Union match reports

Match report: Real Salt Lake 4-0 Philadelphia Union

Screenshot courtesy ESPN+

In their only meeting of the season, Philadelphia Union continued their winless streak at Rio Tinto Stadium, falling 4-0 to Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Completely lacking energy and pace throughout the entire match, the boys in blue had a very rough night — and literally, since there were four yellow cards in the first half. With defensive blunders galore, even Andrew Wooten couldn’t save his struggling squad in his MLS debut.

The first 10 minutes of the match was back and forth as the ball was predominantly held in the midfield. Struggling to get the ball behind Real Salt Lake, neither Kacper Przybylko nor Fafa Picault got a touch on the ball in the first 10 minutes of the match, really limiting Philadelphia’s chances on goal. However, Auston Trusty made things difficult for Real Salt Lake, who were also limited on chances as well until the 15th minute.

Philadelphia began to struggle defensively, with Brenden Aaronson getting beaten too easily by Albert Rusnák and all around poor coverage from the Union’s midfield and defenders allowing Real Salt Lake to control the ball and move freely in the box.

In the 23rd minute, Jefferson Savarino made the Union pay, running onto a 40-yard pass, beating Trusty and Andre Blake, and netting the ball because of a deflection off of Blake to put RSL up 1-0.

Shortly after their goal, Real Salt Lake almost went a man down after Damir Kreilach tackled Przybylko from behind, receiving a yellow card immediately from the referee. While there were shouts for a red from the Union side, the call and card were reviewed and upheld by VAR.

Lacking pace and energy for most of the first half, the Union took their time settling into the match and were content to allow Real Salt Lake to set the pace and control the majority of possession. While the back line struggled to press and cover, Marco Fabian, Przybylko and Picault all had very few touches in the first half and no impact on the match. With no shots on goal, two total shots and 41% of the possession after the first 45 minutes, the Union had no momentum whatsoever and brought on Sergio Santos for Aaronson, who was icing his knee at halftime.

Santos had an immediate impact on the match, getting a shot off in the 48th minute and hitting the first decent cross of the match for the boys in blue, although it was scooped up by Nick Rimando.

Still, the Union were lacking a bit of energy, and Blake kept his team by pure luck in the match in the 54th minute, making a goal line save with his knee to block a header from Rusnák. Blake was later saved by his own crossbar in the 58th minute after he was caught flat footed and looking at another header that almost put Real Salt Lake up 2-0.

Real Salt Lake went up 2-0 after a poor giveaway in the Union’s own half. Picault ran into Medunjanin who wasn’t able to reach the ball after it deflected off him and fell right to Savarino. He rocketed the ball in the far lower left corner of the net, a shot Blake had no chance of saving, giving Savarino a brace.

Philadelphia had a glimmer of hope when Andrew Wooten made his MLS debut in the 76th minute of the match and, 25 seconds later, scored a goal that was overturned by VAR. The ball was fully over the end line when Santos crossed it to Wooten who one-timed his shot to the upper left corner of the net, sailing past Rimando. It was a beautiful shot but shortly overturned by a quick look at the replay, and Philadelphia was still trailing 2-0.

It soon became 3-0 after some miscommunication between Ray Gaddis and Blake. In the 81st minute, Real Salt Lake was pressing, and Gaddis was calling for Blake to come out to collect a ball in the box. Blake, however, stayed in net while Gaddis tried to clear the ball on the 18-yard line. Gaddis ultimately gave it right to Rusnák, who buried it for his team’s third of the night.

It quickly became 4-0 after Damir Kreilach ran onto a pass from Everton Luiz that easily split the Union’s back line and netted the ball in a shot that Blake had little chance of stopping. Kreilach was originally flagged for offside and the goal was not awarded until another VAR review showed he was barely onside.

The Union continued to have no chances of scoring a goal and had little possession of the ball until the match ended. It was a rough match for the boys in blue where nothing seemed to go their way as both Blake and his back line really struggled and the Union recorded zero shots on goal in the entire match.

Still sitting in first place in the East, the Union return home on July 20th to face C.J. Sapong and the Chicago Fire.

Three points

Andrew Wooten. Making his first appearance for the Union, Andrew Wooten could not be the one solution for all of his team’s problems tonight. His nullified goal was beautiful, quite possibly one of the fastest ever scored by a sub in his debut and exactly what the Union needed in that moment to spark some hope. Unfortunately, it didn’t count, and Wooten couldn’t give his team the spark they desperately needed. But the blame can’t fall on Wooten when his team struggled to move the ball upfield all night.

Defensive struggles. The Union’s back line struggled all night, while Andre Blake did not have a good match either. Lacking in communication, pressure, energy and coverage, the Union gave up four goals, which has been unheard of recently.

No Wagner. If you didn’t already know, Fabinho replaced Kai Wagner in tonight’s starting lineup. Wagner wasn’t even on the Union’s six-man bench because he was ruled out late after failing a pregame fit test with a quad injury. His absence was noticeable in this match where the back line struggled to set a high line and mark up. Fabinho didn’t really have any glaring errors, but it definitely wasn’t a good match for the veteran defender.


Philadelphia Union (4-4-2)
Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Fabinho; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (c), Brenden Aaronson (Sergio Santos 46′), Marco Fabian (Anthony Fontana 65′); Kacper Przybylko, Fafa Picault (Andrew Wooten 76′)

Unused substitutes: Matt Freese, Aurelien Collin, RJ Allen

Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1)
Nick Rimando; Brooks Lennon, Marcelo Silva, Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera; Everton Luiz, Kyle Beckerman (c) (Nick Besler 83′); Jefferson Savarino (Joao Plata 85′), Albert Rusnák, Sebastian Saucedo (Corey Baird 71′); Damir Kreilach

Unused substitutes: Erik Holt, Tate Schmitt, David Ochoa, Justin Portillo


RSL: Jefferson Savarino – 23′ (Aaron Herrera)

RSL: Jefferson Savarino – 71′ (Kyle Beckerman)

RSL: Albert Rusnák – 81′ (Jefferson Savarino)

RSL: Damir Kreilach – 89′  (Everton Luiz)


RSL: Sebastian Saucedo – yellow – 17′ (foul)

RSL: Damir Kreilach – yellow – 24′ (foul)

RSL: Kyle Beckerman – yellow – 29′ (foul)

PHL: Brenen Aaronson – yellow – 35′ (dissent)

RSL: Aaron Herrera- yellow – 61′ (foul)


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I’m really pretty unfazed by this result. Other than it being a bummer of a data point, ultimately, it is an outlier. My thinking — a nice result or two in a row and the listing ship is righted and all is well and steaming along again.
    Regroup. Play like the winners you are built to be.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Yeah… like, we lost and got our asses kicked. Nothing good out oftonight. On to Saturday vs Chicago… get 3 and this disaster means nothing.

  3. What we learned………..feel free to take notes from my 5 points..when you write the article PHilly.com staff

    1 Marco Fabian is a bust. He could get nothing started. The majority of his passes were backwards. He slows the game down. He showed very little second effort when he lost the ball. He does not take people on or attempt to force the ball through. He has little ability to hit a long pass. He is timid.

    1 A Montiero needs to be resigned. He is the key to the attack. Fabian needs to be cut loose next season and his salary used as part of the transfer fee that will be needed to keep Montiero

    2 Curtin is no genius and completely forgot the second Orlando game. He should have not only brought Matt Real to Salt Lake but he should have started him instead of Fhabino who proved again why they got Kai Wagner. Real would have paired well with Fontanna on the left side.

    2A Kai Wagner must be resigned

    3 Aaronson is worn out right now and needs time to heel. He also needs to hit the weight room and put on 10 puonds next season, He truly looked like a talented high school senior in over his head against grown ass men. At this point minus Montiero Fontana should start on the lefet side of the Diamond. He should should stay on the first team and start.

    4 Ray Gaddis needs to be replaced next year and be the reserve right back at best.

    5 Andrew Wooten knows where to place himself in an opportune place and put the ball on frame.

    you are welcome….

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Agree with most of your points, but #2 may not be entirely Curtin’s fault. Real went 90 minutes Wednesday night for Bethlehem and it may have just been a case where the team didn’t know about Wagner’s situation ahead of time and so Real hadn’t even made the trip. If that’s the case, Fabhino may have been the only option.
      Also, on #3, they tried to give Aaronson a rest against NYCFC but Ilshino got hurt so Aaronson still had to come in. With Monteiro also hurt, they don’t have many options.

    • And still no talk about Trusty haha. The true liability within the back line

  4. Alicat215 says:

    The Union are a different side without Monteiro and Wagner………….pretty glaring. Fabian and Aaronson were non existent…….

    • Aaronson is great at leading the line IMO but having fabian be non-existent plays brendan out of the game. its really killing us #StartFontana

      • Alicat215 says:

        Aaronson can be effective in the right circumstances, last night wasn’t one of them. RSL pressed and was very physical with our interior. Beat the hell out of them, actually. At his age, he gets bodied out of matches like that…..like someone said above, he needs the weight room more than anything to put 10-15 lbs on that frame of his….especially the position he is at.

  5. So much for me believing they rebound after a poor match. Their midfield really is far less effective without Monteiro. He and Ilsinho can’t get healthy fast enough.

  6. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I have no access to the club’s internally generated performance data. I sstrongly suspect it says that Marco Fabián does not hit their benchmarks for covering ground during a match. To use a phrase that was used to critique now departed Adam Najem, Fabian is not a “volume player.”
    RSL’s midfield negated the Union’s. No shots on target reflects that.
    Bobby Warshaw’s idea that Jamiro Monteiro is a league MVP candidate was demonstrated clearly last night.
    Philly does not have a “hard man” in its midfield. There is no bruising enforcer, a la Dunga decapitating Tab Ramos in the ‘94 World Cup.

    • Alicat215 says:

      I think Leonardo did that to Ramos in 94, not Dunga. OSC, you are correct with Fabián. I said it at the beggining of the season, he doesn’t have the engine to cover the middle of the park the way they want. I don’t think it’s a health question with him either, he just doesn’t have the engine to zip around in there the way they need. Second, RSL beat the hell out of our interior midfield and it glaringly exposed Aaronson as a boy amongst men out there…….Monteiro, Monteiro, Monteiro……he’s been the best player all season, not even a close second.

    • Isn’t Monteiro the “hard man”? He’s around the ball more than anyone. He probably fouls more than anyone else on the team, whether he gets away without a card or not. Players on the other team certainly act quite miffed when faced with his dogged defense. To me he almost achieves the same ends.
      Agree with the assessment of Fabian so far. I’m not sure at his age and injury history if he is able to produce a higher work rate. I keep coming back to the thought that Fontana is actually the best option at the 10. He covers a lot of ground. He’s actually a decent sized kid and doesn’t get pushed around much. He’s calm and cool around and in the box. He makes the smart/right pass but probably not the spectacular/killer one. He’s quite quick though I wouldn’t say fast. Fabian is just not cutting it. Montiero is great and can play anywhere in the midfield, but he really isn’t the play-making 10 and he’s better coming from further back. Aaaronson just gets bodied and at this point benefits more from being on the wing where he has more space and time to get rid of the ball before he gets pummeled. Ilsinho can’t/shouldn’t do it, for all the myriad of reasons we already know. So, Fontana. Play Fontana. Yeah and we need outside back depth to actually work for us and not hurt us.
      Also to add to my Fontana point…How many times this year would the team have benefited from a player doing just the basic, sim0ple thing right? How many times did Prys throw his hands up last night because the easy pass/cross was missed/not taken/blundered. Just saying if they did the simple things, it’d be better.

      • Alicat215 says:

        Yeah dude, Monteiro….along with being the best playmaker, also possesses the biggest “edge” of anyone on the team. He is our default hard man, he gets stuck in……..and will “ do the business” if it’s required of him…….

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    The Union have 3 players who were mentioned for either the MLS Best XI or MVP after the first half of the season and all 3 were out last night. Combine that with Fabian still not able to go 90, wanting to use a Wooten as a late substitute, and only having one midfielder on the bench, along with the altitude, this was likely to be a tough task for the team.
    The real question is how quickly Monteiro, Ilsinho, and Wagner will be ready to return (and how much of a piece of s*it Kljestan is for the foul on Monteiro).

  8. Well that sucked! 1) Curtin’s short comings exposed without key regulars to cover them. 2) I love Fabinho. However, he should stay with the Steel. 3) I love Gaddis. However enough already. He still plays like he’s counting dance steps and is a turnstile. 4) Fontana and Real have the chemistry the Union need when key regulars are missing. 5) Aaronson is being pummeled and worn down. He needs weight training. He should perhaps be subbed in later to take advantage his speed against tired defenders. 6)Fontana should start on the left and Monteiro should be the #10 moving forward. 7) Wooten and Kasper up top. 8) Picault and Ilsinho off the bench. 9)At 24 Santos still has an upside. 10) I hate to say this but bye Fabian.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Curtin’s shortcomings are that the team isn’t as good when they’re without 3 of their top players with at least 2 others not ready to go 90 minutes at altitude due to long layoffs? That’s pretty insightful. Which manager would do better under those circumstances?
      I’m not sure where you see chemistry between Fontana and Real, but I didn’t see much of it Wednesday night.
      How about letting Monteiro get healthy before putting him at the #10? Until he’s ready to come back someone else needs to play there.

      • I said moving forward regarding Monteiro. He’s obviously not going to play with a sprained ankle. I like the chemistry Fontana and Real showed vs Orlando City. I stick by what I said about Curtains shortcomings.

      • Curtin’s

      • Andy Muenz says:

        All you said was that Curtin has shortcomings when the team is shorthanded because 3 of its top players are hurt. What shortcomings are those and who do you think would have gotten a result as coach Saturday night if they were at the helm for the Union?

      • “I’m not sure where you see chemistry between Fontana and Real, but I didn’t see much of it Wednesday night.”
        Nobody saw it, because Real wasn’t there. He was left home – as was mentioned above, almost certainly because he played 90 for Steel on Wednesday night.
        If Wagner can’t go Saturday, then LCB is exactly right – the right move for Curtin would be to start Real at LB and Fontana at LM.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The Steel game was the one I was talking about Wednesday night. I didn’t think Real looked all the good against a USL opponent (NYRB2) and I don’t know if he is ready to play a full game against MLS opposition – late game substitute against Orlando excepted.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        A factor they will consider in the LWB choice is the match-up for Real. He just turned 20. He still needs to be brought along carefully.

  9. I agree with the Elephant that I am not drawing any conclusions after last night’s (admittedly dismal) showing. As I commented elsewhere before the match, it’s always hard flying cross-country in this league, and the Utah high altitude makes it that much worse. Hence this team is the Union’s kryptonite. Add to that the overwork of our 2 aging central midfielders and the injuries we’re currently dealing with…

    I’ll worry if we have another couple performances like that. For now, forget it & move on.

  10. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Trying something new here. The player ratings in my mind are so terrible I thought I’d give it another angle, the length of the leash that should be on each player:

    Blake: still an all-star, not concerned. His struggles don’t have a logical explanation
    Gaddis: very short, if Mbaizo were healthy I might say no leash at all, as much as I love him
    Elliott: zero concern, obviously
    Trusty: very short, same with Gaddis but it’s McKenzie who needs to get healthy, so for now he’s safe
    Fabinho: he’s a third string, and I can’t really blame him for struggling. Tanner signed Wagner for a reason
    Medunjanin: just give the man a rest, as soon as Monteiro can go 90 again
    Bedoya: see Medunjanin
    Aaronson: he’s in a tough spot and the effort is there, but it’s a somewhat short leash for me. May be Fontana Time
    Fabian: shortest of all. Shame soccer doesn’t have refunds. He has until Monty and Ilsinho get back to prove he’s worth something
    Przybylko: deserves better service, he’ll be fine
    Picault: see Przybylko. However, when Wooten is 90 minutes fit, I think it’s obvious Fafa is our bench option
    Santos: short leash, but long term I think he’ll figure it out. Just has to put up with being 4th striker as of now
    Fontana: should be playing with house money and nothing to lose. Give the kid a real chance
    Wooten: goal was nice, sign of things to come?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      McKenzie didn’t look all that strong Wednesday as part of the Steel defense that gave up 4 goals. He still has a way to go before he’s ready to play again with the Union. And I didn’t think Collin looked all that good against Orlando, so I think Trusty is the best bet right now.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        While it did not show Saturday night, Trusty is the best as running down and dealing with breakaways. In Tanner’s system they are going to happen, particularly with a highly mature, more sedate midfield.
        Fabian, Medunjanin and Bedoya may not be able to be in the same midfield together.

    • Collin showed Wednesday that he should be starting over Trusty. Yes, Collin isn’t fast but he puts himself in positions where he doesn’t get beat often. Passing Is great and he is stellar in the air. Trusty is the complete opposite. Always gets beat, horrible in the air, always bad positioning , and poor passing. It’s pretty clear.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I’m not sure I’d place Collin over Trusty just yet. As pointed out, Trusty’s recoveries are usually very good. When McKenzie is healthy, that’s when I consider making a change if Trusty doesn’t improve. He’s still young so I’m being patient

  11. Worst performance of the year. But also, as others have mentioned, an outlier.
    Goal 1 – Fabian and Bedoya no pressure to the ball; Fabinho and Trusty late communication on passing off the runner
    Goal 2 – Poor giveaway as Fafa and Haris run into each other
    Goal 3 – Gaddis mistake
    Goal 4 – Haris beaten easily; Elliot gambles
    Burn the tape and beat Chicago at home.

    • In tanner we trust, Trusty got beat badly in the first goal against Real salt lake. He was with the offender and was too soft like usual. I’m my opinion, it’s time to sit Trusty.

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

    Harris was the only concern I had last night from a game that wasn’t even worth watching. For the last few games it seems he’s being extremely lazy on his passing. He’s not very accurate and is having a tenancy to hold the ball to long letting the defender get a deflection. Wouldn’t mind seeing him get a rest this week against Chicago.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      or is it that with Monteiro out, he does not have outlets showing as quickly as he needs them to do?

  13. Wondering if guys just need a rest. Mostly the senior members of the team. Only watched the first half and DVRthe second do to work. Just a bad game from a depleted team. Curtin only has so many options when multiple players are recovering. On to the next!

  14. John Ling and Andy….. as I mentioned at the beginning of the thread… The chemistry I was referring to between Real and Fontana was in the second Orlando game the give and go that set up Kacpers tying goal…. Also Real had 2 great passes including the chip to Elliot that nearly put them ahead. Real was clearly the spark that brought on the comeback in the second Orlando game. Curtin Should have played Fhabino in the “lower level ” Bethlehenm game and had Real in the starting line up vs Salt lake Joe Barnett

    • Andy Muenz says:

      What you saw against Orlando was a short stint against a team that was content to try to preserve a win/draw. Real is definitely better than Fabhino in that situation. However, I don’t think he’s ready to play a full 90 in MLS unless the other team is playing a game like Seattle did in Philly a couple of months ago and just parking the bus from minute 1.

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