Union match reports

Match report: New York City FC 3 – 1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Ryan Griffith

MLS seemed to get exactly the kind of suspense they had hoped for going into “Decision Day.” With all games across MLS kicking off at or around 4:30 PM, plenty of teams still had everything to gain and everything to lose, few more so than NYC FC and Philadelphia Union. The winner of the match between the two East Coast teams would finish third on the table, while the loser could finish as low as fifth or sixth for NYC FC and for Philadelphia Union respectively.

After an action-packed first half, some bad defensive mistakes, and some unfavorable results in the Eastern Conference, NYC FC retained their third place standing, while Philadelphia dropped to sixth place, losing he opportunity to host a knockout playoff match in Chester. The Union will instead return to NYC FC for their match.

Philadelphia fell into a deep hole early after feeling a lot of pressure down the right flank. In just the eighth minute, NYC’s Maximiliano Moralez hit a corner kick into the box, where the 6-foot-1 center back Maxime Chanot rose up to head it in past Andre Blake. It was the first goal on Decision Day and Chanot’s first goal of the season. Not long after, in the 10th minute, the Union caught some bad luck, as center back Auston Trusty lunged back towards goal to try to stop an NYC FC cross. Trusty’s outstretched foot failed to clear it, instead hitting it into the Union’s net. It counted as an own goal, and NYC were up 2-0 early.

Union fans were anxious to see how their side would respond, and they must have been at least partly satisfied, as the Union scored a mere four minutes later. Gathering the ball in the middle of the final third, Union winger Fafa Picault hit an intelligent key pass to Borek Dockal, who then threaded a perfect ball through NYC FC’s back line to Cory Burke. Burke quickly shot it past NYC keeper Sean Johnson to score and ease Philadelphia’s burden a bit.

In the 34th minute, NYC would capitalize on some sloppy defensive play by the Union. After Andre Blake was caught out of net, a series of deflections ensued. David Villa put a shot past Blake that was blocked by Auston Trusty. Trusty’s deflection almost went in for yet another own goal, but Union right back Ray Gaddis was there to block it from doing so. Unfortunately for the Union, NYC FC gathered it and shot. Blake blocked that shot, but David Villa received the deflection and hit it in with precision. No Union player was there to stop it this time. New York City was up by two goals once again.

It would be a big enough lead to secure NYC the victory and third place, as a match that saw an impressive four goals in the first half saw zero goals in the second half. Philadelphia created more opportunities in the second half than in the first, but they couldn’t finish any of them.

It was disappointing result for a side that had high hopes on the evening.

Three points
  1. Big game blunders. Before entering the U.S. Open Cup Final against Houston Dynamo, Philadelphia Union had been playing some of the best soccer in the club’s history. Similarly, headed into this match, the Union had been solid, having gone without a loss in nine of their last eleven matches. Just as they did in the Open Cup Final, the Union seemed to play in direct contrast to that strong run of form. Sloppy defensive shape and needless mistakes cost them a match that mattered. Union fans will feel that this is more a bad pattern than bad luck.
  2. Halftime changes. Jim Curtin and his squad couldn’t make the halftime changes to come back for a victory, but to be fair to them, their changes did make an impact. After coming on for Cory Burke, Ilsinho wreaked havoc down the right wing – exactly what he was brought in to do. Philadelphia also kept the ball in the final third for longer stretches, controlling it and creating chances, albeit chances they couldn’t finish. The halftime changes were well made. A 3-1 deficit is just a lot to overcome.
  3. What does this mean for the playoffs? Concretely, it means that the Union lost the opportunity to host a knockout round match. It means they will have to return to Yankee Stadium to face the same New York City FC that dealt them a tough loss (but with a healthier Yangel Herrera). Mentally, it means that a team that has played well for the majority of the season will likely have staggered confidence after losing two in a row, not to mention the Open Cup Final. Philadelphia Union have the odds against them in this one.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Mark McKenzie, Auston Trusty, Ray Gaddis, Keegan Rosenberry (Fabinho – 68′), Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal, Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault, C.J. Sapong (Jay Simpson – 76′), Cory Burke (Ilsinho – halftime)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Jack Elliott, Derrick Jones, Warren Creavalle

New York City FC

Sean Johnson, Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot (Ebenezer Ofori – 88′), Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat, Alexander Ring, Yangel Herrera, Maximiliano Moralez (Eloi Amagat – 68′), Ronald Matarrita, Jesus Medina (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi – 85′), David Villa

Unused Subs: Brad Stuver, Valentin Castellanos, Sebastien Ibeagha, Rodney Wallace

Scoring summary

NYC : Maxime Chanot – 8′ (Maximiliano Moralez)

NYC: Auston Trusty – 10′ (own goal)

PHI: Cory Burke – 14′ (Borek Dockal)

NYC: David Villa – 34′

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Auston Trusty – 16′ (Unsporting behavior)

PHI: Cory Burke – 40′ (Unsporting behavior)

PHI: Haris Medunjanin – 67′ (Dissent)

Philadelphia Union New York City FC
16 Shots 9
7 Shots on Target 5
5 Shots off Target 3
4 Blocked Shots 1
7 Corner Kicks 7
17 Crosses 17
1 Offsides 1
14 Fouls 10
0 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
551 Total Passes 451
83% Passing Accuracy 78%
54.4% Possession 45.5%
43 Duels Won 52
45.3% Duels Won % 54.7%
18 Tackles Won 7
4 Saves 5
23 Clearances 14


  1. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    Well I think it’s time to pull the plug on this group. They just choke when it comes to a big game early in the match, plain and simple. I’m gong to guess to the joy of many that Jim Curtin won’t be back next season.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    As grand a difference between these organizations as the difference between the universe and a multiverse.
    The fastest the team moved the ball was finding a 1 Touch way to give it back to the goalie… who then promptly kicked it down the field to the other goalie. This is our soccer.
    1 point in the last 2 games.

  3. Curtin is an idiot. This game, on this field, you start Ilsinho for Sapong and Jones for Haris.

    If our idiotic coach trots out the same starting lineup this week, then he needs to be fired the next day.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      He dare not start his treasured Haris. So ridiculous. For one Jim… FOR ONCE… adjust to a situation. It’s just insane at this point. Sapong up top?!? I don’t even know or really care whatever happened with Burke… but it better have been LEGIT. He’s the only dude who does actually score (see earlier in THIS game). If you were trying to “prove a point” to Burke – if that is what happened – at this stage of the season – you should be fired before the playoff game. I can’t wait till they go up next week and have the same result. INFURIATING

      • Was Burke subbed off for fighting with Dockal?

      • To my mind, Burke was subbed off because the team was down 2 goals, had a yellow card, and was playing wrecklessly enough that he might have picked up a second and missed the more important game coming up.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I don’t disagree Andy. I think that was more of the reason. My point was that I hope that was th reason. It just makes me really angry when I watch this team, because of Curtin, try to ram a square peg in a round hole. They can get points from these games but they don’t ever adjust and do what’s necessary to get them. That’s obnoxious

    • You’re right James. Ilsinho shows that he’s a pro every time he steps on the field for this team this year. When he’s on the field the only priority should be getting the ball to him. He’s our only option to get any type of serious attack with purpose up field. I’m sick of seeing Harris play 90 mins every game. It’s simple, if he’s not giving you any type of progression on the field take him off !! He’s been very poor lately and his decision making has been poor. Jones or Creavalle should have been subbed in for him.

  4. Trusty almost had the elusive own-goal brace.

    But never fear, he comes from the Academy so all is forgiven.

    The Jolly Red Idiot needs to go. His idea of a halftime adjustment is loosening the belt on his ill-fitting suits.

    • The kid is 20 years old and made a couple of poor plays and you’re ready to knock the whole academy system? I’m sure you never made any mistakes at that age. Or do you just want them to only play veterans and forget about all of the points that Trusty and McKenzie earned for them this season.

      • The Academy system in and of itself is fine. However, let’s be grown ups here. With this club, they are trying to sell every suburban Mom and Dad I the fantasy that Junior will make the big club.

        This they continue to run Trusty and McKenzie out there no matter how badly they play. Can you credibly say that Trusty needed tomlay every minute of every game based upon performance? Please ?

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I don’t know Elvado… I think Trusty, McKenzie, and the other CB Elliott were all pretty good and for the most part Trusty… of all people or reasons this team Ian what it is… I don’t feel Trusty is one of them.

      • Did Trusty miskick the ball on the own goal? Yes, obviously. Should Trusty have even tried to play the ball? Probably, yes. As it turns out, if he had let it go, there was no one behind him to receive the pass, but he didn’t know that. For all he knew, if he let it go, someone was coming in from the right to have a wide open shot. Was the miskick due to him playing every minute? Not in the least.
        Why did Trusty play every minute? Because he was the best player on the team at his position, stayed healthy all year, plays a position that is rarely subbed out midgame, and did not receive a suspension. Yes, even though he is only 20, he managed to play every minute of 34 games and only receive 4 yellow cards while also being a solid defender. So, yes, the Union would likely have been a worse team if he hadn’t played every minute, unless Curtin had enough precognition to know exactly when he was going to make a mistake.

      • Andy his touch is bad. His distribution is bad. The ball gets away from him a lot. Could he be good someday of course but right now ? He’s amateur at best. He would see the field with other teams in this league. The best defenders are the guys who have exceptional touch with the ball at their feet and can distribute with percision out of the back. The kid doesn’t have it. Or doesn’t have it yet. You never clear a ball towards your own net. Not sure he tries to accomplish in the Cup final and in this match.

      • I don’t think he was aiming anywhere near his own net (at least on the goal…I haven’t seen enough replays of the ball Gaddis cleared). I think he was aiming toward the sidelines back where it came but that the ball struck the wrong part of his foot.
        I also see him as much more of than an amateur. Do the Union end of anywhere near 50 points if Marquez is playing regularly rather than Trusty?

      • Maybe I’m remembering incorrectly, but didn’t the majority of us say at the beginning of the season that we would accept the mistakes if they played the kids? I’m pretty sure that happened.
        For most of the season we had two starting CB’s under 20. And what exactly were the Union struggling with for MOST of the season? Oh yeah that’s right, scoring, not defense. Trusty made some mistakes sure. He needs work on distribution and maybe a softer touch. But this loss is not entirely on his shoulders. There’s plenty of blame to go around and the Coach is the first in that line. No one bleeds more for blue and gold than Trusty. You see it in his play, his comments, and the way he reacts. All this pointing the finger at him is utterly ridiculous.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Top Dead Center, All4U
        Trusty’s mistakes while a blemish are just that- acceptable to the narrative.

      • Look I can be as big an Ass as anyone, because I let my passion get away from me and I got a big mouth(usually once or twice a month here). My apologies. But seriously, is Trusty really the one we want to go after here? If the damn coach had sat Sapong 2-3 games earlier in the season, the team wouldn’t even be in this position. They’d be third. If the damn coach had rotated the squad a couple times during those MULTIPLE 3 games a week stretches, maybe just maybe our thirty something midfield trio might not be out of gas 5 games before the end of the season. Had the coach used a destroyer instead of a passer who needs space to be effective on the smallest pitch in the league maybe just maybe they would have been defensively sound yesterday.

    • ted_the Limey_Slapper says:

      Ooooh look! “Evaldo”! richey_the_Limey found a new user name!

  5. While this wasn’t the Union’s best game, it still wasn’t as critical as the one coming up midweek. Yes, a home game would have been nice, but a few breaks go differently and it’s a 2-2 draw meaning the Union play DC next.
    Hopefully, they learned something today and are in the middle of 5 straight against NY teams.
    That being said, the Union have shown significant improvement over the last several years and I’m willing to live with some growing pains from guys like Trusty.
    Today wasn’t the reason the Union are opening on the road nearly as much as the questionable VAR’s last week and in Columbus.

  6. That was painful to watch. The defenders acted like they never met one another, and are the strikers and wings not paid to shoot the ball? The only positive that I took from this game was that Jim Curtin actually adjusted the formation. Granted, it was late but going with 3 defenders on the narrow field, and moving Fabinho forward was actually creative. Not the personnel that I would have chosen to do it, but finally adjusting to the game situation. Maybe, if it continues in the playoff game, there is some hope.

  7. The Curtin is about to fall on the Unions once hopeful season….. Curtin has lost the teams trust . Why was Burke pulled from the game ? He has been the teams top goal scorer and scored the only goal for the Union in the game tonight. Burke was obviously very upset about something and Curtin did nothing to help. Bedoya needs to become unofficial player coach and call a team meeting minus Curtin and workout whatever differences Doakal and Burke other players have have before for Wednesdays game. Curtin has shown no leadership in critical games. This game was for home field advantage and he could not even keep the team together mentally or emotionally. Once again Curtin showed very poor leadership judgement at critical point in the season. A sad ending to a once promising season for the Union.

  8. Earlier in the week I was going to write that however this match went would be a prelude to what we will see in the playoffs. From this match I gather it will be one round and done. It always seems like the Union choke or fall to pieces in an important match. This one was no different. I was so disgusted I actually turned it off twice, and came back, before I finally gave up after the third goal.

  9. Can we replace Curtin in the next 3 days and give the team a chance to win an away playoff game? This team is in free-fall. Never thought they were as good as some imagined. Neither are they as bad as 3-1 loss to NYCFC. But if Curtin stays on I’m sure Trusty will be in dog house next year and play limited minutes (a la Rosenberry), some other rookie will play every minute of MLS season, we’ll lose another Open Cup final… When is a pattern recognized as a pattern?

    • By free fall, you mean they lost to the supporter shield winners by a goal on a freak handball, won a convincing 5-1 win to secure a playoff berth, had a 0-0 tie on the road in their fifth game in two weeks with close to 10,000 miles travelled that would have been a win but for a VERY questionable VAR call, had a clunker in Houston (the team that just went to LA and knocked Zlatan out of the playoffs), used their B team to beat the top team in the west 4 days after beating the team that finished second in the west?
      So 3-3-1 in their last 7 (including the cup final) which easily could have been 4-2-1 but for a couple of questionable judgment calls. Hardly what I would call free fall.

      • Thank you. So many people fail to see the big picture.

      • Yes, that’s what free-fall means. You are on a high. And you fall. This team can’t win anything right now, players are bickering, and the coach is lost.

        Also, with regard to Wednesday’s game being more important, you neglect to point out that Wednesday’s game would have been home if Union had won on Sunday. So actually, for both team and FO (especially Sugarman) Sunday’s game was MORE important. (MLS teams keep gate receipts.)

      • Really? Did you really just make the argument that a game for playoff seeding is more important than an actual playoff game?

  10. I missed game yesterday but reading recap RE_affirmed some thoughts going into game if recap and comments read correctly.

    1. Union lost. Not surprised when put against twin statements that a win gives home playoff while players criticized playing at home due to field conditions. Not saying they threw it but saying less motivation to win, especially playoff secured and possibly facing nycfc again.
    2. Lineup___surprised same players but not surprised he tried CJ up top and Burke on wing. Why show off what you want to do in playoffs?
    3. Burke…if I read correctly he had a yellow and seemed upset. At times this year watching seen his temper flare but fortunately no opportunities to retaliate until he cooled so no red cards.
    Hopefully we will be pleasantly surprised come the playoff.
    I like Jim Curtin personally and in this league he is decent coach but verdict remains same as beginning of season__show he belongs here. Since August he has shown more flexibility than past 2 years and that’s good.
    However I’m still not convinced union couldn’t do better with change of coaching, and like Reid with Chiefs, or Francona and redsox, a move benefits both and Curtin could show his abilities with new team.
    Good luck next game no matter outcome.

  11. The Union Jack says:

    The entire defense needs to hang its head from this game. 1st goal Andre inexplicably comes of his line into no mans land and in essence prevents himself from any chance of an amazing goal save on the header. 2nd goal Trusty needs to pick up the positioning of the attackers when there are these fast break happen. He also must know that his toe poke will ABSOLUTELY clear the ball and not just lunge to lunge. I think that’s his 3rd own goal this year. 3rd goal… it is maddening how our defenders stand and ball watch in critical points of the game. 4 defenders standing in the box, none are marking any of the 3 NYCFC players. HOW CAN YOU NOT MAN MARK DAVID VILLA. Someone (Keegan) should have been on him like ugly on an ape.

    Burke was immature in the game. He played reckless (whether NYCFC was dirty or not you’re playing away), picked up a yellow and argued with the one person who can get you the ball to score. Curtin was right to sit him.

    Bottle up that emotion boys and leave it all on the pitch Wednesday.

  12. I predict the U will lose again in the first round of the playoffs. It’s pretty simple, at half time you tell Burke to calm down and to not relax when battling for the ball. I understand that he was on a yellow and having him on the field risks him not playing the next match. The only problem is that he’s our only true striker that has been scoring. Players argue with each other all the time. Curtin once again treats this team like it’s fucking high school or something. To be fair , i would be confused too since they play high school ball a lot.
    I’m sorry but putting out the great young and fresh backline has become a mistake. I’m also sorry to say that Trusty is absolutely horrible! He has horrible touch, horrible distribution, and can’t clear the ball when the season depends on it. I’ve never seen a good defender do what he does. He’s amateur and it’s a shame. This team should have kept or opted for a veteran defender. Every team needs at least one. Elliot should start the next game.
    Lastly , Medujanin gives this team nothing right now. When a player gives you nothing then you sub him off idc if it was Messi or Ronaldo ! A real coach would see that he wasn’t cutting it and should have been replaced with Jones or Creavalle. Also, Ilsinho should have taken that PK. He’s the only true South American professional on this team that has played with the big boys and who has given us results when on the field. #DroptheCurtin

    • How dare you criticize Auston? He came from the Academy and played every minute whether he deserved to or not? He is the poster child for selling suburban Mommies on Junior playing for the big club.

      He was one Ray Gaddis save away from an own goal brace. Now that would have been the capper on his season.

      • Why are you so bitter towards the academy? You do realize those kids get a damn good education. They get professional instruction in the sport they chose and possibly a chance at turning pro. Even if they don’t get an offer from the organization, there’s at least the possibility of being seen by another club and even being picked up. Oh yes, this seems horrible and cruel beyond belief.
        So what is your true agenda here? You make it sound like people are being duped. Where exactly are the Union misleading people?

  13. I don’t think these folks are bashing the academy…I think they’re trying to say playing Trusty all game/every game is an FO marketing decision; not a decision based on what’s best for the team on the field, on a given day.

    The argument is, they’re playing him for the attention the narrative brings, not for his skills.

    That isn’t a bash on the academy…that’s a subjective opinion based on perspective.

    I found myself thinking the same thing after the own goal, yesterday. Elliot makes a few mistakes and disappears; even with stellar distribution and better footwork.

    D. Jones disappeared after 1 red card last season. We all know what happened to Rosenberry…

    Trusty makes mistakes, and he’s back every week. It doesn’t make any sense…then your brain wonders a little…it makes sense, if they’re playing him for the narrative that leads to an organic marketing opportunity, but not much else makes much sense to some folks.

    It is interesting that Trusty wasn’t one of the 3 Union Academy players that were called to USMNT U-20’s…what is Curtin seeing that they’re not…or vice versa?

    • Auston Trusty is currently 20 years old, so he’s ineligible to be called up to an under-20 team.

    • McKenzie was getting the same treatment until he got hurt. Then Elliot came on and knocked it out of the park so he played while he was hot until he got a red card. Trusty hasn’t given that kind of excuse (injury or card) to take him out, so he’s stayed in. Has nothing to do with narrative.

    • Maybe just maybe Trusty played because he was the best option? Elliot, for all that nice footwork and distribution is slow. He gets beat by a speedy winger easily when caught up field. Happened multiple times this season when he was playing. Realize when I say this, I’m not saying he’s a bad player. Far from it. But what he isn’t, is a good fit for this team as the coach wants it constructed with Haris and Bedoya in the middle. Switch either one of those out for a speedier Creavalle or younger D. Jones, and Elliot fits much better. So you are left with oft injured Yaro (where is he by the way?) or Marquez. Either one of those an upgrade for you? Not in my book.
      Now do the Union want to develop their players? Why of course. Do the Union want to see them on the field? Of course. Would the Union hamper themselves repeatedly game in game out to do these things? That’s absolutely ludicrous. That’s the stuff of conspiracy nuts right there. But that’s the new world we live in I guess.

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