Union / Union match reports

Match report: Columbus Crew SC 0 – 0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union had little time to mourn their U.S. Open Cup defeat against Houston Dynamo, as the club traveled to Columbus to face Columbus Crew Saturday night. It was a crucial Eastern Conference match up with the season winding down. A winner would walk away in fourth place and in good position to host a playoff match at home. A loser would walk away in fifth place with other teams chasing their position.

After the final whistle blew, the match had yielded no winners nor losers. The two teams fought to a 0-0 draw, walking away with a point and the same playoff position they had when the match began.

The first half was much less eventful than that of the Open Cup Final. One would think that would be a good thing for the Union, who went down 2-0 in the first half on Wednesday. However, after less than spectacular play from both sides, the Union seemed to get lucky in the 37th minute. After Haris Medunjanin nailed the ball forward from deep in his own half, Cory Burke followed it forward, with Columbus center back Lalas Abubakar tracking back in front of him. Abubakar seemed to lose his balance and fell down, leaving Burke unmarked with the ball. Burke took it to the endline, and after a half full of unmet crosses, the forward crossed it in front of net. Columbus’s Jonathan Mensah tried to stop the cross, but instead mis-hit it into his own net.

Union fans cheered and Columbus fans booed until referee Drew Fischer signaled for a VAR review. Fischer’s signal was undoubtedly late, but it made no difference. Fischer ruled that Cory Burke had fouled Abubakar on his way to the ball, disallowing the goal. The match remained scoreless and would remain so for the rest of the half.

Indeed, it would remain scoreless for the duration of the match, as both sides fought to maintain possession but failed to capitalize on the few chances they got (the match saw only two shots on goal). The only real threat from either side came from Columbus in the 90th minute. Harrison Afful gathered the ball inside the right side of the Union’s box and shot it to the far post, but Andre Blake made a spectacular diving save to keep it out.

Three Points

You can’t win if you don’t score. And you can’t score if you don’t shoot on net. The match saw only two shots on net, and both of those came from Columbus. It may be time to try something new up top, if for no other reason than to give Cory Burke a rest.

A post cup loss point. It was a disappointing performance from the Union. They had no shots on net and didn’t create many opportunities. But after playing four games in two weeks, including traveling to Seattle and Houston, and losing the U.S. Open Cup final the Union will be happy to walk away with a point.

Bedoya on the wing. Jim Curtin chose to sit Dockal for the bulk of the match, as the midfielder is nursing an ankle injury. Curtin did bring on Dockal on for Sapong late in the match, however, moving Bedoya out to the wing. It was the first time we’ve seen Bedoya there for the Union, although he has played that position for most of his career. Bedoya wasn’t given a lot of time to demonstrate, but it was clear he felt comfortable in that spot.


Philadelphia Union

G – Andre Blake; D – Keegan Rosenberry, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Fabinho; M – Warren Creavalle (Derrick Jones 74′), C.J. Sapong (Borek Dockal 82′), Alejandro Bedoya, Fafa Picault; F – Cory Burke (Jay Simpson 90 +2′)

Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Richie Marquez, Ray Gaddis, David Accam

Columbus Crew SC

G -Zack Steffen; D – Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar (Josh Williams 55′), Milton Valenzuela; M – Artur, Wil Trapp, Pedro Santos (Niko Hansen 67′), Federico Higuaín (Eduardo Sosa 72′), Justin Meram; F – Gyasi Zardes

Unused Subs: Jon Kempin, Ricardo Clark, Héctor Jiménez, Patrick Mullins

Scoring summary


Disciplinary summary

PHI: 82′ Yellow Card – Fabinho  – Unsporting behavior

PHI: 88′ Yellow Card – Alejandro Bedoya – Unsporting behavior


Columbus Crew SC Philadelphia Union
11 Shots 13
2 Shots on Target 0
6 Shots off Target 7
3 Blocked Shots 6
5 Corner Kicks 5
16 Crosses 17
2 Offsides 1
11 Fouls 13
0 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
516 Total Passes 422
82% Passing Accuracy 79%
54.9% Possession 45.1%
46 Duels Won 41
52.9% Duels Won % 57.1%
10 Tackles Won 7
0 Saves 2
20 Clearances 19


  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    I mean… sure. I’ll take it. A loss would’ve been SO devesating so I’m glad they didn’t lose. A draw and the Montreal loss is definitely a good thing. Didn’t play bad. I didn’t like Curtin waiting so long to get CJ out. He was poor tonight. But poor subs are kind of Jim’s thing so whatever. Get 3 against Minnesota next week and I think they clinch a spot. All in all a decent reset from the disgrace of Wednesday.

  2. I’ll take the point. The way the Union have been playing on the road (Wednesday excluded), I’m not sure a road playoff game would be a bad thing. That said, 4th (or even 3rd) is still not completely out of the question. It could easily come down to the game at NYCFC. If the Union win out, they will finish no worse than tied with NYCFC and would win the tiebreaker. And if NYCFC loses in DC and the Union can win their 2 home games, then they would just need a draw in the last game to get a home playoff game. Columbus still has 2 road games including at a desperate Montreal next week.

  3. McKenzie won his spot back.

  4. wow that was boring a shit. someone’s gotta say it.

  5. Tonight we learned just how important the 2018 Union Most Valuable Player is, how critical his healthy ankles are, and how the paramount task for the off-season is to ensure his return for 2019.
    There can be nothing more significant than Borek Dockal’s return. Nothing.
    He is the only number 10 who is quality in the here and now.
    Aaronson is not ready for MLS yet. He has to prove he can impact games against the serious adult sides at the top of USL, because he has not done so. Now, he’s turning 18 in a month, so there is plenty of opportunity. But he’s still got plenty of growing to do in USL.

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      What do you think the odds are that Borek is with the Union next season?

      • I think it depends a LOT on what the asking price is. I mean if the Chinese team that owns him won’t release him for less than $20 million or something it could just be out of the Union’s price range.

      • Really tough call. He doesn’t want to go back to China so they lose a lot of leverage there. Although he’s played so well for us this year some other team may come in and make a better offer. Also he seems to enjoy it here so if he wants to stay that helps us a lot too. I think it’s 60-40 that he’s here next year, but who knows.

  6. Overall, a draw on the road, to a tough team, for your 5th match in 15 days, coming off a devastating tournament final loss, and with a few key players nursing injuries and/or suspended, is not a bad result.

    However, as a practical matter, it almost guarantees us a 5th place finish, because Columbus’ 3 remaining matches look WAAAY easier than ours. I cannot imagine we’ll get more points than they do in October. Which means we’ll be in Columbus again,

    And the 4th meeting of the season between these 2 clubs is gonna be… boring. Because in the 3 matches they’ve played this season, a grand total of a single goal has been scored.

    And if it ends 0-0 in regular time, then I trust Berghalter will soundly out-coach Curtin, who seems to have reverted to his habit of making subs far too late to have an impact.

    Sorry, but sometimes the future just predicts itself.

    • As I pointed out above, the Union still has a chance to catch NYCFC who has 2 games left, at DC and against the Union. If they lose at DC, then the Union need to win the head to head and win one of the other two (since the Union hold the tiebreaker).

  7. VAR has cost the Union more than it has helped them,and I would think many of those decisions were simply reversing calls “on second thought”, not for clear error as they are supposed to be. Combined with the East-West dominant ball movement tonight, there was no way that the offense would be scoring tonight. Disappointed to see the lack of offensive punch, but I was more concerned about the defensive breakdowns as well. The boys seem to be giving up more counterattacks as the season progresses. Lucky to get the point.

    • the boys seem to be giving up more counterattacks as their opposition realizes how vulnerable they are to counterattacks

      • Or they seem to be giving up more counter attacks because the midfield is comprised of three thirty year old players who aren’t given breaks unless they are injured. Funny how even the blind Tommy Smyth could see Bedoya was tired.

    • I’d argue that Columbus was lucky to get a point because that VAR decision is complete bull. That completely goes against the spirit of VAR. I’m still shocked they reversed that.

  8. Burke’s hot streak is officially over. The Union rode it well while it lasted. Time to try something new, but that isn’t a Curtin trait.

    • He had a goal called back because of VAR and a terrible ref. I wouldn’t say it’s over at all.

      • Yeah, plus no Dockal which makes a big difference. The best thing about Burke was that he was actually finishing the chances that Dockal was getting him, unlike literally everyone else on the team.

  9. Embarrassing coaching display for the second time this week.
    All in all still okay to get the point, definitely miss Dockal.

    • What exactly was embarrassing about it?

      • I’m pretty sure Columbus had made all 3 subs before we made one, including one to change their formation and gameplan completely. Obviously we held on, but they controlled the game almost completely after half. This was the 4th game in 14 days, only 3 days after a very draining and emotional loss, both games on the road. There is absolutely no excuse to save your sub until 75 mins in.
        This is hardly the first time this has happened. The team usually comes out well to start a game, but are consistently beaten after adjustments are made.

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