Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Photo: Mike Servedio 

Philadelphia Union and San Jose Earthquakes shared the points after a 1-1 draw on a brisk Saturday evening at Talen Energy Stadium.

Magnus Eriksson gave San Jose the lead with a 37th minute blast past Andre Blake from just inside the box. The Union salvaged a point when Alejandro Bedoya headed Fafa Picault’s cross into the net in the 64th minute.

Jim Curtin made one change to the team that lost in Colorado last weekend, with Fafa Picault returning from suspension to start on the right side in place of Fabian Herbers.

The Union started strong with a number of half chances. Picault and David Accam found room down the wings, and Accam fed Borek Dockal for a shot in the 12th minute that stung the hands of Andrew Tarbell, but the San Jose goalkeeper was able to beat it away.

Picault would have a good opportunity of his own in the 26th minute when Accam curled in a cross from the left, but Picault’s diving header flew past the right post and out for a goal kick.

The Quakes finally got a chance in the 30th minute. Valeri Qazaishvili escaped the tackle of Jack Elliott and was one-on-one against Andre Blake, but the Union goalkeeper got down to his right to save the left footed shot from 16 yards.

San Jose took the lead in the 37th minute. Danny Hoesen was able to get in behind the Union backline on the right side. He simply cut the ball back to Eriksson, who was alone at the top of the box, and the midfielder took one touch and blasted a shot into the top corner at the near post beyond Andre Blake.

The Union should have equalized in the 43rd minute. Again, it was Picault getting on the end of a cross, this time from Matt Real from deep on the left. But this time the winger’s header was straight at Tarbell, who did well to push it away.

Ilsinho was introduced in the 63rd minute in place of Accam, pushing Picault to the left. The Brazilian immediately had an impact taking on players down the right side.

The Union found the tying goal in the 64th minute. Picault did well on the left side of the San Jose box to cut back on his defender and float a ball up to the far post that Bedoya made no mistake heading in from close range.

Despite a number of half chances, Philadelphia was unable to find a winner, and the game ended 1-1.

The announced attendance was 14,795 but there was nowhere near that many people in the stadium. The Union are back at home again on Friday, April 13 when they host Orlando City.

Three Points
  • Chances. Philadelphia created enough chances to win the game, but the quality in the final third must be improved. Fafa Picault’s return was definitely a positive one, but a little bit more quality in the last third and the game is over in the first half.
  • Defense. The youngest defense in MLS history was decent again. The goal conceded came against the run of play and perhaps Matt Real was caught a bit out of position, but the overall performance was strong.
  • Accam and Dockal. The Union’s biggest offensive acquisitions had a mixed evening. Dockal looked more positive than he did in his previous two starts and certainly was more influential on the ball. Accam failed to get going for most of the match and Ilsinho seemed to bring more to the table.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Matt Real (Ray Gaddis 71′), Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal (Cory Burke 86′), Fafa Picualt, David Accam (Ilsinho 63′), C.J. Sapong
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Mark McKenzie, Anthony Fontana, Warren Creavalle

San Jose Earthquakes

Andrew Tarbell, Yefferson Quintana, Joel Qwiberg (Shea Salinas 58′), Harold Cummings, Nick Lima, Magnus Eriksson (Fatai Alashe 78′), Florian Jungwirth, Anibal Godoy, Valeri Qazaishvili (Quincy Amarikwa 86′), Chris Wondolowski, Danny Hoesen
Unused Subs: Francois Affolter, Tommy Thompson, Matt Bersano, Jahmir Hyka

Scoring summary

SJ: Valeri Qazaishvili — 37′ (Danny Hoesen, Anibal Godoy)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 64′ (Fafa Picault, Borek Dockal)

Disciplinary summary

PHI: David Accam — 23′ (unsporting behavior)
SJ: Yefferson Quintana — 56′ (unsporting behavior)
SJ: Chris Wondolowski — 82′ (unsporting behavior)

Philadelphia Union San Jose Earthquakes
 22 Shots 9
 8 Shots on Target  5
 11 Shots off Target 3
 3 Blocked Shots  1
 7 Corner Kicks 3
31 Crosses 11
 2 Offsides  2
 12 Fouls  8
 1 Yellow Cards  2
 0 Red Cards 0
 583 Total Passes  379
 82% Passing Accuracy 70%
61.2% Possession 38.8%
61 Duels Won 65
52% Duels Won % 48%
 7 Tackles Won  17
4 Saves  7
 11 Clearances  30


  1. I know this is a bad time for optimism, but can I offer that I am kinda actually happy with how the team plays?

    Curtin talked for years about playing that NYRB style of high pressing and constant pressure, and dare I say we are kinda … there?

    Clearly we need to get more clinical in the final third (and I will never be a fan of CJ, that guy is always a half step too slow in the box) but seriously. It’s been 4 games and for most of them we have atleast for a half been able to FINALLY play the way Curtin has talked about.

    We have even done it this year with a 18 year old and 19 year old homegrown on the backline. And mostly they have done well – Real had two great crosses that I think should have been goals by Fafa.

    • I agree. The last two games. Feel a bit unlucky. We are playing well.

    • +1 for this too. They really looked the better team, by a good margin. If we keep playing this way, the offense will eventually gel more, and we will get ourselves some points.

    • Tom Hanna says:

      The press is definitely better than it has been probably ever. Too many times though we pressed high, the Quakes released, and our CB’s were being driven at 1v1. That can’t happen. The blue print is there though which is encouraging. I want to see more Fontana. I think he pressed very well, albeit against a man down NE team.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Fourth time I’ve started writing only to erase.
    I surrender. UNCLE.
    There is a red tide of apathy growing. One can see it here- as numbers have dwindled and one can see it in the stands.
    It is irrefutable in this age of analytics. Just like the analytics say, Union dominated every aspect of this game – yet share the outcome while defering the aesthetic to the other team which has been the case for what seems forever.
    Numbers don’t lie. But they don’t speak the truth often either.

    • Trusty proved that if you are a center back and you step aggressively to intercept at midfield, you must win possession and the possession must be maintained while you recover.
      He compounded it by slipping and falling..
      He would have been recovering to the space that Magnus Erikson filled where he was unmarked for their goal.
      I can live with that.

      • ^^^THIS. Seriously, I was like, “What the heck is Trusty doing all the way up there??” And sure enough, San Jose immediately had numbers on the counter and made the Union pay. Personally I put that goal on Trusty, for that reason.

        Yet the youngest D in MLS is giving up a single goal per game, and it hasn’t mainly been due to SuperBlake’s heroics either. If we can keep this up we will be in good stead.

      • Tim Jones says:

        He and Elliott have been doing that all season, going back into the preseason as well to some degree. (no idea why “degree” turned into a link, not my intention.)
        This one was the first time he so egregiously failed to win the possession and have the team keep it.
        The tactic is essential to the Curtin version of the high line high pressure that Adam Cann called “counter-pressure” back in 2016.
        Trusty has the speed to recover and have at least a prayer of pressing Erikson from behind. Mark McKenzie also has that sort of speed, which is why he may challenge Jack Elliott for minutes at some point.
        You saw Curtin in the second half on the sidelines repeatedly admonishing his guys to pull the restraining line forward and make the formation more compact. You cannot get away with that only with real pace all across your flat back four.

  3. That stadium was empty.
    It wasn’t that cold out there.
    Welcome back Fafa. You were a big improvement over Herbers.
    Worst reffing ever.
    Dockal is good. really good. Whenever he got the ball he was able to get some really nifty passes off. The thing was they didn’t really get him the ball until the second half.
    Ilsino for Accam was the right sub.
    Accam was invisible all game and i’m sure his heat map will look like a minimalist drawing of a Badger.
    There was some really nice overlaps between Fafa, Rosenberry and Bedoya. unfortunately Accam was on the other side of te field, alone, thinking about Badgers.
    Elliot is good for 93% of the game.
    Maybe he shouldn’t be the only guy back there when the 7% of his game happens.
    Gaddis for Real was kinda baffling.
    Burke for Dockal was really baffling.
    The last 10 minutes were EXCRUCIATING. Watching the Union dick around for 5 minutes while Burke was waiting to get subbed in was beyond painful.
    I think there is potential for this team to be respectable.
    Fuck this team.
    I had fun I’m glad I went
    This game made me miserable

    • Mike Servedio says:

      Curtin said Dockal had a little groin injury late in the match, so I think that’s the only reason Burke made a cameo.

      • Ah.Got it.
        Part of me thinks CJ needs to be subbed off at some point.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Dockal ran and ran and ran and ran and ran. Damn if it’s not imposter soccer.

      • TookSapong awhile to recover from the 15 yard roughing penalty for the clothesline shot from their goalie.

      • I was in the river end. I saw him directly when he got on the ball. He has some great incisive passes in tight spaces and his corner kicks were excellent. He may not be the answer but he is no impostor.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Magnificent conclusion to your thesis of trauma.

  4. The final third is still a hot mess! Curtain is never going to change how he coaches and apparently the front office doesn’t care. Maybe if the stands remain as empty as they were tonight something will finally be done. Very disappointing as a season ticket holder…

  5. Teams have figured out that the Union are going to come down the center to Sapong as their first, most dangerous option.
    How many times was he surrounded by three defenders, especially as the game wore on, because his early effectiveness showed two were not enough.
    And Accam draws at least one and a half defenders.
    Picault seemed the fastest attacker on the pitch.
    Man of the match was the San Jose keeper.

    • This is the problem I saw, Tim. When the midfield sought Sapong for hold up pay, we was swarmed by defenders. That and errant passing lost the Union the ball in the final third over and over and over. Accam and Fafa we’re not reliable enough attackers to spread that defense out. It’s too easy to take our one point of attack out of the equation. This team has to figure that out soon or it’s going to be a long winless season.

  6. 583 Total Passes
    82% Passing Accuracy

    Damn that seems good. Where is the guy who always used to crap on the Unions passing stats and low completion %? Can’t do that this year.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      No, you can’t. They’re playing a much more compact buildup with shorter and quicker passes. It’s much more pleasant to watch.

  7. Not that it matters for this game, but they gave a San Jose player a red card right after the game via video review for punching Trusty in the junk on their last free kick.

    • Was at the game. I didn’t see the nut shot but I did see that Trusty was getting into it with a SJ player after the whistle. Saw the ref run over for video review after the whistle (thought that was odd) Then the red card. No mention in the broadcast (we had it Tivo’ed) and nothing on the MLSsoccer recap.

      • The curse of the commentator. Now its on MLSsoccer.com highlights(lowlights)

      • Yeah, I was at the game too. The San Jose guy who got carded was jawing at the ref the whole time he was getting taken off the field by his teammates.

        Should update the discipline summary.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    Enjoyed the midfield and defense. As stated by many if the final third improves we could be a solid team this year. It was chilly out genre but not bad. First two games were definitely colder. I’m
    Glad I went as well. Really hoping as the weather get a nicer the stands fill in. Was definitely a “little light”. I didn’t hear attendance announced – and I know it is “paid attendance” but I didn’t even hear that. With the lack of finishing aside, I liked what I saw last night. If they finish they win going away. Not real happy with a home draw against an average team but not too angry either. Hey 1-1-2 is (so far) better than last years 0-4-4 start

  9. I’m really puzzled by the low attendance. It was not that cold and with hardly any wind, weather was not a big factor. Team is playing well enough to be optimistic, especially this early in a season. Yet, the stadium was half empty. How is it that Atlanta had 45k at their game and Philly cannot even come close to filling in 18.5k stadium? Yes, they have a better and exciting team, but the difference is just stunning. Especially since Philly is considered a better “sports city” and has a better soccer tradition. I’m a founding STH, originally from Europe so my perspective might be different. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Pepito, The Biggest Cat in the Whole Wide World says:

      It’s not that puzzling really. The team has been mediocre or worse for almost all of its existence. And they’ve spent a lot of that existence playing soccer that isn’t fun to watch (win or lose). The attendance isn’t a commentary on this year’s team. It’s a commentary on the entire Union history. The Eagles could be crap for years and still sell out games. The Union can’t.

    • Outside the Box says:

      the damage was done in the in the last three years of doom and gloom. This team is good and seeing McKenzie warming up means it could get better. That’s exciting. Two tweeks in my mind. A forward that fits this team, not the last couple of years of long ball (that guy might be on this team) and a coach. Both guys mentioned here are great guys, but they just aren’t for this team anymore.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      My wife and I were two of the empty seats. I came down with something on Thursday, was hoping to feel better by last night, but when it came time to get ready I just wasn’t physically up to it. My wife didn’t want to go by herself and her daughter wasn’t available. First Union home game I’ve missed when I was in town and not at a wedding.
      I plan to be there on Friday.

    • I used to be a STH. The organization’s clear lack of desire to compete had me tap out 2 years ago. People are tired and apathy has set in… I don’t think a season-long loan of a Czech guy from the Chinese league is gonna change that…

    • It stopped being fun, so I stopped going.

      • +1
        took my folks to Crew match. so empty, so boring and, yes, cold. one could say that is how to describe the place this team occupies in my heart.

  10. Missed Opportunities……………Vanilla Coach………

    Curtin needed to recognize that San Jose had game planned for Accam and Fafa and introduced Ilsihinio much earlier. Sapong was late to the ball a few times and misfired headers at least twice .Doakal played well he created enough opportunities for the Union to score 4 or 5 goals. He gave me the most hope for this team. Accam was shut down had no positive effect. Young defensive line made one crucial mistake and were able to capitalize on a goal. A good team always wins not NOT TIES at home versus a mediocre team traveling across the country.The Union are not a good team. They need a better coach to create a better offense with the players they have this year. I still think they have enough quality to compete but this game was their to win and they could not finish . Curtin needs to go. Like watching ground hog day over and over same crappy result with a few twists.

  11. I’m tired of the constant crosses. We have a legit 10 now, let’s play the ball on the ground into the middle more.

  12. The Chopper says:

    Our striker is the perfect forward for a two forward set where he is the second option and rebound poacher. He is not an adequate sole target. I like C.J. , but he is a hold up player, not the type to make the runs required of working with a 10 like Dockal.

    • He is also not quick enough to shoot lose balls that are bouncing around in the 6. He is also not very good at heading a ball into the net.

  13. The only way I think we, as a fan base, are going to survive this season without descending completely over the edge of The Cliff of Union Despair is to work to see a glass half full. Like James began this round of comments above, there are some things for which to be positive.

    One of those things is definitely a clear sign that this team is working hard to adjust Blake’s game. He’s playing with the ball at his feet, and working out of the back with a very young back line. This deserves recognition and praise. Even if the only result is that Blake becomes even more valuable to a European club.

    I have no idea how this team can improve results with its attacking players. If Cj is going to hold up play, he’s got to develop a better report with Accam and Dockal and Picault. All of them need to work better. There’s a lot of clear signs that the system remains a mystery out there. Accam and Sapong should be able to score a decent number of goals.

  14. Real moments of actual soccer occurred in this match, which has not been a given for Union fans over the past decade. If they get a win Friday and end this 5 game run on 8 points, it’ll be a reasonable if less-than-perfect conclusion.

  15. Andy Muenz says:

    I’m happy with the young defense and think it bodes well for the future. One thing that bugged me, though, were the short goal kicks up the center of the pitch. Against a high press team like San Jose, they inevitably led to a pass right back to Blake who now had to kick it downfield under pressure rather than as a dead ball. They tried this a couple of times and I was glad they didn’t make a mistake and have to fish the ball out of the net.

  16. Copy and paste from last week. Only difference was we were at home and Bedoya was more aggressive and Elliot didn’t have a flukey bad day. I swear no one on this team outside of Bedoya knows how to read space and make proper runs.

  17. I said before the season that this team is loads better than what I saw in my first season with the team 4 yrs ago. LOADS.
    Is a great team? No. Even a good team? Maybe. If not, it has some of the parts.
    Beyond all that, I started this season with the understanding that this team is in a cycle of improvement. A lot of money has been spent. I understand real, meaningful, lasting organizational improvement and it takes time. It’s not as “sexy” as superficial, short-term splashes of big player cash, but it’s there nonetheless.
    I said I would be entertained by this team, even if the results weren’t very pretty, if they just gave me a reason to look FORWARD. I wanted to see the kids play. (I think a good number of others stated the same thing). I can handle watching a young lineup struggle to mesh it gears and find its rhythm because in that there is hope.
    I didn’t see re-treads that just weren’t good enough Saturday, I saw the youngest back line in the league make a mistake and a team of hustlers bounced back from it. I saw more scoring chances in one game than I think I did for the entire 2014 season. Is it agonizing to see so many opportunities missed? Of course! But it’s a heck of a lot more fun than having just one or two a game.
    Can it be better? In 2014-2016 I would have told you “no chance”, this is what it is. All the parts were “known”. But last year, and absolutely this year? I can say “Yes. It can be better and I think it will be better”. There is potential in what we don’t know and a true opportunity assess what we do know and maybe see an intelligent change.
    Good things are happening here IMO

  18. As an optimist I believe team is better and more talented than its record.
    Young back line will improve so tolerance for mistakes there needed by fanbase.
    But coaching…every one who has met Jim Curtin will tell you he is absolutely nicest guy on planet.
    But on the practice and game field maybe he needs more passion more competitiveness?
    And team needs a leader. A clear no_nonsense let’s kick some ASS, in your face, fire&brimstone loudmouth leader.
    Some one to be like Jimmy Rollins and declare union as team to beat and make sure the team backs up that declaration.

    • I was at the game. Saw Bedoya kicking ass (motioning and yelling with extreme prejudice) several times. Mostly directed at Real. But at Dockal a few times as well. I commented to the guy sitting next to me that I would like to see what the scene in the locker room is like if Bedoya thinks you screwed up or are not trying. ‘Cause there is some passion and competitiveness there.

      As for Curtin. I think he has or had the “new manager syndrome”. The “new manger syndrome” is where you have a player/employee that comes up through the ranks and gets promoted to their first management position. All the way up they say to themselves “I’m going to be the type of manager I always wanted”. Turns out to be an effective manager you sometimes have to kick some ass, sometimes you have to be the bad guy, the prick. Or as it was put to me one time in my first managers job “You have to be bloody minded sometimes” Is Curtain learning this? Maybe. Sitting Rosenberry last season maybe demonstrates that he is. Will he ever be the guy on the sideline kicking chairs, chewing out players? I don’t think so. And we don’t know what he is like now in the locker room.

      • Thanks Jack. Good to see Bedoya might step up to that role…thought he would have last year but didn’t.
        However…maybe he is just pissed. Someone at my child’s soccer game told me Bedoya’s car was stolen? Was that recent or last year?
        As for Curtin…like the man but a more aggressive coach could probably do wonders at least for road record.

        PS. Doubt my constant criticism of coach qualifies me as a team “apologist”. As for being an optimist…for this league , and conference, Union has the talent to win a couple playoff games. Whether they succeed or not determines if future remains in Philadelphia or if Austin or elsewhere becomes reality. 4th in sth renewals sounds like BS to me and definitely won’t be case if they miss playoffs again this year.

  19. I love all the positivity after a home draw. Why not throw in an extension for Curtin and Earnie too?
    These are the winnable games, and if they don’t win them they’ll be so far off the pace by the end of the upcoming road stretch. Points dropped at home should never be lauded.
    Vision. Philosophy. Plan. And one day “Accountability”.

  20. The Truth says:

    How ’bout that officiating? Christ almighty.

    • Still holding the league back IMO. Get better Refs and the game gets better. If the players actually got penalized for their hack and slash, they might not do it as much. Then maybe attractive footy can be played by all.

      • One of the TV commentators said something like “he’s spent almost as much time on the ground as the grass has” about a SJ player. Watching the game I’m thinking “crap, that’s one of the guys getting hacked the least”.

        Then I started wondering “is that guy a diving cheater or is he just telling everyone ‘look I’m going down anyway, so please don’t hack me’ or maybe a little of both?”

        I hate diving and I hate the hackers too…so yeah let’s get better refs to lessen both

  21. John Harris says:

    Does anyone else think there might be team apologists from the club on these boards?

    • Like I’m imagining you could be a 73 year old chain smoking grandmother with a fixation for much younger men in nylon shorts? Perhaps…”John Harris”
      (If that’s your real name…)

  22. I’ll take all the points we can get. I think the possession game has improved in this match but they still force the ball forward, they’re predictable going forward and are unable to finish. For example , I’m not sure what minute this happened but, i was furious when i saw Dockal sitting at the top of the 18 unmarked and whoever was running down the flank with the ball decided to blindly cross the ball into the box instead of playing the ball back to our #10 to take i rip on goal. This is the type of examples that show how elementary this team has been. Meanwhile, San Jose scored on almost the same play ! Taking the ball to the flank on the wing but instead cutting the ball back to Eriksson for the goal.
    Again , i have to keep stressing that for what we’re paying Bedoya he has been below par. His decisions have been poor and dragging. I’ll give credit for picking up his game at the end. For one, his defender became lazy and lost Bedoya and it should be easy to score a header from basically scoring from the goal line. He needs to be better for 90 minutes not 10 or 20. Better teams will not give the Union those chances. Give me Derrick jones or Creavalle instead of Bedoya. You’ll at least have a true defensive mid out there. Jones and Creavalle can both disrupt plays on the middle of the pitch. Jones at least moves quietly into space to receive passes and is excellent at distributing and taking the ball forward. I can’t say more about the kid. He needs to see the field more. I think what helped at the end was the inclusion of Ilson jr. He definitely took this match into his own hands and picked up the pace of the game. The union have been so sluggish thus far this season it needs to get better.

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