Union match reports

Match report: FC Cincinnati 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union and FC Cincinnati played 90 minutes of soccer at Nippert Stadium.

If you stop reading there and didn’t watch a second of the inaction, you’d have a full summary of  what transpired Wed. night in Cincinnati. The game concluded 0-0 with the Union earning one more point that shots produced on goal.

The Union’s 2020 struggles in Ohio continued. They had won five of their last six matches entering Wed. night, with their only blemish being a 1-0 loss in Columbus.

Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin made two changes to  his starting eleven after their weekend trouncing of Montreal Impact. Raymon Gaddis replaced Matt Real along the back line, and José Martinez returned to the midfield after serving a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Conversely, the Union were opposed by a familiar face in Cincinnati side fresh off their first win in seven matches, a 1-0 victory over New York Red Bulls. Suiting for the Orange and Blue was midfielder Haris Medunjanin. The Bosnian international will go down as one of the best in Union history, ranking second all time in assists for the club in just 98 appearances.

The first half of action lacked any action at all. It was the casual viewer’s worst fear.  Each team managed just two shots, and neither could put one on frame. It wasn’t tactical. It was bad, and that’s about all there is to say.

Maybe the Union were surprised by Cincinnati’s approach, pressing with intent rather than sitting back. Maybe it was the horror show that is Nippert Stadium’s turf,  which hadn’t seen a goal in the only three games it’s hosted this season. More likely, it was the sloppy passing and loose play of both sides.

Slightly more happened in the second frame in the sense that anything is better than nothing.

The first changes came in a pair ten minutes into the second half. Curtin brought on attacking midfielder Ilsinho after an ineffective shift from forward Andrew Wooten.  It also came with a shift from their 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-2-3-1. The other alteration stemmed from misfortune. Gaddis pulled grabbed at his right hamstring after sending in an off balance cross. Matt Real replaced the injured veteran.

Despite the changes, the first real chance of the evening was Cincinnati’s. A whipped in cross from the right flank fell to the home side’s star designated player at point blank range. On loan from Premier League’s Brighton & Hove Albion, Jürgen Locadia missed a sitter. It continued a disappointing inaugural season for the Dutch striker, who has just one goal this season.

The last and only other chance also went the home side’s way. In stoppage time, Cincinnati’s Joe Gyau produced the game’s only shot on goal of the game. Goalkeeper Andre Blake, after a game’s worth of inaction, produced a stellar stop to secure the draw for the Union.

The Union’s return to action Sunday night to face Inter Miami at Subaru Park as they try to forget a lackluster night in southern Ohio.

Three points
  • First point. While not a win, Cincinnati picked up their first ever point against the Union after dropping both games against the Boys in Blue during their first MLS season.
  • Haris appreciation. With not much to say about play, let’s take a moment to appreciate Medunjanin for what he brought to Philadelphia. He was a great player and a great professional.
  • Skyline chili. I tried this bizarre dish only once while covering the Union preseason in Clearwater, FL. It was fine. Yeah, it was that kind of game where my last point is about a city’s signature food.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo, Mark McKenzie, Jakob Glesnes, Raymon Gaddis (Matt Real 56′); José Martinez, Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson (Sergio Santos 72′); Kacper Przybylko, Andrew Wooten (Ilsinho 57′)
Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Aurélien Collin, Warren Creavalle, Anthony Fontana, Jack De Vries, Cole Turner

Columbus Crew

Spencer Richey; Tom Pettersson, Kendall Waston, Nick Hagglund  (Mathieu Deplagne 80′); Andrew Gutman, Frankie Amaya, Haris Medunjanin, Joseph-Claude Gyau, Allan Cruz (Caleb Stanko 90’+2′); Jürgen Locadia, Brandon Vázquez (Yuya Kub0 68′)
Unused subs: Robert Edwards, Maikel van der Werff, Greg Garza, Zico Bailey

Scoring summary

Disciplinary summary
CIN: Joseph-Claude Gyau — 19′ (unsporting behavior)
CIN: Kendall Waston — 47′ (persistent infringement)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 59′ (unsporting behavior)
CIN: Haris Medunjanin — 63′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko — 79′ (unsporting behavior)
CIN: Frankie Amaya — 90’+3′(unsporting behavior)


  1. Leonard Pinth Garnell says:

    There is no Plan B. Many clubs have adapted a bunker and counter approach against Bumper Car Soccer, but Yap seemed to have this idea that-to prevail and possibly even score at home-the possibility of just waiting on the caroms could work. Almost did.

    Trying to list an accomplishment by the midfield tonight:……

    Only moment of interest for me was Bedoya’s “tackle”. Last time I saw something like that, I believe I was at a co-worker’s batchelor party.

  2. That Union game was so goddam boring I fell asleep, passed out Ambien, kink in my neck – the violent snap of my forward then back forward then back coup contracouping craaniium droolspot on the shirt…
    …seriously struggle to understand how and why I get so excited throughout the day to watch this sometimes.

  3. Hopefully when they have the rematch in a couple of weeks on a field where you can predict how the ball will bounce the Union will be able to actually put some passes together and score.
    That being said, it is a travesty that MLS allows teams into the league with stadiums like that one, Atlanta, and Yankee Stadium. New teams should be required to have real grass fields that aren’t used for baseball.

  4. This was a loss. No other way to look at the performance against one of the worst teams in the league.
    *Bedoya went full 90, had max distance for the team and picked up another yellow to miss next match.
    *Monteiro went full 90.
    *After 3 goals in two games Curtin decided not to put in his hottest scorer, Fontana.
    *In a high press defense, subbing in Ilson is like a pit stop where you put a flat tire on the car.
    *Ilson’s flat tire at right mid was exacerbated by Ale playing right side of holding mid double pivot with rubber legs. It destroyed whole right side of our D with young’n Mbaizo at right back.
    Want to like Jim as Philly guy, and appreciate good season, but tonight just seemed so dumb.
    Technical ability and quickness beat the bunker. As an old guy, I want to know why we played old tired guys against a bunkered inferior team when we have young quality.

    • Ale will get some rest on Sunday.

      • True, but with 9 games in 30some days, it is still accumulated mileage. We won’t do well in playoffs if all the guys are spent because they weren’t properly rotated.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      They are thin this year in the midfield.

      • OSC that doesn’t explain Jim’s failure to use the backup midfielder who’s hot as hell. It was a bizarre and inexplicable decision, frankly.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        See Curtin’s edited presser on the suite earlier Friday, today.
        Since Bodoya’s next match is Oct 3, they could run him into the ground. And they were worried about Mbaizo’s ability to finish,

    • Long time reader, first time commenter. I really do not know enough about the game to write something worthwhile. I work out of West Africa with really bad internet, so I never see the games. But I do follow the Union, and enjoy what I read here. It isn’t just the articles. It’s also the comments, which are often passionate and insightful, sometimes opinionated, but with opinions that are expressed in a generally civil, even congenial manner. Discussions and disagreements are possible, but always in community. I really do appreciate that. If the soccer brings me here, it’s the community that keeps me coming back. Thanks, everyone.

    • Long time reader, first time commenter. I really do not know enough about the game to write something worthwhile. I work out of West Africa with really bad internet, so I never see the games. But I do follow the Union, and enjoy what I read here. It isn’t just the articles. It’s also the comments, which are often passionate and insightful, sometimes opinionated, but with opinions that are expressed in a generally civil, even congenial manner. Discussions and disagreements are possible, but always in community. I really do appreciate that. This post and its replies, like others on the page, encapsulate that. If the soccer brings me here, it’s the community that keeps me coming back. Thanks, everyone.

  5. Many years ago, the television show “SportsNight” included an episode where one of the sportscasters said something like”And now it is time for a commercial break, but when we come back we will explore soccer and the utter pointlessness of a 0-0 draw.” As a former fullback, I can appreciate the suspense inherent in a taut defensive battle, but this was not one of those. Here, neither attack had any real focus or plan, and the mistakes took center stage. I resented that quote from Aaron Sorkin, but after tonight’s game, I think that I understand the type of game that he was describing. As much as I love the game, this would not be one to try to get an uninitiated person to enjoy.

  6. That was painful. Two hours I’ll never get back. Could not even muster a shot on target. A dreadful game.

  7. I also fell asleep in the first half. Awoke around the 30 min mark. Missed nothing. Could have kept on sleeping.

  8. No energy, A step behind, No chemistry, Sluggish, Tired ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Lucky Cincinati has no offense or that game was a loss. Jim should give the team a day off to catch up on their sleep.

    One of the most boring games I have ever watched.

  9. Why does Curtin rotate the squad? Does anyone have inside info? Real & Fontana should be getting starting minutes with this schedule. What is Curtin’s deal? I’m thankful Bedoya is getting the next game off due to suspension.

  10. A combination of the Union having no plan B….and that awful pitch. Jim is pretty predictable with his subs. I’m still waiting for him to be adventurous…..and confident in himself when these situations present themselves. I don’t understand how Real doesn’t get a start, I don’t understand how Fontana doesn’t get a start. That was painful last night…….fell asleep and I woke up kind of happy we got a point. I did love seeing the Haris “point to a guy three yards from me……so my teammate ten yards away can pick him up”……again. Give me El Brujo any day of the week at the 6!

    • If I’m Anthony Fontana…. and I do not get the start this weekend, in light of Alejandro Bedoya card accumulation, which I believe is the case, I’m pulling a Tony Montana Fontana– free diving into a mountain of Cocaina…. then bringing out the big gun.
      was just talking with a friend about how B.Aaronson has been given huge opportunities, and now the younger P.Aaronson has been called “better than is brother” by the head coach already… and in our opinion it is at Fontana’s expense– which based on the results every time he steps on a field for a game, are self evident.
      It’s a bit head scratching. So, yeah, if he doesn’t start this weekend a big What The Fuck.
      “You want to play games?”

      • Yeah, I’m in Jim’s office like “ WTF, dude!????” If you are going to pull the shit with me…at my age……loan me the fuck out!”

      • If I’m Fontana, I’m getting out of here as soon as my contract expires, never given a fair shot, one start to his name. They would be smart to get something for him since that’s their model, but you can’t blame the kid.

        I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with this kid.

  11. Atomic Spartan says:

    Yup. Gotta repeat what I said a few weeks ago. Curtin does a lot of things right but squad selection remains a mystery known only to himself. On 2.5 days rest, not playing Fontana and at least 1 of the other kids was unforgivable. Now he has driven Gaddis into the ground and lost Ale as well. Silver lining: it sets up a situation where he will be forced to add Fontana, which apparently is the only way he will get to play, short of a 3 goal advantage

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    Any reason Fontana didn’t play? That game needed a spark of life for sure. Feel like the guy who has scored multiple times in the last few games, with some flair for the dramatic, may have been a decent sub… just sayin…

  13. Chris Gibbons says:

    Squad rotation: bad.

    Mbaizo on the left: BAD.

    The turf at Nippert Wildlife Refuge: ATROCIOUS.

    How many quick passing sequences were completely nullified by an otherwise normal trap that turned instead into a complete catastrophe? The answer is most of those sequences. Every weighted pass, every attempted switch, every measured touch… all bouncing into the gravity-defying ether that is Cincinnati in September.

    …and yet, even the Liverpools of the world can go to Watford and lose 3-0 in their championship seasons somtimes. So it goes.

    • And two of LFC’s three losses they got their doors blown off! They played better against my Gunners in the 2-1 loss……..

  14. FONTANA…. how the FUCK do you not play FONTANA in this boring ass game? And if he’s not gonna start, bring him on for Jamiro or Aaronson once you realize Bedoya is missing the next match.

    I am very confused as to how we expect to score a goal if wooten and kacsper are running to midfield to get touches. Is it too much to try a couple long balls from our CBs targeting kacsper? I don’t miss Haris at all but imagine the passes he would provide for someone like Santos.

    • Because Ale is suspended Sunday, and Fontana may very well need to go the full 90?

      • I just imagine Fontana will have an easier time next game than Brendan or Jamiro. Irrelevant though because curtin will play creavalle lol

    • Intersting you bring up Wooten, who actually makes a case for causing the Union to appear to play a man down.
      He offere(s)d nothing… and on the seldom chances he has a ‘say in the matter’, he wrong foots his teammate in a quick exchange or a transition moment and fucks it all up. This is a pattern.
      Here’s a guy who must practice hard, but doesn’t play a lick in the game.
      Meanwhile Tony Montana-Fontana likely isn’t bringing it at practice (?) but adds dimensions and some life to the game.

      • Been stated repeatedly that Fontana has been staying later than the others after practice and hitting the weights!
        Pretty sure he’s brining it.
        Kid has fire

      • My college coach was like this and drove everyone nuts! It creates quite an uneasiness in the changing room too……….Jim doesn’t seem to have that problem, at least. I’ve seen players take that to heart, be the best player on the training pitch the next week….and still not play. My worry is this is what is happening to Fontana…….and if the coach tells you to work harder in training, you do it…and still don’t play……that is the gaffer mindscrewing you………

  15. Tyrone Slothrop says:

    On the surface, taking a point in a scoreless draw on the road doesn’t sound too egregious, but last night’s game was really FC Cincinnati’s to win as they were the only squad with any real chances to take all three points. Mild acknowledgement is due to FC Cincinnati’s stout defense which saw countless passes into the box and on Union set pieces adeptly deflected or blocked.

    When I saw the lineup before last night’s match was sans Real or Fontana I was not surprised, because Curtin’s inflexibility with regards to rotations is as predictable and as irritating as being stuck in the Lot B (or C) parking lot for at least 20 minutes after a well-attended Union match at Subaru Park. Curtin tightrope walks the fine line between consistency and insipidity, as last night’s woeful shots on goal and lack of offensive creativity was on full display against a cellar dweller opponent. I half-expected Creavalle to start or sub in but mercifully he was kept on the bench, no doubt to start on Sunday.

    This season has really made me (re)appreciate Andre Blake. Yes, he was poor last season in the playoffs, but so many games this season would not have ended on positive terms for the Union had Blake not come up with one or more clutch saves.

    Start Real. Find room for Fontana in the starting lineup or as a meaningful substitute. It is high time for Curtin to end Fontana’s exile on Seaport Drive.

  16. Eh I’m not as bent outta shape as everyone else about this match. Yes, it was terrible. Yes, Curtin seems to have no notion of squad rotation and substitution, still. The absence of Fontana from that match was inexplicable.
    But even great teams lay an egg every so often. We were on the road, mid-week, in a busy stretch of games. We still got a point out of a terrible performance thanks to Dre (and Martinez’ save off the line).
    And it speaks to the Union’s standing that Cincy was clearly just playing for one point, even at home. That was pretty striking.

  17. Just woke up from Wednesday night’s game …

    +1 on the Fontana comments above. We were yelling at the TV starting at about the 65th minute. Unless he had a knock, I cannot imagine why he didn’t play on that pitch and in that scenario. Even if it’s just to get him more minutes. The kid makes things happen every time he’s on the pitch and Lord knows that game needed SOMETHING to happen.

    Has Ilsinho lost a step or has the rest of the league figured him out? Or both? He’s been ineffective this year – quite a shame.

    Wooten over Santos? WHY would this ever happen? Maybe they are trying to get one snippet of positive in-game video to share with another team interested in his contract?

    One of the sorriest games in years to watch and while I’m typically not a Curtin critic, he should be ‘splaining himself to the fans for this game.

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