Union match reports

Match report: New England Revolution 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: 215pix

Philadelphia Union returned to regular season action in forgettable fashion on Thursday night, scraping a 0-0 draw against New England Revolution in Foxborough, Mass.

Jim Curtin made one change to the lineup he used in the semifinal of the MLS is Back Tournament, replacing left back Kai Wagner — out with a leg contusion — with backup Matt Real. Notably absent from the nine-man bench was offseason acquisition Matej Oravec, who is yet to play a minute for either the Union or USL side Union II.

In front of the COVID-caused crowd of zero at Gillette Stadium, it was all New England in the early going. Andre Blake denied a blast from Gustavo Bou in the ninth minute, while Mark McKenzie blocked a goalbound shot from Cristian Penilla in the tenth minute. Not three minutes later the hosts were in again, with new signing Adam Buksa putting one off just the side post.

After a rough first fifteen, the Union began to even things, playing more of the game in the midfield or their attacking third without generating much in the way of a scoring opportunity. A nasty tackle from Brandon Bye on Jamiro Monteiro earned the first yellow of the match. The match looked more like the tight, territorial clash between the two sides in Orlando four weeks ago.

Philadelphia almost broke through on one of their patented counterattacks, with a corner for the Revs leading to an odd-man rush for the Union. Brendan Aaronson fed Kacper Przybylko near the penalty spot, but the Polish striker’s first touch was poor and his shot found the firm hands of Revs keeper Matt Turner. That proved to be it for major chances in the first half.

Neither Curtin nor New England’s Richie Williams — filling in for Bruce Arena, suspended in the last game with the Union — made any changes to start the second half. Both Union centerbacks picked up yellow cards within the first seven minutes of the second half.

The Union had a golden chance to take the lead in the 53rd minute, as Przybylko returned the earlier favor and played Aaronson in on goal. But the Homegrown midfielder hesitated just a beat and Turner came out to get his palms on the chip attempt.

Curtin waited until the 63rd minute for the traditional insertion of Ilsinho, with the ineffective Sergio Santos making way. Williams opted for a double swap that saw Tajon Buchanan and DeJuan Jones enter the fray. While the game opened up a bit in the following minutes, neither side generated much in the way of clear-cut scoring chances.

Olivier Mbaizo made his season debut with 15 minutes remaining and Andrew Wooten entered for Przybylko as the Union looked for some fresh legs to make their mark on the game. Ilsinho and Jamiro Monteiro nearly broke the deadlock, but the Union’s No. 10 couldn’t fully turn at the penalty spot and his shot was right at Turner.

The Revs pushed for a winner in the match’s dying minutes. Jack Elliott produced an excellent recovery tackle late in the match to break up a dangerous opportunity from Bou, while Buksa missed the target on a one-timer moments later. That was it, and the match finished scoreless.

The Union return to Subaru Park for the first time since their playoff victory last October, nearly ten months ago, on Tuesday night. They’ll take on the same opponent from that playoff match, New York Red Bulls, in what will be a much more subdued atmosphere. Kickoff from Chester is at 7:30 p.m.

Three points
  • Get moving again. A road point isn’t the worst outcome given the stop-start nature of the Union’s season so far, although it was a fairly toothless attacking performance.
  • Striking absence. Przybylko and Santos had a quiet night. If those two stay cold, it’s going to be tough for the Union to score goals from the run of play.
  • Safe travels home. After the first match out of the bubble in the COVID era, the Union will hope that everyone returns home healthy, with the Red Bulls coming to town on Tuesday.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Matt Real (Olivier Mbaizo 76′); José Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Warren Creavalle 89′); Kacper Przybylko (Andrew Wooten 76′), Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 63′)
Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Jakob Glesnes,  Anthony Fontana, Jack de Vries, Cole Turner

New England Revolution

Matt Turner; Brandon Bye (DeJuan Jones 64′), Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, Alexander Buttner; Matt Polster, Kelyn Rowe (Justin Rennicks 86′), Cristian Penilla (Diego Fagundez 75′), Gustavo Bou, Teal Bunbury (Tajon Buchanan 65′); Adam Buska
Unused subs: Brad Knighton, Jeff Caldwell, Michael Mancienne, Seth Sinovic, Scott Caldwell

Scoring summary

Disciplinary summary
NE: Brandon Bye — 25′ (unsporting behavior)
NE: Matt Polster — 44′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Mark McKenzie — 50′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 53′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. DamienDeMarco says:

    I envy all of you who live in the Philly metro area and don’t have to watch the home feed of these games on espn+…. the Revs broadcast team always suuuuuuucks!

    • Oh, dude, be careful what you wish for. JP was off for the night, and his replacement is… not good. And Tommy Smythe is so bloody annoying that between the two of them I was close to muting my TV.

  2. McKenzie had that type of night that allows Tanner to bump up his asking price a bit.

    Elliot, Gaddis also did their part to put out all fires. I thought Real did well too.

    NE bodied Aaronson all night long and even then he had one great assist look and one great goal chance. In games like this where we stall at the edge of the opponents box, he really needs to come back for the ball and drive our offense more. I wonder if it is by design that he stays up with the strikers on the CBs and stays out of the play. It’s times like that where I can see why people say he is better at the 8 – he can be on the ball more and quarter back our half court offense.

    Santos and Przybylko were meh, but atleast Przybylko looked a little more active and had better hold up play.

    Everything else was meh. Overall another game where a good coach knows how to play us and really shuts down what we do well. Curtin just said in his post game that “A good team gets a point on a bad night”, and he is not wrong.

    But we really need to start figuring out how to do this better, because more teams will be playing us like NE.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I liked Real a lot last night too. Good to see he continues to progress. That shot he ripped was quality too

    • Agree that this is how teams are gonna play us until Jim figures out some kinda response (if he can).

      Real made a couple of serious mistakes early on and was bailed out by McKenzie (and others). Then he settled down some. He did a good job getting up into the attack.

  3. Meh. This team has gone stale. Props to Curtin for actually making subs, though I think they came too late. I agree with James above on his player evaluations. I know I’ll probably get flack for this but, once again Bedoya was lackluster, even bad. Right now he doesn’t deserve to be playing. I understand he’s the captain, but he’s giving the team next to nothing out there. Where has the offense gone? Something needs to change if the Union’s promise is to be realized.

    • I don’t disagree about Bedoya. He is the ultimate glue guy. But players like him don’t put you over the line when you need it. If the rest of the team is stifled and playing stuck, he will be too.

      This is where Curtin can be more creative and I think he has the pieces to be.

      Swap Aaronson and Monteiro, so Aaronson can pull the strings from half court.

      Replace Bedoya with Aaronson, play De Vries at the 10. De Vries is apparently more of a second striker type anyway, so with this you still have Aaronson pulling strings, with a more goal oriented 10.

      Put Bedoya at RB, and put Fontana at the 8.

      Or any combination of the above.

      Or IDK, keep doing what we are and keep drawing and eventually losing these types of games. I think Curtin is a great coach when it comes to player relationships but I don’t have faith he can crack this code..

      • I’m not sure what you mean by Bedoya putting the team over the line. What I expect from him is to get up and down the field, making smart defensive and offensive plays, and occasionally an all out defensive stop. Basically what he’s done since he got here. Except since about game 3 or so of the tournament, he hasn’t done any of it. Tonight in particular the ball was lost around him (not sure if it was he who lost it or not) and he barely jogged back as the play went rushing by him. He barely looks able to not hurt the team.

    • Bedoya might not have the engine anymore for 90 minutes every match at his age. He looked like he was going to pass out a few times in Florida……Lolz.

  4. That game was so goddamn boring. What the Fuck…. I actually started jamming the size 1 ball under the sofa just so I could retrieve it for my dog and not have to sit still through that bogged down shit display of soccer. Just the truth here from The Elephant.
    If I’m Matt Real and I get my one chance… to play a first team game- I’m not playing safe and someone close to him shoulda offered that advice. Be dynamic. Showcase yourself. Be a difference maker. Becasue…it’s back to obscurity —soon USL II then tech school and a degree in automotive engineering.
    As far as Andrew Wooten falling on the ball and Matt Real losing the ball from right under his foot and the utter indefensible amount of time the ball pogo’d around the field .. I guess, we’ll blame the turf. Shrug. I got nothing because it was that bad. And Kacper… dude, you got nothin. No.Thing. You were THAT bad tonight.
    Look… my tune has never changed in all these years….Just Play Well.
    Entertain me. The aesthetic is Everything.
    and as LCD Soundsystem sing…. apropos of these days…
    “Just do it right.
    Make it perfectg and real.
    Because its everything
    though everything was never the deal-

    So grab your things and stumble into the night.
    So we can shut the door
    on these terrible times.”
    Entertain me… don’t make me sadder than I am.
    Play better. That’s it. That’s the post. Play better.

    • Disagree about Real, firstly I don’t think he played that safe, he was up the field as often as Wagner and played a role in the offense, and he also sent in more crosses in his 80ish minutes that Gaddis did all year. I thought he did fine. Not sure where people are seeing that he played poorly at all tbh.

      Also I totally disagree about not wanting him to play it safe … if there is anything we learned about Curtin it’s that playing it safe is exactly what Real needed to do or else he woulda been Rosenberry’d.

      • He was poor defensively – Mark McKenzie hailed him out multiple times, he’ll Ray Gaddis as a RB had to sort something out for him once.
        . Had multiple chances to attack the end line or work a one two to get the end line and resorted to safe crosses – generally to nowhere. Maybe it’s my eye test.
        I will stipulate to Curtin probably saying, “don’t F things up tonight.”
        As far as Ray… Real’s not Ray and Ray’s not Real. Otherwise I stand by my observation wrong as some may seem it regarding the likelihood of him washing out of the game in T minus a few years.

    • Agree Elephant. I thought Kai’s absence was glaring in the match. While I’m glad Mbaizo and Real got minutes, I completely agree with El Pachs assessment. Real played cautious, the attacking pace we normally see out of that side was absent. Real kept it 30 yards out and often slow up the pitch……he played like he didn’t want to get burned for a goal. If you want to make a statement to Jim…..that same level of pace and commitment to get involved needs to be there…and it wasn’t.

  5. Long enough sample size. Whatever Tanner’s vision for this attack may be, staff + players cannot execute it.

    Union play like a hockey team who can only “create” off odd-man rushes. Teams have them figured out. If Philly’s press can turn them over……chances exist. If not……..

    Other than #25 who is a legit 1 v.1 threat on the ball?
    They all stand around looking for somebody else to make it happen.

    When teams get on them, they cough it up more often than a cat with chronic furball syndrome.

  6. Only caught the last 40. What I saw was pretty poor. In particular, Przbylko, Badoya and Ilsinho did not look fit to play. Just slow to every play. It could just be a poor night. It happens. But I worry about Jim running these guys out there every night in a more frequent season schedule. Bedoya, in particular, can’t be putting in 90 every night. He’s been the most important player for us, but he’s got a lot of miles. Ilsinho looked really slow. Przbylko, completely lost. Again, maybe one bad night, but I’m concerned.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Need an infusion of offense into this team. A signing. Need something to kind of jump start everything. I agree with some folks it seems to be getting a little stale and teams have definitely figured out how to beat us – or at least force a draw. Formation change, different starters/subs, a signing or two for the attack… something or all these things need to happen to get it going again. I realize this season is basically a disaster with COVID and the tournament and the stops and starts, so I’m not saying they’re garbage and burn it all down, but they do need to make some changes because come next season the book will be written and this team will have a real hard time winning games

  8. Gruncle Bob says:

    Strikers need to play better.

  9. What happens when McKenzie and Aaronson leave? I know we have Glesnes thankfully but obviously he’s not as good if he’s not playing, and the defense has been the glue so far. There is no real backup to Aaronson. That makes the bench even thinner.
    Curtin is such a good players coach, they love him and play hard for him. He just HAS to try something different sometimes. Everyone knows what’s coming most of the time, and teams have adjusted. Throw them a curve.
    Bedoya has really looked tired and just a step slow this year, it’s odd to watch.

  10. I am not sure that we can conclude that Glesnes is a step down from McKenzie just because he is not playing. They are clearly marketing McKenzie, so need him to play.

    Agree that Bedoya looked tired. Would really like to see Curtin’s 60 minute sub (when even or behind) start being for Gaddis, with Bedoya sliding to right back and a creative player coming in. It keeps the captain on the field, upgrades RB offense and allows fresh/creative legs at midfield.

  11. Looked slow tired and unsure of each other. Thank God for Blake. This team needs Geritol with the exception of Aaronson McKenzie and Blake. Unispired .Curtin played it safe all night.

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