Union / Union match reports

Match report: Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw thanks to a goal by Kacper Przybylko when they flew coast-to-coast to take on a struggling Vancouver Whitecaps team on Saturday.

Jim Curtin’s lineup in Vancouver featured five new faces from last week’s 3-0 home win over Montreal. In the wake of numerous suspensions, injuries, and various personal issues, the match tested the Union’s depth.

Cory Burke and Ilsinho were left home due to personal reasons, Kai Wagner was suspended, and Andre Blake, Marco Fabian, and Mark McKenzie were all hurt. That left goalkeeper Matt Freese and striker Kacper Przybylko making their first-ever MLS starts and left back Olivier Mbaizo made his first start of the 2019 season.

Vancouver, in light of public backlash from their supporter groups for lack of intensity and effort on the field, looked to beat Philadelphia at their own game in the opening minutes while deploying a high press.

The Union looked cool and comfortable on the ball despite the early pressure placed on them. The diamond four was able to dominate Vancouver’s midfield and control the bulk of possession, amounting to the game’s first opportunity at goal off of a glancing header from the head of Alejandro Bedoya, which despite an appeal for VAR review from the captain, came to nothing in the end.

With the Union’s midfield settled in and in control of the game, the Whitecaps could do very little but to try to catch Philly on the break and counter attack. In a game with one team looking to counter, sometimes a fortunate bounce can be the difference and in the 14th minute that nearly looked to be the case for Vancouver.

A bouncing ball deep in the Union’s 18 yard box found the feet of Yordy Reyna who rocketed a shot off of Matt Freese’s left goalpost and the danger was extinguished.

The Union’s twenty-year-old Homegrown keeper looked well in command of his box throughout the first half, confidently claiming crosses and charging out to make the saves his team needed. No save was bigger than what came in the 35th minute of play when Reyna once again got loose behind the Union’s back four after turning Ray Gaddis inside out before firing a shot that was met by the former Harvard goalkeeper’s outstretched leg.

Play began to open up and the stranglehold in the midfield that once belonged to Philadelphia quickly began to evaporate. With Vancouver able to keep hold of the ball, they pinned both Gaddis and Mbaizo deeper and deeper into their own half, allowing their wingers the chance to overlap and get deep and ultimately earn set pieces.

The tides kept turning in favor of the hosts and in the 41st minute they got their breakthrough. Left back Ali Adnan stood over the corner kick poised to whip in a cross and he did just that. Defender Doneil Henry rose to meet Adnan’s ball with a thumping header into the far post’s side netting. Henry beat Auston Trusty to the spot to put home his second goal of the season, a team high, and only his team’s seventh of the year.

The second half began much like how the first ended; Vancouver was in control, but vulnerable.

Jim Curtin noted at halftime that he would have to make changes up top in the second half and called upon his only attacking player on the bench, Fafa Picault. Aaronson was the surprise choice to step aside for the pacey winger turned striker, moving Monteiro to the number 10 spot.

The Whitecaps enjoyed more and more possession in Philadelphia’s half, but instantly showed their vulnerability when trying to play the ball from the back. After their speedy forward Yordy Reyna was forced off with a hamstring injury, Vancouver lost their ability to play the ball over the top and needed to play the rest of the match from their own third.

Noticing the obvious weakness, Monteiro and his midfield company began selectively pressing those passes from the Vancouver defenders and in the 66th minute the Union’s gamble paid off.

Monteiro pounced on a weak pass through the midfield and slotted a pass into the path of an onrushing Kacper Przybylko who coolly placed his one-on-one chance past Vancouver’s Crepeau and into the side netting. The young Polish striker’s equalizer was his first in the blue and gold of the Union in what was just his second appearance and first start for the senior team.

In a continuation of his red hot form for both Bethlehem and Philadelphia, Pryzbylko was not done. He kept battling and fighting, probing a decisive goal that never came. Neither team could find a way to break the deadlock, and the match ended 1-1.

After a long flight home, it will be a quick turnaround for the Union, as they host FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night. Kickoff in Chester is at 7:30 p.m.

Three points
Start games faster

A pattern for the Union this season has been difficulty getting a result when they trail at halftime. Though they fought back for a draw today, the Union need to get off to faster starts.

Spoiled for choice

While quiet for most of the match, Kacper Przybylko proved that he can be a goal scoring threat when paired with a quicker, more agile striker. Kacper’s impressive run of form for both Bethlehem and Philadelphia will only make Curtin’s already difficult decision as to who to play even more challenging. This is the deepest Union team we have seen.

Monteiro is good

This is now back to back games in which I would name the box to box midfielder as the game’s man of the match.

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese; Kacper Przybylko, David Accam (Warren Creavalle); Brendan Aaronson (Fafa Picault), Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya; Raymon Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo

Unused substitutes: Derrick Jones, Matt Real, Fabinho, Aurelien Collin, Carlos Miguel Coronel

Vancouver Whitecaps

Maxime Crepeau; Jake Nerwinski, Erik Godoy, Doneil Henry, Ali Adnan; Jon Erice, Hwang In-beom; PC (Lass Bangoura), Yordy Reyna (Joaquin Ardaiz), Luca Venuto

Unused substitutes: Felipe Martins, Freddy Montero, Zac MacMath, Derek Cornelius, Scott Sutter

Scoring Summary

VAN: Doneil Henry 41′ (Ali Adnan)

PHL: Kacper Przybylko 66′ (Jamiro Monteiro)

Discipline summary

PHL: Alejandro Bedoya 24′ (yellow)

VAN: Yordy Reyna 45′ (yellow)

VAN: Ali Adnan 51′ (yellow)

VAN: PC 57′ (yellow)


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    hard to argue with this result…

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    A fair result for both sides. Glad to see the team pressing for 3 points rather than sitting back trying to preserve the 1 (despite what JP and Tommy were saying they should do).
    Good game by Freese.
    Would like to see Mbaizo and Wagner as the two outside backs going forward.
    Still need to see the team press for goal more rather than playing for the perfect shot.

  3. Only negatives for me were the set piece defending and Fafa’s failure to finish. So, basically the usual. Otherwise, I’ll take the road point knowing we’ll have rested players for the mid-week home match.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Rested players depends on who is coming back since we don’t know the cause or length of Ilshino and Burke’s absences and based on precedent we may not know the length of Wagner’s until the last minute.

  4. No complaints about this result from across the continent and with squad rotation, albeit forced in places.
    Monteiro continues to prove that he was an incredible pick-up. Union should make every effort to keep him.
    Tuned in late (25th minute), but Gaddis impressed me more than once tonight. Had a tough match up and won most of those battles.
    Good on Przybylko for making the most of His opportunity. Well placed, calm finish.
    Here’s hoping Fabián and Santos get healthy for the next stretch. Having said this, there is. I need to rush their return.

  5. Tommy has nothing positive to add to the broadcast. He just harps on every bad touch and pass. Yes…we all know that the first touch needs to be better…but we don’t need to hear it every time. …good road point. Not a great game by the U. As stated above…fair result.

    • Tommy is a master of the obvious; a man in complete control of that which is already apparent. Rather than than adding color to fill the gaps between the lines of black and white truth we’ve already witnessed, he traces over the lines again…Y’know, harder.
      I’d love to see a “Tony Romo” of soccer sitting there with JP but have no idea who that could be. In the end Tommy can add an occasional “Richie” moment to JP’s “Harry”.

      • Agreed. He was good enough for ESPN in the early aughts for MLS 1.0 when the only qualifications seemed to be “can talk about soccer” and “have some form of a difficult to understand accent.”
        I get that they’re in the studio watching the game on TV while being asked to talk about it, but I shouldn’t be seeing things the people who are paid to talk about what’s happening don’t.
        (note: ESPN+ had the Vancouver broadcast team, so I don’t have any specific examples from this week)

    • Tommy is bad pure and simple. The over/under on how many times he miss-pronounces a name per match is 3. I think he might have actually went under this time as I only heard 2.

  6. Five changes from last game. Three players making their first start of the year. A bench of a keeper, centerback, two left backs, two defensive midfielders, and one winger turned striker. Cross country commercial flight.
    Good point.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    I thought the Creavalle sub signaled the end of trying to win it, but Vancouver is just bad, and the Union could just keep going forward. I’ll take the point with the shirt handed team, but with a full squad I think we win that game going away.
    Montiero is a stud. Dude is like a bad rash. He’s all over the place. Needs to shoot when he has the opportunity – he’s done it before.
    Good game from Freese in goal too.
    Unfortunately for me, Mbaizo showed me nothing. Hate to say it, but I’d stick with Gaddis on the right for now. Wagner was missed this game as well.
    Fun fact: I learned how to pronounce Kacper’s last name – thanks JP!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I disagree on that thought regarding the Creavalle sub. Accam was somewhat dead out there and they had already brought on their only available offensive sub. The fact that Curtin never used his 3rd sub was a good thing this time since it would have been more of an indication that he was trying to pack it in.

  8. Nervy, didn’t feel confident they’d escape with points. Very nice finish from the big man. Unfortunate to give up a set piece goal. All in all, I’m happy. Onto Cincy.
    Edit: Monty is a stud. Period.

    • I can’t believe no one is bringing up how bad Trusty is. Once again, he loses his mark and the opposing team scores…… the guy just isn’t good. Can’t even go up for the ball correctly ! Gets knocked off the ball easily , isn’t the best at distributing from the back , gets lost marking. Game after game same mistakes. He’s had plenty of time to show , being that he’s a starter on this team. Collins debut was pretty good in my book. Disrupting plays , fantastic in the air , controlled the back line, passes well out of the back, never really got caught out of position. He’s comfortable in the center D role. Start him over Trust for Christ sake. I don’t believe there is much difference in speed. And if it’s all about bringing up the young guys and letting them develop, then put in Derrick Jones and Allow him to make mistakes too. Who cares right ?

  9. OneManWolfpack says:

    Oh and (I believe it was) PSP alum, Adam Cann, with the F bomb on the pre-taped interview on the pregame show. Not his fault as it should’ve been edited but still. Whoops! Haha!

  10. I saw only the second half of this match, and what I saw was Vancouver running rampant through the Union midfield over and over. Not sure exactly what the problem was, though it seemed like part of it was Medunjanin reverting back to early season defensive form.

    Anyway, I thought Kasper’s fantastic goal (from Monteiro’s great hustling assist) was really against the run of play. Agree with all above that with all the players missing, for the longest possible travel we can make in this league, the point is not bad. You gotta get some wins on the road to really climb the standings in this league, though….

  11. I don’t think I’ve heard any of the most important talking points here. You saw two different philosophies here defending corners…….Vancouver, two post men and save a goal, the Union, one post man, and concede a goal right where a second post man would be. In all my years of footy I believed in two post men, I completely understand not having any post men at all….I get the philosophy there about second balls and offsides. I haven’t, no matter the argument, understood the concept of one post man……..

    • Good point about no one at the far post during that corner.

      • I’d add that it’s rarely seen here, sometimes credit where credit is due. Beautiful corner and whipping strong header to the corner. It was just a good goal, though the U have a history of bad defending on set pieces I wouldn’t make this one of them. For what it’s worth, always man up, and don’t put anyone on posts.

      • Your post reeks of “I don’t understand squat” about the topic….so let’s just say it was nice goal……Lolz.

    • Um, no……I was making a point about postmen…..if you had another one there…..that ball doesn’t go in, don’t give me that “where credit is due “crap. I didn’t ask what your preference was either……if you looked at my post….you would have noticed that I said two post men or no post men is understandable…….it’s one that has never made sense. And you use no postmen? I don’t know what level your coaching at, but it’s probably not high enough to trust referees at calling offsides……probably don’t have VAR either, Lolz……but good luck with that……

      • It’s about Trusty staying with his man …..

      • That’s about 1/3rd of it…….but it’s hard to say. I don’t know if Jim goes all man to man, part zone…part man to man…..but that was part of it. That’s also why you have post men to begin with……in case you get beat in the air or second ball….correct?

  12. Chad Boardman says:

    Takeaways for me:
    -Montiero is a stater and should be written in ink next to Bedoya
    -freese is definitely a young keeper, but his distribution is already better than Blake (side note – I’d be hard pressed to justify the difference in their salaries. Blake is a better keeper, but not half a million dollars better at this level)
    -while mbaizo didn’t show anything that screamed “why isn’t he starting?” I didn’t see enough negatives to justify not starting him. To me, if he’s young and at roughly the same level, he must start. That said it was one of Gaddis’s best games this year.
    -the Union need santos to get healthy and be as good as advertised. The strikers forgot their finishing boots in Florida.
    -Tommy needs to be taken out to pasture. Provides no insight, and frequently makes points about things that haven’t happened. When the Union made their first sub, they switched formations to 4-2-3-1, then switched back to the 4-4-2 after creavalle came on. Either he didn’t notice or he neglected to mention it. Both are bad looks.

    • -absolutely
      -I’ve become less enthralled with Blake and what he does and doesn’t bring to the Union. Agree that the money spent on him is misplaced.
      -I like Mbaizo not sure if what he did was enough to sit Ray(in Curtin’s mind), though I would also like to see more of him.
      -I thought Przybylko played quite well actually. I’d like to see more of him too.

  13. Another fine match by the Union. I thought they deserved a tie or even a win. Even though Montreal’s counter was quite impressive, I didn’t ever get the feeling that they were the better team. Kudos again to the players and Curtin.

  14. Surprised people feel this was a good game. How are we ok with 1 point when it should have been 3. Vancouver is a last place team that is not as good as us. This is the reason the stadium is empty. We play to tie on away games and think that is ok. Trusty was absolutely awful and mbazio was mediocre at best, Ray was completely inconsistent even though he saved the point. Trusty should not be starting plain and simple. The crazy saves and runs he makes to make a save is because he is in the wrong position. His lack of positions makes his crazy saves look good but most of the time it was his fault for the problem. Mbazio was lack luster all night and caused opportunities for Vancouver. He also lost the ball a lot when it was on his foot. Ray was on the wrong side (not his fault) and was out matched all night, but his experienced saved him.

    Stop, just stop saying a tie on the road is ok. This is how Jim plays and this is why we loose cup games and why we never get past the first round of playoffs. We should go out to win every mactch. Anything less is just minor league, development team. But maybe that is what Philadelphia is trying it be and why Jim is the coach.

    Not sure why the hatred toward Tommy. He is right because he knows what REAL football looks like. This game was America soccer.

    • Clarification, NOBODY “hates” Tommy or has expressed anything like that.
      I’d be willing to bet everyone here would be delighted to watch the game next to Tommy in a pub with a Guinness in hand. We’re just not big fans of his approach to describing a soccer game on our TV broadcasts, that’s all.
      Twisting statements about job performance into perceptions about how someone feels about a person as a whole is kinda thoughtless and careless, and it undermines whatever credibility you might have thought supported your other opinions.
      Also, the team made it’s second 3000+ mile road trip in 14 days while being forced to field a pretty different lineup away from the comforts of home.
      No other teams in the world have deal with the kind of travel schedule MLS requires. Foreign players cite it consistently as their biggest challenge playing MLS.
      So yeah, a point coming out of Vancouver is pretty “ok”.

  15. I enjoy Tommy’s call of the game. I miss him when he isn’t there. Andre Blake has saved the Union in so many circumstances; he is definitely worth it. Indeed, nice calm finish for Przybylko. The Union have improved so much from the beginning of the season. In the beginning of the season I thought I was watching groundhog day. It’s amazing what a little tweak in formation can do for a team.

  16. Chris Gibbons says:

    You could make an argument that this is the most impressive point in Union history, all things considered.

  17. Does anyone else cringe whenever Creavalle has the ball at his feet?
    It was funny to see Vancouver blantantly pushing Haris right. His dependence on his left is obvious but even more interesting to see a team overplay it just as obviously.

  18. Why is Freese playing over Coronel?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *