Union match reports

Match report: Los Angeles FC 3-3 Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy LAFC

What. A. Game.

After all was said and done, Los Angeles FC and Philadelphia Union each earned a point as the two teams played out an enthralling 3-3 draw Sunday night/Monday morning in Southern California.

Last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners picked up where they left off to start the new season. LAFC saw out a 1-0 win over expansion side Inter Miami CF to start their 2020 campaign. Additionally, the LA club stormed back from a first leg deficit against Mexican side León to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League.

The Union weren’t so lucky in their season opener, losing 2-0 on the road against FC Dallas.

Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin made one change to his opening day lineup. Midfielder José Martinez made his Union debut, replacing Warren Creavalle — listed on the injury report with a leg injury — at the base of the club’s 4-4-2 diamond setup.

Conversely, LAFC’s manager Bob Bradley fielded a first choice starting XI, which was expected despite their upcoming midweek Champions League clash with Liga MX heavyweight Cruz Azul.

The opening 45 minutes were wildly entertaining. The conflicting styles of the two sides were aesthetically pleasing with both sides utilizing a pressing approach. Each team played forward-thinking, high energy soccer. Unlike most sides that travel to Banc of California Stadium, the Union chose not to sit back and defend.

It looked like the home side struck early. The through ball to winger Diego Rossi was a bit late, and the goal was ruled offside.

That allowed the Union to open the scoring.

After some sustained pressure, midfielder Brenden Aaronson centered a ball to Jamiro Monteiro. The No. 10 swung a pass to his right and found forward Sergio Santos about 25 yards from goal. The Brazilian attacker took one touch and curled a left-footed golazo by keeper Kenneth Vermeer in the 29th minute.

Los Angeles got their equalizer nine minutes later through none other than MLS’s defending MVP, Carlos Vela. Martinez, in his debut for the Union, was a defensive force in the first half. Unfortunately, a foul just outside the box gave Vela the chance on a free kick. The former Mexican international, with his patented left foot, beat keeper Andre Blake to level the game.

The second half opened with a literal bang.

Philadelphia earned a seemingly innocuous free kick from about 40 yards from goal. Up stepped the Union’s newest center back, Jakob Glesnes. The Norwegian couldn’t possibly shoot from that far out, but that’s exactly what he did. Glesnes unleashed what could go down as the goal of the year, a swerving cannon-like boom into the back of the net.

(We don’t normally drop clips of the goals in the match report. But… come on.)

Before the crowd and everyone across the league could even process what they just saw, LAFC tied the game at two. Rossi, who had another goal ruled offside just after, clinically finished from inside the box for his first goal of the year.

Glesnes almost got his second and the Union’s third, but his header off a Union free kick found the post.

The Union, though, would not be denied.

In the 69th minute, after a scramble in the box, Aaronson slotted home his first goal of the season. Named to the U.S. Olympic qualifying roster during the half alongside teammates Mark McKenzie and Matt Freese, the homegrown midfielder produced the final touch after Santos found the 19-year-old in front of the net.

The roller coaster ride continued three minutes later with the home side finding their third goal of the game. LAFC’s center back Eddie Segura cancelled out Aaronson’s finish after another chaotic sequence inside the box.

While the chances and the show did not relent, the scoring did. Neither side could find a match-winning fourth, thanks in part to a stellar save by Blake on Brian Rodriguez in the final seconds of the game.

As for what’s next, the Union look to earn their first win of the season in their home opener against San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. Kickoff at Subaru Park is at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points

  • Worth the wait. Sure, nobody was happy about an 11 p.m. start time on a Sunday night, but this might go down as the game of the 2020 MLS season when all is said and done.
  • Worth another look. I mean, just take a minute and reflect some more on that goal from Glesnes.
  • Worth more than a point. The Union only picked up one point, blowing three leads along the way, but they showed they still belong among the league’s elite.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Jacob Glesnes, Ray Gaddis; José Martinez (Jack Elliott 90 + 4′), Alejandro Bedoya (Anthony Fontana 84′), Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 72′)
Unused Subs: Joe Bendik, Olivier Mbaizo, Michee Ngalina, Andrew Wooten


Kenneth Vermeer; Diego Palacios (Mohamed El-Munir 81′), Eddie Segura, Dejan Jakovic (Francisco Ginella 73′), Tristan Blackmon; Mark-Anthony Kaye (Bryce Duke 69′), Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela, Brian Rodríguez
Unused Subs: Pablo Sisniega, Jordan Harvey, Alejandro Guido, Adrien Pérez

Scoring summary
PHI: Sergio Santos — 29′ (Jamiro Monteiro)
LAFC: Carlos Vela — 38′
PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 48′
LAFC: Diego Rossi — 49′ (Mark-Anthony Kaye)
PHI: Brenden Aaronson — 69′ (Sergio Santos)
LAFC: Eddie Segura — 71′

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Raymon Gaddis — 33′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: José Martinez — 43′ (unsporting behavior)
LAFC: Diego Palacios — 45′ + 2′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 45′ + 4′ (dissent)
PHI: Anthony Fontana — 90′ + 6′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. Fuck. Just wow. Fuck.

  2. Haha well shit I’m done trying to predict the next game..can’t really be too mad at conceding 3 goals although, I think Blake had an opportunity and should have caught the last one but, the 1st and 2nd were pretty unstoppable..but damn Glesnes’ goal is just incredible (best out an out goal in team history maybe?) and to put up 3 in LA against that team is great..so I’ll gladly take the point and like I said never predict a game in this league again

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’ll still take the Ruiz goal in 2011 (assuming we are taking each goal in isolation and not looking at the importance of the goal towards say winning a playoff game…) But last night’s was pretty awesome.

  3. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    Wow, what a freaking game. I’m pretty sure that that is the second time Glesnes has scored a free kick like that. I seem to remember seeing something similar from the few highlights he had from his last club.
    The speed of the game was amazing considering we played with three homegrowns and Martinez got his first start. The team looked more cohesive this game and hopefully they carry this momentum to the home opener and continue to grow as a team.
    Coagulation to Aaronson, McKenzie & Freese on the call up to the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying championship.

  4. F**K, F**KING Chris Penso. I’m equally excited and pissed off. Beyond that, I’m having trouble finding words. Sleep calls and hopefully something better will come to mind when I wake.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I agree. It didn’t affect anything but I think the most blatant out and out bad call (which the announcers didn’t even mention anything) was on the play in which Blake first got hurt. Blake knocked the ball out of bounds. Vela kicked him in the face, albeit unintentionally, without making contact with the ball. How is that not a foul on Vela when if it had been the other way where Vela was the one who played the ball, it would have been a PK and a card?

      • Gunga Din says:

        Yea? Ya wanna get even madder? Take a close look the play where Martinez takes a boot to the face. That, my friend, is intentional. There is no way that right boot gets up there as a natural motion.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        That to me wasn’t as bad since it’s more likely that it was harder to see. The one with Blake is so obvious as soon as he calls for a corner unless he really thinks that they both made contact with the ball which seems unlikely.

  5. Yeah I had every intention on watching the first half maybe then going to bed and watch the rest while I get ready for work in the morning. Couldn’t resist though and I was rewarded. Great game! LAFC is so dangerous so to get a point is truly impressive. Kudos to Aaronson for just work ethic alone. It shows even more in an open game like that. And well, Glesnes…surely one of the goals of the season and possibly Union’s best ever. LAFC likes to come up and we exposed them badly on counters. Obviously our defense did all we could do, there’s only so much you can…Vela and Rossi are just world class. Well earned point if I ever saw one.

  6. Mike Hoffmann says:

    I was in bed, checked score, then went downstairs to catch last 15 plus 8 minutes. Didn’t see a goal, but the up and down, back and forth was unreal. To use an old phrase, “Fire wagon soccer!” Worth the lost sleep!

  7. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I can’t comprehend what I saw. That was the most ridiculously incredible game I’ve seen in a long time. Penso tried to ruin it, but credit to both teams for making the late night worth the lack of sleep. Santos with a beauty, Glesnes with the goal of the year, and Aaronson has finally taken that step to be more confident in front of goal. And others played their tails off like Blake and Martinez.

  8. Screw the game against Dallas, this is our team. Glesnes? My jaw is still dropped. I was wrong Brendan can pull strings. I pray Martinez stays healthy. What a warrior.

  9. el Pachyderm says:

    the hatchet met the buzzsaw….wish our Union were more the buzzsaw.
    as an elephant who likes possession for the sake of possession at times, the game model is going to be a struggle for me. early on, Mark McKenzie eschewed breaking two lines on a transition counter by one touching a balloon ball right over the midfield. It worked to Santos–but… aesthetic aesthetic. The Great Surrender for me.
    second, I wrote it had to get better “immediately” last week and it did… including Brendan Aaronson. But not Matt Real. Who continually fell asleep with arguably the best pure gol scorer in North America off his back shoulder- but even more, his offense was bereft. Once again, you can skewer the Great Ray Gaddis- but not on my watch.
    third… So Union–fly out to LAFC, arguably the best team in North America, take it to them with a hatchet behind a shed three times and surrender three straight times before I can wash my hands after giving a high five to potential random Novel Virus carriers.
    ….shit man.
    ….If you said a point in LAFC I’da said great. Still feels like we blew it though.

    • John O'Donnell Jr says:

      I thought Bedoya had the winner but after watching the replay, I’m not sure the ball just hit him instead of him reacting and trying to score.

      • I stopped reading after this comment to watch the full game. And I am glad I did! Love the way they played. Hated the giving up a goal right after ours…I think Ale did try to play it..but it was too high! Looked like he marched his back. But…Wow! What a game!

  10. Old Soccer Coach says:

    If you had told every one of us at 10:25 pm that we would have a point after going to Banc of California Stadium, every one of us would have taken it with a sigh of relief.
    Bedoya had to come off.
    Martínez was grabbing a hammie as he came off.
    .Creavalle is hurt again.
    Neither Aaronson nor McKenzie nor Freese (hurts U2) will be available till April from today.
    Oravec starts v San Jose by default.
    Kai Wagner is a least a month away from first team minutes on conditioning alone. (He has not been able to run the entire preseason, if you extrapolate from Curtin’s hope in the last presser.)
    There are plenty of challenges ahead.

    • Vince Devine says:

      Montiero can play DM. Fontana would then start on the left.

      • Monteiro as CDM is great. Fontana on the left is fine. But who’s gonna be CAM with Aaronson away?? After this match, I am fine with giving Brendan the keys and letting him drive. But we need a backup for him.

        Options are:
        1. Fontana at CAM. That’s not really his jam, but maybe he could make it work.
        2. Monteiro at CAM and Fontana on the wing
        3. Monteiro at CAM, Santos on the wing, and give Wooten some time up top with Kacper.

  11. only watched the first half:
    Martinez is the guy we needed, but he’s going to have lighten is tackling, penso felt harsh and biased to me, but I think our six earns a yellow from most with the crunchiness of those tackles.
    Great to have Santos and Aaronson notch. These guys need to supply offense and now a) we know they can and b) their confidence is building.
    the beginning of the season there are some new guys. i don’t watch those youtube highlights of. If I had those for me in adult league I could look like Zidane. I’d cut all the parts where I sprain my knee or huff in the middle of the field doing nothing. – Glesnes is going to CONTRIBUTE!

    • Also only watched the first half, but agree with all this. Santos was a beast. Aaronson floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. And I agree that El Brujo is gonna have to cool his jets slightly, but I *loved* how he played overall. That guy is the midfield destroyer we needed.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Glass half full? In the last two games against LAFC the Union have trailed for a total of 0 seconds. Glass half empty? During those same two games, the Union have blown the lead 4 times.
    What’s the highest rating a Union keeper has received when they’ve given up 3 goals in a game? Blake should blow it away last night. I would say there was nothing he could have done on the goals except we would have said the same thing if some of the saves he had made had gone in instead.
    As OSC points out, the Union will be shorthanded for at least the next 3 games with the Olympic qualifiers. (Plus at the rate they’re going, half the team will be suspended for yellow card accumulation by game 6).
    Union will have to wait at least another season to have a win against every team in the league.

  13. The Truth says:

    Of course it was an instant classic. Kickoffs at that time are criminal. Come on!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      TrumpSports1 needed to get their 25 minutes of commercials and BS in before the game since they don’t care if we get enough sleep before going to work the next day.

  14. HopkinsMD says:

    Congrats to the U to bring home a point. INTENSE match.

  15. Who would have thought another goal would have taken the thunder out of Santos goal but holy shit Batman, I believe we have witnessed the Goal of the DECADE with the 35+ yard meteorite Glenses unleashed. I still think the reaction from the game time announcers was hysterical!!! Let’s not forget Blake ALL game long but especially at the 96+ minute to complete ANOTHER game saving shot block basically from a break away is proof he’s back to his level of play we need him to be!!!! WOW, PURE ENTERTAINMENT!!! WELL DONE UNION!!!!!!!

  16. Could only catch the first half, but liked a lot of what I saw. I thought there was a lot of improvement over the Dallas match. El Brujo was fantastic. I’d be penciling him in the starting XI first from here on out.

    • In fact, after watching El Brujo, I’m kinda pissed that Jim even thought about starting Creavalle. I mean, I like Creavalle; he’s a quality backup CDM. But that guy is the destroyer we need.

  17. Gruncle Bob says:

    Penso is just horrible.

    To me, Vela’s goal was a foot under the crossbar and 2 yards inside the post. I’m not convinced that was unstoppable.

    Well done, Union, and Jim Curtin, for going at them and not bunkering.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      The problem was that Blake couldn’t setup for either player to take the shot since if he cheats in favor of Vela, the other player takes the kick and he’s way out of position for that one.

  18. Well worth the exhaustion today. A couple amazing goals. Notice Aaronsen on his goal, turns and looks at the far corner, but as a feint, and instead pulls it back near post. Much faster and more composed than last year in front of goal. Great sign early on.
    Can’t take Glesnes out now Right?
    Real and Gaddis are going to be a real issue if they stay as the backs, as it’s noticeably poor from both of them going forward. Even as ray pushed more later on, the result isn’t there.
    Defense was a little chaotic, but against that team it can be expected. Looking forward to Saturday.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Definitely can’t take Glesnes out with McKenzie gone for the next 3-4 weeks.
      I don’t think we can be too upset with Real given that everyone knows that he is there as an injury replacement for Wagner and, unlike Gaddis, is not the first choice.

  19. Atomic Spartan says:

    Martinez ingratiated himself into the hearts of Phillytuph Phans everywhere last night. Phearless, bloody and not aphraid to phoul when necessary. Hope his hammy heals phast.
    Glesnes is going to strike phear into opposing D’s with every phree kick from phifty-in.
    Phreakin awesome Mega-U-dog away-draw.

  20. it was entertaining and reaffirmed our ability to stand toe-to-toe with the best. all the praises aside, agree with Kenzo on Martinez needing to lighten his tackling, Pachy, on needing more from Real, and playing a cleaner game. most of the yellow cards were unnecessary.

  21. Was an incredible game to watch in spite of Penso and the commentators!
    With the commentating, did anyone else feel like we were listening to Aikman and Buck commentate an Eagles Cowboys game?
    Everything that came off right for Philly was because some individual player put in extra effort or was just lucky.
    Everything that came off right for LA was because of their superior quality, talent and coaching.
    I get that LA has all those things, but how about it just being a great team effort, game plan and execution?
    Loved Martinez last night – talk about Philly tough!
    When they announced his acquisition, think they also said that he could play right back. Assuming Oravec locks down DMid (as expected based on his pay rate), interested to see Martinez get a chance at RB to see how he can do.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Could you imagine a starting lineup of Blake, Martinez, MM/JE/JG at the center backs, Wagner, Oravec, Bedoya, Monteiro, Aaronson, Santos, Przybylko? Holy crap, sign me up!

    • Yea and WTF was that guy going on about Ilsinho being a ‘microwave’. What the hell is that? We call him our cheatcode if that’s what he was trying to say.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        It was a reference to the Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s and their super sub whose name escapes me (and I’m too lazy to look up) but whose nickname was the Microwave.

      • SoccerDad says:

        I think Vinnie Johnson was the “Microwave” for the late 80’s Pistons.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        Vinnie “the Microwave” Johnson. They said nobody heated up as quickly as him. He was one of the best sixth men in the NBA for the Pistons during their championship years and really helped pioneer the concept.

        And this is EXACTLY how I think of Ilsinho too.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        One thing they didn’t mention last night about Ilsinho (probably because they didn’t know) was that he pretty much did all of his damage in Chester and was not very effective on the road.

    • Wbev completely agree. I was screaming my head off at halftime.

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