Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Inter Miami CF

Photo courtesy Major League Soccer

Another game, another three points as Philadelphia Union saw out a close 2-1 win in their first-ever match against Inter Miami CF in Orlando. The win secures the Union’s place in the knockout round of the MLS is Back Tournament with a game to spare.

The expansion side’s No. 10 Rodolfo Pizarro cancelled out an early strike from left back Kai Wagner, but forward Kacper Przybylko’s second half strike propelled the Union to a tie at the top of Group A. While not crisp, Philadelphia have collected all six available points since the league’s resumption of play.

Union head coach Jim Curtin made two changes to a side which started the MLS is Back Tournament with a 1-0 win over NYC FC. Center back Jakob Glesnes and forward Sergio Santos returned to the starting lineup. Both featured in the Union’s 3-3 draw with LAFC way back on Mar. 9, which may indicate they are the preferred options at their respective positions.

On the other side, Miami manager Diego Alonso made three changes to a club which started the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Orlando City FC. Notably, Mexican international and Designated Player Rodolfo returned to full match fitness and took his place on the right flank of the expansion side’s starting 11.

It didn’t take long for the Union to crack the MLS newcomer’s defense. Midfielder Brenden Aaronson was played through the Florida club’s back line by a visionary pass from right back Ray Gaddis and battled his way across the end line. While his centering pass didn’t find his initial target, it did find a certain German full back. Kai Wagner laced a first-time finish by veteran goalkeeper Luis Robles as his shot glance every so slightly off the ground in front of goal in the fifth minute. The goal was Wagner’s first for Philly after a stellar inaugural season in MLS.

The game was reset in the 36th minute as Miami launched a vicious counter attack. Racing forward, the men in black and pink worked the ball from left to right. Argentine winger Matias Pellegrini centered a ball was centered to Miami’s talisman, Pizarro, whose patience led to precision.

The 1-1 scoreline held as an overall ugly first 45 minutes concluded with referee Silviu Petrescu’s whistle.

When the two teams returned to the field, Philadelphia’s “super sub” Ilsinho replaced Santos in the Union’s attack.

If the first half ebbed in Philadelphia’s direction, the opening minutes of the second stanza flowed in Miami’s. The Union were on the back foot and struggling to press forward.

But, oh man, were the Union able to attack when the time came. The Union launched a wicked counter of their own in the 63rd minute starting from their own end line. A dummy from No. 10 Jamiro Monteiro fell to Aaronson who led a three vs. one foray into the final third. The 19-year-old slid his pass across to Przybylko on the right tip of a trident after Monteiro again feigned receipt. The striker cut onto his left foot and beat Robles at the far post. This time, the forward’s finish counted.

Warren Creavalle replaced José Martinez at the base of the Union’s midfield in the 72nd minute. It was a scary moment, as Martinez left on a stretcher after not being able to bear weight on his foot. Thankfully Jim Curtin confirmed that the injury was not serious after the match.

Fear again crept into the heart of the Union and their fans when Petrescu pointed to the spot minutes later. The referee ruled a hand ball infraction on Glesnes, but VAR correctly dismissed the foul.

Chaos came and went without impact with less than ten minutes remaining. From a corner, Miami center back Román Torres slammed a header off the post. The chance created the Union’s own opportunity to kill the match with Anthony Fontana, who replaced Monteiro in midfield, leading a two-on-counter which was denied by a heroic recovery run from Inter’s Victor Ulloa.

The Union saw out the win and collected three points in the second consecutive match. Their game next Monday against Orlando City will determine who tops Group A in the MLS is Back Tournament.

Three Points
  • Ghosting. Jamiro Monteiro may have been the most influential player on the match-winning goal without ever touching the ball.
  • Every rose has its thorn. It’s great that the Union clinched their place in the knockout round, but their final match in group play still counts toward the regular season standings. Would have been a nice time to “play the kids.”
  • 2020 is weird.  The Union’s opening goal started with a brilliant offensive play from Ray Gaddis. He was also the primary culprit in Miami’s goal.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jacob Glesnes, Ray Gaddis; José Martinez (Warren Creavalle 72′), Jamiro Monteiro (Anthony Fontana 81′), Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson (Jack Elliott 90′), Sergio Santos (Ilsinho HT), Kacper Przybylko
Unused Subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo, Matej Oravec, Jack De Vries, Cole Turner, Michee Ngalina

Inter Miami CF

Luis Robles; Andrés Reyes, Nicolás Figal, Román Torres; Ben Sweat (Mikey Ambrose 87′), Wil Trapp (Lee Nguyen 68′), Victor Ulloa (Jay Chapman 87′), Rodolfo Pizarro; Matias Pellegrini (Jerome Kiesewetter 68′), Julián Carranza, Lewis Morgan
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Drake Callender, AJ Delagarza JR, Alvas Powell, Grant Lillard, Dylan Nealis, Luis Argudo, Brek Shea

Scoring summary
PHI: Kai Wagner — 5′
MIA: Rodolfo Pizarro — 36′ (Matias Pellegrini)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 63′ (Brenden Aaronson)

Disciplinary summary
PHI: José Martinez — 27′ (unsporting behavior)
MIA: Wil Trapp — 38′ (unsporting behavior)
MIA: Andrés Reyes — 57′ (unsporting behavior)
MIA: Andrés Reyes — 90’+8′ (second yellow, unsporting behavior)


  1. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Very pleased with what I saw. It was sketchy at the end but I felt it was obvious the U were the better team. Also, Monteiro’s “double dummy” leading to the winning goal was awesome.

    • I saw that on the replay when watching the game. Masterful to not touch the ball and have that influence on the play at both ends of the pitch!

  2. Very poor ref as Miami got away with many rough tackles in the first half that should have been yellow cards. Miami were able to dictate the game from about minute 20 through minute 60 to me, partly because of that. But the Union withstood and played smart enough in the end to pull game out…Would have gone crazy had that PK stood…Great finish and composure from Kasper…TUDN English is absolutely brutal, flipped back over to Spanish it was that bad…Union will play Saturday night, July 25th no matter what as they’ll be A1 or A2. But game vs. Orlando on 20th will be big deal as it counts for regular season of course.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Union also need a win Monday to win the group and likely get an easier round of 16 game.

      • tough to forecast possible opponents of course, but at the moment as the groups stand going into tomorrow’s games — the only one today is in the west — it was a Hobson’s choice of intimidating names, DC, SKC or ATL on the one hand and Toronto on the other.
        Equally relevant might be the number of rest days inherent in the two different finishing positions.
        Coaches have to game plan for their absence of 90-minutes fitness. (it would be fun to know whether Curtin deliberately instructed his side to absorb pressure at the beginning of the 2nd half to preserve enough energy to finish.)

      • Andy Muenz says:

        One other advantage of winning the group is an 8pm round of 16 game compared to a 10:30pm game (albeit on a Saturday in either case).

    • Henry Scobie says:

      Was there any definitive replay of Kacper Przybylko’s goal that was called off as offsides? Despite the TUDN announcer initial assurance that Kacper was indeed offside, the one replay that they provided seemed to suggest otherwise. I am baffled as to why VAR was not used to take a second look (but I am glad that VAR was successfully used to overturn the Glesnes handball call).

      As a whole I thought the Union were a little
      sloppy and looked vulnerable on set pieces, but I am happy for the win and the team had enough positives to secure victory. I thought Andre Blake was solid at goal yet again. Also, I am happy to see Wagner score his first goal with the Union. I just wish TUDN knew how to correctly pronounce Kai’s last name.

      I also agree that the TUDN broadcast was insufferable. I believe at one point the commentator said Maddenesquely that you need to score goals to win the match. The one commentator also seemed like a charter member of the Rodolfo fan club, awestruck at both his creativity on the pitch and his cosmetological liberty with an enthusiastic acknowledgement of his pink-streaked hair.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I thought I saw on Twitter last night that MLS acknowledged Kacper was not offside on his first “goal”. I was baffled they didn’t have the ref look at it either.

    • Though Petrescu is a horrible ref, I think the Union actually got lucky. El Brujo should have been sent off early for his kick out. I’m just really glad they called off the PK. I think this is where we take the win and don’t complain too much.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    The announcers for the game were an absolute disgrace. Given that this was supposedly a national broadcast they appeared to be covering the game solely for Miami, spending most of their time whining about how Miami hasn’t been able to get a result. It would have been one thing if I could have tuned in to a Philly channel and listened to JP Dellacamera call the game but that option wasn’t there (despite the fact that I live less than 5 miles from the Union’s stadium). Once again, the MLS shows why they are not as professional as the other sports leagues in this country. Imagine tuning in to an Eagles-Cowboys game and hearing Troy Aikman root for the Cowboys? It just doesn’t happen.

    • HAHAHA! Almost spit out my coffee on that last sentence. Imagine Joe Buck doing it with him. Who would put up with that? LOL!

    • Well I guess I should be happy that Verizon doesn’t have SAP for Univision. I’m so glad I missed that.

    • at the end of the firs half I thought I was listening to Miami’s own broadcast team.
      I thought they were more balanced after halftime. I assumed that someone had re-arranged critical aspects of their anatomies.

  4. The radio broadcast was on a delay, but it had JP and Seba. Much more enjoyable despite the delay.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Wonder if it’ll be the same Monday. I’d rather hear that for sure.

      • I think that I followed the link from the Union website. Immediate connection and good audio, although they were remote and calling the game from the same feed that we saw.

    • SilverRey says:

      This is what we did too. A couple fun aspects to that:
      *You still get the Union perspective, and JP opens up his homerism side a little more to good effect.
      *Seba ranting all game about the ref only to reveal at the end of the game that he was red carded for an “unknown reason” by Petrescu in an Open Cup game while he was with Vancouver.
      *You get to hear them build up to big plays that you already know came off nicely.

      • I heard that and was laughing myself. “I was standing in a bunch of guys and then there was a red card. I didn’t even know that it was for me. And for what?” You could almost hear the “Sacre’ bleu!”

  5. What a great, gritty result for the team. The last 3 Union games (including LAFC before the “break”) are the types of games the U would have lost in the past and come away with zero points for all of their effort. That, as much as anything else, gives me cautious optimism for this season.

    The good – 1. Aaronson was awesome this game, taking on people on the dribble, making great through passes, amazing work rate. 2. Kasper’s finishes on both of his goals were clinical; the types of finishes a good goal scorer displays; and, his work rate doesn’t get enough credit – he does so many things off the ball, I love watching him play; 3. Montiero was effective and did a lot of little things that didn’t show up on the score sheet.

    The Meh – 1. Glesnes – honestly did not look great to me. Two straight games I consistently see attackers getting unmarked headers and opportunities behind him (IMO his cameo in the NYC game was awful). 2. Ilsinho – Was gassed 5 minutes into the second half; a complete non-factor; and, having him on the field puts double the pressure on Gaddis and Glesnes to cover for his “defensive play”; NO way he should be playing a full half in the Florida heat – he is a 15 minute, end of game sub at best.

    El Brujo – This is like that super hot, but completely crazy ex-girlfriend. I love his edge, his grit, and his effort. He is so well-suited for the role the team set-up needs from that position. I really think this team needs a player like him. However, I am legit scared that he is man advantage for the other team waiting to happen. The Miami goal came, in part, when he hugely whiffed on a sliding tackle in the middle of the field. We are lucky he didn’t get ejected for that kick-out on Reyes. Nonetheless, I really, really like having him in the squad.

    I stuck with the TDN Spanish language broadcast. Technically, they certainly have bugs to work out, like going to cameras on the coaches or on particular players they want to comment on – IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RUN OF PLAY; and putting up huge graphics blocking the play again in the middle of the run of play.

  6. it was great to get on the board early. wasn’t pretty and the reffing was frustrating. speaking of ref: i listened to JP and Seba on the radio which had about 10 second delay. slowly Le Toux goes from objective frustration to “i don’t like this ref.” JP:”why?” Seb:”he gave me my first red card. i didn’t do anything to deserve it… i was just standing in a crowd. it was when i was with Vancouver.” it was a riot! they were complaining 30+ fouls and no cards (until the end) was ridiculous.

    i’ll watch the game with that audio anytime.

    • What is the source of the Union’s audio, please?

      • 102.5 FM. there’s an AM i think too 1480? i had no idea what “the gambler” is they’re advertising like anyone should know. just give me the damn dial number.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    My thoughts: Aaronson = great. McKenzie = great. I’ll miss them both when they’re gone. El Brujo = absolute maniac who I love, but needs to calm down. Dude has been a foul away from a 2nd yellow/red card in every game he’s played. Glesnes = definitely meh (see comment above). He looked slow on quite a few plays. Maybe the heat. Maybe the restart, etc. He just doesn’t look as solid as Elliott. Kacper, Montiero, Wagner = all way better. Kacper should have had at least 2. Montiero’s dummy was world class. Wagner was more solid in defense and obviously had the first goal which was big
    Looking forward to see how they play this vs Orlando. Need to get some guys some rest. Maybe see Oravec?

    • Yeah, I think the lineup decisions for Orlando will be interesting. The game is still meaningful in the league table (and in getting the top seed out of Group A), so my expectation is that we don’t see too much more rotation than we would in a non-tournament setting.

      As for Oravec, the last time someone asked Curtin about him he seemed pretty clear that Matej is behind Martinez/Creavalle right now. My read: Don’t expect him to start anytime soon.

  8. Old Soccer Coach says:

    AS we analyze, we have to remember that Jim Curtin is using these matches to condition his players in some degree as he does during a real preseason.
    It’s worth asking who seems 90 minutes match fit? It is too soon to ask whether they can sustain it game to game.

    Aaronson was 90-minutes fit last night. Blake doesn’t count. McKenzie seems okay. Gaddis is 90-minutes fit. Przybylko is getting there.

    • I think Aaronson was actually about 80-minutes fit. He looked utterly gassed and I was calling for Jim to sub him out even before he got beaten up further.

  9. After years of mid bottom table bullshit soccer…. this match against Orlando matters a shit ton. Put the best team on the field to win the game against the Disney Orlando Jiminey Crickets, claim the Group and earn the knockout game against the lower seeded team. Anything short of this will piss me off because this is about establishing a Culture of Expectation to Succeed.
    Next. Thankfully was able to watch game on Telemundo but listen to livestream in English…. what are we doing having to watch games in Spanish. Mind boggling.
    Next…. this is a good team. This is a good team. I find myself very happy for Jim. After enormous questions about him… in a strong advocate of his success.
    Next…. it needs to be better, Jim. Every game is an improvement over the one before… not the opposite. Let’s go. Better.

  10. Chris Gibbons says:

    For years the Union were the pipsqueak team trying their best to pester and prod the big boys. Occasionally they’d get noticed by the bullies and earn a win, like in the Open Cup or on the road against Sporting Kansas City. More often than not they’d land flat on their faces, the bully either having punched back harder than expected or simply pulled the rug out from under the hometown Boys.

    Not any more.

  11. “…by a visionary pass from right back Ray Gaddis…”

    Words I never would’ve believed would be written about the Union.

  12. Definitely agree with the Glesnes comments. I feel more comfortable with Jack back there.

    Over under until Martinez is double booked or straight red carded? 3 games?

  13. I loved your use of the ‘trident’ metaphor on Kacper’s goal.

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