Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-2 Orlando City SC

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union couldn’t complete a home-and-home sweep of Orlando City SC, but a late goal by Kacper Przybylko ensured that the two sides would each take one point, 2-2.

Marco Fabian, returning to the starting lineup, got the game going with the Union’s fastest goal of the season in the fourth minute, and it looked for much of the first half like the game would go similarly to Wednesday’s comprehensive victory in Orlando. But the visiting Lions fought back, with goals from Dom Dwyer and Santiago Patiño backing a listless Union side into a corner.

It would be substitute Matt Real, in his first MLS minutes of the season, who found the in-form Przybylko in the 89th minute for the late game-tying goal.

Originally scheduled to go on Saturday night, the match was rescheduled to this afternoon after thunderstorms in the region. Jim Curtin named the same lineup, which featured two changes from Wednesday night’s XI. Jamiro Monteiro missed out after suffering a vicious challenge from Sacha Kljestan, with Marco Fabian taking his place at the tip of the diamond midfield. Auston Trusty was dropped to the bench in favor of veteran Aurelien Collin, the first time the Union homegrown defender has been dropped (and not suspended) since the start of the 2018 season.

It took no time at all for the Union to get off to a good start. In the fourth minute, Fafa Picault created space and whipped a cross from the corner of the box, where Fabian was waiting. The Mexican playmaker bopped a nifty headed finish toward the back post, beating keeper Brian Rowe. It was the Union’s fastest goal of the season.

The Union dominated the first half, but were unable to add to their advantage, thanks to some poor finishing and some quality saves by Rowe.

With the Union unable to find a backbreaking second goal, Orlando chose not to go quietly. The first goal, a 67th minute header from Dom Dwyer, was nearly a carbon copy of the Union’s first. Nani hit a looping free kick toward the penalty spot, where Sydney Leroux’s husband flicked his header toward the same post that Fabian found in the first half. Andre Blake had no chance.

Orlando took the lead in the 81st minute through the substitute Patiño. Just entering the game for Dwyer, Patiño was in the perfect spot to bundle home a corner kick after Chris Mueller forced a Blake save at the goal line.

All seemed lost for Philadelphia, but — just as they have for most of the season — the Union found a late goal through an unusual avenue. That avenue was reserve left back Matt Real, who had made zero previous appearances this season after the acquisition of Kai Wagner sent him down the depth chart. But Curtin chose to replace Wagner with Real in the 89th minute, and just one minute later the Union were level. Working a combination with Przybylko and fellow substitute Anthony Fontana on the left side of the box, Real put a nice pass right to the feet of the open striker, who buried the ball past Rowe for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.

The Union are next back in action on Saturday, July 13, against Real Salt Lake. The match is the first in which new signing Andrew Wooten will be eligible to appear. Kickoff from Rio Tinto Stadium is at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

Three points
  • Resilience. This Union team continues to amaze with its ability to earn points when all seemed lost. (And Jim Curtin continues to press the right buttons, breaking the glass on Matt Real at just the right time.)
  • Marco. Fabian’s return to the starting lineup paid immediate dividends. For the Union to keep up their place in the table in the second half of the season, they’ll need a Fabian who can play regularly — and play well.
  • Question marks. Should the Union have allowed a shorthanded, exhausted Orlando City side into the match at all? Probably not. Andrew Wooten and his finishing skills can’t slide into the lineup soon enough.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Aurelien Collin, Kai Wagner (Matt Real 89′); Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson (Anthony Fontana 78′), Marco Fabian (Sergio Santos 67′); Kacper Przybylko, Fafa Picault.

Unused Subs: Matt Freese, Auston Trusty, RJ Allen, Fabinho, Anthony Fontana, Matt Real, Sergio Santos

Orlando City SC
Brian Rowe; Kyle Smith, Shane O’Neill (Nani 64′), Alex De John, Kamal Miller, Danilo Acosta; Dillon Powers, Oriol Russell, Carlos Ascues; Benji Michel (Chris Mueller 74′), Dom Dwyer (Santiago Patiño 81).

Unused Subs: Will Johnson, Greg Ranjitsingh, Sebastian Mendez, Ruan

Scoring summary
PHI: Marco Fabian — 4′ (Fafa Picault)
ORL: Dom Dwyer — 67′ (Nani)
ORL: Santiago Patiño — 81′
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 90′ (Matt Real, Anthony Fontana)

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Matt Real — 90+3′ (not visible)


  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    Just some thoughts: I’ll take the point – and they almost stole the 3 if it wasn’t for that save – but they need to learn how to break down these bunkered teams at home. So many chances. Finishing was not great. Should’ve dominated that game. Excited to see a Wooten / Kascper pairing. He’s on fire right now. All in all with the 4 games in 12 days – 3 on the road – they went 1-1-2. Not too bad. They missed Montiero today too.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      All great points, especially about missing Monteiro. I like Aaronson but there’s a big gap there. As to your other points, are we supposed to grade them on the LAFC curve? I just kept thinking about how they would’ve shredded the Orlando back 5. They did, after all, score 6 goals yesterday

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I mean, I’m ok trying to put them up against the best team in the league. They aren’t there, but I am happy they are getting points even when they don’t play their best. Continuing to get points, even when you feel like you should have gotten 3 and you get 1… is never a bad thing. It’s also not something this team usually does. So it’s a welcome change.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Love the positivity. For a while everyone was saying “let’s wait until the summer transfer window and see what Tanner does”. He got Wooten. Either Woo takes us to the next level or he doesn’t. Either way, these are exciting times!

  2. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Wooten cannot apply for his international transfer certificate until the transfer window actually opens. That he is an American should avoid the delays that Monteiro confronted, but bureaucratic paperwork is bureaucratic paperwork.
    My uncertain understanding is that the window may have opened today July 7.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    For those not able to follow Real and Fontana down with Bethlehem, both have played well. In particular Matt Real. He has played very effectively as a left center back when he has been available and Jamoi Topey has been away with Jamaica. He has been rock solid in the middle.
    Fontana has been essential to the recent Steel recoveries from the winless streak. During it he was nursing an ankle.

    • The Truth says:

      Fontana is studly, I’d really like to see more of him. Gives Haris a rest, let the kid get a start.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I agree. He is still only 19 (I think) which is good, but to me he has proved his worth and is worthy of getting into more games.

  4. They didn’t play like they wanted to win tonight. There was just no energy. The extra two points could have come in handy.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    The last point asks if the Union should have let a shorthanded, exhausted Orlando back into the game. The problem is that the Union were just as shorthanded and exhausted. There were only 2 non defenders on the bench at the start of the day and you knew that you weren’t going to get much more than 60 minutes out of Fabian.
    This game showed how important guys like Monteiro and Ilshino are and reminds us of how Gaddis can be a dead weight on offense. I remember one time just after Orlando tied it up when he was moving forward with the ball and oodles of space in front of him and stopped just before midfield to pass the ball back. Needless to say, that attack went nowhere.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      For what it’s worth, Brendan Aaronson passing the ball back 4/5 times is more concerning than Ray Gaddis doing so.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Aaronson in the middle of the pitch doesn’t normally have nearly the space Gaddis had.

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        He’s become less daring that’s for sure. Meanwhile Fontana has flashed once again. I think Aaronson is just wearing down a bit with the constant batting be takes.
        Going forward it would be interesting to see what this team looks like with a totally healthy eighteen.

      • The Truth says:

        To echo Mr. O’Donnell Jr, I too believe Aaronson is worn out. He’s taken a beating with no protection from the officials. He’s grown conservative.

  6. HesForReal says:

    Wlecome to the Union Matt Real.

  7. el Pachyderm says:

    Only 1 way to look at this from my POV.
    4 of 6 is never wrong…. particularly in a rather brutal stretch.
    these are results that add up over the long road for the top two teams in a table or conference as it relates to Shields or Seedings. The Negadelphian argues the 2 lost points haunt them. The optimist sees 4 of 6.
    Carry On. You are a 1 or 2 seed… see it through men.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      They picked up a point on NYCFC which is good except it could have been 3. The Union, NYCFC, Atlanta, and Montreal all had home games this weekend and none picked up a win. DC United must be happy given that they had the weekend off.

  8. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Credit to Curtin for the Real sub, and credit to Real obviously. But there was a distinct lack of urgency and dare I say desire, so who do you blame for that? I’m not sure how to feel, honestly. Should I feel more relieved to have the point considering other top teams dropped the ball? Or should I be more worried that we couldn’t see out three points against Orlando’s B team until the 60th minute? It was so obvious that an equalizer was coming when the Union couldn’t score a 2nd goal

  9. Marco has flopped …..Nice early finish by Marco today but after watching him in the limited minutes he has played in this season he is not the player I thought he would be. His work rate borders on being lazy. He has shown virtually no playmaking ability. His shots on goal this year have mostly sailed high and he is way behind in the ability to create something compared to Montiero. Montiero has been the most important addition to the team in creating plays and has a work rate comparable to Barnetta or Le Toux. I hope they can resign him. He has been the spark to the offense success. Lets face it we have won most of the games without Marco. Sorry to say this but he has been over rated overpriced and a disappointment so far.

  10. So the field looked nice right? I just wanted to point out that after all the field woes, the pitch actually looked good yesterday. No clumps or chunks. No goalies losing their feet or replacing divots. Looks like they finally have a pitch.

    • It wasn’t all good. In the second half, Bedoya stretched for a ball right in front of us in section 129. The turf gave way and he looked like he twisted his knee. If looks could kill, Bedoya would have killed that patch of grass as he massaged his knee. He was noticeably limping for a few minutes after that.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      When Dwyer broke through in the first half, Collin nearly cut a hole to the center of the earth with his pivot. Progress, but not perfection.

    • I stand corrected.

    • Grass needs more sun and less rain! It will take eventually!!

      Lol!! Sorry…just had to! Shame we are still talking grass!

  11. The Truth says:

    Two points dropped against a parked bus. I’m not so much disappointed as I am frustrated with Monteiro’s injury. I feel he could’ve undone the Lions better than Aaronson & Fabian.
    Fabian is wasteful and ineffective. Nice goal but golly, has the man practiced shooting at all this season?
    Kacper is a fighter and Santos can’t seemingly do anything productive. Very excited to see Wooten suit up.

  12. Positivity and patience.

    I think you need to stay positive about this team. Was their 4th match on 12 days and they didn’t wilt when Orlando went up. If not for an amazing save, they’d have had all 3. I think they need to review the set piece weakness on defence and think a bit more on how to break down a bunker.

    Also, let’s be a bit more patient with Fabian and Santos. Santos is definitely trying too hard. Fabian is not yet settled either. They need time and some consistency. When you’re in first place, you can afford to give them time.

    Was at Talen both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. A real shame the match had to be delayed. The crowd on Saturday was ready to go. Atmosphere would have been wonderful.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I agree. Saturday was packed and place was ready. I felt like they would’ve lit them up had they played. I couldn’t make it back down Sunday, but was able to watch. Ah well, they need the week off. Excited to see Wooten.

  13. Next game is Saturday July 13th, not the 14th.
    Big kudos to the young guys, Fontana and Real, for providing the sparks to get the Union back on the front foot and earn the tie. I can’t help but wonder if the substitutes came earlier if they may have sparked a game winning goal?
    Also, can we hope that Real will get a chance to start at some point this season? Maybe make a Moneyball sale of Kai during this window or the Winter window if Real shows he is ready to step up?
    More importantly, will Curtin use Fontana to give Haris and Bedoya some rest either as a starter for them or 60 minute substitutes? Especially with Monteiro injured and this season putting as much stress on those two as it is, it looks like Fontana has earned more play time and he would be a great option to give Haris and Bedoya some rest.

    • Player rating Matt Real 8
      Real must be on the first team roster for the rest of the season…….. He is a beast on offense. Real has good vision, speed, way above average foot skills, can cross effectively and lay a soft pass to the feet of forward closing on goal. He got a player rating of 8 by me. He should have had two assist for sure . The one I hope he got on Kascpers late goal and Elliots robbery. Having him on the bench and bringing him in the 60th minute along with Ilsinio on the opposite side of the field would give the oppositions no option to double team or shade defense to one side of the pitch. Fontana played well also . He is composed, unafraid to go forward to start a play has good touch and vision.

  14. 1. Peter, not to be overly critical, but you left out the fact that Real, after setting up Kacper’s tying goal, also crossed in what should’ve been the game winner a couple minutes later. The Union were denied 3 points only because Kevin Rowe did his best impression of Andre Blake and made an unbelievable cat-like reflex save on Jack Elliott’s header. I don’t know how a substitute left back can make such an impression in a 5-minute sun appearance, but Real was a massive spark. We didn’t really get to see him defend, but it might be worth giving The Machine one match off.

    2. I was at the match, and the thing that frustrated me the most was the lack of movement from the Union front line, especially in the first half. The midfield would gradually advance the ball, look up, and nobody was doing anything. Both Kacper and Fafa have really been making the most of opportunities when they get them of late, but it’s in the making of opportunities for themselves that there’s a lack. Kacper’s idea is just to come back to the ball, where he is actually a very good passer, but leaves nobody in the box; and Fafa’s ability to create chances involves steaming up the flank. Maybe Wooten will help change this?

    3. The Union were indeed listless, which was no doubt due to 4 matches in 13 days, but also conditions — it was hot and SUPER humid at Talen. I mean, it was taxing just sitting in the stands watching the match. Hard to imagine how players must’ve felt. Meanwhile the one guy who ran his a** off all game long was Captain Bedoya. The guy is indefatigable.

    4. This was a frustrating result because the Union were so much the better team, and Orlando’s 2 goals were both just flashes. But I guess I have to agree with El Pachy that 5 points from a stretch like this is not half bad.

  15. One of those games. The Union needed to bury this annoying team early. Unfortunately Monteiro and Ilsinho were unavailable. Great goals by Fabian and Kasper. Elliott got robbed.

  16. I’m ok with 4 points in two games. Especially with the brutal stretch of games.
    I’m not ok with either of the goals the Union gave up yesterday. I was standing in the River End, and still don’t know what happened on the first goal. I’m not sure the players on the field to either. There was a sub, and the ball was in the net. Every single Union player was asleep or trying to figure out who they should cover on a kick that already happened.
    Kudos that they didn’t let that get them down, or that they didn’t stop trying when Orlando started playing for the tie.
    Onwards and upwards!

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