Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Orlando City FC

photo: Earl Gardner

Mauricio Pereya canceled out Ilsinho’s opener as the Philadelphia Union drew Orlando City FC 1-1 in the final game of group play in the MLS is Back Tournament. The goals came in quick succession in the second half and the draw means that Orlando wins Group A and the Union finish second.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that defeated Miami last week. Warren Creavalle replaced the suspended Jose Martinez, while Jack Elliott started in place of Jacob Glesnes at center back.

The first half was a cagey affair with few chances for either side.

Tesho Akindele had his close range shot saved by Andre Blake in the 28th minute. The Union’s best chance came in the 42nd minute when Sergio Santos retrieved the rebound from his saved shot and squared a fantastic pass for Brendan Aaronson, who could only push a shot wide from 12 yards.

Andre Blake did well to keep the score level with a fantstic stop in the 49th minute. Chris Mueller played Jhegson Mendez in on goal down the right side and Blake did well to make himself big and save a close range shot from 14 yards out. Blake then did well to smother the rebound.

The Union would take the lead in the 68th minute through Ilsinho. Brendan Aaronson did well to beat his mark down the left side and pick out Alejandro Bedoya near the top of the box. Bedoya found Ilsinho on the right side and the Brazilian did ever so well to fire his shot into the side netting from a challenging angle.

The lead would last less than two minutes as Orlando equalized through Mauricio Pereyra. Nani recycled a ball after the Union could only half clear after a clear fould by an Orlando player on Alejandro Bedoya in the box. Pereya met Nani’s cross with a powerful header that snuck under Andre Blake on the left side.

While Orlando seemed to be the more likely side to find a winner late in the second half, the Union can wonder why VAR wasn’t used deep into second half stoppage time when the referee seemed to ignore an obvious handball by an Orlando defender inside his own box.

Curiously, Jim Curtin only used two substitues inside regular time (Matt Real joined the fray late into stoppage time).

Philadelphia will now face the second placed team from Group C in the knock round of the tournment.

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis, Warren Creavalle (Jacob Glesnes 73′), Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya, Brendan Aaronson (Matt Real 90+2′), Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 59′), Kacper Przyblko
Aurelien Collin, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo, Anthony Fontana, Cole Turner, Jack De Vries, Matej Oravec, Andrew Wooten, Michee Ngalina

Orlando City FC
Pedro Gallese, Antonio Carlos, Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Ruan, Chris Mueller (Andrea Perea 87′), Junior Urso (Jhegson Mendez 19′), Mauricio Pereyra (Santiago Painto 88′), Nani, Oriol Rosell, Tesho Akindele (Benji Michel 74′)
Alex De John, Kamal Miller, Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Andrea Perea, Jordan Bender, Daryl Dike, David Loera, Brian Rowe

Scoring Summary

Ilsinho – 68′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson)
Mauricio Pereyra – 70′ (Nani)

Displinary Summary

Alejandro Bedoya – 56′ (unsporting behaviour)
Oriol Rosell – 67′ (unsporting behaviour)
Jakob Glesnes – 80′ (unsporting behaviour)
Ruan – 90+1′ (unsporting behaviour)


  1. Micah Bertin says:

    I’m disappointed that Curtin did not make more subs. I would have liked a 75th minute double switch, Kacper and Aaronson out (both had good games, especially the kid, but it was time for fresh legs) Ngalina and Fontana in. Whether we draw or lose, we would still end up in second place and it’s only a difference of a point in the season standings, so why not get aggressive and go for 3?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I’m with you. I don’t have much else to say honestly. Frustrating to say the least. On the bright side, got to try out the radio broadcast. JP and Seba were really great.

    • I thought the same thing about the subs. I was disappointed that Aaronson was still running around gassed at 90 minutes. He should have come off in the 80th minute or so and Fontana or Real could have been inserted into the midfield…
      I worry that they are going to be gassed by the 60-70th minute in the next game or two…

    • Not sure I would’ve taken out Kacper, but definitely agree on Brendan, and on the sub use in general. Jim always subs too late and not enough. Why are you only using 2 subs in regulation on an 89-degree night when the club has been playing every 5th day?? At least he got Creavalle out.

      • Tim Jones says:

        Remember that he has had to start over getting his players towards 90 minutes match fit.
        We are watching preseason games in terms of conditioning. If you cast your memories back to his very first preseason, the first scrimmage was 30 minutes per person and then it progressed from there in 15 minute intervals. Now they have the latest sports science techniques to tailor thing more individually, but the basic pattern has seemed to have held,
        And if you think about energy levels, that’s about what we have seen. He’s leaving his starters out there to increase their game endurance capacity.
        That is actually encouraging because it means he thinks there will be games to be played for a while after the tournament is over.
        My own hope is that they make a deep run into the tournament because if they do they will have played five, si,x or seven games, and that will put them right about where they are at the end of a regular preseason in terms of fitness.
        The clubs that are knocked out early will be at a competitive disadvantage when so-called “home market” play starts because their game fitness will not be as advanced.
        And in this disease environment arranging scrimmages not only has to consider the health and safety regulations, it also has to consider their extra expense!
        When I asked Union II head coach Sven Gartung about scrimmages against different players when they were just resuming full-team, full-contact training, the first thing out of his mouth was the expense issue. Then he went to health and safety issues and that the first team was already in isolation to prepare for the trip to Florida. But all these extra medical things cost money.
        So the more games the first team manages to get for itself in Florida the better will be its competitive advantage should their be home market competitions in a “regular season” subsequently, as we would all dearly love.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Those are some really good points that I didn’t consider. Let’s hope for a deep run.

      • Great One says:

        Good points Tim. I do think Curtin, generically, tends to wait too long for subs sometimes. It’s not a major criticism but it is something to think about, and this game is the perfect time to get some guys in.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Orlando was the better team last night and Philly defense was lucky on several occasions that Orlando couldn’t finish (not even thinking about the times that Blake came up big…there were several opportunities that they didn’t put the ball on net). That being said, as a Philly fan, it really hurt that the team couldn’t protect the lead any longer. They really need to keep Martinez on the field since Creavalle did not seem to belong on the same pitch as the other 21 players
    That being said, if I was Curtin, I would consider a complete squad rotation next game. Even if they win, they are still 3 games away from winning the tournament and it is the first game that doesn’t count toward the regular season. If the game is still close in the 70th minute, then bring on the starters for 20 or 50 minutes (I can’t wait for the potential for a 10:30 start to go an extra 30 minutes plus penalty kicks.)

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Have to say, while I agree with more squad rotation, there is a better chance of snow tomorrow, than Curtin rotating in a knockout stage game. He cant even be bothered to rotate in an essentially meaningless game like last night. That was old, bad Curtin. I thought we got rid of him?!?

      • DanC (formerly of 103) says:

        Last night wasn’t meaningless since it counted towards the regular season standings. With the schedule uncertain, every point is that much more valuable.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I understand it wasn’t totally meaningless, but I still don’t think it warrants not making more subs. However, the points raised by Tim Jones above are valid regarding conditioning, so after reading them, I can see why maybe Curtin didn’t sub. I still believe all 5 subs should have been used and it would have been beneficial

  3. Thought the match was pretty entertaining even though neither team was at its best. Both suffered from real difficulty in the finishing department.

    Union attack seems particularly problematic. It felt like ages would pass between periods on which Santos was involved. Half the time Przbylko got on the ball he was dribbling wide and right. Aaronson missed a sitter, too.

    Despite all that, I thought the Union has looked a lot better than many other MLS teams in this strange return to play after a four-month pandemic pause. Quality of play has not been a highlight of MLS is Back. Union’s best player continues to be Blake.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I kept saying I needed more from Santos last night as well. I felt like he just didn’t do much at all. And definitely good to have old Blake back. He’s been great.

  4. We simply could not move the ball through the middle. Almost everything was up the side, then crossed in, which is low-percentage, especially since, as Twellman notes, the U don’t get enough people in the box.

    Creavalle was terrible — meh on defense and a total obstacle on offense. I swear Monteiro had to play his position as well as his own.

    And I love young Brendan, but I’m starting to think that he’s not really a #10. He’s a winger.

    • I’m not sure there is such a thing as a 10 in this version of the game.

    • SoccerDad says:

      I found it interesting that at times Orlando seemed to be saying, we won’t let you counter, but feel free to pass the ball around because you can’t break us down.

      And I was surprised that the Union were unable to counter despite the fact that Orlando had 4 players in the Box (plus the winger who was crossing the ball deep).

  5. seems like a missed opportunity. Andre Blake as a shot stopper was phenomenal.

  6. Tim Jones says:

    I was interested that the sub for Creavalle — no particular surprise that he was done after 60-65 minutes — was Jack Elliott. That in itself is an interesting idea to me ever since I saw him play there up at Lehigh his rookie year.
    But the other question it raises concerns Matej Oravec. He has been seen in videos posted on the website participating in practice activities, so there is no major injury probably. He was on the bench. He does not seem to have Jim Curtin’s trust at the moment?

    • Pretty sure that it was Creavalle who lost Pereyra on the goal and he had already been caught up-field more than once on the counter. Think that Jim was sending a message with the sub – primary job of holding mid is shielding back line, which WC was not doing effectively.

      Like you said though – the bigger question is where the heck is Oravec?

      My impression of the “talk on the street” when both Martinez and Oravec were picked up was that Oravec was projected to be the starter and Martinez the project.

      Would love to know what is really going on with Oravec.

      • It’s hard to say for sure, but I watched the replay a few times. It looked like Bedoya was at fault to me.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Creavalle also had several bad giveaways in his own half of the field which either led to Orlando scoring opportunities, or would have led to them against a stronger team.

      • SilverRey says:

        Bedoya was injured in the clearance right before the ball was crossed back in, so he was limping pretty heavily at that point.

  7. 7pts from 3 matches that count towards the regular season standings is great. We’ve had a few standouts so far in Aaronson and Blake but a lot of the other guys have been blah so far. Last night, it seemed like Orlando was able time and again to get guys behind Creavalle and in front of the back 4 about 12 yards from goal. That can’t happen against a really good team. Luckily Andre saved us again. He is a much better keeper when he has to make those quick reaction saves but still struggles on when to come out/stay home on crosses and through balls. The Union didn’t throw enough men into the box last night. Too many times Wagner or Ale would send in a cross and 1 guy was in the 18 yard box. That cannot happen. You need Aaronson, Montiero and both strikers in there. I’d also like to see Wagner, Ale, Ray take on a defender. We don’t really try going by a defender 1 vs 1 on the wing to get in closer before crossing or laying it off for a teammate. I know they’re getting back into the swing of things and 7 pts from 3 matches is great. It just feels like we are on borrowed time with the overall way we’ve played in this tournament.

    • Wracked Opinion says:

      Your “borrowed time” comment is a great one.

      It feels properly astute.

      The Union have a respectable standing (points) at this juncture, but clear weaknesses to be addressed: beyond just developing improved match physical fitness.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Agreed. If there isn’t another gear to be had in sharpness, intensity, and finishing, they won’t win Saturday.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Did you really say you want Ray to take on a defender 1 vs 1? The others I can understand, but Ray?

  8. Wracked Opinion says:

    All great comments above.

    It was an interesting… but frustrating… match: one that really could have been a blowout for either side.

    The lack of offensive finishing by the Union and Blake’s “standing on his head” prevented such a lopsided outcome.

    In the end, the Union were fortunate… and seemingly entirely content… to get the draw.

    They clearly had no legs / no desire such to make finishing runs after about the 70th minute.

    But this was inexplicably… given the heat, plus humidity… not even addressed with substitutions.

    Maddeningly, the galling defensive lapses / collapses continue.

    Too often, they yield quick opponent opportunities and goals after their own very hard-earned tallies.

    The fact that Blake is / must continually be by far their best player is especially problematic.

    I’ve much respect for Curtin as a person, but believe he needs improvement as a tactical Coach / Manager.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, but too often I see formation and / or substitution inefficiencies.


    In using this reference, witnessing the play and result: I.M.H.O. Kac needs to be / stay Center and remain high during play, such to be successful.

    Kac has a great work rate / motor… plus the deft scorer’s finishing touch… but his size and average foot speed makes for an ineffective folly at wing.

    Currently, Aaronson’s natural skill set, plus best positioning / fit for the team seems to be at Winger.

    He needs to be coached and maximally developed for this role.

    Lastly, at this point… and I’m probably crazy for thinking so, but… I think the Union needs to go with a 3-man back line and move Wagner, or Gaddis permanently to Midfielder.

    Both have great work rates, but it seems that the remaining back liners too easily become vulnerable from confusion and counterattacks during / from their pushes forward from the back.

    Right now, it seems that the Mids are too often LATE to… or nonexistent at… the critical points of action: both going forward and defensively.

    Of course my observations are a bit “negatively / critically biased”… but intended for improvement.

    Ultimately this could all be blithering nonsense… LOL!

    Regardless, it will be interesting (hopefully rewarding) to see how this tournament, plus season develops.

    Apologies for the long post.

  9. pragmatist says:

    I’m not going to drag Curtin over the subs too much last night, because I agree with the need for developing match fitness. But I would like to have seen all 5 subs used for the last 5-10 minutes just to get guys real game experience. You can only replicate so much in scrimmages and practices. It’s helpful to get some reps at actual “game speed,” even if that speed isn’t 100% at the 90th minute in 90-degree temps.
    But De Vries, Wooten, Ngalina, Fontana…get guys like this a little taste of a game so they are more ready if/when you need them down the stretch.

    • SilverRey says:

      I also feel like we are entering a new era with subs. Now that FIFA has mandated 5 subs and water breaks for (at least) the next year, we may as well start changing our tactics to match.
      Otherwise teams are going to start running us off the pitch no matter how fit we are.

    • … in fairness he did sub on Matt Real who proceeded to play like a DoG in the few minutes he had to make a difference. I’ve seen it over the years with the guy throughout Academy IMO. Too casual. To quick to bail. Montiero gave him a WTF look one of the times.

  10. The game overall had an odd feel to it.
    The officiating was horrific.
    I’d love to see the U get three people at the 6 yard box for a cross like Orlando did. Just seemed too many times, there would be a perfect pass to the person who “should” have been making a run….but wasn’t.
    7 points in three games. Any other year and we’d love it. Plus…I think we are going to like the first-round draw better (hope this comment ages well).

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