Union match reports

Match report: New England Revolution 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union escaped Foxborough, Mass. with a come-from-behind draw despite a long layoff and a shaky performance. A late goal from forward Kacper Przybylko cancelled out fullback Brandon Bye’s first half opener to secure a 1-1 finish against New England Revolution.

It was the Union’s first league game in 18 days, and the rust showed. For long stretches, Philadelphia didn’t resemble the team that sat at the top of the MLS Eastern Conference after the first half of the season.

Conversely, the Revolution didn’t resemble the club that was embarrassed 6-1 by the Union earlier this year. Despite sitting in 11th place in the conference, New England have excelled since the firing of former manager Brad Friedel and subsequent hiring of U.S. coaching legend Bruce Arena. Wednesday night’s draw extended the Revolution’s unbeaten streak to five games and marked Arena’s first game on the touchline of Gillette Stadium.

With the impending arrival of forward Andrew Wooten, there was added focus on who would start at the top of Philadelphia’s 4-4-2 formation. Head coach Jim Curtin gave Przybylko and Sergio Santos the nod over Fafa Picault. In goal, Matt Freese filled in for Andre Blake, who’s away with Jamaica at the Gold Cup.

The first half aesthetics were less than ideal. A combination of ugly play, an ugly surface, and an obstructive referee marred the game’s opening.

The Union generated the first chance of the game after a slow start from both teams. A subtle interchange between midfielder Jamiro Monteiro and Kai Wagner sprung the left back down the flank in the 27th minute. He centered a ball to Santos’ feet, with. ample space in the box, but the Brazilian skied the chance.

Just moments later the Revolution produced the game’s opening goal in the 31st minute.

New England sprung successive quick, clinical counters to threaten the Union’s goal— the last of which resulted in a corner. First year Designated Player and recently named Revolution captain Carles Gil recognized a lapse in Philadelphia’s defense. The Spaniard took a corner that even the broadcast was too slow to catch. An unmarked Bye tapped in the cross at the near post from point blank range. For the Union, it was inexcusable defending.

The Revolution controlled the remainder of the half, and the Union were lucky to enter the break down just one goal.

For Philadelphia, the most telling stat of the first 45 minutes was this: They had more yellow cards (3) than shots (2).

Curtin made the expected halftime adjustment, bringing on Ilsinho for No. 10 Brenden Aaronson and switching to a 4-2-3-1. The move provided a short-term spark, but Arena’s own adjustment of shifting defensive support to the Brazilian’s side stymied the Union’s attack. New England regained control and looked more likely to build upon their lead than surrender it.

The difference came in the 84th minute from Picault, who replaced Santos earlier in the half.

The forward blasted through the Revolution’s back line with blistering pace and sent a cross toward goal. The pass was deflected toward a would-be own goal, but Pryzybylko was there to hammer home the equalizer from close range.

While the late heroics secured a point, the Union nearly stole all three points. In the final moment of stoppage time, Picault sent a cross to the far post. Ilsinho was there to put a touch toward frame, but alert goalkeeping from Brad Knighton prevented the burglary.

Philadelphia will continue their run of three consecutive road games when they take on New York City FC at Yankee Stadium this Saturday at 7 pm. The Union will look to secure their grip of 1st place against one of the true conference contenders.

Three points
  • Preservation. By all accounts, Designated Player Marco Fabián was healthy for this match. Curtin chose not to deploy the Mexican international on Gillette Stadium’s turf, instead saving him for the comically compact confines of Yankee Stadium.
  • Wooten looming. Until he’s available, there will be heightened critiquing of the Union’s three active strikers. Against New England, Picault’s substitution performance was best.
  • A new look. For the first time, the Union wore blue shorts with their white away top. Pardon the fashion discussion, but it was a welcomed change.
Line Ups:

Philadelphia Union
Matt Freese; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Kai Wagner; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson  (Ilsinho, HT); Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Fafa Picault, 62′)
Unused Subs: Carlos Miguel Coronel, Aurélien Collin, Fabinho, Mark McKenzie, Anthony Fontana

New England Revolution
Brad Knighton; Brandon Bye, Andrew Farrell, Jalil Anibaba, Edgar Castillo; Carles Gil, Wilfried Zahibo (Diego Fagundez, 87′), Luis Caicedo; Cristian Penilla (Juan Fernando Caicedo, 67′), Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo
Unused Subs: Cody Cropper, Antonio Mlinar Delamea, Scott Caldwell, DeJuan Jones, Justin Rennicks

Scoring summary
NE: Brandon Bye — 31′ (Carles Gil)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 84′

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Brenden Aaronson — 11′ (not retreating)
PHI: Auston Trusty — 28′ (unsporting behavior)
NE: Carles Gil — 33′ (not retreating)
PHI: Haris Medunjanin — 45′ (unsporting behavior)
NE: Teal Bunbury — 61′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 65′ (unsporting behavior)

22 Comments

  1. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I guess I’ll take the point. Hard to win on the road against 11 men. Saghafi was their 12th, although to be fair, he didn’t do either team too many favors.

    Liked what I saw from Picault obviously.

    I also think Ilsinho was a bit selfish in this game. If anyone has earned it, it’s him. But still. And I really wanted Gaddis to score. I love when he makes those runs in the box and involves himself in the attack

  2. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    The Revs looked much sharper in this game as they have played a couple of U.S. Open Cup matches since the break. Also didn’t help that the ref couldn’t go a minute or two without blowing his whistle. I’ll take the point and Kacper getting a cheap goal, hopefully it gets him going again.

  3. The Truth says:

    Revs are a new team under Arena. They looked very fit and ready to get in behind our full backs. I think we should be happy to come away with a point considering how disjointed and listless we looked.
    .
    Ilsinho is not a 45 minute player. Gaddis is offensive poison. Neither Kacper nor Santos can flourish in Jim’s first half formation.
    .
    Union broadcasters are toxic, uninteresting windbags.
    .
    I don’t think MLS officials have ever been so unfair to a player as they have been to Kai Wagner. If I were him I’d eagerly want out of this league.

    • “Bruce Arena means difference. And that’s difference with a capital D.” …HUH? What was Tommy on last night? It’s just an embarrassment now.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    a well earned road draw against that pompous asshole was just the right end to an excellent day yesterday.

    • Yes…yes indeed!

    • Alicat215 says:

      Dude, when I was 16 my ODP squad had to be demo boys for Arena and Bobby Clarke, who were at UVA and Dartmouth at the time, at a NSCAA convention. Bobby was nice, engaging, and fun to be around. Arena was the biggest JO gaffer I have ever come across. Even the parents were like…….”what an asshole!”. And when you have a program like he had, I get a degree of arrogance…….but he took it to a whole other level!

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    I think one of the issues last night was the turf. The Union do not appear to be a good team on artificial turf as they are not used to how the ball moves on it. A few times they watched the ball bounce over an outstretched leg or made a pass too soft because they were afraid that if they used their normal touch it would go right by the recipient.
    .
    I also need to take the opportunity to again make the point that we announcers who are actually at the game. It was bad enough that the New England feed missed the first goal because they were showing a replay (after all, why would you want to watch a corner kick live instead of a replay of what led to it?), but to have the Union announcers have no idea of what just happened was absolutely ridiculous.

    • From tv it appeared that the turf was particularly hard and bouncy (even for turf). It absolutely appeared to affect the Union. Even routine passes and traps looked difficult.

      Definitely a game in which, despite the possession stats, NE looked by far the more dangerous team. Glad to leave there with a point.

      HOW DOES SANTOS MISS THAT?

  6. I think everyone hit the points I wanted to make but to bring it all together – this was always going to be a tough game for the Union because:
    1) …of the layoff from the last meaningful game and the way this team plays with a coordinating press.
    2) …the game was played on the worst turf in the league.
    3) …they were against a team that recently underwent a coaching change and so you don’t have a lot of tape on how they are trying to play now.
    .
    .
    Take the point and move on. Same for the next game IMO, at NYCFC on short rest on a field that is hard to believe meets size regulations. A draw would be a good result.

  7. •I am anticipating tomorrow’s player ratings, but nobody on the Union deserves more than a 5 for that match except Freese and Picault.

    •Saghafi was calling EVERYTHING. It was absurd. But all the more tragic that we couldn’t get more penetration into the box. The way he was whistling, the odds of getting a PK were high.

    •I would’ve made the Picault-for-Santos sub at the half. The Ilsinho sub is getting predictable. And I think we really started to get the better of the Revs once Ilsinho and Picault were both on the pitch. They were focused on Il Magicho, and that gave us the opportunity to get it to Fafa and let him blaze down the pitch.

    •Overall I might call this an OK result. Given how rusty the team looked, and how much better the Revs have been playing, I guess we’ll take the point.

    •I must agree with several commenters above that Tommy Smyth is getting seriously bloody annoying. And I actually kinda liked him when he first started calling our matches, so I was not biased against him. If he doesn’t cut down on the sheer vapidity and amp up the substantive comments, I would hope the Union ax him after this season and look for someone else.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      One thing I’ll say about the Ilsinho sub, they seemed to actually not overload his side too much, but I do agree it is getting a little predictable. Hopefully when Wooten gets going and if Fabian can make an impact, it changes the dynamic.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    We need a healthy, productive Fabian. I think Aaronson is a good player, but he is invisible lately and I just think it’s all part of his development. Can’t keep waking up in the 2nd half with the Ilsinho spark and expect overcome every deficit.

    • John O'Donnell Jr says:

      I agree as Aaronson is taking a beating and getting few calls. Right now I do agree with one of the few things Tommy said last night that was meaningful, he should slow his game down a little bit. He looks like he’s moving faster than he’s thinking right now. Constantly lunging to get a pass from a teammate or pushing them past a player who isn’t quite ready to take one.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I actually thought Aaronson was probably the best Union player in the first half. If nothing else, he drew a couple of fouls in dangerous spots (not that the Union did anything with them).

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Paxton Pomykal isn’t invisible. Aaronson is causing me quite a bit of concern to be true.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        course when your ‘ten’ is running around like a wild man playing defense there’s not much room for creative positioning or thinking.

  9. Is there any chance we could have Adam Cann and Bobby Warshaw record a podcast commentary for the Union games?
    .
    Seriously, I would love to listen to a podcast of those two PA soccer brains dissecting the game in action: the player movement they’re watching, the resulting team responses, and how all that generates quality possession and attacks. They’d have to queue up with the broadcast, “pause the podcast until the first half starts …. The clock has just started and the Union tap off….” but it could work and be very entertaining.

  10. The Chopper says:

    We now have a team steals points late in the match as opposed to pissing them away. How cool is that?

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