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Match report: Orlando City SC 1-3 Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy Philly Soccer Page

A Kacper Przybylko brace, a lightning strike from Fafa Picault, and two Orlando City red cards helped Philadelphia Union secure their first ever victory at Exploria Stadium.

The Union overcame a slow start. Conceding first, they maintained their hold atop the Eastern Conference with the 3-1 win through goals from their two forwards.

Playing their third road game in eight days following the Gold Cup break, Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin made only one change to the lineup which fell 4-2 to New York City FC last Saturday. Brenden Aaronson replaced Ilsinho in the midfield as the formation shifted from a 4-2-3-1 to the 4-4-2 diamond.

The Lions endured a similar run of fixtures in the short time frame. While manager James O’Connor stuck with the same front three that secured a 2-0 road victory against Columbus Crew over the weekend, Sebastián Méndez and Will Johnson got the starts in midfield. Ruan also got the nod at right back of O’Connor’s 4-3-3 setup.

Inclement weather delayed the start of Wednesday night’s game, with kickoff coming just under an hour after the anticipated 7:30 pm start time.

After the opening whistle blew, only Orlando was ready to play. The Lions pounced on the visitors, dominating the opening moments of the match.

In the eighth minute, Philadelphia center back Auston Trusty turned a half-pass/half-defensive stab over to City’s Chris Mueller in the Union’s half. The 22-year-old forward made a beeline for the box with only Trusty’s partner, Jack Elliott, to beat. Mueller’s subtle shifts at full speed created all the space the Wisconsin graduate would need. He opened the scoring with his right foot, beating goalkeeper Matt Freese at the near post with a low, driven shot.

The Union slowly grew into the game after the early shock and landed their counter punch in the 32nd minute.

A tackle and quick pass from Haris Medunjanin to fellow midfielder Jamiro Monteiro quickly transitioned the Union from defense to attack. Three-on-three with City’s back line, the Cape Verdean international splayed a pass to Przybylko down the right flank. The Polish striker drove into the box, grounded a defender with a slick cutback, and rolled a curler by Orlando goalkeeper Brian Rowe. The goal was Przybylko’s third consecutive match finding the back of the net.

Philadelphia did well to fight back, and the complexion of the match flipped in their favor just before halftime.

Picault found himself behind the Orlando back line and center back Robin Jansson. The Swedish defender dove into a scissoring tackle from behind to take out the forward. Initially ruled a yellow, video review confirmed the optics. Jansson was issued a red card.

It didn’t take long for the Union to exploit Orlando’s tactical disadvantage when play resumed for the second half.

In the 47th minute, Przybylko got his brace on his team leading eighth goal of the season. Medunjanin initially played a lofted ball seemingly destined to drift over the end line. With great effort and inches to spare, Union captain Alejandro Bedoya not only kept the ball in play, but his overhead kick fell to Przybylko in the box. His volleyed strike hammered first the ground and then the goal.

Five minutes later, Philadelphia added insurance.

From the top of the box, Aaronson threaded a through ball into the path of Picault. While the angle seemed improbable, Picault’s top shelf strike found the top shelf of the net. The blast was reminiscent of the lightning which had previously delayed the match.

If Orlando’s hopes were faint after the Union’s third goal, they evaporated in the 67th minute.

Monteiro dribbled by City midfielder Sacha Kljestan, beating the former U.S. international. With either foolishness or malice, Kljestan launched into a leg-breaking tackle with spikes planting just above Monteiro’s ankle. Referee Chris Penso handed out his second red card of the match. While able to continue, Monteiro was subbed off moments later.

The hope is that the midfielder will be healthy when Philadelphia and Orlando conclude their home-and-home series this Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium. The Union’s hope is they can complete the double over the Lions in just four days’ time.

Three points
  • The second 17. The Union managed just one point from their first three games of the season  but still were atop the conference after the first half of the season. To start the second half, they picked up four points in three road games over eight days. Not bad at all.
  • Double trouble.  Philly will be one of the few teams to benefit from their opponent’s red cards twice. Both Jansson and Kljestan will be unavailable for Orland this weekend.
  • Forward fuel. Przybylko and Picault are making it very tough for new signing Andrew Wooten to win a starting striker spot.
Line Ups:

Philadelphia Union
Matt Freese; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Kai Wagner; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson (Marco Fabián 65′), Jamiro Monteiro (Sergio Santos 73′); Kacper Przybylko, Fafa Picault (Anthony Fontana 82′)
Unused Subs: Carlos Miguel Coronel, Aurélien Collin, RJ Allen, Fabinho

Orlando City SC
Brian Rowe; Ruan, Lamine Sané, Robin Jansson, Danilo Acosta (Shane O’Neill 61′); Will Johnson, Sebastián Méndez, Sacha Kljestan; Chris Mueller (Dom Dwyer 61′), Tesho Akindele; Nani (Kamal Miller HT)
Unused Subs: Greg Ranjitsingh, Carlos Ascues, Kyle Smith, Benji Michel

Scoring summary
ORL: Chris Mueller — 8′
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 32′ (Jamiro Monteiro)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 47′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin)
PHI: Fafa Picault — 52′ (Brenden Aaronson, Jamiro Monteiro)

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Haris Medunjanin — 26′ (unsporting behavior)
ORL: Robin Jansson — 45′ RED (extra flag to checker)
ORL: Sacha Kljestan — 67′ RED (serious foul)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 90’+1′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I would like it to be known and second’d by someone- Union absorbed Orlando, blended with them, then politely aikido irime nage’d them out of the way — before the red cards.

  2. In Tanner We Trust says:

    For about 30 minutes it felt like last year all over again. I never doubted them, just saw unappealing glimpses of inability to capitalize on opportunities. I’m so happy they snapped out of it, because this is the best Union team we’ve ever seen and we should expect better. And I’m ready to start shouting it after merely suggesting it before: Monteiro is the best player this team has ever had. So impactful.

    • Micah Bertin says:

      I am a founding member, a die-hard Union fan,and one who always sees the cup as half full. And this was a great victory to be sure. But for some reason I am compelled to point out that with a two-man advantage this should have been at least a 5-1 score line.
      And why is Santos still on the field, when all he does is jog, foul, and whine?
      Okay, I will end on a positive note. Aaronson’s assist on Picault’s goal was a sweet combination of vision, speed and precision

      • There were three main reasons this game didn’t end up with a 5-1 scoreline:

        1. Several of the players were, not unreasonably, saving themselves for Saturday’s match once it was clear that the game was well in hand.

        2. A couple of the subs — namely Fabiàn and Santos — were engaged in some serious selfish showboating, trying to get themselves on the scoresheet.

        3. Rowe made a fantastic point-blank save on somebody in the last 5 minutes of regulation.

      • So being up a man, then two, trying to get the striker you brought in on a transfer, scoring goals, is a bad idea to you?

      • Not getting the Santos criticism here. Man just needs to get acclimated to the league. He’s shown skill and pace. With a 9-man opponent on the rope, why not go for it a bit. On Fabian, let’s just say someone needs to spend some time on the training pitch with a big bucket of balls.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        If you consider their chances towards the end of the game, I actually understand the complaint a bit. Haris’ rocket, Przybylko not finishing the 1v1, Fabian being blocked, Santos – a striker – failing to score with a 2 man advantage. The finishing is still very much an issue, but they outplayed Orlando so I’m not extremely concerned about it. Atlanta got creamed and I’ll take the 3 road points

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        Fabian looks like he’s starting to move more fluidly and his run to get back on defence was something that tells me the ankle is feeling better.
        I believe Santos is feeling the pressure to score. He’s going down looking for the ref to give him a whistle instead of passing the ball to open players and keeping possession.
        Fafa seems like he scores the spectacular goal and misses the open sitters.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    1. The third of Nick Fishman’s “Three Points” is spot on.
    2. Saturday will be the fourth match in 11 days. Preserving effort for that is not a bad idea.
    3. Przybylko has taken a full year to get to this point. Admittedly he was in some kind of foot-injury recovery situation when he arrived, but he would seem to illustrate the value of patience with the process of acclimating, adapting, adjusting and conditioning. Santos and now Wooten may take similar lengths of time. Fabián also,
    4. A midfield of Fabián, Medunjanin, and Bedoya plus Monteiro or Aaronson would seem vulnerable to elite speed.

    • I totally agree on #4. It’s my biggest concern and we’ve already seen it happen quite a bit this season. When the opposition throws extra men into the attack we can’t stop it. We might need to get whoever is playing the 10 AND 1 of the 2 strikers to get back and help out defensively to slow the opposition down. Other than that this team/coach has well exceeded expectations up to this point. If we can win Saturday these past 4 matches in 11 days will be a huge success in my view.

    • On point #4 I agree. Haris can’t play every minute of every game at his age, and for a team with elite speed, I would move Monteiro back to the #6 with Bedoya and Aaronson as #8s.

  4. Alicat215 says:

    Hey, good 3 points on the road. Orlando was only dangerous on the counter, they have some pace and skills to deal with. As stated above, early on you knew we were going to get chances on them, just a matter of burying them. Most important question of the evening, injury report on Monteiro???? WTF was that Klestjan????

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I was thinking that given the extra game for Wagner’s red earlier this season, Klestjan should get the same.

      • Alicat215 says:

        At least one, I was hoping two. I disagree with the article there…..he lost his s—t and that was malicious, and he knew it walking off. He couldn’t even look at Jim and they are friends…..

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I just checked the schedule and I hope he only gets the one game given that Orlando’s next game after Saturday is against NYCFC so it would be nice if they can get a result.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Did anyone watch the Gold Cup semifinal and notice that at the end of the weather delay they gave all of the MLS scores except one? (and it wasn’t a case of the Union game not being over because I know the Houston game ended later and they gave that score)

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