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Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-0 FC Cincinnati

photo: Earl Gardner

Kacper Przybylko and Fafa Picault were both on target as the Philadelphia Union downed expansion side FC Cincinnati 2-0 in midweek action at Talen Energy Park. After a sloppy first half from both teams, the Union turned up the pressure in the second half, forcing Spencer Richey into a number of fine saves before finally breaking through.

Union backup goalkeeper Matt Freese went down with an abdominal injury and had to be replaced by Carlos Miguel Coronel in the 41st minute.

Jim Curtin made just one change to the team that drew in Vancouver on Saturday with Fafa Picault replacing David Accam on the forward line.

The first chance of the match came for FC Cincinnati in the 9th minute. Nick Hagglund latched onto a bouncing ball in the box after the Union failed to clear a corner kick and forced Matt Freese into a good save down to his left at the near post.

Kacper Przybylko had two great chances to open the scoring in the 20th minute. Alejandro Bedoya did well to advance down the right wing and put in a low cross to the striker’s feet. Pryzbylko directed a shot toward goal but it was blocked. Picault recycled the play and lofted a cross to the back post that Przybylko met with a powerful header, but Spencer Richey did enough to claw the ball away just before it crossed the line.

The Union came close again in the 34th minute. After Cincinnati failed to clear a ball into the box, Fafa Picault latched onto the bouncing ball and fired a quick shot that Richey saved. Brenden Aaronson found the rebound but could only fire a shot over the bar from a bouncing ball with defenders closing in and the goal gaping. It was a difficult chance, but the midfielder will probably feel he should have scored.

Fafa Picault had the ball in the net in the 54th minute but the goal was quickly and correctly ruled out due to offside. The chance came from a great build up from Bedoya advancing down the right again, this time pulling back for Jamiro Monteiro who forced Richey into another strong save with a first time chance. Picault headed in the rebound from close range but was offside when Monteiro fired his initial shot.

Philadelphia would finally find the breakthrough in the 64th minute through Przybylko. Cincinnati was only able to half clear a ball into the box out to the right wing for Olivier Mbaizo to latch onto. The right back delivered a perfect cross for Przybylko, who was onside by a whisker, to head in unmarked from 7 yards out. His second goal in as many games.

The Union would double their lead in the 70th minute through Picault. Ilsinho did well to dance around two defenders at the top of the Cincinnati box before slipping a perfect pass against the grain for Picault to latch onto. The striker made no mistake with the chance, guiding an excellent chip over Richey for his first goal of the season.

Philadelphia faces a quick turnaround and will host the New England Revolution Saturday (7:30 p.m.)

Three Points

  • Cruising – The Union never really had to get out of second gear and easily defeated a poor Cincinnati team to win for the fifth time in seven matches and move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
  • Przybylko – The striker scored his second goal in his second start. With everyone looking at Marco Fabian and Sergio Santos as the big off-season signings, Przybylko’s emergence can only be seen as making a deep team even deeper.
  • Fafa Scores – Philly has scored by committee all season so far and Picault was the latest player to add his name to the list, which now stands at nine players, the most in MLS.

Line Ups:

Philadelphia Union
Matt Freese (Carlos Miguel Coronel 41′), Auston Trusty, Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo, Brenden Aaronson (Ilsinho 67′), Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault (David Accam 74′), Kacper Pryzbylko
Unused Subs:Fabinho, Aurelien Collin, Warren Creavalle, Sergio Santos

FC Cincinnati
Spencer Richey, Alvas Powell, Nick Hagglund, Kendall Waston, Mathieu Deplagne, Leonardo Bertone, Allan Cruz, Roland Lamah (Kekuta Manneh 76′), Eric Alexander, Caleb Stanko (Fatai Alashe 76′), Darren Mattocks (Emmanuel Ledesma 81′)
Unused Subs: Przemyslaw Tyton, Justin Hoyte, Forrest Lasso, Victor Ulloa

Scoring Summary

PHI: Kacper Przybylko – 63′ (Olivier Mbaizo)
PHI: Fafa Picault – 70′ (Ilsinho)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Auston Trusty – 81′ (dissent)


  1. The Truth says:

    Another fine example of MLS officiating. Happy and a little shocked the boys pulled out the 3 points with such heavy legs. How about Cincy’s keeper? Coulda been, shoulda been 5-0. Kacper has earned a starting spot. Trusty needs a night off for fatigue and mental reflection. Absolute shame about Freese but Coronel looks decent. I’d like to see Mbaizo and Wagner starting together in the future.
    First place to start off May, let’s keep it that way. Go Union.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Agree that officiating was terrible. How was it 45 minutes until Cincinnati got called for a foul?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      This was game I wanted to see from Mbaizo. Going forward, he should start at RB more often than not. Also agree on Trusty. He seems to be in his own head. He can still chase down and tackle with the tops in the league. But his passing and possession have been brutal. He’ll be fine, but he could use a rest.

    • Got to the game about 25th min. do to work. Walking up the ramp to our seats and see a Cincinnati player put both hands on our guy and pull him back with no foul called. It was near mid field but still…no foul.

    • Buzzbeat says:

      Richey was incredible for Cincy (minus those terrible goal kicks). Could easily have been 4 or 5 to zero.

      First 20 minutes was like watching my men’s league … but with worse officiating. Cincy looked bad and the U played down to their level to start. So choppy and zero flow. Union finally turned it on and dominated as they should have.

      Need to prove that they can hang with / beat the big guns now. Need three from the revs on Saturday and at least get a point and show well against Toronto.

      Then maybe I will believe the first place hype. Regardless, they have been fun to watch – can’t think of the last time I left three consecutive home games unstressed about the end!

      Now if we can only get the fans out. You could hear the centerbacks for Cincy talking in almost normal voices.

      Last thought … Trusty and turnovers … Yikes! Good thing he can recover well 🙂

  2. Trusty stepped in it a couple of times, for sure, but at least he worked his ass off to recover. Clean sheet, but I hope he learns from it.
    How is Coronel 3rd string? He looks solid.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I think Coronel and Freese are co-2nd string. Freese happened to be on the bench when Blake went down so Curtin just stayed with him. The real question is who will be the backup if neither Blake nor Freese can go Saturday?

      • Does MLS still have that group of GKs that the teams can raid when they wind up shorthanded like that? I seem to recall hearing that a while back, but it was a number of years ago. The teams had access, could sign them briefly, like an NBA 10day contract, and still avoid roster change issues.

    • Tim Jones says:

      Hands, in a word, from where I sit.
      Fewer rebounds.

  3. Solid.
    Without Richey it could have been an even worse scoreline for Cincy.
    Keep it going boys!

  4. HopkinsMD says:

    Congrats on the W and sitting at the top of the table (out of whack scheduling aside).
    Missed the first half and tuned in during the build up to the first goal. It was an unmarked header, yes. But, again, KP finished it. Others have missed easy goals this year. Has this happened with KP yet?
    Keep him out there.
    He seems to have ice in his veins, but burning coals somewhere deep inside. Judging from other highlights, he looked dangerous forcing other legit saves. Keep feeding the man.
    Nice to see Picault tally. Hope what appeared to be a hamstring tweak is nothing major.
    Speaking of injuries… “GK wanted”…
    How will this affect Union and Steel this weekend?

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    For years I’ve begged for that darting angled run by fafa…. so many Union strikers unable to do it to their own benefit or the benefit of the space it creates. Nice to see.
    Coming off such a rough turn around to beat down a lesser team like that is quality. Dare I say. This team just might have a future.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Do the same with NE and then take that mentality and form to Toronto… and they will have made me believe.

  6. Peanut Gallery says:

    Please oh please keep Monteiro.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      His tackling is absolutely amazing. He doesn’t wait. He attacks the ball immediately and usually cleanly, just takes it away. Always seems to be in control. Sign the man immediately. Losing him would be devastating to this team for the 2nd half of the season.

  7. Great One says:

    Tough break for Freese, shame. Coronel looks fine though.
    Mbaizo should start at RB I indefinitely, no knock against Ray, but Mbaizo is the bigger threat. Trusty and Elliott both with some sleepers, might be time to use the depth a little there.
    Monteiro strong again, what do you do when all 5 midfielders are healthy?
    Kacpar making a statement for himself, you could argue Fafa is 4th in front of Burke right now. Again, what do you do when all 5 are healthy?
    I think Ilsinho stays in this role all year.
    Backups at G, RB, LB, LM, AM, 1 or 2 FWD spots and they got the win handily. When in Union existence has this been the case?

  8. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    I thought they didn’t play that well and still came away with a win. Team definitely looked like they were trying to find their legs in the first half.
    I think Santos gets a start this Saturday if Fafa’s hamstring needs a rest. If Fabián is ready, Aaronson might be the one who goes to the bench as he looked exhausted when they subbed him off.
    Biggest disappointment was the crowd looked smaller than a first round U.S.Open Cup game.
    Biggest surprise was that both goals looked like they were offsides; even Tommy on the broadcast gave a groan as the replay was shown and was pleasantly surprised when they restarted the game without looking at it again.
    Crazy depth with nine different players who have scored a goal for this team in ten games with I believe 25 players seeing the field.
    Still think they can get much better as their two biggest off-season signings still haven’t seen much playing time yet.

    • Curtin has constantly said over the year that it’s the 3rd game in these stretches that are the hardest on the players. Hopefully we get some good squad rotation this next game.
      Aaronson is starting to get beat up. Team are intentionally fouling him. Union need to get in the refs ear about this or starting dishing it back.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Will agree on the fouling of Aaronson, but I thought he played really well. Much better than in Vancouver. That spin move he pulled at the top of the box was most excellent. Love to see an 18 year old try that and basically pull it off too. I still hope he gets some rest as to not get burned out (I know he’s 18 – I mean burned out mentally). I’d make him a sub this weekend and let Fabian play, assuming he is healthy.

  9. Good win against a lesser team. The Union look better overall than they ever have. Most impressed with Monteiro and Przybylko, the latter of which I think has made a case to earn a starting role. How about his strike from outside the box in the 49th or so minute?

    Biggest worry for me is Trusty. We were very lucky Cincy is so inept several times. He was completely out muscled and out played for the ball several times. He has to be solid. A better team makes a meal of his errors.

    • At least 2 of Trusty’s errors were a direct result of bad Gaddis errors too. And they way this game was set up the Union were playing risky at the back there. Not excusing Trusty though as he has a bunch of very shaky moments.

  10. May 1. First place.
    Credit where credit is due … Curtin (and Tanner).
    Quite a run after a dismal first two games, keep it up Boys in Blue.

  11. Chris Gibbons says:

    On the replay, it looked like Freese’s feet came out from under him on the play he got injured. He tried to plant for a dove and slipped instead… go watch it for yourselves though.

    Two injured keepers on bad home turf in two matches. Yikes.

    • The weather has warmed up and the turf is still a major problem. It’s pathetic.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        It better look vastly different by the end of this month. If not, there is definitely something bigger going on.

  12. The Truth says:

    Just watched the highlights and looked at the boxscore again. Credit to Richey, wow. How exciting it is to be this deep. I’m looking forward to seeing more Mbaizo and Przybylko (who desperately needs a nickname).
    Go Union, let’s get ’em Saturday.

  13. msg24365 says:

    Great observations here. A pretty *meh* first half followed by a very solid second half.

    In addition to his goal scoring, did anyone else notice the work Kacper was doing to help close out the game? A couple of times he tracked back into the defensive half to help stop potential attacks. Was running his butt off all game. That is definitely going to earn points with Curtin.

    I love when Monteiro takes the ball on the left side, 18-25 yards out and uses his speed to cut right to set up that long shot. A real weapon for this team.

  14. I don’t comment much, but I do observe the blog. You guys all have it on lock! Love the reads. And even more so, love that you’re all diggin’ on this team these days. It helps me get excited to watch the boys (including “Elvis”) play. Keep up the quality comments. …BTW…this from a guy who has a “non-bimbo” jersey from the start…

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