Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 NYC FC

Photo courtesy Matt Stith / Major League Soccer

The Philadelphia Union are back.

A second-half goal from Alejandro Bedoya earned the Boys in Blue their first win of the season and three valuable points in Group A of the MLS is Back Tournament, as the Union defeated New York City FC at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

The most interesting part of Jim Curtin’s first lineup since March came up top, where minor injuries to strikers Sergio Santos, Andrew Wooten, and Michee Ngalina kept all three players out of the matchday squad. Supersub Ilsinho came in to replace Santos alongside Kacper Przybylko. Elsewhere, Jose “El Brujo” Martinez made the lineup over Warren Creavalle at defensive midfielder, while Jack Elliott earned his first start of the season in the center of defense.

In a powerful moment before the match, the Union removed their training tops to reveal that they replaced the player names on the backs of their kits with the last names of Black Americans killed by police in recent years.

The match began. It took more than a few minutes for everyone to settle into one of the most unusual games the Union have ever participated in: a 9 a.m. kickoff, on a neutral field, without fans, after a four month break without so much as a scrimmage against another side. Both teams probed with purpose but without much product.

The Union managed a half-chance about halfway through the half, with Kacper Przybylko getting into the box and hitting a tight-angle drive that failed to trouble City keeper Sean Johnson. After the hydration break — prompted by a sunny, mid-80s morning with 75 percent humidity in Orlando — NYC’s Ronald Mattarita blasted a good strike just over the bar from distance. Moments later, El Brujo picked up a fairly needless yellow card by fouling Maxi Moralez just outside the box, but the dangerous free kick came to nothing.

That was about it for the first half, which wrapped up with an increase in crunching tackles and a yellow card for Jamiro Monteiro. Ilsinho, miscast as a second striker, couldn’t get into the game from a starting role, and quality attacking chances for the Union were few and far between.

NYC made its first of five possible changes at the break, bringing on Jesus Medina for Keaton Parks. Just moments later, Andre Blake was called into action after a good passage of play by the New Yorkers set up Valentin Castellanos for a one-time drive from the penalty spot. His shot was hit right at the Union keeper.

Ten minutes into the second half, Ilsinho went down holding his hamstring; Anthony Fontana came on to replace him. NYC continued to pile on the pressure, forcing a pair of saves from Blake in the 61st minute.

Just moments later, Alejandro Bedoya broke the deadlock. After a good passage of play, the ball fell to the Union captain on the side of the box, who hit a good shot across Johnson’s goal. The keeper should have done better, the ball just bouncing over his hand and into the back of the net.

After Przybylko had a goal waved off for offside, NYC began to up the tempo in search of an equalizer. Curtin withdrew El Brujo, who seemed moments away from a second yellow card, for the stability of Warren Creavalle. Ten minutes later, Homegrown midfielder Jack de Vries earned his Union debut, replacing Alejandro Bedoya, and Jakob Glesnes came on for Brendan Aaronson as the Union shifted to three at the back in an attempt to see out the match.

Blake came up big in the 86th minute to stop Heber from equalizing for City. The striker’s shot across goal from eight yards seemed destined for the far corner, but the leonine Blake got down to push the shot just wide of the post.

The Jamaican came up big again in the final moments of the match, charging out of his goal to block the shot from Gary Mackay-Stevens one-on-one.

Without fans, the post-match roar of the players could be heard loud and clear on the broadcast.

The Union’s second match in the MLS is Back Tournament is scheduled to be against Nashville SC, but positive tests for coronavirus throughout that squad have their participation in the tournament up in the air. Update: MLS announced Nashville’s withdrawal from the tournament. The Union now play Inter Miami CF on Tuesday, July 14 at 10:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Good to be back. Look, pretty much everything about this was weird as hell. But after four unprecedented months, having a Union game to watch was enjoyable in and of itself.
  • Black Lives Matter. Powerful moment at the start of the match from the Union, replacing their names on the back of their kits with the names of Black Americans killed in police encounters.
  • A win’s a win. It wasn’t beautiful soccer, and the Union had less than the lion’s share of the chances. But coming out of the toughest match of their group with three points is something to celebrate, and puts them in a good position to advance to the knockout stage.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis; José Martinez (Warren Creavalle 73′), Alejandro Bedoya (Jack de Vries 84′), Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Jakob Glesnes 83′), Kacper Przybylko, Ilsinho (Anthony Fontana 55′)
Unused Subs: Joe Bendik, Matt Freese, Aurelien Collin, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo, Matej Oravec, Cole Turner


Sean Johnson, Anton Tinnerholm, James Sands, Alexander Callens, Ronald Matarrita, Alexander Ring, Keaton Parks (Jesus Medina 45′), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Gary Mackay-Steven 76′), Maximiliano Moralez (Gedion Zelalem 76′), Heber, Valentin Castellanos (Gudmundur Thoainsson 90′ + 3′)
Unused Subs: Luis Barraza, Maxime Chanot, Joe Scully, Taybon Gray, Juan Torres, Justin Haak, Nicolas Acevedo

Scoring summary
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 63′

Disciplinary summary
PHI: José Martinez — 34′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro — 45′ + 6′ (unsporting behavior)
NYC: Anton Tinnerholm — 82′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 89′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    Man… El Brujo is a maniac. In both a good and bad way. He’s definitely getting a red in this tournament… or at least missing a game due to yellow card accumulation. After so long, it was just nice to watch a game again. Glad we grabbed the 3 points.
    Also, Twitter folks saying Nashville is out. Guess no game Tuesday now. Who knows…

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Hopefully they’ll figure out to move Chicago to group B and just go with Orlando as the 3rd (or 2nd) game for the Union.

      • Tim Jones says:

        How flexible is ESPN’s program scheduling?
        That will be an additional determinant.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I’m sure if it’s a choice between having games compared with having forfeits (which is what happens when the group sizes are 5,4,4,4,4,3), they’d rather have games to broadcast.

    • Alicat215 says:

      Need a dude like that at the 6………love him! Especially in this league and how we counter of the press!

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    3 points is 3 points, especially against the team who is likely their biggest competition in the group and one of their biggest competitions in the East.
    That being said, I don’t understand why the game is starting at around 9:20 rather than 9, especially if the idea is to limit exposure to the heat. I realize TV is part of it, but European games start at the scheduled time and the TV coverage just starts a few minutes earlier. It’s not like whatever they were showing beforehand was live sports that couldn’t have been edited (since I’m guessing it was just a rerun of an earlier show).

    • Box safe. Outside box scary. New ideas, scary. Thought, hard.

      • Tim Jones says:

        Add to the excellent points, the expectations of American viewers.

      • If I may Tim, not the expectations of American viewers, more the assumption of the expectation of American viewers. Nothing is worse than looking forward to a match a X o’clock only to know you have 15 mins to waste before you see any action. I find myself having zero interest anymore in pre, half, and post game commentary. I know I’m most likely alone with that. I’d just rather talk to someone here.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I’m with you. Some people have busy schedules still. A friend of mine who’s back to work had to leave our Zoom watch party around the 60th minute, and he just barely missed the goal. And I don’t care for commentary, especially national knuckleheads that know nothing about our team. The fans here watch every game, so I trust their opinions more than anyone else.

      • Tim Jones says:

        All4U makes a good point about assumptions as opposed to realities.

  3. Glad to see the U first and foremost. Proud to support the U and their players after seeing what occurred just before kickoff. Shed a couple tears at kickoff and was definitely cursing the Ref by half time. So happy that they won. Go Union.
    PS. Celtic for Mark Mac? Oh please say it’s so.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      It started with Ale’s anti gun violence statement last year and continued with the uniforms today. Regardless of the team’s results, these young men make me proud to be represented by them.

      • Absolutely agree Andy, and a bit embarrassed I forgot that. Honestly, it probably could be said that ever since Bedoya got here he’s been putting a “spine” into the club to build a “culture” around. He’s been out front leading with his voice for worthy causes since the beginning. We know the Union stand for equality and justice for all because he’s helped make it so. I’m quite proud to support that, them, and the club. Oh captain, my captain.

      • 100% agree with both of you. I was amazed at their uniform statement today, which they clearly had not even discussed with the league, since the announcers were flummoxed.

        This team makes me so proud on & off the pitch.

      • PhilinWilmington says:


  4. SoccerDad says:

    Thought the ankle kick that got Martinez the yellow card was a response to Morales grabbing his junk (twice).

    • agreed – saw that.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        My view was blurry, but it doesn’t surprise me. Anyone notice how much they started stuff, then flopped and rolled around like dying fish?

      • Classic NYFC. Last year the Cassanova jawn dove in the box a couple of times when we played them at the basball stadium. He gives the sport a bad name.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Castellanos may be my least favorite soccer player in the world. And last I checked, Kaku, Neymar, and Harry Kane still exist.

  5. Apparently it was not too much of a stretch to ask the team to Just Play Well.
    I watched the game last nite, which was a disheveled mess of poor technical skill and thought today’s game was much sharper. I’m concerned with how often the U was able to get behind the back line but there was minimal far post or late run support.
    In my opinion, they could have put up about 3 or 4 goals today.
    Cheers to Andre for some big saves to preserve a win.
    As far as the solidarity stuff… I remain mum on the greater meaning here but think to myself, man it’s hot in Florida to be wearing black for five weeks if that is the plan.
    Otherwise…. good stuff.

    • Just posting a “hello” and welcome from the pseudonyms of the past. Have always enjoyed your commentary. 🙂

  6. I was working and watching out of the corner of an eye, so didn’t see enough to make any assessment of the quality of play. City looked to be a more certain threat, though, and Blake looked like the hero.

    And while I wasn’t watching 100%, I was listening and was surprised to hear from Twellman that Celtic is very interested in Mackenzie (perhaps, in part, because of the name?) That was news, no?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      That would be amazing. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I hope it’s true. Proof that our academy works, and also opens up playing time for our Rocket Leg 3rd CB if a deal is reached.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Just noticed on the MLS site that Nashville is out and the Union’s scheduled has switched so Tuesday’s game is at 10:30 against Miami and a week from Monday they play at 8pm against Orlando.

  8. “Man I think the clock is slow.”

  9. Tim Jones says:

    If Ilsinho pulled a hammie, they will be even thinner in the attack next time than they were today.
    I trust Aaronson and Bedoya will return. And “El Brujo.’
    The pictures of the shirt backs with the names reminds me of the Vietnam war memorial walll.

  10. It looks like El Brujo is going to make us pump our fists and clench our teeth this season. The guy is a beast — in both respects.

  11. I thought the U looked rusty! But its really just like the start of a new season. But with no preseason! They looked slow to me. But strange time,neutral pitch,no crowd! Had to be tough! Glad they got 3 points!

    Also, Twellman said more than once that hes expected to see both Arronson and Mackenzie in Europe soon!

  12. I thought the U looked rusty! But its really just like the start of a new season. But with no preseason! They looked slow to me. But strange time,neutral pitch,no crowd! Had to be tough! Glad they got 3 points!

    Also, Twellman said more than once that hes expected to see both Arronson and Mackenzie in Europe soon! That’s pretty cool to hear!

  13. Several big saves from Blake were the difference between the win and a loss.

  14. no mention of aaronson looking like the creative number 10 we need him to be? I’m excited to see sergio in the mix i think he could have a breakout year, and between him and el brujo there are going to be some funny moments this year! i assume his dick was grabbed but even still he basically just open palm hit morales several times like a little kid! and then the next time morales tackled him he started convulsing like he was choking on something, i was laughing hysterically and am excited to have a wildcard like him on our team (particularly if curtin can keep him in check like he did yesterday, which is easier with 5 subs). Glesnes’ tactical foul toward the end of the game was super professional and potentially 3 point saving. fun to be back even if its rusty as hell! doop

  15. Morales got him in the chest with a hard elbow on that coughing incident…I think it took his breath away.

  16. Alicat215 says:

    I hope they bought Dre a steak dinner for that performance! Aaronson and Bedoya looked like they were about to pass out in the 2nd half….Lolz.

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