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Match Report: Philadelphia Union 3-0 FC Cincinnati

photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union would return to winning ways, defeating FC Cincinnati 3-0 on Wednesday night at Subaru Park. All the goals would come in the second half, with Ilsinho stroking home a deflected shot, Alejandro Bedoya belting in a half volley from outside the box and Jack Elliott heading home a Jamiro Monteiro free kick.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the team that lost to Toronto on the weekend. Kai Wagner returned from injury to start in place of Matt Real at left back. Jose Martinez reported for international duty in South America, as Anthony Fontana earned a start in the central midfield as Jim Curtin switched to a 4-2-3-1 with Alejandro Bedoya and Jamiro Monteiro in the holding roles, while Fontana, Brenden Aaronson, and Sergio Santos filled out the offensive midfield.

Early in the first half, Sergio Santos was denied a penalty in the opening 8 minutes when it appeared he was shoved in the back coming into the box. Olivier Mbaizo was denied in the 16th minute when he was afforded space to shoot from 25 yards out on the right, but Przemyslaw Tyton was down to his right to push the hard shot behind for a corner kick.

Aaronson would miss out in the 35th minute from an open header. Wagner found time and space to turn in a cross from the left side and found the midfielder with a curling ball, but Aaronson couldn’t hit the target from 12 yards out.

The teams would trade quality chances before the halftime break. On 42 minutes, Fontana would wrangle a ball after a corner kick was only half cleared and rip a shot from the top of the box that Tyton would save with his fingertips to push the ball against the right post. At the other end, Andre Blake would make his best save of the game, pushing Joseph-Claude Gyau’s shot over the bar from 17 yards out in the fourth minute of first half stoppage time.

The Union would take the lead in the 58th minute. Cincinnati could only half clear a Mbaizo cross from the right and the ball to fell to Ilsinho on the top of the box. The Brazilian would strike the ball first time on the volley, with the shot striking a Cincinnati defender before nestling into the right side of Tyton’s goal.

Philadelphia would double their lead in the 72nd minute through Bedoya. Aaronson did well to win the ball back from Cincinnati in his own half before being set free with the ball down the left side. The midfielder drove toward goal drawing two defenders before laying a pass off to Bedoya at the top of the box. The captain did ever so well to pop the ball up to himself and then strike a cool volley into the left corner of the goal.

Substitute Jack Elliott would make it 3-0 in the 80th minute. Aaronson was fouled just outside the Cincinnati box on the right size. Monteiro would take the free kick and deliver a perfect ball that Elliott met and flicked into the far post from 8 yards.

The Union will be right back at it on Sunday, welcoming fans for the first time in 2020 in a Sunday evening clash against Montreal, starting at 7:30pm.


Philadelphia Union 4-2-3-1

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner (Matt Real 85′), Mark McKenzie, Jakob Glesnes (Jack Elliott 45′), Olivier Mbaizo, Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya (Andrew Wooten 85′), Sergio Santos (Warren Creavalle 73′), Anthony Fontana (Ilsinho 53′) Brenden Aaronson, Kacper Przybylko
Unused Subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Matej Oravec, Michee Ngalina

FC Cincinnati 4-3-3

Premyslaw Tyton, Greg Garza (Zico Bailey 30′) Kendall Watson, Maikel van der Werff, Matthieu Deplagne, Allan Cruz (Kamohelo Mokotjo 62′), Haris Medunjanin, Frankie Amaya (Alvaro Barreal 62′), Yuya Kubo, Jurgen Locadia (Brandon Vazquez 76′), Joseph-Claude Gyau
Unused Subs: Spencer Richey, Robert Edwards, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Caleb Stanko

Scoring summary

PHI: Ilsinho – 59′
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 73′ (Brenden Aaronson)
PHI: Jack Elliott – 80′ (Jamiro Monteiro)

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 40′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Mark McKenzie – 66′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo – 90+3′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. Anyone notice how whenever Wagner would get the ball on the left he would advance it for a bit, look up for support, and find no one at all because Santos had moved to the center to clump up top with Przybyłko? Not good Jim.

    It’s nice to win 3-0 but not nice to look so bad so long against a bad team at home.

  2. So here it is… not the penultimate post but the ultimate post. I’m signing off.
    Just total uninspired shit soccer. From every and all angles. I have taste, simple as it may be- and demand a certain aesthetic to entertain…. and that was unacceptable. It’s a game of being entertained —especially in a league which does not punish failure.
    How do you allow a team like Cincinnati to come in to your home stadium and possess 62% of the ball in the first half let alone at any point. I have standards of bravery when it comes to this game… if the other team bunkers you entice them forward. PERIOD. If the other team presses you go over the top of need be to keep them honest …..then build the game.
    It’s unforgivable and I refuse to comment one more time about this team in 2020 as a form of protest.
    The hell with you…Jim & Ernst.
    Keep your three damn points.

    Signing off.

    • Hate to see this guy after a loss….oh wait that won’t be a problem.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Joel clearly does not remember 2012-2017… when this team would be out possessed, out played, out scored, etc. They didn’t play their best… and WON 3-0. Would we all like Germany-Brazil, 7-1, sure! But 3 points is 3 points. A very confusing post.

    • Their press hasn’t been the same for a couple matches. It’s all about that second level….and ours has been non-existent. You actually saw Kacper and Santos turn around with the Noguera arms like WTF?????

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        Press isn’t the same because of tired legs. This team has great depth on the back line and at striker. (Considering Wooten is 4th choice). But there is NO depth at midfield. This will only be exasperated by Martinez’sabsence.

    • I’m sure Jim and Ernst will definitely notice and be very upset that you will no longer comment on an unaffiliated website.

      • Lilely right… Joel P good reparte- nods head in approval.
        So on second thought… I’ll just stay mum going forward.
        Are you new here?
        This is where I come to work out… and we’re doing dead lifts today.

    • By no means did the Union play their best soccer, but possession is not always an indication of success or even good soccer. Look at the last two years when the Union could play beautiful ball all over the pitch, but couldn’t break down teams.

      I actually LOVE counter-attacking soccer.

      And Cinci was happy to absorb the Union last game with nine men behind the ball, so Jim decided to change things up and it worked, even if it was ugly. Fine with an ugly three-point result against a team we struggled with a week ago.

  3. When aaronson was running free with ball i said to myself ” you want to play in the Champions League next year this needs to be a goal”… a few seconds later bedoya buried it…good for him

    Mbazo struggled to my eye…fontana almost scored again…didnt lead with the correct pass a few times

    Good formation change by curtin…not sure about santos on the wing though…didnt seem to be in right spot too often

    All in all…take the 3 pts, keep rolling

  4. The Union did not look comfortable in the 4-2-3-1. Agree with Cuda Santos did not look good on the wing. Up until his goal Bedoya looked terrible. Mistake after mistake leading to bad fouls. Miro was all over the place, but also committed some bad fouls and was lucky not to get booked. Basically the whole team was ineffective until Ilsinho came on. Hopefully by the weekend the team will have recovered from the loss of Martinez for international duty.

  5. Luke Shaw's GPS says:

    Dear Mr. Garber:
    If there is a way to avoid having to watch Phi-FCC ever again…


    O. Negative

  6. Also I have to say, doesn’t Curtin need to play Oravec the last 7 minutes there, instead of Wooten? There is 0 reason to play Wooten in a 3-0 game with 7 minutes left against a bad team.

    Here’s how I look at it – Martinez is gone for a long time, Bedoya and Monteiro are likely to have their legs fall off (or get a yellow card suspension…) and Creavalle is not someone I want to rely on to get 5+ good games out of playing serious minutes.

    So you put Oravec out there, hope he gets his MLS legs under him. And who knows, maybe he scores a banger and gains back all his confidence and looks great down the stretch as a backup. But at the very least you gain some data points on him, you know?

    I feel like this is where Curtin can learn to cultivate his bench a bit more and protect against needing to possibly rely on these fringe players down the stretch.

    Note I would be making this argument about Turner instead if he was on the bench, but he was still quarantining after playing the last 2 U2 games.

  7. Delco Roots says:

    Wow, I’m pleased with the three points, but this wasn’t the Beautiful Game. I blame Cincinnati, though. They feel they have no hope of scoring, so they play for the tie and hope to go home having won the possession numbers. They’re fortunate that there aren’t fans at Nippert this year to demand something approaching attractive soccer.

    While the game clearly turned on Ilsinho’s introduction, I was again impressed with Fontana. He was the only one who seemed dangerous on a regular basis. I agree with previous comments that Santos was less of a factor than normal, but I chalk that up to being out out on the wing.

    On an unrelated note, former Union man and LaSalle grad John McCarthy was in net for Miami’s 2-1 victory over the Pink Cows. Good to see him get a start, and a win.

  8. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Good to get the win. Had trouble finding rhythm, which is understandable in a new formation with a ref doing his best Saghafi impression. That’s not even to mention Cincy’s embarrassing strategy to bunker full time and hope to find a goal by accident. Not sure why Aaronson received so little of the ball again. My best guess is teams view him as our biggest threat and key in especially on him now. Monteiro was great again. Fontana was very impressive, but still doesn’t create for others as much as he’ll need to down the stretch. Good to see Ilsinho looking dangerous again. Mbaizo is so hard to read. Makes some really nice plays but is also mistake prone. And finally, it’s GREAT to have Wagner back. As much as I really like Real, Wagner when healthy locks down the left side.

    Edit: and Elliott back. Sorry, the obvious escaped me. Love what Glesnes brings but I think Elliott is still probably the better option when he’s 100%.

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    Good to get the win but it was the second straight game that the Union really struggled completing passes. Lots of times they were on separate pages. Also, there were way too many times when they tried to dummy the ball but there was no one behind them. Right now they need to get back to basics.
    When I saw the replay, I didn’t think Santos was denied a PK, he was denied a free kick just outside the box which VAR can’t give.
    The good news is that Montreal won in Columbus to move the Union into second. The bad news is that means the Union need to step up their game Sunday to beat Montreal.

  10. I really didn’t like the formation the first half. A good formation puts players in positions to succeed, but this one asked Santos and Aaronson for skills they didn’t have. Santos was asked to contribute more to the buildup, while Aaronson was asked to do more finishing and less creation. Neither of them are well suited there. However, I did like the way the double Monteiro-Bedoya pivot cut down space on the flanks and left Mbaizo less exposed.

    I don’t place this all on Curtin. The Union right now are really struggling with their lack of midfield depth and Curtin has to find a way to play the four midfielders he has in a system that works. Right now he’s using bodies to substitute for the defensive contribution of Martinez, which is a testament to how much Martinez facilitates creativity from the players in front of him when he is on the field. If we’re going to stick with the current formation, I kind of wonder if moving Aaronson to the double pivot and Bedoya out to the wing might help a little. IfGaddis comes back maybe you can play one of Mbaizo or Real as an emergency winger with the lone striker up top (especially if that striker could be Corey Burke).

    All in all, I think this game showed why the Union need one more reliable midfielder than they have.

  11. Chris Gibbons says:

    I reject the nonsensical notion that all good teams fully dominate all bad teams all of the time, in every minute of a 90 minute match, or that “to dominate” is to control possession and can’t be measured in any other way. The other team is trying to win too, and Cincinnati played the best game in its existence last night… and were still mopped up 3-0.

    Curtin was missing his starting right back and his starting defensive midfielder, and was forced to change formations in order to compensate for that, moving one of his strikers to the wing and adding a player with only a few hundred more professional soccer minutes than anyone on this site a start at the 10. The first half was disjointed and expectedly so.

    But soccer games aren’t won in 45 minutes, they’re won in 90. Once the Union introduced their bunker-busting dribbler and changed tactics, they broke their opponents down and won the match without so much as a sweat. This is a long and compacted season, and to expect a video game performance every three days is foolish.

    • +1. Sometimes the best teams sit back…….let you screw up….and make you pay……….example City v Liverpool. City sat back and picked them to pieces……..

    • before I ‘exit stage left’ I’d like to rebut this idea about ‘nonsensical notions. I appreciate the response and there is logic to it, but it is simply inexcusable to give up 58% of the ball to a 13th place team in the conference —-on your home field—-who you are almost 100% certain has no chance of scoring This isn’t La Liga or Manchester or Liverpool.. I’m sorry…. I just see it differently. The fact Mbazio is on the field, Fontana is on the field (who incidentally played better then anyone) or Montiero is in a holding role is irrelevant.
      At one point Sergio Santos ran almost the whole length of field to win a ball to McKenzie who played it to the goalkeeper who kicked it as hard as he could past the halfway line to nobody… the other team actually. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to refuse passing the ball centrally… coming out of your end.
      You all can be happy with the points which get filed as a win, and that’s fine but from my POV it was a -surrender- and I’m calling it for what it was.
      Keep the three points t’s called The Beautiful Game for a reason… and I’m calling them out.
      el Pachyderm
      Whoever the hell I am.

      • No shit its Liverpool or City, but you want an example of where a better team sits back…and let’s the opposition do their work for them….I gave one. I thought they played awful last night….but I’m also not going to use a possession metric in the first half as whether they played well or not. I think that is short sighted…..and again, we aren’t in the locker room to see what Jim’s mindset was. This reminds me of an under 12 parent who says their club lost 5 nothing…..but we played better and possessed the ball better….the other team just kicked and ran. Well, did they really just kick and run….or were they big diagonals to their wingers because of the stupid high line you don’t know how to run. I’m sure Jim doesn’t give two shits and is happy with the three points….Lolz.

      • The possession metric was for the game. 58%.
        62% was the first half.
        If people are claiming fatigue as the reason our press was not successful then keep the ball…. make the other team do the work, on your home field, who you are 9 places better then in the standings.
        Cede possession at home to LA? Portland. Seattle…Okay. I get it.i don’t like it but I get it.
        You can’t out possess Cincinnati at home? Cincinnati? No fucking way. Appreciate the response. Thank you.

      • Whoever the hell you are in this minute, today, did you ever take into consideration the 4 days between games and the fact they probably practiced in a 4-4-2 diamond mid for 3 of those days only to find out the day before the match they’ll be missing the key component that covers the back four and covers a SHIT ton of ground, for the next 5 games? It’s gotta hurt the psyche. Well I did. Thus I’m not getting my panties in a bunch and am thankful they got three points in thrown together shit storm of a season where we are lucky to have any footy at all. But hey I guess taking your ball and going home is more satisfying isn’t it?
        Or is this another one of those mind games you like to play with the people on this site, as if we are your playthings? Spoiled child.

      • His Jedi mind tricks have no influence on me dude, I’m a Sith………..Lolz I enjoy a good spar with the Elephant!

      • I am Citizen Insane says:

        I’m stirring shit up ALL4U… remember? Of course it’s a mind game.
        It’s too quiet around here, like 2300 on an inpatient psych ward. Everyone medicated and off to bed. It’s too easy. too happy. everybody, gladhandling and content they won three points last night… almost zero debating here anymore. zero. it’s all numb.
        Reminds me of the scene when John Bender leans in to kiss Brian Johnson’s mom… in his depication of life on Easy Street, then punches her. I AM John Bender.
        ….good for Philadelphia’s place in the standings last nite. Not good for Beautiful soccer…they played terrible and I’m calling it out… nine games in four days doesn’t matter.
        Someone’s gotta carry the burden of stirring up the pot. otherwise we’ll all just say, “Isn’t is swell?’
        I accept repsonsibility… I’ll do it. Always have.
        Of course it’s a mindgame.

      • John O'Donnell Jr says:

        Soccer seems to be the only sport where the fan is more concerned about the beautiful game than winning the game.

      • You see, normally I get what you do….but today……I thought the tone was pretty negative from everyone…..I think everyone would agree we didn’t play great footy last night. I said to myself…..this is soooo Philly…we win 3 nil and we are beating the piss out of them….Lolz. Bad things happen in Philadelphia……….Lolz.

      • Well John, you would be correct as it relates to my view. I come to be sedated.
        “I want to be sedated. ”
        So well done by you for paying attention after all these years. Quite the astute comment from you…finally—-it’s been awhile.

    • I feel like people are focusing so much on the negative sides of the Union’s performance, they are missing how much credit Curtin should get for his tactical adjustments that got the game back for the Union.

      Curtin made midgame adjustments and they paid off, that’s really noteworthy to me especially since one of his biggest criticisms is that he’s a poor in game manager.

      • I was tossing this one around myself. I always see Jim as a great “man” manager….the players like him… can tell. They will go to bat for him. But the tactical side I always gave him negatives for his dogmatic, predictability. Last night I thought “ok, Jim……I’ll shut up for tonight……..that’s not to say there aren’t issues….but what Jim did clearly worked. I still don’t think Fontana should have come off the park…………I think their are ramifications to that.

  12. Cincinnati pressed more than previously in the early part of the game and that seemed to confuse the Union game plan in the first half. There were a lot of long balls from Blake as the centerbacks were covered and the outside defenders were already up the field too far to help out much. Bedoya and Montiero didn’t seem to drift back as much as El Brujo tended to and that really threw off the flow. I’m sure they were also a little caught out with the last minute demands from FIFA to release Martinez when they thought he was going to be able to play.

  13. Anyone notice how pissed Fontana was coming off? Kid played great and deserved 90. It’s also embarrassing putting someone as fat as Ilsinho on the pitch…….can you think of any credible league in world footy where a guy would be allowed on the pitch with that fitness level? The guy should be playing indoor built like he is these days…..I honestly thought the goals would have come regardless if he was in or not……..Fontana proved again he is lethal in front of the box….with one hell of a short release. The kid hits a bar, forces a great save and is buzzing…..he’s hungry….and you pull him off. 3 points but damage done………

    • In regards to Ilsinho, I had the thought that the Union’s uniforms are not flattering. If you look at Bedoya and Ilsinho, they both have barrel chests and look fat. A lot. If Ilsinho was really that out of shape he wouldn’t have been running all over the field like he was. In the past, when he’s been lacking fitness, he would do the running for a bit, but then be out of breath with hands on hips. Last night, that was not the case. He was all over the field, even hustling into the corner late on to create a triangle with Monteiro and I think Aaronson. I honestly think it’s that the uniforms look better on slim youth bodies, than older man bodies.
      As for Fontana, Bedoya would have been the one to come off for me. He’s looked really suspect this year. So much so I wonder if the team should move on from him.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I used to think Ilsinho was out of shape, now I just think he’s stocky. I mean that sincerely, he kind of has Maradona’s body. Neither is ripping off their shirt a la Cristiano when they score, but both seem to keep putting fitter players on skates with their balance.

    • I can. His name is Gonzalo Higuain. Scored a banger of a free kick last night. I agree Fontana has every right to be pissed about coming off, but Ilsinho proved his worth last night.

      • Again…….a gerryatric Gonzalo Higuain……and I don’t think he’s nearly as portly as Ilsinho……he’s a bigger dude with more places to put it……basic BMI here.

      • I would also say that Higuain looks more fit now than he has been the past couple years……….

    • Kung Aguero is stocky, Mohammed Salah is stocky, Shaquiri is stocky……..Ilsinho is fat. Lolz. We can agree to disagree here. I have had Serbian and Macedonian, barrel chested teammates that didn’t have any fat on them…..but were built like fridges….I know what you mean….but we were 20 years old……….Ilsinho is no spring chicken who they really didn’t seem to want to sign again………

      • My last thought on Ilsinho is to look at his stomach. There’s no beer belly, baby bump(whatever the male version is), or muffin top. In the past there has been.

    • Yes and I feel for the kid, because MLS got him by the balls. He’s stuck. Through gritted teeth.
      Anthony, Tony Montana, Fontana….outplayed Brendan last night. Worked equally as hard defensinvely IMO and was much more effective. But narratives be what they are and the Aaronson(s) are royalty.
      Just the truth.
      I’ve got a lot of that today.

  14. Matt Custer says:

    I always value highly the pass before the assist. Jameiro to Brendan was a thing of beauty.
    Love Ilsinho. But keep Fontana on.

  15. Last night Tommy had at least one moment of brilliance. JP : “How did he get out of that with the Ball?” Tommy : “He’s Brazilian”.

    He gets ripped often here (and rightly so), So I thought that quip should be mentioned.

    • Dated….had more of an allure 20 years ago………like having an Irish broadcaster……..

      • I want to rub blue chalk on that commentators head, grab a 22oz stick and break open a rack of balls….with the kinda force that makes someone look over from their conversation in the bar…thinking {man,
        …that guy’s a stick}
        I love Tommy. The guy is a Legend. I just can’t wait for him to move on even more. Of course, I jest regarding the blue chalk comment… I’d prefer red.
        speaking of blue…… can we get rid of the goddamn blue tarp which hides the ball every time Andre opts out of courage….and pounds it up field?

      • That’s pretty funny dude.

      • And that’s why Dre isn’t in Europe………

    • One of the main reasons I’m going to the game Sunday is so I don’t have to listen to Tommy…Unfortunately, even when he says one good thing like that, there are several dumb things he says. For example, last night in the Keys to the Game he said they had to defend for 90 minutes. Now granted, Cincinnati attacked more than any of us expected, but the team has scored a total of 8 goals in (now) 16 games. That’s 0.5 goals per game. They haven’t scored since before the 0-0 draw against the Union a couple of weeks ago. Defending for 90 minutes should NOT be one of the keys to the game.

      • I’m going to the match…….so I don’t have to hear Tommy……..Hahahahaha! It’s a step away from saying I’d rather catch Covid than listen to Tommy……..Lolz.

  16. Atomic Spartan says:

    Once you are up 3-0, do you have to defend for 90?.
    Seems like a universal statement

  17. OneManWolfpack says:

    Anyone getting concerned Curtin is only playing Fontana because he has to and if Jim had his way, Fontana wouldn’t play at all / might not even be on the team? I just don’t get the vibe I’m feeling when it comes to Curtin and Fontana.

    • There is something definitely up there…………I have no doubt. We aren’t at training daily so….??????????

      • Fishing him out for prospective buyers doesn’t make sense with him deputizing Aaronson’s spot…especially since Brandon’s gone in a few months……anyone else there……little bro….is untested at the top flight…….that doesn’t seem smart to me. I wonder if Fontana stands up for himself enough in the locker room…… know how that can be in there.

  18. If Jim continues with the 4-2-3-1 for the next few games without Brujo, I’d love to see Brenden and Ale out wide with Fontana at the 10.
    Fontana has done well and above what is required to earn a few nods in the starting lineup. An attacking mid/psuedo 3rd forward role seems to position him at his best, instead of what we all thought as Ale’s replacement in grooming.
    Monteiro can be partnered with Turner or Crevalle or Oravec in the holding role, and Ale can get back to his Nantes roots as a winger.
    At the very least I’d love to see what would come of that vs DCU.

  19. Final thoughts reflecting on all these comments today. In my earlier coaching days ( on child rearing hiatus) some of my squads would go on twelve, thirteen, fourteen match win streaks……..did they play well every match……no. Good teams rack up wins even when they are playing down to their competition, just not showing up on the day, they still find a way to win. It may not be pretty, but you get the points and move on. The night I heard Sir Alex speak at the Kimmel, he talked on some of what we are here. I remember him saying something along the lines of……..when you are on a run……..your starting eleven aren’t going to put up 9&10 performances every match. More often than not…..most of your guys are going to turn up 5 and 6’s on a given day. But you rely on two or three of your players having 10’s every match at the same time. That is what wins you matches……

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