Union match reports

Match report: FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Goals from Zdenek Ondrasek and Paxton Pomykal ensured that Philadelphia Union’s season opener wouldn’t be a leap forward, falling to FC Dallas 2-0 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

For the first match of the season, Jim Curtin sent out his squad in a 4-4-2. New signing Jakob Glesnes partnered Mark McKenzie in central defense, while Matt Real deputized for the injured Kai Wagner at left back. Warren Creavalle got a somewhat surprising start at the No. 6, with Jose Martinez starting on the bench and Matej Oravec missing out on the 18 entirely. The rest of the lineup was as expected, witth Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos leading the line.

The match started slowly, with neither team able to take the bull by the horns. FC Dallas had the better of the chances early on, managing to turn the Union over in midfield and go on the counter. Former Union man Fafa Picault wreaked havoc down his familiar left side; a low cross to Michael Barrios forced Andre Blake into a point-blank save in the 18th minute.

Neither side managed a first-half breakthrough, and neither side made a change to start the second half as the sun began to set in Dallas.

Dallas probably should have taken the lead in the 50th minute, when new signing Thiago Santos burst into the box and had a shot on Blake from close range. Fortunately for the Union, the shot hit the outside of the post and bounced wide.

The Union’s fortune would not last, though, as Zdenek Ondrasek broke the deadlock in the 61st minute. Picking up the ball just outside the 18, Ondrasek took a touch, then blasted one at goal on the half volley. The ball rifled past Blake and nestled just inside the corner of the goalpost.

Curtin wasted little time introducing Ilsinho and shifting to the 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to regain control of the match, replacing the hit-and-miss Brenden Aaronson. The chances, though, did not come.

Anthony Fontana was summoned to replace Warren Creavalle 15 minutes later. Now, a half chance or two appeared, including a shot from just outside the box that barely troubled Jesse Gonzalez. The Union were a touch or two too slow al night long. A brief tussle between Gonzalez and Sergio Santos woke up the crowd.

U.S. international Paxton Pomykal, a substitute for the hosts, put the finishing touches on the match with a 90th minute goal. Picking the ball up near the penalty spot, he slid across goal, finding the space as he glided past Ray Gaddis, and then hit a soft shot back across goal and into the far netting.

The Union are back in action next weekend against last year’s Supporter’s Shield winner LAFC. Kickoff from Banc of California Stadium on Sunday night is at 10:30 p.m.

Three points
  • Midfield mess – Last year’s midfield was the core of the team. Without Haris Medunjanin, it looks like the Union have a ways to go to reach that level of effectiveness.
  • Where are the goals? Santos and Przybylko had moments of sharpness, but didn’t produce nearly enough of a threat to Dallas’s goal.
  • Work to do – It’s just one game, and both Dallas goals were excellent. But the Union will need to improve on their performance if they want to mount a challenge to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Matt Real (Jack Elliott 90′), Mark McKenzie, Jacob Glesnes, Ray Gaddis, Warren Creavalle (Anthony Fontana 79′), Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Ilsinho 66′), Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos
Unused Subs: Joe Bendik, Olivier Mbaizo, Michee Ngalina, Jose Martinez

FC Dallas

Jesse Gonzalez, Matt Hedges, Reggie Cannon, Reto Ziegler, Ryan Hollingshead, Tanner Tessman, Fafa Picault (Bressan 65′), Jesus Ferreira (Paxton Pomykal 75′), Thiago Santos, Michael Barrios (Ricardo Pepi 90 + 3′), Zdenek Ondrasek
Unused Subs: John Nelson, Jimmy Maurer, Bryan Reynolds, Santiago Mosquera

Scoring summary
FCD  Zdenek Ondrasek — 61′ (Jesus Ferreira)
FCD: Paxton Pomykal — 90′ (Tanner Tessman)

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Matt Real — 26′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 59′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Warren Creavalle — 67′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Sergio Santos — 84′ (unsporting behavior)
FCD: Zdenek Ondrasek — 86′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I waited 4 months for sloppiness and MLS refereeing. What a joke.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Looking at all the comments below, it’s clear some are overreacting. I mean, c’mon, it’s the first game. Go back and look at the Match Report on this site for the Toronto opener last year. The same people who were whining about Medunjanin’s pitiful defense then are probably the same ones whining about missing Medunjanin now. Give me a break, people. I’m angry too, but let’s not resume our past doom and gloom mindset.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Quite right. Full pardon. Silly Season.
        I’d like to rewrite my post, while not resuming a ‘past doom and gloom mindset’ of overreacting.
        Here goes.
        words words words yada yada yada.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Sloppy and not effective going forward. Not sure where Oravec was, but they need someone better than Creavalle – although I thought he was good in the destroyer role – he just offers nothing going forward. Looking at another 0-2 start having to go out to LAFC next week, but should get back on track by SJ for the home opener

    • Creavalle was not the problem. He did great. There was no offense. Santos was horrible again. His touch and passing ability was non- existent. After the pathetic call and yellow on Glesnes for a clean tackle, I’m sure he was hesitant when defending the rest of the game. At least that’s what it looked like in my opinion. All mls refs should be basically fired I’m so tired of shit calls and not using VAR.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    No Quarter because this is professional level sport.
    That was absolute DRECK… I watched the last preseason kickabouts which were totally disjointed affairs and that’s exactly what we had tonight. Newsflash Brendan…. Not Good Enough. Period. Full Stop. Not good enough.
    Next. How does a team go out – sign two players to play the position of the most important departure from a team– and neither one of them is the opening day defensive midfielder. I mean… Warren Creavalle? Who I think actually played half decent but… where are the two signings? WTF.
    Next. Matt Real. And some of you people give Ray Gaddis a hard time for offering nothing going forward.
    Next Sergio Santos… Nevermind. Next.
    The MLS offseason is ridiculously long. Holidays. The dog days of February finally give way to March and the kick off to a new season and this is what we get.
    I don’t mind losing. I do mind when a team doesn’t play well.
    First game of the season. No Quarter. Get Better. Immediately.

  4. Is it too soon for WSSM? I’m ready to go if it is. #union #doop #retropsp

  5. My first though was the off-season joke that it seems that no one ever gets out of Curtins doghouse except Elliot and the Elliot is immediately benched.

  6. Yikes, what was that, to say nobody was sharp is a total disservice to spoons..I get losing on the road to open a season but wow like that looking completely ragged and at some points disinterested I mean just bad. How can Blake continue to not even make mid field on goal kicks before it’s out of play? Where are the 2 d-mids? Questions forever and its the damn 1st game..I don’t know if anyone saw LAFC play Leon on Thursday night but, they were dynamic man, night and day to what we just saw..they’ll score 50 next week

  7. Playoffs.............Playoffs????? says:

    Heartwarming start to the season, things I’ve missed:

    Blake’s sterling distribution.

    Aaronson taking over the game and running things….”as only he can”.

    Santos going full Collin every chance he gets.

    Top drawer FB play.

    and: the passing. The beautiful stringing of connections leading to quality shot after quality shot.

    Most of all-the excuses.
    It can’t be a real season without those.

    Here I thought Paxton was the only Pom-Pom.

    Tanner had better pull his head out of his ass right quick.

    • Der Betrug says:

      Roster is worst since Nicky boy. No depth. Dumped 3 difference makers, signed none. Hearing the Slovakian wunderkid is maybe not so much? Maybe keep Medunjanin and Picault with that $1M that hasn’t been spent? Maybe get some wingers? Play with wingers like the rest of the world? System…Chippah, where u at bro?

  8. That’s a match best forgotten And soon. Both teams played terribly. Going to charitably chalk it up to a long off-season and general rustiness. Because that was not fun to watch. I hope someone asks Jim why Oravec wasn’t even in the squad.

  9. Serenity now!….serenity now! Just one game. But I’m really hoping we don’t get a Jimbo quote this week along the lines of “Warren won the starting #6 job in practice and we have full faith in him going forward.” Having flashbacks of most (including myself) thinking they traded Rosenberry because they thought Mbaizo was ready, then getting Gaddis playing every minute for 2 years and counting. 10-15 minute Creavalle is the best Creavalle.

    • Correction- I guess that Rosenberry trade was only one year ago.

    • I submit that Ray has played better than Roseberry did in his last two years. More discipline, fewer bone-headed errors resulting in opponent goals.
      Roseberry was beginning to be a clubhouse cancer.
      Got a good price for him.
      No regrets.

  10. no worries guys, once we get the system down all will be fine. its only game one guys. go union !

  11. Though I went on the record predicting that it would take a few regular season weeks to get in sync due to injuries and visa issues, I expected better than what we saw tonight.
    As mentioned above, this is pro–the top level of pro in our country.

  12. Nashville – a team that didn’t officially exist until 30 mins after this match concluded – looked more threatening than us against Atlanta. Atlanta trotted out the same lineup they did in kennesaw earlier in the week and looked fresh and hungry.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      For what its worth, Cincy beat Portland last year in their opener and then basically didn’t score for the rest of the year.

  13. Mario Incandenza says:

    At the risk of sounding like Mr. Lahey after a 10/10 drunk bender, the oft-repeated (let’s call it a mantra) “it’s only the first game” feels like a shit garnish to a shit entree.

    The Union looked aimless and listless in a disjointed, languid 90+ minutes that felt like watching the soccer embodiment of a nervous teen attempting his/her first foray into public speaking, nervous tics and fumbled diction and all. There may have been a well-planned and maybe even highly motivating speech at the onset, but the delivery evoked high school model UN.

    I found the line-up to be devoid of any potency and creativity. Kacper was indeed a ghost. The form on set pieces (corners especially) was inept and led to zero real scoring chances. Aaronson showed a bit of spark but the rest of the attack felt like the unreliable narrator to a story of two or three consecutive accurate passes.

    Another worrying trend was the defense. I was unimpressed by Glesnes and I am puzzled as to why last year’s stalwart Jack Elliot did not start. The two goals that were conceded may be chalked up to a frighteningly slow reaction time as the FC Dallas ran ramrod down the middle of the field with little resistance.

    Finally, I found tonight’s starting lineup to be a little baffling, barring my oversight regarding injuries to the squad. Of all the so-called shrewd signings of Tanner (El Brujo, Oravec) over the offseason, perhaps the most lowkey signing (Glesnes) is the only one to crack the starting lineup? Unless Curtin wanted to offer a throwback lineup to commemorate a looking-back MLS at 25 season, what business do Creavalle and Gaddis (the soccer equivalent of a peon-gray patina-ed 250000-mile Toyota Corolla – reliable but joyless) have in the starting 11?

    One game hasn’t diminished my optimism for the season, but early doors (pardon the idiom, I have been watching English football in the offseason, particularly the tv-radio simulcast of Notts Forest and BBC Radio Nottingham’s entertaining broadcaster, Colin Fray, and could you pass the Grey Poupon?) are uninspiring. I may have misused that idiom, but I think pretentiousness hasn’t obliterated my meaning. Let’s adopt a wait and see posture before it’s prematurely Curtins for this sexy season. I’d like to think that’s sexy fucking smart, Randy.

  14. Meh. Be better next week.

  15. The real problem is financial. The PU organization is now well known to be cheap. Remember the promises for Chester when this whole thing was sold to taxpayers? Great. It’s not on Tanner or Curtin, but on the ownership. I am a die-hard fan, was at the first opener when we beat DC United at the Linc, but this is getting really tired.

    Haris and Fafa would certainly have helped yesterday… oh, wait, Fafa did help — our opponent!

    Anyone else missing Le Toux and Califf yet?

  16. Blake blows says:

    That was frighteningly bad. Can’t recall a time when they strung 4-5 passes going forward. If that was our best starting 11 we’re in for a loooooooong season and a lot of empty seats at home. As stated above many times the team looked tired and disinterested. I’d keep Jim on a short leash this year because it’s games like that will cost him his job.

    • …should… cost him his job. And a comment based on your moniker, Blake should also be on a short leash. He made some nice saves, but that’s his job. To me he is inconsistent; he reacted slowly to the two goals. And his foot work hasn’t improved, kicking the ball two times directly out of bounds, with no real pressure on him – shades of Wenger.

      • Blake blows says:

        Blake has been off for the last year +… he’s very small and he’s lost a step. I don’t know how anyone within the club hasn’t come up with a proper diet/ weight training program. My 10 year old isn’t that much smaller than he is. If I’m an defensive mid fielder or defender I’m on top of him during any free kick. He’s Soft….. like the rest of the team. It’s a reflection of the coach. I done with being ok with performances like that. F U!!!! If that’s the best you can give us. 5-1 LA next week and Jim will be gone before Easter.

  17. Someone should maybe tell the players that the season started yesterday.

  18. Great One says:

    I think everyone knew the season would be not so sharp to start, but honestly that was a team mostly familiar with each other and the system, so don’t give me that bs that they have to work things out.
    Gaddis is fine on his own, but without Wagner on the other side the lack of fb push was glaring. I think they might miss fafa speed more than anyone thought. It’s amazing how much they looked like they missed Haris, I would have never guessed it would be that extreme.
    Jim turtled up with that lineup on the road to start the year. That was about as dreadful as you could look, but thankfully it is only the first game. All can be made well if next week we look better. Really worried about the lack of attacking options.

  19. at best the game reminded me of a low level pro all star game where none of the players know each other, the coach threw out a a novel game plan that he thought everyone could adapt to and they only had 3 days to practice together. the result was what we saw. I did not expect any different result.

    to be fair it is always difficult scoring when you are learning a new system but, Aaronson and Kascper Santos had maybe one shot on frame. If there was another shot on frame it was an easy save.

    you can always tell things have reached a low and when your
    playmakers not forwards start taking shot from distance. I saw a close up of Montiero rolling his eyes and Kacsper throwing up his arms in disbelief when Aaronson saw him wide open and did not pass it to a more open player or shoot himself.

    I said it from the beginning of preseason after I went the Dallas game in St Pete. This team will miss Fafa and that there is nothing behind Kacper and Santos. Aaronson looked good at times and like a member of the” Medford Strikers” at other times.

    Oh yea…. once they learn the system all will be fine. I have heard that egomaniacal mantra from more them one Philadelphia coach / gm in other sports. It usually takes them a full season to realize they needed to adapt the system to the talents of the players they have.

  20. Agree with most of the comments. What about the jack Elliot situation? Non starter and then pushed up top. Seemed early to make a desperation move like that

    • I’m alright with that move. Getting 1 point out of this game could’ve been important for playoff seeding come the end of the season. What’s the difference between losing 1-0 versus 2-0?

  21. HopkinsMD says:

    Unrelated to this match… but did anyone notice Auston Trusty was not in Colorado’s 18 yesterday? Not a peep from fans asking why. Then again, Rapids won.

    • Tim Jones says:

      Yes, I noticed Trusty’s absence down in DC.
      Presumably they got Drew Moor later for a reason, not the least of which would be to serve as a veteran among the defense.

  22. Tim Jones says:

    In his 11 points article on the Union website, Adam Cann mentioned something interesting.
    “The Union gave up 25 of their 50 goals against in the final 15 minutes of halves last year.”

  23. T.Coolguy says:

    I don’t want to jump to any conclusions about this season so far, but really weird to have Warren Creavalle in the starting lineup. If he’s the best option available right now so be it, but if that’s the case the club needed to have kept Medujanin.

  24. It is just one game.
    What bothered me most was the lack of a game plan that I could ascertain (maybe Adam Cann or El P or Old Soccer Coach could see it clearer).
    They didn’t play as a high-pressing team.
    They didn’t try to spring quick counters
    They didn’t try to use Real and Bedoya and Aaronson and Ilsinho to drive to the end line and whip in crosses
    They didn’t try to play solid defense up the middle and suffocate Dallas’s midfield
    I know that a team style will come eventually. I just couldn’t tell you what it will be based on that game.

    • yea, this was my main thought. What style are we trying to play? It certainly didn’t look like high press, which is the 4-4-2 diamond, no?

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