Union match reports

Match report: Toronto FC 1 – 2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia’s recent sporting rivalry with the city of Toronto extended to the green grass of BMO Field on Saturday afternoon where the Union saw out a fraught 2-1 victory over the Canadian club.

A first half own goal stemming from left back Kai Wagner’s cross gave the visitors the early lead, but an Alejandro Pozuelo free kick in the second half leveled the scoreline. Toronto continued to pressure, the Philadelphia proved resilient. A lethal counter concluding with midfielder Jamiro Monteiro’s game-winning goal secured the Union’s first win in Toronto since 2014.

The Union, who sat in first place coming into the match, picked up another three points and have now won seven of their last nine contests.

Union Manager Jim Curtin made one change to the side that thrashed New England Revolution 6-1 last weekend. Midfielder Marco Fabián returned from injury, replacing Brenden Aaronson, who was dealing with an injury of his own, in the No. 10 role.

Conversely, Toronto FC Manager Greg Vanney made seven changes to his side which lost 2-0 in a midweek trip to face Atlanta United.

While the game started with a sleepy start, Philadelphia had to survive a bit during a 10-minute stretch between the 10th and 20th minutes.  The home side were able to threaten the Union’s back line, capitalizing on loose passing and sloppy turnovers, but nothing was slipped by goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel.

The Union’s form returned in the 25th minute. Midfielder Haris Medunjanin kept possession just long enough near the midfield line to allow for a darting run down the flank from Wagner. The Bosnian rolled the ball into the path of the German, who was left with acres of space to drive into the final third. Wagner whipped a cross into the box to onrushing forward Fafa Picault, who was tightly marked by left center back Chris Mavinga. The forward was able to get just a piece before it deflected off the defender and by the helpless goalkeeper. Initially given to Picault, it was later ruled an own goal.

The Union were able to head into halftime with that one goal lead.

It looked like the Union were a little late coming out of the locker room for the final 45 minutes of play. Behind forward Jordan Hamilton, the Reds barraged the Union goal. A scramble at the edge of the box and a rough challenge from Philadelphia gave Toronto a dangerous free kick from about 19 yards out. Pozzuelo stepped up and dinked a ball over the wall for his fifth goal in eight games. While Coronel was able to get a diving left hand on the ball, it wasn’t enough to preserve the Union’s lead.

With the tide firmly in Toronto’s favor, Aaronson replaced Fabián at the 58-minute mark.

While Toronto continued to pressure the Union’s final third, the visitors were able steal back the lead in the 68th minute through a combination of fortune and a lightning counter.

Right wing back Auro pulled up injured, but instead of going down, he limped his way center line asking to be replaced. Philadelphia exploited the space where the Brazilian should have been, with forward Kacper Przybylko carrying the ball into the box. The Polish striker fed Monteiro near the six-yard spot, and he coolly rolled one to goalkeeper Quentin Westberg’s left.

In response, Vanney brought on star forward Jozy Altidore, who’d missed the last three games with a hamstring injury. Curtin had earlier chosen to bring on Sergio Santos for Picault. None of the substitutions, including Curtin’s later introduction of midfielder Warren Creavalle, changed the final scoreline.

The Union professionally saw out a chippy conclusion featuring four yellow cards in the final 15 minutes to extend their lead atop the Eastern Conference.

They’ll be back in action next Saturday at home against Seattle Sounders.

Three points
  • First place feeling. The Union passed their first real test atop the conference with flying colors. They went on the road, took everything one the the league’s best teams could give, and left with a three-point lead on D.C. United. Wasn’t their best game, but maybe their most impressive.
  • Money for Monteiro. With all the moves the Union made, money came back. Let’s see if they use it to keep the Dutchman around. He can now add “game-winning goal” to his growing list of accomplishments.
  • Patience. Fabián didn’t make an impact in his return to the field, but there’s no need to rush to judgement. The Union somehow have the luxury to let their most expensive player find his form, which is a weird thing to type.
Line Ups

Philadelphia Union
Carlos Miguel Coronel; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Kai Wagner; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Marco Fabián (Brenden Aaronson 58′; Kacper Przybylko (Warren Creavalle 90’+1′), Fafa Picault (Sergio Santos 69′)
Unused Subs: Charlie Lyon, Olivier Mbaizo, Aurelien Collin, Ilsinho

Toronto FC
Quentin Westberg; Eric Zavaleta, Laurent Ciman (Jay Chapman 78′), Chris Mavinga; Auro (Nick DeLeon 69′, Marco Delgado, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Justin Morrow; Alejandro Pozuelo; Jordan Hamilton (Jozy Altidore 72′)
Unused Subs: Alex Bono, Drew Moor, Ashtone Morgan, Richie Laryea

Scoring Summary

PHI: Chris Mavinga — 25′ (own goal)
TOR: Alejandro Pozuelo —51′ (free kick)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro — 68′ (Kacper Przybylko)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 32′ (time wasting)
TOR: Laurent Ciman – 61′ (unsporting behavior)
TOR: Jozy Altidore – 83′(dissent)
PHI: Auston Trusty – 86′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 90’+3′ (no impact on timing)



  1. Andy Muenz says:

    I disagree about Fabian not making an impact. This was the second free kick he’s handed the other team that led to a goal, this time when he had a chance to make a simple play in a dangerous position. We need to see him playing smarter.
    That being said, this was a good road win by the team. Hopefully, they’ll keep up the good work against a hopefully tired Seattle team that has two games to play in Seattle between now and next Saturday.

    • I agree completely. Marco’s play was sloppy all game. His passes ended up mostly going to Toronto. He could not take on any Toronto player successfully, and then he was directly responsible for the free kick that led to the goal.
      I do realize that he is getting used to new teammates, a new coaching staff, a new league, and a new country but someone that comes with such high hopes and credentials needs to start producing very soon.

      • I don’t see all the other new guys having difficulty. I’ll give Fabián a pass this round but that form better come.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Agree about Fabian. He’s a step behind. I’m willing to give him to the Gold Cup break, but he needs to get it together.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Did anyone else think the TV video coverage was REALLY bad (not that the audio was much better – with comments like “significant stoppage time interspersed throughout” – last I checked, stoppage time only occurs at the end of each half)? Numerous times they cut away from the action to show something happening outside the play, most significantly we pretty much missed the Toronto free kick that took place near the corner of the box midway through the second half because they were focusing on Altidore coming on rather than the actual play.

    • Toronto feed…My favorite part of the broadcast was when Tommy said ” For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Fabinho did’t clear the ball…” right before the goal was scored. To which I responded to the inanimate TV,”Because Fabinho wasn’t in the 18″.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Thanks, I knew there was another blunder by the Union announcers but couldn’t remember it. My wife and I laughed at that one too!

    • The studio portions were abysmal. I’m sure Marisa is a nice young lady, but it is painfully obvious that asking analytical questions (which none were) of soccer experts is not a good fit for her. If her parts are simply scripted (and I’m pretty sure they are), that’s double comfirmation and some producer needs to be re-evaluated as well.
      I would love to get the benefit of Seba’s long years of soccer experience and insight, but the questions he and Tommy are being asked can always be answered with “The Union scored more goals”. Journalism 101: Never ask the question, “How does it feel?”. Avoid the obvious!
      The person on-field with Montiero after the game was no better.
      Dave Leno does a servicable job at play-by-play, but is in the same position as Marisa in the studio.
      Please, whoever is in charge…Think! Your studio broadcast is like a seventh grade AV project that’s going to earn a C-minus (but only because the AV teacher is “mailing it in” too). Is this honestly the BEST you can do?
      It seems a no-brainer that Adam Cann (an actual soccer expert) should be in that studio seat offering analysis and asking questions that will allow Seba (and maybe even Tommy) to help viewers better understand how the game works and why things develop/happen the way they do on their field.
      I realize they don’t have all the “toys” afforded the NBC and FOX nat’l/int’l analysts, but they have their expertise and even without the crazy highlighters, they can help us recognize/understand things while we are looking at a sequence from the game.
      Bah! But I haven’t had my coffee yet and as a person who has to communicate effectively to other people for a living, this kinda stuff irks me…A lot. It would take so little to make the before/half/after broadcasts so much more.

  3. Union probably weren’t at their best, but found a way to get a really good three points. I didn’t think Fabian was great, but fair to give him a bit of time to get back into the swing of things. It’s nice not to have to lean on our big name signing to have huge games in order to get good results. That’s unlike last year, where I thought there was a ton of pressure on Dockal to be responsible for a lot of the creativity in the offensive half. Still, I really look forward to him hitting his stride and showing us why he’s so special.

    • Picault de gallo says:

      I know it wasn’t totally realistic to bring him back, but imagine if Dockal was still here with this squad around him? I think he’d be thriving on the ball in this system.

  4. John P. O'Donnell Jr. says:

    Fabian looked rusty and it seemed Aaronson helped pick up the energy level.
    Another good game by Przybylko with an assist and really getting after it on defence. He has locked down one of the forward positions with Santos pushing Fafa.
    Ilsinho getting a day off and Creavalle closes out a lead for three points is starting to define some rolls for this team.
    I think Blake saves that penalty but the backups are giving quality minutes in his absence.
    Probably the best win for this franchise in the regular season…..oh and Monteiro is turning into the best signing ever.

  5. HopkinsMD says:

    Hat tip to Sara for predicting the 2-1 win.

  6. Great One says:

    Really impressed by Kasper. His movement is incredible and he’s a little faster than I expected.
    Great win in Toronto. Really solid.

    • I agree. He’s shown significantly more maturity than I’d expect in terms of movement and positioning. Also, I think his height and strength in the air is a real asset in set piece defense. He really has a knack for getting his head to the ball on defense as well as offense.

    • Picault de gallo says:

      Silky first touch too for a guy that big

  7. el Pachyderm says:

    High quality international talent on this team… with some young local talent.
    Guys understand how to play… shit you see in top leagues all around the world but was consistently missing at multiple positions on this team is seen as right and proper problem solving, movement and or calm technical clinical precision.
    They are good. I’d argue good enough to go the whole way… and win it all.
    I have a suggestion…. let’s not complain tonight about one damn thing… not even Tommy.

    • Agree on the quality. Going all the way? I’m all about collecting the points now, and proving we can go into anyone’s house and win. This team is better than the one that went to LA. They’ve 2/3 of the season to get better. My tempered expectations are we can win a playoff game home or away. Beyond that, it’s up to Curtin to evolve. He’s proving up to the challenge.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I actually thought Tommy was ok tonight. A few mistakes per usual but I caught myself agreeing with what he said a few times.

    • Tanner’s impact on the field has been immense. Just by acquiring real talent. He’s done what I thought Stewart would do.

    • I just can’t listen to that guy anymore. But he does have an immense grasp on the obvious. And, he’s wonderfully brilliant 3 minutes later after 4 replays. Other that that.…

  8. HopkinsMD says:

    Man, the counter exchange between Kasper and Monteiro was a thing of beauty… He immediately began that diagonal run after making his pass and pulled the defense apart… and Monteiro recognized what was happening, drifting a moment until Kasper cleared, dishing the pass and turning on the jets toward goal, recieving and finishing neatly.
    And that pass from Kasper was not easy.
    So good.

    • I cheered so loud with that goal.
      The interplay between Kacper and Monteiro made the defense look like they were standing still. That final pass from Kacper was amazing. The finish was great but I was more impressed by the final pass. That was stupendous and the run from Monteiro was perfect.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Absolutely. It was the perfect counter. So well done.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        It was like Kasper and Monteiro were communicating without words by rapid diagnosis of “if this/then that.” And it seemed like Toronto had no idea what was happening until it was too late.
        Having said that, it didn’t help them that Auro was limping off the field and should have simply gone down. That was strange to see. I even told my father-in-law: “He should just go down… this could actually hurt his team.”
        Then BAM… it did.

  9. OneManWolfpack says:

    Just to win this game. This game, against that opponent, on the road. The Union NEVER win this game. They were not at their best for sure, but they stood there for the first 70 mins and went toe to toe with Toronto in their building. They showed up to get 3 points and not park the bus. They’re legit. If they add a piece or two in the summer they will have to be considered a contender for MLS Cup. Again not their best game, but I am beyond impressed they got 3 points. Well freakin’ done!!

  10. Peanut Gallery says:

    Have to give some love to Haris for that tackle and cool key pass to Kai that preceded the low cross to Fafa.
    [insert clapping here]

  11. Union fan says:

    The MLS site had the Toronto formation listed as a 3-5-1-1 (though they aren’t always reliable with that). That had to be a curveball for Curtin and the team. Interested in what Toronto was trying to do to attack the diamond and how the Union managed to figure it out on the fly.

  12. The Union were a bit lucky to get a win out of that match. The xG will surely be in Toronto’s favor when the analysis is done. Nonetheless, as was said above, this is a match the Union lose every. Single. Time. Until now. They are playing with immense confidence.

    As for specific players, I actually thought this was one of Monteiro’s lesser games for us until that sublime counterattack. Kacper is a keeper. Jack Elliott was MotM for me — bailing out teammates, especially Gaddis, time and time again. And contra some of the posters above, I am not getting down on Fabiàn yet. Dude has had no chance whatsoever to get in any kinda groove. A couple times in the first half he had nice ideas to get the ball to Kacper… who was not expecting it at all. That’s the kinda thing that improves a ton when you get minutes together. Let’s see Fabiàn get a real run of consecutive games. (And let’s see Tommy stop calling him Fabinho, FTLOG…)

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I don’t know exactly how the xG is calculated, but I don’t think it will be that lopsided given that Union had one more SoG than Toronto and TFC only had 2 more total shots.

    • I totally agree on Monteiro. Up until he scored the goal, it was probably his worst match so far. By worst match, I mean he was like everyone’s else’s average. He wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t as spectacular as we have seen him. It also seemed to me that a good portion of the team was tired. They didn’t seem to get into gear until the second half was under way.
      I may not be down on Fabian yet, but I’m at the point where it doesn’t matter if he ever plays well. Aaronson has played well enough in his absence to make Fabian’s integration or lack thereof, relatively moot. If Fabian comes good, then great. If not, them I won’t be heart broken.

  13. Was a great game by all. Fabian is playing tight, but that’s to be expected after missing so much.
    One particular thing that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that Coronel ran into 2 separate Union players or they ran into him.
    Bedoya yelled at him after being leveled, and Trusty clearly didn’t know Coronel was there when Trusty leveled him.
    To me that implies Coronel is not yelling “keeper!” when he comes out for the ball.
    That communication is crucial for defenders and also helps by intimidating offensive players. I hope they address this because otherwise someone could get hurt – and Coronel is otherwise playing really well.

    • I didn’t notice the one with Bedoya. But the one with Trusty was crazy. And I was telling my son as we watched that it was at least as likely to be Coronel’s fault as Trusty’s.

    • The Truth says:

      Well, remember, he is the third stringer. Dude has next to no chemistry with the guys. Andre and his backline have a well established rapport. These mistakes haven’t shocked me in the least.

  14. John P. O'Donnell Jr. says:

    It’s more than that though, he’s realized that in a cap league where homegrown’s are exempt, that high salary players are either on the field or an asset to flip for the talent needed. His three best signings so far are Przybylko, Coronel & Wagner. All are low risk, have contributed and play to the system.

  15. The Truth says:

    I wasn’t worried they’d blow it. That’s a first.

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