Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 5 – 1 Minnesota United FC

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union produced one of the most exciting matches of the season as they put five goals past Minnesota United FC at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday night to clinch the third playoff appearance in team history in convincing fashion.

Tonight wasn’t a must win for the Union, but the energy in the stadium made it feel as if it were.

Haris Medunjanin sported a fresh new look and, even though Jim Curtin rolled out a familiar lineup, it appeared to be a fresh, energetic Union side on the pitch.

Minnesota looked dangerous on the counterattack in the early goings, but it was the Union who created the night’s first chances. After a good two minutes of sustained pressure in the attacking third, Borek Dockal found Cory Burke standing at the top of the box who fired a howitzer of a shot past Shuttleworth’s outstretched arms in the 8th minute. Dockal was able to pick out the Jamaican for his MLS-leading 16th assist following some interwoven passes down the right side via C.J. Sapong and Keegan Rosenberry.

Dockal’s assist broke the tie with Christian Maidana for Union’s all-time leading setup man.

Philadelphia refused to let their foot off the gas, enjoying long spells of possession for several minutes to follow. Dockal continued pulling the strings in midfield for the boys in blue, linking up with the two men on the right flank once more.

In the 18th minute, the ball found its way to Keegan Rosenberry on the end line, who slid a lovely first-time cross to Alejandro Bedoya directly in front of the keeper’s goalmouth. The captain coolly jabbed the ball into the empty net.

The Union’s relentless pressure and desire to push forward would not yield. After looking like a team that didn’t have the energy to compete against Houston in the cup final, the Union played as if they had something to prove—if not to the Talen faithful, to themselves.

Sapong and Rosenberry continued to expose Minnesota’s back-line and, in particular, right back Jerome Thiesson. Taking the same route as the second goal, Rosenberry found himself with ample time and space to connect on another cross, this time to the feet of recent USMNT call-up Fafa Picault.

Picault was finally able to cash in on what could have easily been his second or third goal of the evening in the 25th minute. The speedy winger beat his marker to the near post and squeaked a shot through Shuttleworth’s mitt to give the Union a commanding 3-0 advantage.

Following the third goal of the night, Minnesota gradually grew back into the match — as if to say they were ever in it at all. Minnesota’s forwards got in on the action, creating a bit of chaos for Andre Blake, who had only touched the ball a handful of times to that point.

With just minutes remaining in the half, Philly’s backline scrambled to clear a missed clearance in front of goal. Minnesota’s efforts went unrewarded, and they resumed their defensive play.

With referee Allen Chapman’s watch winding down, the Union were able to muster one last attack, once again coming from Sapong’s right side.

C.J. Sapong and his attacking counterparts seemingly walked the ball into Minnesota’s half. With the ball at his feet, Sapong drew two defenders to himself, passing to a wide open Picault streaking down the left side. With a defender laying off him, Picault pulled up at the corner of the box and unleashed a wicked curling strike into the top bin, leaving the keeper rooted to his spot.

With four goals in the opening 45 minutes in the attack and a shutout at the back, it was one of the most entertaining halves of soccer produced by the Union.

Minnesota began the second half looking like a totally different team from the first. Switching to a three-defender system proved to be effective for manager Adrian Heath when he watched his side reduce the deficit following some nifty movement from the Colombian Darwin Quintero. Quintero made the Union defense look like an inferior species while cutting right through Auston Trusty and Mark McKenzie for the goal.

The Union recovered to comfortably see out the remainder of the match. In the 80th minute, substitute Ilsinho, who had made it to the game day roster in place of David Accam, made it five for the home side after cutting loose from 30 yards out. It was a goal that Shuttlesworth would want back, but it was a goal nonetheless.

Three points
Playoffs? Playoffs!?

For the third time in Philadelphia Union history, the team has clinched its spot in the Audi MLS Playoffs. With the win, the Union now sit in fourth in the Eastern Conference and would host a first round playoff game.

Fafa’s confidence

Freshly off a call up to the U.S. National Team, Fafa Picault’s confidence is peaking and peaking at the right time for club and country. After two goals and an assist for the winger and numerous chances created, Picault looks like he’s truly having fun out there. Man of the Match performance.

Newly found chemistry

For much of the season, the Union’s right hand side has been in disarray when Rosenberry plays behind Sapong, but it was a different story Saturday night. Three of Union’s five goals came from their right wing and the two combined for three assists on the night.


Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry, Raymon Gaddis; Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle), Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (C); Fafa Picault, C.J. Spong (Ilsinho), Cory Burke (Simpson)

Unused substitutes: Jack Elliot, Fabinho, Derrick Jones, John McCarthy

Minnesota United FC

Bobby Shuttleworth; Jerome Thiesson (Alexi Gomez), Michael Boxall, Brett Kallman, Francisco Calvo (C), Rasmus Schueller, Fernando Bob, Maximiniano (Harrison Heath), Darwin Quintero, Angelo Rodriguez

Unused substitutes: Ibson, Wyatt Omsberg, Matthew Lampson, Mason Toye, Eric Miller

Scoring summary

Union 8′ Cory Burke (Borek Dockal)

Union 17′ Alejandro Bedoya (Keegan Rosenberry)

Union 23′ Fafa Picault (Keegan Rosenberry)

Union 44′ Fafa Picault (C.J. Sapong)

MNFC 54′ Darwin Quintero (Angelo Rodriguez)

Union 80′ Ilsinho (Fafa Picault)

Disciplinary summary

Union 56′ Alejandro Bedoya (Yellow)

Union 72′ Fafa Picault (Yellow)

MNFC 72′ Alexi Gomez (Yellow)

MNFC 75′ Fernando Bob


  1. No one is going to say the Union limped into the playoffs after tonight. Winning out now clinches third for the Union. A win and a draw would mean no worse than 4th. Great effort all around. Also nice to see Dockal back on top of the league in assists.

  2. That was fun!

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Was engaged in youth footy all day today. Were Union that good Minnesota that bad or a perfect tobacco blend of both?

    • I’d go with the blend to be fair. MN was hurting and it showed, but the U did what they were supposed to do with a team in that state: Pound them.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Union also missed a couple of sitters (most notably Burke when it was still 0-0). That being said, Blake also needed to make some big saves.

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      If you watch one highlight, make it the Rosenberry assist to Fafa.

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      If you watch one highlight, make it Keegan’s assist to Fafa.

      • PG,
        El P is not a fan of KR. Unlikely your comment or vids of assists would change his mind.

      • Peanut Gallery says:

        UnionGoal: That’s why I called it out. 😉
        Give credit where credit is do. He made a really terrible pass/turnover in his own defensive third, as well, but that assist was sublime.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Hey Union Goal,

        I’ve given the player a hard time I’ve also accredited his clear growth this season…. so there’s that.

    • El P, MN’s defense was pretty woeful — Fafa’s 2nd goal really stands out in that regard — but the Union didn’t just squeak past; they POUNDED them. They did what a truly good team should do to a truly bad team.

      It was wondrous to behold.

  4. It’s nit picky, I know, but there was NO reason for that MN goal to be surrendered. I have no idea what great strategic thought led to passing back from the offensive half rather than pressing forward during that sequence.
    The sloppy passing in the back line is getting more prevalent (Trusty) and playoff teams aren’t going to botch the many opportunities MN were handed tonight.
    That worry aside, it was very fun to be in the stadium for that very convincing win tonight. Based on the comments we started the season with, how can anyone consider this season anything other than success? There is sustainability and growth still to come.

  5. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    What a way to clinch a playoff spot. The front line played their best game as a unit this year. With Ilsinho entering the game, his play grabbed back the momentum and his goal iced the game. Who would have thought the last two games of the season could be so meaningful after clinching a payoff spot?

  6. I felt bad for the visitors, it was like they were playing with targets on their jerseys

  7. Drhammerheel says:

    I believe creavalle came on for dockal?

  8. Andrew Gajan says:

    Here is where we are at. This game was so perfect that my lasting memory will be fans waving bbn pink towels in the 29th minute to honor all the women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was perfect.

  9. This has been a wild year…
    It was great to see them dispatch of a team that they should beat. Finish strong. Set the pace for the playoffs now.

  10. Team is healthy for the most part
    A weeks rest to get there legs back. Need Doakal rested and fully healed for playoffs. He is the key plAyer on this team. Makes. Burke and Fafa more effective. Play him just enough ite rest of the reg season.

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