Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 FC Dallas

photo: Daniel Studio

C.J. Sapong scored a brace and Ilsinho added a goal in a man of the match performance as the Philadelphia Union downed FC Dallas 3-1 on a beautiful August evening in Chester. Sapong got the scoring started in the 17th minute before Ilsinho doubled the lead in the 22nd minute. Sapong would grab a second in the 68th minute, his 12th goal of season.

The game also saw the first overturned goal in league history using the VAR system when Dallas’ 79th minute goal was ruled out for a foul on John McCarthy. Michael Barrios would add a late consolation goal for the visitors.

Fafa Picault and Ilsinho returned to the starting line up, with Marcus Epps and Roland Alberg giving way. Andre Blake’s hand did not heal in time and John McCarthy started his fifth straight match.

The Union opened the scoring with a fabulous team goal in the 17th minute. Ilsinho drove through the midfield with the ball at his feet, skipping around two tackles before laying a pass off for C.J. Sapong. Sapong returned the ball to Ilsinho who flicked it first time back through his legs, perfectly weighted for the advancing Haris Medunjanin. Medunjanin took a look at Chris Seitz and squared for Sapong to tap in from 8 yards into the open net.

Dallas would almost equalize just two minutes later but Max Urruti couldn’t finish from close range as the ball was whipped in from the Dallas left side.

The Union would double their advantage in the 22nd minute. Ryan Hollingshead failed to clear a Union throw in from the right side with a poor header that landed right on the top of the box. Ilsinho struck the ball first time into the lower left corner of the Dallas goal.

Chris Pontius would come close to scoring his first goal of the season in first half stoppage time. Medunjanin played a perfectly weighted ball behind the Dallas backline for the winger to run onto, but Seitz made himself big and did well to push away the hard shot to the left.

Sapong would add a second goal on the night in the 68th minute. A great move down the right side ended with Ilsinho and Sapong play a give and go at the top of the box, allowing Ilsinho in behind the Dallas backline. Seitz was able to save Ilsinho’s first attempt, a toe poke from eight yards, but the Brazilian found the rebound and squared for Sapong to fire in from close range.

Dallas would come close in the 71st minute. Maynor Figueroa’s initial shot from a free kick was blocked by Alejandro Bedoya, but the defender fired the rebound on the half volley from 25 yards out through a maze of bodies and John McCarthy had to reach down to his left to push the shot away.

Max Urruti thought he had pulled a goal back for Dallas in the 79th minute. Cristian Colman was played in behind the Union backline and John McCarthy was off his line quickly to save at the striker’s feet. Colman appeared to make contact with McCarthy as he tried to reach for the rebound before the ball fell to Urruti to finish into the open net. But after the first video review at Talen Energy Stadium, Ricardo Salazar ruled there was a foul on the play and the goal call was overturned.

Dallas would score a consolation goal in stoppage time through Michael Barrios. The ball was played in behind a stagnant Ray Gaddis down the Union right and Barrios ran onto the ball and finished into the far right corner of McCarthy’s goal.

The Union are next in action next Saturday when they welcome Montreal Impact to Chester (8 p.m.).

Three points

  • Ilsinho put in his best performance of the season. He was involved in all three goals and also put in a solid shift defensively. The Union would be in much better shape if the Brazilian put in an effort like that every match.
  • Jack Elliott was very, very good again in central defense. The rookie defender was again on time to put out fires as well as find smart outlets moving the ball out of the back.
  • VAR! The right call was made, it didn’t seem to slow down the match too much, and it helped the Union. Long live VAR!

Philadelphia Union

John McCarthy, Giliano Wijnaldum, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis, Chris Pontius (Marcus Epps 64′), Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Ilsinho (Roland Alberg 86′), Fafa Picault, C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: Jake McGuire, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle, Josh Yaro, Jay Simpson

FC Dallas

Chris Seitz, Matt Hedges, Ryan Hollingshead (Walker Zimmerman 45′), Maynor Figueroa, Hernan Grana, Victor Ulloa, Carlos Cermeno (Jacori Hayes 82′), Roland Lamah, Mauro Diaz (Cristian Colman 45′), Michael Barrios, Max Urruti
Unused subs:
 Jesse Gonzalez, Reggie Cannon, Kellyn Acosta, Tesho Akindele

Scoring summary

PHI: C.J. Sapong – 17′ (Haris Medunjanin, Ilsinho)
PHI: Ilsinho — 22′
PHI: C.J. Sapong — 68′ (Ilsinho)
DAL: Michael Barrios – 90+1′ (Roland Lamah)

Disciplinary summary

DAL: Carlos Cermeno — 45′ (unsporting behavior)
DAL: Matt Hedges — 55′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Ilsinho — 64′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union FC Dallas
 15 Shots  17
 8 Shots on Target 10
 3 Shots off Target 3
 4 Blocked Shots  4
 2 Corner Kicks  8
 6 Crosses 20
 2 Offsides 1
9 Fouls 17
 1 Yellow Cards  2
 0 Red Cards 0
 338 Total Passes 447
 71% Passing Accuracy  81%
 42.3% Possession  57.7%
 61 Duels Won  48
 56% Duels Won %  44%
13 Tackles Won  11
 9 Saves 5
25 Clearances 11


  1. Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

    Dat first goal

  2. These guys are giving me the bends, coming back tonight like this after last game. Decompression or whiplash, whichever. Great game, men. Can we see more of this, instead of what we saw last week? Thanks. Higher on the field, more confident with the ball at your feet, and runs to areas where, and at times when, people were expecting them. It looked like a coherent game plan, well executed. Nicely done.

    • Kills me that this is what they’re capable of but most nights we get chopped liver instead of sirloin.

      Question: do we keep Ilson Jr.?

      • Yea. we renegotiate his contract a bit but if he wants to stay he should stay.
        Alberg on the other hand can go.
        They are luxury players. we can’t have more than one.

      • It’s an option, so there’s really no renegotiating. His rate is already contracted.

      • Yes we do Chris. As for now, he is the best # 10 on the team and could develop to become one of the best in the league. He needs to play in that spot every game. You will not see this creativity going forward up the pitch without him starting in that role.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      oh. oh, oh
      where do we go from here?
      the words are all coming out weird.
      My baby’s got the bends.
      Sorry…. walked right into it.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Man not even an eyelid able to check out a minute of the game. Such is life. Well done, tonight Union.

  4. I’ve been waiting all year for that 1st goal. Gimme more of that PLEASE! Great passing and running off the ball. Well done.

  5. This Jekyll & Hide of a season? Don’t get how they look this good tonight after crapping the bed last week. So nice to see 3 points tonight but wish there was an answer to this inconsistency.

    • Philthy Dee says:

      When a team plays inconsistent, All fingers should point to the coach and staff.
      Gaddis, You have one f’ing job in the last mintutes.

    • a full week’s rest makes a difference to older athletes.

      • THIS ^^^ F-ING THIS ^. I don’t care what the trainer’s and numbers guy’s say, if the coach can’t see his players need rest, while the fans can, that’s a problem. Playing multiple games a week in mid-summer is not good for people. Yeah, they can probably do it, but they won’t be at full capacity.

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    Great effort tonight, especially by McCarthy, Elliott, Ilsinho, and Sapong. Nice to see a result like that even if they lost the shutout at the end.
    Also was fun staying for the Special Olympics game which the Union won 6-4. Lots of dooping for both sides and good to hear the SOB’s who stayed doing chants for Dallas as well as the Union team.

  7. Best goal this team has ever scored

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Hard to compare with the Ruiz goal since they were SO different.

      • one was a golazzo out of the blue. Tonight was teamwork.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Exactly, Tim. That’s why it’s tough to say which is the best. Ideally we’ll see many more goals like last night’s (although they back heel did add something we won’t often see). I don’t think we’ll ever see another like Ruiz’s.

  8. Damn, this is the only home game i missed this season 🙁

  9. This team needs a new manager. Curtin is in save my job mode and it’s at direct odds with the future of this club.

    Yaro/Marquez should be playing through struggles at LCB. Keegan should be splitting time (at a minimum) with Gaddis. Epps should be getting bulk of mind at RM and allowing Pontius to sub when needed.

    • I’ll say Curtin seemed a bit like “Uh… we’re up 3-0, what subs should I make?” – in the 2nd half. Love the guy but he is extremely limited as a manager.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I actually would have liked to have seen Bedoya come off at 3-0 since he was still in yellow card jeopardy through tonight. Fortunately he did not pick up a card and is now 2 away from suspension.

      • My choice would have been Medunjanin, not Bedoya.
        I see your yellow card point, but make the one about rest.

    • This is a ridiculous statement. Just beat one of the best teams in MLS convincingly, and the manager needs to be replaced. The Union do not have 1 non-GK who would start on Dallas when they are healthy or playing at full-strength. Maybe Fafa at the 11, maybe. But, we need to fire the manager right after dominating that same team. Now I’ve heard it all.

    • This is misguided at best. The best players should play. Gooch, age notwithstanding, is greater than Yaro and certainly Marquez.
      Keegan seems to be struggling with something. If he’s not putting in the effort, that’s on him. Trust me, I’ve been on the fire Curtin bandwagon before it had wheels, but that USOC performance was awful. Not sure why he can’t get time at Steel unless KR has plummeted to third somehow on the depth chart.
      Epps isn’t an MLS starter.

    • No switching players this game or that game, that’s what kills the chemistry. Plain and simple you have your starting line up and your subs. Certain players must be in every game no matter what and others, the coach can match up players with the opposing teams. I think one reason we do so bad at times is when Curtin messes with the chemistry of players who are on the field and what positions they are put in.

      • This guy beating me over the head with one result after we picked up 4 points in 6 games is amazing.

        If we are truly playing moneyball, you can’t pickup a player like Gooch, then drop your top 2 young players from a year ago when they struggle. It’s a conflict of philosophy to do so.

        This team won’t be winning a cup. Your better off allowing Yaro/Keegan/Epps to take lumps now, rather than collect dust while Gooch/Gaddis/Pontius steal their minutes. Yaro/Keegan were top 3 picks who aren’t playing because we’re trying to sneak our way into the playoffs. PLAYOFFFS?!?!?!?

        At worst, you play the kids and move them for assets down the line. Playing Gooch and Gaddis is purely short sighted.

        Also, Curtin’s commitment to the formation being forged in stone is unexplainable.

  10. Wait, where the hell has this team been all year…it’s like Dallas and the union had a freaky Friday incident tonight..if only they could win or at least draw a road match, then maybe id actually believe they could make a nice playoff run

  11. John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

    3 points out and eleven to go. Do we get someone back that can help make a run? Say what you want about the Elliott and Gooch but it seems like they’re starting to put up some decent stats. CJ finding goals and Harris and Ilsinho starting to find him. Some how this team is only 7 points behind the leaders in the West. Can Sapong but us on his back and take us above the red line? I think it takes at least six more goals for that to happen.

    • John P. O'Donnell Jr says:


    • Elliot has been a revelation. He makes play after play, without out getting cards and IF he makes a mistake he usually covers it up. Gooch has been much more than I thought he could be. So glad to be proven wrong.
      This I believe was the team’s best performance all year, despite the goal they gave up. But we’ve seen this before.

  12. Zizouisgod says:

    There were many things to like about last night, but one notable item to me was making sure that they maintain or build the upon that two goal lead. You knew that Dallas would regroup at the half and push hard to cut into that deficit. However, the Union stood firm and ultimately got that third goal. That was an impressive accomplishment to me.

    When you see Ilsinho play like this, you have to ask why this type of effort can’t happen on more of a consistent basis. He was outstanding in all aspects of the match tonight.

    Let’s see if we can build on this performance and get three points from MTL next week.

    • I think it has to do with playing style. In Kinkead’s latest podcast, he talked to a friend of his who was a Dallas reporter(I think) and he said this was a bad match up for Dallas. He said if the Union got up on them early they could easily get multiple goals. I think some of it has to do with Dallas not being as familiar with the Union. Our East opponents know to shut down Haris, and force the Union to always go long. Last night the Union also pressed as well as a team as they had all year. They ended up forcing plenty of turn-overs and going right into attack. Haris was left free with plenty of space to work his magic. And the team actually tried to play triangles for the first time. It was like a perfect storm of skills and tactics, while McCarthy stood on his head.

  13. Question: On that first goal, why is CJ not offsides when he deflects the ball into the goal. Medunjanin is onside when he begins the run to collect Ilsinho’s wonderful flick but CJ has no one but the keeper between him and goal when Medunjanin crosses the ball to him…. Perhaps the officials judged CJ to be morally on side to justify what was a spectacular goal, but every time I watch that replay, he looks pretty clearly offsides to me. Am I missing something?

  14. After seeing how comfortable and in control the Union looked last night, especially compared to last week, I’m left wondering what Coach Curtin says or does during road-game weeks that makes this club play so fearfully when they’re away from Chester.

  15. Consensus is that CJ gets worn down each season because Curtain never rests him. Can anyone rationalize CJ not being subbed out after we go up 3-0? I just don’t get it.

  16. Me? I was glad the fans got to sing the National Anthem instead of Ms. Rice. That right that was a harbinger of good things to come…
    Also, kudos to the Union for their TIFO honoring the SOB. Well done.

  17. Sarah (misses the Independence also) says:

    What were the boxes on some of the Union Players backs? right under the neck?

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