Union match reports

Match report: Toronto FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

photo: Paul Rudderow

Sergio Santos opened the scoring in just the 5th minute but Toronto FC rallied with two second half goals to defeat the Philadelphia Union 2-1 in a game played in Hartford, Connecticut.

Ayo Akinola powered a header home in the 58th minute and Alejandro Pozuelo was left unmarked from a corner kick and headed home in the 76th minute to give Toronto the victory on Saturday night.

In a competitive game between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Toronto would go top of the conference with their win while the Union fell to 4th place.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that defeated Inter Miami last weekend, with Matt Real starting in place of the injured Kai Wagner and Alejandro Bedoya returning from suspension to start in place of Anthony Fontana.

The Union would take the lead in just the 5th minute through Santos. The Brazilian did ever so well on the edge of the area on the left side to push the ball past three Toronto defenders and then dink a clever finish from a difficult angle to give Philadelphia an early league.

Toronto would dominate possession for the middle parts of the first half, but failed to create many clear cut chances.

Jamiro Monteiro would come close to doubling the Union lead in the 30th minute. The midfielder picked up the ball just outside the Toronto box and curled a terrific effort toward the top right corner that goalkeeper Quentin Westberg did well to push against the crossbar before the Union were caught offside on the rebound chance.

Toronto would equalize in the 58th minute. Tony Gallacher found room down the Toronto left side as Olivier Mbaizo failed to close the winger down and delivered a fantastic ball with his left foot into the box that Ayo Akinola met with a strong header. Mark McKenzie was the closest defender and Andre Blake got a hand to the ball, but couldn’t keep the powerful header out.

Toronto would score the winner in the 76th minute. From a corner on the left side, Pablo Piatti flicked a header at the near post and Alejandro Pozuelo was on hand at the back post completely unmarked to power a smart header home past Blake from six yards.

The Union would add Ilsinho, Anthony Fontana and Andrew Wooten in search of an equalizer but few clear chances would come and Toronto was able to see the match out.

The Union are next in action on Wednesday evening when they welcome FC Cincinnati to Subaru Park (7:30 p.m.).


Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake Matt Real (Andrew Wooten 86′), Mark McKenzie, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo; Jose Martinez, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Anthony Fontana 66′),  Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 71′), Kacper Przybylko

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelin Collin, Matej Oravec, , Michee Ngalina, Jack Elliott

Toronto FC

Quentin Westberg, Richie Laryea, Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow  (Tony Gallacher 39′), Jonathan Osorio, Pablo Piatti (Tsubasa Endoh 86′), Marco Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ayo Akinola, Jozy Altidore (Nick DeLeon 53′)

Unused subs: Alex Bono, Lauren Ciman, Erickson Gallardo, Liam Fraser, Jayden Nelson, Patrick Mullins

Scoring summary

PHI: Sergio Santos – 5′
TOR: Ayo Akinola – 58′ (Tony Gallacher)
TOR: Alejandro Pozuelo – 76′ (Pablo Piatti)

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Jose Martinez – 83′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    Here’s my take: The Union have graduated from being garbage, to being invited to the party, to now being the guy who gets too drunk and hits on the hot girl, but is then escorted out for acting like an asshole. They need to win the big game. Loss to Columbus, loss to Toronto. Got to be better. They aren’t a bad team, they just aren’t good enough. Need to be better in these games.

    • Hahaha, interesting analogy. Whatever, it’s part of growing up. What I’ll say is they *could* have won this game. Toronto took their chances and philly didn’t.

    • Spot on.
      and generally we are just thrilled as fans they aren’t garbage, because in truth that’s how it’s been for pretty much– the entire party.
      ….”hey great! we don’t….SSM.”

  2. … “Toronto jumps to top of Conference, Union fall to 4th.”
    Needed a point in the game and had the opportunity to garner it…so I’m left wanting. Toronto is good. Matt Doyle will tell you how they’ve finished as Cup finalists a bunch of times yada yada yada and therefore it’s okay as a Union fan to have dropt the game or points becaseu of the context…. Well, I watched a NY team come down and play my kid’s team right off the field today. It wasn’t even close. Totally outclassed. Philosophy of play. Methodology. You name it Outclassed. Strange how I have the same feeling after that game. Outclassed, yet they still had a chance to steal a point and an important point it was.
    So one team jumps to the top of the Conference and the other falls two places to 4th.
    Seems right. Meanwhile, I have to find a way to help my player succeed and gain from his personal investment– what he rightfully earns every day busting his ass, just to be played of the field.
    Just the Truth from a cranky elephant.

    • Micah Bertin says:


    • Soprt is about the fun of playing against your competitors in the game. The hard part is the busting your ass to get better and having your busted ass handed to you! Unfortunately as adults we know that. As young people not so much! Just encourage!

  3. When you are up against the best team in your half of the draw (by miles) you cannot cede control of the midfield for 96 minutes and hope for anything.

    Monteiro probably played his best game of the year, and Bedoya chipped in-but Aaronson walked around like he was ON TOUR for most of that mess. He couldn’t…..get…..on the ….ball.

    Pozuelo & co. simply made him look sick.

    In a game that was played at a pretty good pace, the right subs were designed to make you slower?

    #23 talked about respect. Akindola went out and just earned it. Friendly Striker couldn’t dribble strained peas off his chin. Awful with the ball at his feet-useless.

    Talent wins. Union don’t have enough to move past “others receiving votes.”

  4. This game is proof we can earn a seat at the table but we aren’t winning the chips. Just can’t hang with the big boys. It progressively got worse. Really disappointed we had no answer to control the match.

  5. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Aaronson disappeared. Martinez was great on Pozuelo for most of the game, but 1 or 2 mistakes are all it takes. McKenzie had an awful 2nd half after being arguably the best player on the field in the 1st. I love Mbaizo’s desire to create chances but he turns the ball over too much. Blake didn’t have much chance as back 4s tend to eventually implode when 2 very inexperienced players are subjected to attack after attack. Fontana continues to look like a threat. While Aaronson was very bad and we want more Fontana for sure, his extra minutes CANNOT come at BA’s expense. When are we going to trust Oravec? Because Martinez looks like the most irreplaceable player in our lineup and he continues to pick up yellow cards.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Also of note, did anyone see the article about Martinez and Venezuela? In the Inquirer I believe. Essentially, there’s a tug of war between MLS coaches and FIFA. If Martinez joins Venezuela and misses several weeks, what happens to our season? Can we survive weeks with Creavalle at the 6? I really like the guy, but now would be a great time for Oravec to emerge, cuz otherwise we’re in trouble.

    • If you noticed, Toronto was quick to double down on Aaronson everytime he came near a ball…..I bet other clubs take note. Monteiro was the best player on the Union last night……without a doubt. So wish that one he cranked from 25 went in! Would have changed the match…….

  6. I was driving and didn’t see the match, but not surprised at Toronto’s skill edge described above.
    Did we have any real press/counter opportunities besides the early mistake by Toronto?

  7. Chris Gibbons says:

    The cliff of Union despair is never more than a game away.

    • Correct….and it has been an earned enterprise.
      Hard to argue with the overall trajectory of this project, as it is at long last clearly tacking in the right direction. But much much much needs to be done.
      Its time to start beating god teams. Until then, it’s not good enough.

  8. Definitely outclassed and outgunned last night, yet still had opportunities to leave with a point. (Just needed to mark Pozuelo on the corner) And even now, only 3 points off the top. I don’t feel the need to travel to the Cliffs of Union Despair. This team needs to review the tape and draw up a better plan… It needs to start with finding passes and not replying so much on brute force. They were never going to out-muscle or outrun this Toronto side.

  9. I don’t think this game warrants as much hand wringing as being presented here. To me, some of the Union’s problems in this game were quite easily the kinds of things that can be fixed without too much effort.

    As I see it, these were the problems the Union showed tonight, many of which have been present all season

    1) Mbaizo loses opposing fullbacks far too often. Both Morrow and Galacher were threatening down the flank, but they have hardly been the first opposing fullback that Mbaizo has lost repeatedly. But he’s the backup. Gaddis is the starter.

    2) Not enough midfield depth. Toronto’s strikers seemed to dip farther into the midfield in what I believe was a deliberate tactical decision to wear down the Union’s center mids over the course of the game, and it seemed to work. This is a roster construction problem that can’t really be solved without a new signing or one of the younger mids stepping up, but Curtin may be able to mitigate it a bit with better rotation.

    3) Too many balls over the top. The Union defenders and Blake seemed a bit to eager to to route 1. While this can work and is a good strategy to employ judiciously, the Union went to this well a bit too often and the result was too little possession and exacerbated the problem of midfield fatigue. Curtin can adjust this tactic, especially when playing against stronger sides.

    Overall, I think as long as Curtin and Tanner were watching, there’s no reason to believe our next game against a strong opponent will go badly. It was a bad loss, but the Union are still a good team.

    • Freeloader says:

      Completely agree with you! Good analysis. However seeing Curtin and “adjust tactics” in the same sentence seems a little surreal.

  10. Mbaizo needed to be up that guys keester on that goal and just kept dropping with the CB’s. Jim said at half they were basically conceding the flanks and keeping it crowded in the middle of the park. My only question is Mbaizo dropped and kept himself within the 18 box like we are all trained to do in a basic back four shape……standard operating pressing procedure would have the flank backs up the pitch and right on that guy. We didn’t play our brand of footy until the last five minutes of the match. To me, a club like Toronto you don’t overly respect and let them ping it around and meet them at midfield…they are a side you press and get turn overs from….it’s the MLS…they will turn the ball over…they did repeatedly in the last five when we played that way.

  11. TopOThaTable says:

    It made me wish we had Laryea on our team. Santos was really up for it. We lost a step when he came out.

  12. It just feels like they could have taken a point. But the boys missed a few chances. And Toronto didn’t. It looked like the center was just overloaded with bodies. And the U didn’t or couldn’t capitalize using the flanks. The loss sucks but we weren’t out of the game totally. This feels like growing pains. On another day we may have won! Not the same ole Union!

  13. Watched the game on DVR Sunday.
    Agree with what Judge Redd said about midfield getting overrun, but it seemed to me that it went back an forth more in the first half and was all one way traffic in the second.
    Know that it is easy to armchair QB, but by the 58th minute, in a tie game with your entire midfield tired and being overrun, seems like it would have been a good time to drop Bedoya back to holding mid next to El Brujo and bring in Fontana for Kasper, sacrificing a striker to lock down the midfield. Santos could have maintained the counter threat.
    Also, am not to concerned about Martinez’s card this game. This time was not accidental but clear payback for a dirty hit by the same player on Montiero earlier in the game.

  14. Also, know that it probably wont ever happen, but seeing them go back to the 3-man D at the end of the game made me think that I would love seeing them try a Liverpool-esque 3-4-3. Shame there are no friendlies this year.
    Think that this could be really interesting:


    Glesnes could spray some balls around from the back like van Dyke and they could drop into a 5/4/1 when defending.

    • LFC runs a 4-3-3…….even though Robbo and AA only leave their P.O. box there………..Arsenal runs a 3-4-3. Jim should have pulled this earlier……and I was surprised he left his comfort zone.

      • Thanks for the correction!
        I know that Curtin would never do this, but particularly with Fontana’s apparent firepower, this would be fun to watch – Kai and Jamiero bombing down the sides, 3 backs locking things down.
        If they could play it, might be the strongest formation with existing personnel.

    • Monteiro isn’t a wingback either. He would be wasted there. I would put Aaronson in the three set up top and have Monteiro and Martinez in the middle of the park. Some clubs that run 3-4-3 will put two 6’s in there……a lot of defending required……Aaronson might get eaten alive in that role……Kai is perfect for a wingback……..who on the right would be my conundrum. Mbaizo? I would stick Fontana into the forward rotation as well in 3-4-3…..I’d keep my central guys Martinez, Monteiro, and Bedoya….and we can give the old man some rest! Haha! I definitely like the back 3……with Kai higher up the park.

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