ll get a Leicester City once every 20 years, but 99% of teams in this situation fail…and it largely has nothing to do with the head coach.

    • The Chopper says:

      Hmmm.. So. I guess the formula is atcutally to pay for attacking talent. Interesting plan those others teams have.

    • Except Leicester had a coach. But the rest I can agree with.

      • C’mon, that’s not exactly fair. Remember Ranieri’s previous job prior to Leicester? Greek National Team coach. Got swept by the Faroe Islands in WC qualifying and was promptly shown the door. And then remember how Ranieri got sacked halfway thru last EPL season, less than 8 months removed from winning the title?

        At this level, it’s all about talent.

      • Except Leicester didn’t have much talent. The were mostly retreads. Who btw quit on Ranieri last season. By no means am I saying he’s perfect, but he’s a damn sight better than Curtin. Now who’s being unfair?

  21. I don’t know(on 2nd thought)… I doubt anyone in this organization cares about what the supporters think. All I can say is that I watched an entire day of MLS and International soccer yesterday. MLS wise the Union are by far the most boring, slow, un-MLS skilled team there is. They are not a playoff team and by no means a contender. First there is a dismal lack of speed, skill, athleticism and soccer IQ. I watched other teams move the ball around with dynamic precision, pace, and skill that make the Union looked like rank amateurs, professional bottom dwellers. It’s harsh but that’s the way the Union go about their business. It’s not due to a lack of effort on the pitch. They work as hard as anyone. But do they work smarter or have the skill to match the effort. NO! The scouting, coaching, management, and ownership should be ashamed. It is utterly disgraceful an unfair to the fan base!. In nearly every game this season the Union has looked tentative or unprepared to start games. Then there is turn over after turn over. There are players on this team who are awful with the ball at their feet. Others who walk faster then they run. Others who can’t receive and pass the ball with professional skill. Others who can’t track the ball in the air to win headers. The ownership, Sporting Director, and Coach think that they can keep BSing this fan base with “Alternative Facts” and data along with the same old tired cliches, talking points. I am sick to death of all the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve and if only. Creativity in the final 3rd looks like they are tip toeing thru a mine field. There is no excuse for this organizations outdated philosophy and feckless means of finding talent. NONE! It doesn’t work in today’s MLS! The thing that would truly help this organization change course for the better would be to sell it to a financially competent and competitive ownership. I’ll venture a guess that we’d suck it up and support a team constructed along the lines of NYCFC, Toronto, or Atlanta over the Union’s misconstrued version of “Philly tough” any day.

  22. I stopped counting after six (6) different Union players abandoned runs where their teammates served the ball to where they were expecting the run to continue. Somewhere in the training, the idea of continuous motion and/or involvement in the game has been removed from these players. It is frustrating in the offensive third; it is beyond understanding when it happens in the midfield. When the passes go to the wrong foot, that is a tactical error, and can be coached out of the player. When the runs are abandoned, there is a strategic issue that needs to be addressed. Before the game, I heard the brief snippets from Jim Curtin’s interview, and realized that his focus on this game was entirely defensive. (With a 3-0 loss, one can say that the focus didn’t translate to the field.) During the game, however, there were many, many indications that this team simply does not think in terms of attacking, except for long distance blasts. Please, try to get this team thinking about translating the ball up field for something besides a corner/endline run and a cross. Don’t limit them to Route 1, but as God is my witness, there is space in the middle of the field, and you will not be struck by lightning if a combination is used to get there. (BTW, Alberg was on both ends of my complaint, both abandoning runs and serving passes to where his teammates should have been.) Please spend a day introducing the offensive members of this team to each other. Maybe they will start working together on attacks.

  23. Just curious, where are all the folks who’ve defended Curtin all this time? “He’s improving “, “give him time”, “those results don’t count because (it was last season) (injuries!) (Edu!!!) (Nick Sak!)”.
    Come on out, it’s ok. Plenty of room on the Good Ship “Hey Ho Jimmy C’s Gotta Go”.

    • It says a lot that the only defense of Curtin is “Well, he’d be doing better if he had better players!”.

      Duh? That literally applies to every coach in every sport ever.

  24. same ole shit different season

  25. Listless offensive performance. Lazy, soft passes to no one in particular are becoming commonplace. Actually in the first half, it looked like Alberg couldn’t give a shit.

    • Well there weren’t any PK’s in the match, so Alberg had nothing to be interested in. 😉

      • So true

      • If you turn on the game after the lineups are shown on screen, it would take at least 15 minutes to even notice that Alberg is on the field. He is just absent for LONG stretches of the game.

  26. Curtin coaching in MLS today is equivalent to a high school dropout homeschooling their children. Can’t teach what he doesn’t know.
    Ownership is the main problem with this club.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      this is the crux and so much simpler than what I’ve been belaboring for freaking years.
      damn. keep it simple. well done.

  27. Time to bring out wooden box with Sugardaddy name on it.

  28. SOS MLS

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