Union match reports

Match report: New England Revolution 2-3 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Jack Elliott scored twice in the first half Saturday, and a Fafa Picault penalty kick in the second half secured a crucial 3-2 road win over New England.

Elliott converted twice from set plays to give the Union a 2-0 lead in the first half. Andrew Farrell and Wilfried Zahibo then each scored to equalize for New England in the second half to even a match in which their side had the run of play. Farrell ripped a shot that deflected off of Auston Trusty to start the second half before Zahibo equalized from a Diego Fagundez free kick. But Picault coolly dispatched a 76th minute penalty after Antonio Milnar Delamea handled inside his own box.

Jim Curtin named a strong starting XI, only making one change to the team that defeated Chicago on Wednesday. C.J. Sapong was given his first start on the right wing this season, allowing Cory Burke to remain the starting striker.

New England would be on the front foot for much of the opening quarter hour, but it would be Philadelphia who would draw first blood in the 14th minute. A frenetic period saw Burke head Sapong’s cross off the post and Matt Turner palm Fafa Picault’s rebound shot over the bar. From the ensuing corner, Haris Medunjanin and Borek Dockal worked a training ground move when New England only sent one defender to cover, allowing Medunjanin to advance inside with the ball at his feet. He fired a low cross that Elliott got a clever back heel touch on to redirect into the New England goal from six yards out.

Elliott would add a second in the 24th minute. Again coming off a corner kick, Medunjanin worked a pass to Fafa Picault outside the box. The midfielder found room to shoot with his left foot and make good contact, beating Turner but ringing the far post. The rebound bounced kindly across goal and Elliott simply tapped in from four yards out with the net gaping to give Philadelphia a two-goal lead.

It could have been 3-0 Union as Alejandro Bedoya came close in the 40th minute. Burke did very well to earn a free kick in a dangerous situation as he went 1-v-4 against the New England defense. On the set piece, Dockal curled in a beautiful ball from the right side that bounced once and sat up nicely for Bedoya to run onto. The Union captain made contact but could only head straight at goalkeeper Turner, who did well to smother.

New England would pull a goal back just after halftime. Cristian Penilla worked into the Union box on the left side and cut a ball back that came to Farrell. The right back fired a hard shot that skimmed off of Auston Trusty and wrong-footed Andre Blake, nestling into the top right corner of the goal.

New England probably should have equalized in the 56th minute. Wilfried Zahibo was wide open from a Revolution corner kick, but could only head over the bar from 10 yards out.

The Revs came close to equalizing again just two minutes later, and this time Blake was forced into action. Cristian Penilla raced in down the left side behind the Union backline. The forward tried to stroke a shot into the far post, but Blake was up to it, getting down to his left to push the shot away.

New England would finally draw level in the 64th minute. Diego Fagundez played in a dangerous curling free kick from deep on the right size and Zahibio wouldn’t miss this time, leaving the marking Bedoya behind and nodding into the lower left corner of Blake’s goal from eight yards out.

Picault would restore the Union’s lead from the penalty spot in the 76th minute. Antonio Milnar Delamea clearly handled the ball in the box from Medunjanin’s deep corner kick. Picault stepped up to take the spot kick, drilling his shot right down the center as Matt Turner dove to his right.

Dockal almost added gloss to the scoreline in the 83rd minute. The midfielder found space to shoot from 25 yards out and curled a beautiful shot that hit square against the crossbar with Turner beaten by the effort.

New England would again push numbers forward looking for an equalizer, but Philadelphia dug deep and saw the match out, earning a huge three points on the road.

The win was Philadelphia’s fourth road win of the season. They can end the weekend as high as fifth place in the Eastern Conference depending on Montreal’s result in Salt Lake City. They are next in action when they host New York City FC next Saturday at Talen Engery Statdium (7 p.m.). Fafa Picault will be suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation.

Three Points
  • Big three points – After going up 2-0 in the first half and then allowing New England to come back and equalize, Picault’s game winning penalty was huge for the Union, who secured a fourth road victory of the season.
  • Sapong to the wing – For the first time this season, Cory Burke and C.J. Sapong were both in the starting XI. Sapong had a decent run on the right side before having less success when moved to striker in the second half.
  • Jack Elliott – Starting his third straight game in place of Mark McKenzie, the big center back scored the first ever brace by a defender in Philadelphia Union history. The first goal was a fine finish, seeing the 6-5 man back heel in from a well worked set play.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Ray Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin (Warren Creavalle 77′), Alejandro Bedoya, Fafa Picault (Derrick Jones 80′), Borek Dockal, C.J. Sapong, Cory Burke (Fabian Herbers 61′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Warren Creavalle, Fabian Herbers, David Accam

New England Revolution

Matt Turner, Antonio Milnar Delamea, Jalil Anibaba, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye, Juan Agudelo, Wilfried Zahibo (Kelyn Rowe 80′), Luis Caicedo, Cristian Penilla, Teal Bunbury, Diego Fagundez (Brian Wright 84′)
Unused Subs: Brad Knighton, Scott Caldwell, Zachary Herivaux, Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Cristian Machado

Scoring summary

PHI: Jack Elliott – 14′ (Haris Medunjanin, Borek Dockal)
PHI: Jack Elliott – 24′
NE: Andrew Farrell – 46′ (Cristian Penilla, Teal Bunbury)
NE: Wilfried Zahibio – 64′ (Diego Fagundez)
PHI: Fafa Picault – 76′ (PK)

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Andre Blake — 58′ (time wasting)
PHI: Fafa Picault – 63′ (dissent)
NE: Antonio Milnar Delamea – 84′ (unsporting behavior)
NE: Kelyn Rowe – 90+3′ (dissent)

Philadelphia Union New England Revolution
14 Shots 26
7 Shots on Target 7
6 Shots off Target 9
1 Blocked Shots 10
5 Corner Kicks 10
12 Crosses 25
2 Offsides 0
5 Fouls 18
2 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
361 Total Passes 443
72% Passing Accuracy 77%
44.4% Possession 55.6%
68 Duels Won 42
62% Duels Won % 38%
18 Tackles Won 11
5 Saves 4
28 Clearances 6


  1. Another road win? Wow. Gotta give the Union credit, this is certainly one area where they have improved over lastcyesr

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    My union instincts are to be critical tonight, but I will let it slide, only to mention, that PK was a fortunate turn of events because they were on their way to losing 2-3.
    In other news, how Kelyn Rowe is a substitute in this league is mindboggling to me. Otherwise, carry on, men. Congratulations.

    • I watched the whole game thinking the same thing. The Revs should have traded him, but they play hardball with their guys. Rowe is quality.

  3. Reminded me a lot of the game in Chicago where they seemed to play better when it was tied than when they had the lead. Fortunately, they were able to see the game out without needing a stoppage time goal to win.
    It will be interesting to see the lineup without Fafa next week. My guess is that Accam starts on the left and CJ on the right unless Ilsinho is healthy by then.

  4. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    Looks like the Union ran out of gas tonight and set pieces were their saving grace. Also it looks like Jack Elliott is trying to do what Mark Alexander McKenzie did to him when he got injured earlier in the the year. I must say Fabian Herbers looked like he gave the team a little juice when he came on and changed he pace of the game. Before he entered it just seemed like the Union couldn’t get the ball. He was in the right spot to pressure the defender into creating the hand ball. Should be interesting when Ilsinho gets health because I think we haven’t seen the last of Sapong on the wing with Burke at striker.

  5. Phil in Wilmington says:

    I would love to know the story behind Accam. This is a guy who has been one of the leagues most potent threats and has been relegated to the bench. Is there an injury no one is disclosing? Is he on a “system” team that doesn’t work for his style?

    On another note, glad to see Burke getting minutes. Shapong carried this team last year and his work rate is unquestionable, but the Union are at a point in the season where they need goal dangerous folks are on the field, and Burke seems to be that guy at the moment.

    • It is mind boggling. He has had double digit goals + assists each year of his career until he plays for us. So it’s not like he was a one year wonder, there was consistant production.

      • At this point I think it’s mostly in his head and he can’t get out of it. It is mind boggling I agree.

  6. Driving back from Massachusetts now. Had an excellent time at Gillette stadium watching the boys almost blow another game. The officiating was very pro-Philly which only means we’ll get screwed in an upcoming match.
    Loved Elliot’s goals but seriously lacked replays on the away jumbotron! They also didnt replay Fafa’s penalty. Oh well, three goals, three points.
    Overall I think everyone performed adequately. Farrell, as suspected, threatened Fafa and Gaddis all game. Trusty lost Zahibio on two previous set pieces. I actually called his goal before it happened. Curtin will no doubt be on Trusty’s case over this.
    DJ did not look nearly as steady as WC which is unfortunate as I really want him to earn a spot. There was a moment late in the game where DJ just needed to lay a header off to Bedoya and instead he put it right out of touch. Ale screamed at him, rightfully. Putting the ball out of touch immediately led to another Revs corner in the next play. Dangerous stuff. DJ still plays his age, unlike Trusty. He needs more experience.
    Nothing sweeter than winning away when you’re there to see it! Go Union.

    • I did not feel the same way about DJ. He was a beast on the ball for the most part. He took the bal from 30-40 yards out and made a run through midfield making a pass to the wing at a moment when the Union really needed relief. He got the free kick in the corner with nice hold up play. Yes he thought Bedoya was moving for the header, but at that time Bedoya was gassed. Yes a mistake. He should have realized as the hockey guys say, time place, score.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Agree on DJ, I thought he did well and was composed. Honestly, if the worst thing that you can say about a player is that he headed a ball out of bounds while protecting a lead, that’s a good performance.

        It looked really dicey there for the Union and they definitely looked like they were gonna give up all three points, but full credit to them because they persevered and got the win. Glad that Curtin decided to strengthen his midfield with Creavalle and Jones because at that point, we were getting overrun.

        The attack looked really at times and resulted in three goals as well as hitting the woodwork an additional three times.

  7. Another note: Sapong on the wing is better than 2018 Sapong at center forward. He’s a physical threat the opposition has to keep an eye on and doubles our hold up capabilities. If Sapong sees more starting minutes they’d best be on the wing (if Burke continues to perform well). Burke was unlucky to not have a goal but this Corey/CJ “pairing” is good stuff.

  8. When the first half started so poorly, I got that familiar old feeling of here we go again. When the Revs tied it up, it was genuinely cemented. But the Union kept fighting and looky looky another road win. Maybe the Union are a good team??? Say what?
    I’ve been fighting myself all year to not get too excited, or over-hyped. But dammit, I really like this team. I like the kids. I like Dockal. I like Bedoya. Ok, yes the coach pisses me off. Though he’s actually showing he learning. God I hate to admit that. The subs for the Rev match were probably the best of his tenure. I may have kept Burke instead of CJ, but it’s a coin flip. Haris is the liability late on, not Dockal. Putting Jones and Creavalle in, help shut things down. That, to me, is the end of game shut down pairing.
    This team, this iteration of the Union, makes me feel good about the organization, and that doesn’t happen very often. It’s an odd feeling. It doesn’t feel right. I’m tired of fighting it though. I’m going to enjoy it now. I think I’m all in.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Actually, when I worry is when the Union plays well for the first 20 minutes on the road. How frequently have they done that and then looked poor for the remaining 70? So being outplayed for the first 10 wasn’t so bad.
      I think leaving CJ on and pulling Burke was the better move than the other way around. At the time, the Union were still up by a goal and CJ is stronger defensively. Also, Burke played 80 minutes Wednesday night and CJ only 35. Curtin really is starting to learn something about squad rotation.

  9. Old Soccer Coach says:

    This team misses Ilsinho’s ability to connect with Dockal and create serious threats on the right.
    Fafa Picault deserves a lot of credit for the effort he expended this week. He was gassed. I would guess he was not subbed because the yellow card means he will not be first choice in practice all week.

    • I agree old soccer coach. It will be interesting to see if Curtin will use Ilsinho when healthy. He should be on the wing and should be allowed to roam like Barca uses Messi at times. I was impresssed with Fafa. He actually was precise on net! Very promising to see.

  10. So i don’t understand why CJ needs to start right now. Maybe since Ilsinho is hurt still ?? Secondly, i don’t get the negativity with Jones and Creavalle. They both held the fort down in the last minutes of the match. They had fantastic games and are a part of the few players who are consistent on the team. Good move by Curtin. They both need to see the field more. Especially when Harris and Bedoya get real lazy on defense like they did this game and many games before. It looked like Bedoya lost his mark on one of the plays where New England was pressing. I don’t think Bedoya has any room to yell at players about defense in my opinion. Jones is starting to show more on the field as in being open in the middle of the field, being the outlet, the nucleus. He calms the game down. More playing time will make them better. Why am I the only one that criticizes Bedoya and Harris? Yes, they had good games offensively but they are liabilities on the defensive side. I’ll admit it’s a tough call on what to do about that situation. Trusty needs to get better at marking up and his distribution as well. Overall, the team played well. They deserve the win.

    • Because you are the only one who can’t see they played 3 games in 8 nights. Because you ignore what Bedoya does do. You over exaggerate Bedoya’s and Medunjanin’s defensive liabilities. You believe Creavalle is a starter in this league.
      Basically what you believe leaves no room to work with. So yeah.

  11. I said that Bedoya is doing good offensively. Are you telling me Bedoya is a better defender than Creavalle ?? Haha! If you understood the game maybe you’d realize that when Bedoya and Harris are in the middle we risk other teams having open play through the midfield. It’s been happening game in game out. Even with this game ! I’m not saying that Bedoya and Harris suck. Do we need them on this team? yes ! They are a big part of our offense. If you’re saying that Creavalle and jones have been playing bad then you haven’t been paying attention or you don’t understand how the game should be played.

  12. Oh you mean where a play had to be made in that situation or Valeri takes a shot in goal?? And he dove as well. Let’s not talk about that factor at all. Oh and Bedoya losing his mark in the New England game for the attemp on goal or it was when they scored. Also his yellow card bc he went in way too hard during the Portland game if i can remember. Oh yea but we won’t talk about that. But yea, keep picking and choosing.

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