Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-2 NYCFC

Photo Credit: Marjorie Elzey

After a series of last minute lineup changes by both teams and a very poor start by the Union, Philly takes third in the eastern conference. Despite slowly gaining possession after allowing a quick goal, the Union just couldn’t capitalize on any of their chances. It resulted in a 2-1 loss as we head into the playoffs.

An NYCFC goal in the seventh minute set the tone of the match early on. Last minute add-on, Ronald Matarrita was able to net one past the diving Andre Blake after a cross from Valentin Castellanos. Defender Ray Gaddis had lost his mark and gave NYCFC the early lead. From there the Union seemed too shocked to generate any real attack. Gaddis somewhat redeemed himself in the 18th minute with some great work and passing in NYCFC’s box, but Andrew Wooten couldn’t capitalize.

NYCFC would double their lead in the 22nd minute with a shot out wide from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. Hitting a shot towards goal, the ball deflected off Jamiro Montiero and went over the outstretched arm of Blake. While it looked like an own goal, Tajouri-Shradi was gnamed the goal scorer with another assist from Castellanos.

Philadelphia registered their first shot on goal in the 28th minute off a free kick by Haris Medunjanin. Wooten was able to redirect the ball towards net with pressure, but the ball went just outside the right post for an unsuccessful corner kick. The Union would begin to build pressure, getting more crosses and shots, but couldn’t finish any of their chances in the first half. NYCFC was up 2-0 after the first 45 minutes.

Continuing to press, the Union started the second half with some more chances from Aaronson, Picault and Wooten. The best chance came in the 64th minute from Aaronson. Following a series of beautiful passes from Medunjanin and Marco Fabian, Aaronson gets the ball and blasts it wide. Medunjanin had his own shot saved a few minutes later, following a cross from Aaronson. Philly was generating the attacks, but nobody could finish.

In the 86th minute a penalty was given to the Union. Fabian took the kick and buried it past Johnson to cut NYCFC’s lead in half. But it wouldn’t be enough as the final regular season match ended in a loss for the Union. Maybe they can take comfort in the fact that it was the eighth sellout of the season? Anyways, the Union finish in third place and are moving into the playoffs.

Three Points

Missing key players. Kacper was a last minute scratch with his injury in warm-up. Bedoya was out for his injury. That’s two key players for Philly that were out this match and it definitely showed. Without Przybylko up top, none of Philly’s chances were finished. Without Bedoya in the midfield, it took the Union way too long to settle down and possess the ball smoothly in the midfield.

Poor passing and bad giveaways. It was the plague of the first half. There were way too many giveaways at midfield that NYCFC made the Union pay for. When the Union had the ball, and it wasn’t too much in the first half at least, their poor touches and passes made it all obsolete.

No one can finish. It’s been a common problem for the Union throughout the years, and various parts of this season, but nobody could finish today. Is it all because Przybylko was out? With expensive talent like Wooten and Fabian on the field, the Union should have someone other than Przybylko able to finish.


Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1)

Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin (c), Jamiro Monteiro, Fafa Picault (Anthony Fontana 76′), Brenden Aaronson (Matt Real 80′), Ilsinho (Marco Fabian 60′); Andrew Wooten
Unused Substitutes: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, RJ Allen, Warren Creavalle

NYCFC (4-2-3-1)

Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm (Sebastien Ibeagha 90′), Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat; Alexander Ring (c), Ebenezer Ofori, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Jesus Medina 32′), Maximiliano Moralez, Valentin Castellanos, Ronald Matarrita (James Sands 81′)
Unused Substitutes: Brad Stuver, Ronald Matarrita, Tony Rocha, Gary Mackay-Steven

Scoring Summary

NYC: Ronald Mataritta (Valentin Castellanos) – 7′

NYC: Ismael Tajour-Shradi (Valentin Castellanos) – 22′

PHL: Marco Fabian (penalty kick) – 87′

Disciplinary Summary

NYC: Maxime Chanot – yellow – 27′

NYC: Anton Tinnerholm – yellow – 66′

NYC: Alex Ring – yellow – 90’+5′


  1. Remember when Curtin went back to the 4-2-3-1 which caused us to win 1 game in the last 5, and in that time we crashed out of first, crashed out of a CHANCE to play for first, crashed out of 2nd and crashed out of a chance at the CCL?

    Great fucking coaching Jim.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      …defended this team for 8 months this season only to nut-sack shrivel prick up in the last month.
      A bunch of patsy ass pretty boys out there right now. Unreal.
      The manager is grasping at straws and now his team has a crises of confidence being masked as indifference and ennui.
      Fuckers. Not okay.

    • It’s an identity crisis right now. We were so good in the 4-4-2. And now we’ve got this….
      This is why no one wants to get too excited when the Union were in 1st. They find a way to blow it.

  2. Disappointed season ticket holder says:

    Unfortunately true. Don’t understand why Curtin went away from the 4 4 2. We had no sense of urgency until the last 5 minutes. Too little too late!

  3. I appreciate this has been a good season and I thank the union for that. In my view if the union don’t show well in the playoff game it needs to be a coaching change.

  4. As Jim put it, “1 win in the last 5”. Lose 3 of the 4 last matches. A shot at 1st and good shot at 2nd and near certain shot at the CCL flushed down the jacks. There’s no sugarcoating the unacceptable.
    There’s deeper problems when teams do this including mental attitude. It’s the chokes under pressure, loss of game time focus and the usual follow up spam can of “we tried/we’re sorry/we couldn’t get it done today/there’s always another game/season” stuff”.
    The way this team repeatedly chokes in USOC finals and in *several* late season closing matches with things to play for like MLS Cup seeding and CCL is systemic.

  5. Tim Herring says:

    Hey, look on the bright side: 1) at least this news won’t be more up front than page D6 of the newspaper, 2) we have a mascot named Phang, and 3) we were promised a new VIP suite!

    • Wait..there’s more. As our ‘thanks for playing’ consolation prize, we had already qualified for the Junior Varsity Leagues Cup weeks ago before the usual implosion.
      Just think…the thrill of losing the illustrious Crash Davis trophy in a final at home in OT or PKs as usual.
      Maybe ‘participation medals’ for our boys in blue? They gotta get something, right?

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    Boy don’t we all know too well backsliding into the playoffs.
    Passing me off. Disjointed. And worse?
    Your effort sucked ass tonight. I’m calling you out Jamiro. WTF? American soccer and a lack of relegation got you playing with no EDGE?

    • El Pach, I don’t get to many matches these days but I was able to attend tonight’s. I thought Jamiro was again one of our best players on the pitch, anything the Union kick start offensively was usually from him. Tonight their shape seemed out of whack, if they were 4-2-3-1 why was Harris so high up the park? He and Jamiro should be parallel with each other…..that as most definitely not the case tonight. I thought Harris was the big liability…..no pace, turning balls over, forget about defending…..so he serves a nice ball now and then…..but at what price? I have also noticed clubs will foul Jamiro once he gets a head of steam going, which isn’t really surprising. What was surprising was seeing that Jamiro often takes up space Ray should be in, and what happens is they clog up the same space…the NYC players know Ray isn’t getting the ball and Jamiro gets doubled and tripled up. I think this was discussed after last week’s result, but I thought it was glaring tonight.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Yes, this. I’ve said it so many times, Monteiro doesn’t belong here because he’s too good for this team. I wholeheartedly believe he played with an edge. Teams are scared to death of him, seemingly almost as much as Ilsinho. Another problem is refs clearly hate him.

      • Yes, Medujanin was one of the big liabilities in this game. Always losing the ball in the middle of the pitch. He cant take on players regularly and can’t defend at all. Yes, Montiero played bad, so did the rest of the team. So, Curtin puts out a 4 2 3 1 again haha. We don’t have a forward that can take on a defense and beat them with their feet, like Martinez or BWP, or like any other lone striker. Provide 2 forwards up top !!! I’m
        Finished with Curtin I still believe this should be his last year. Yes, we’re in 3rd which is great, but this coach has never been able to keep the team focused or determined when playing Important matches such as these. His love for Fabian is sickening too.

      • That’s the second part that I observed……Wooten couldn’t stretch their back four. All that space to exploit and nothing……

  7. I made frustrated disparaging comments on twitter after the Columbus game and got slammed.

    For the first time EVER I left at half. I couldn’t sit and watch the crap effort on the field.

  8. Tim Herring says:

    Hi Msklem, I hope on your way out at halftime you threw your season tix renewal form back to the team like I did last year. Put your money in a 401k and no more into Jay Sugarman’s pockets.

  9. No reasons for optimism tonight. This team looks determined to get thumped out of the playoffs in game 1. Net result would be absolutely nothing worth remembering this season. Performance was shameful. I don’t want to hear a thing about good citizen awards or record points on the season. You had 1st place, and squandered good chances to keep it with abysmal play over the last 6 weeks.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      One piece of optimism, but it should be taken with a grain of salt based on past Union teams: for having key players out, they managed to create chances and had plenty of the ball in the box. But no one seemed to want the shot and when they did it was horribly taken. Different game if Aaronson hits either of the 2 shots he sailed over the bar in the 2nd half.

  10. So frustrating that this team ends the season losing two straight after not doing so since Week 2. They sure know how to back into the playoffs with no momentum, don’t they?….

  11. That was disappointing tonight. I want to see a heat signature of Harris and Wooten tonight. They just killed grass man! Why was Harris so damn high up the pitch with Monty seeming alone at the 6? Harris flat out turned a ball over for the second goal, with him so high up the pitch he was constantly a step or two behind in the press which NYC would just pass out of. Wooten just literally sat in between the two NYC CBs the entire match. Having said all that, the Union still had plenty of chances to at least draw this match……Aaronson should have had at least two.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Replied to someone above before I saw this. I agree with everything here. We must have sat close together because these are my exact points of view.

  12. I understand there is frustration now, but most of these comments are completely missing the big picture. Yes, the Union were 1-3-1 down the stretch, but those games were two against the 2 best teams in the league bookending what was probably the most brutal road trip travel wise that any team in the world would have to make. The reason the Union did not win the conference was NOT because of these last 5 games. If you want to blame a poor stretch, look back to the end of May when the Union had a 3 game homestand and picked up a total of 2 points…and those were against tired teams that had to make long trips to Talen.
    I realize that a lot of people reading this seem to have trouble remembering that far back, but that to me were much worse results than the last 5 games. Hopefully they’ll bounce back from these games like they did then with their wins against Minnesota and NYRB.
    Was most disappointed that Curtin and Ale didn’t address the fans afterwards because I wanted to thank them for the unexpectedly good season.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Yes! Where was this? I waited and nothing happened. Everyone left. I also agree on the big picture. We had that huge win in Toronto after destroying NE 6-1, then we fell apart. Seattle bunkered, Portland just wrecked us, and I was at that Colorado game and I was not happy at all. Braved a stinking storm for that game.

    • Challenging bookend of season, agreed, but not the most brutal road trip IMO.
      They had the normal week and took a stone’s throw commute up the NJ Turnpike to Harrison. It’s a playoff team but one we know well, and they are literally a brief ‘road trip’ and no thus no travel burden.
      Many local Union fans will attend such matches. San Jose followed by midweek in Crew certainly sucks for travel, but we had the normal week before going to San Jose, and Columbus was a bottom tier team as the offset for the midweek match.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        correct. everyone travels. its an occupational ‘hazard’. they needed to be Closers… and didn’t. period. End of Story.
        all this talk… about charters -set an intention to failure.
        #set.an.intention.to.fail is trending.

  13. Lots of people say that Ale is overpaid, but IMO he sets the attitude and intention on the pitch for this team. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and sometimes it looks like he is dragging the team to that attitude with him in spite of themselves. He is the anti-Fabian. We needed him Sunday. We need him against the Red Bulls. This one sucked. Get well soon Ale!

  14. Finishing in third to NYC & Atlanta I can live with.

    But blowing their gilt-edged chance at playing in the CCL for the first time has just broken my f*cking heart.

    I knew we were in trouble when I saw Ilsinho in the XI.

  15. The start was brutal but as they found the game they matched and then outplayed NYCFC. Finish your chances and that’s 3 points. Take away the freak ‘own goal that wasn’t’ and you’ve tied arguably one of the best teams in the league.
    Finish your bloody chances!
    Back line looked pretty solid all game – Elliot was fantastic. Monteiro and Aaronson played well. Haris … just ugh. I don’t understand all of the MLS media love for him. He seems to have as many piss-poor moments as great ones. Maybe he’s got a personal PR team.
    Wooten may go down as the next Mbolhi – what a disappointment. His workrate was pathetic – particularly compared to Kacper’s typical effort. The moment in the match when NYCFC had 10 men for a solid minute, the ball was deep in their zone, and he failed to put on any pressure told me all I need to know about him as a player. Surprised Santos didn’t even make the 18.
    Would love to see the 4-2-2 back and I think I am done with Fafa at the 9. Maybe give Fontana a chance and move Fafa back to super-sub status? If he cannot finish and his final touch in the box continues to fail him it’s time to understand that ‘he is who he is’.
    What happened to Isinho? Did the league finally figure him out or is he tired?
    If we finish our chances we should win two playoff games. Fingers crossed.

    • *4-4-2 🙂

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Could it be NYCFC went into cruise mode at 2-0. Maybe union didn’t actually match them.
      City had the ball for 65% of game when the game was being sorted out.

      • Maybe, but didn’t feel like it to me. U just seemed to get the flow going and finally played as they should have from kickoff. No excuse for that terrible start though – Jim has got to figure out how to get them to play 90 at a high level – esp. in the big games.

  16. Hell, Castellanos owns the Union. Backing into the playoffs, the only way we know how. How bad is this home playoff loss gonna be? I don’t wanna get shut out.
    I walked out before the PK last night. Best deal of the night was the 50% Union gear. Got me a nice new windbreaker.

  17. I think Curtin went back to the 4-2-3-1 because Burke was gone for the year, Wooten was/is still getting acclimated to MLS and Santos has been injured on and off this season so Kacper has been the only reliable guy to consistently start. The 4-4-2 diamond with Fabian as a striker was a disaster the few times they tried it. IMO, Santos is better on the wing because of his speed. If we go 4-2-3-1 in the playoff game I’d like to see Monty on the right, Ale next to Haris, Aaronson at the 10 and Santos on the left. Still plenty of guys to come off the bench and I believe you get a 4th sub if the game goes into extra time.

  18. OneManWolfpack says:

    Wooten is fat and slow. Haris was god awful. I don’t see what anyone here saw in Montiero last night. Fabian was last night, and has been all year, worthless. Ilsinho can’t start (I realize they had Kasper as a late scratch and Bedoya was out). Jim went back to old Jim and decided he was playing 4-2-3-1 for better for worse. Can they beat Red Bull, yes of course. Will they… if the last month is any indication… they probably won’t. You need to pay a real #10 to run the 4-4-2. You tried with Fabian and it didn’t work. Cut your loss and find someone else. Also, why does Fafa come off? Wooten played as well as I would’ve yesterday. He should’ve been taken off at half… for ANYONE
    Hey, at least Ray gave us some joy at the end, when he busted his ass and earned the PK (he should’ve taken the ball from Fabian and hit it… it was a meaningless PK anyway), then BUSTED his ass even more to chase down the City forward (can’t remember his name), after Blake had gone up for the corner.
    That’s So Union… was so damn true last night. On to the playoffs… sigh…

  19. Postscript says:

    Coming out of camp, they had one job:

    Replace Dockal.

    They waited too late, and ended up grabbing something for free off the bargain rack. Then; they decided it would be “ok” to back that position up with a kid who isn’t physically capable of competing in the league……….what could go wrong?

    Curtsy is who he is-which is an agenda driven surrender monkey.

    His only goal is his own survival. He resists anyone within that organization that demands change. Ergo: Gaddis and H.

    Did you not read the GM wanted to replace the former as a starter and get rid of the other altogether?

    His “loyalty” is to those who got him the job. He said so-did you forget? or think that he did?

    He does the same things over and over year after year……and it is YOU who expect a different result. Is HE the one who evinces insanity?……………

    Here’s how you know the tail wags the dog and always will there:

    Remember the markers that were laid down pre-season for Carrot Top to remain?

    1). Play off home game

    2). Win it!

    Yet-they extended him without waiting to see………..
    Somebody up there now has to be hoping against hope it works out anyway otherwise;

    That’s gonna be one sour kraut.

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