Union match reports

Match report: DC United 2-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Mark McKenzie’s first professional goal, a laser beam in the 87th minute, salvaged a point for Philadelphia Union against cellar-dweller DC United on Wednesday night in the nation’s capital.

After Anthony Fontana got the scoring started in the 49th minute, goals from Donovan Pines and Yamil Asad in a five-minute span turned the tables on Philadelphia. But McKenzie’s late goal ensured that the sides split the points.

Manager Jim Curtin made two changes to his starting XI that earned all three points against Montreal on Sunday night. With Warren Creavalle missing out due to injury, the Union switched into a 4-4-2, bringing Anthony Fontana in to play the 10 and swapping out Ilsinho for Sergio Santos. Ray Gaddis and Jakob Glesnes remained sidelined with injury, so Olivier Mbaizo and Jack Elliott retained their starting roles.

Kickoff came in front of empty stands at Audi Field, the first home game for interim coach Chris Ashton after the firing of longtime United stalwart Ben Olsen. Ashton’s side started strong, preventing the Union from consistent buildup and looking dangerous on the counterattack. A 15th minute counterattack off a poor throw by Kai Wagner led to clean looks for D.C. in the Union box, but Elliott and Mbaizo stepped up to block the shots.

The Union’s first golden opportunity came in the 23rd minute after Jamiro Monteiro took a tame shot from just outside the box. United keeper Chris Seitz, perhaps acting as a long-term mole for the Union, muffed the easy save and sent a juicy rebound right into the path of three attackers crashing the goal. But all three of Kacper Przybylko, Brenden Aaronson, and Santos couldn’t get a touch on it, and D.C. managed to clear.

Andre Blake preserved the clean sheet in the 41st minute with one of his patented reflex saves. Off a free kick, the ball fell to Russel Canouse just outside the six-yard box, and the midfielder’s one-touch strike seemed a sure goal. But the Jamaican sensation got down quickly to keep the ball out of the net. After a Santos foul on the edge of the penalty area, Blake surehandedly stopped a well-struck free kick by Flores. With that, the sides went into the break scoreless.

Anthony Fontana broke the game open with an opportunistic finish in the 48th minute. After Przybylko drove into the box, Santos put the ball across goal, where it deflected to the charging Fontana. The diving Delaware Destroyer stabbed the ball off the underside of the crossbar and past Seitz for his fifth goal of the season.

After a long period of Union dominance, the hosts picked up the equalizer off a set piece in the 71st minute. A simple corner kick found the head of Donovan Pines, seemingly unmarked, who placed an unstoppable finish into Blake’s net.

Not a minute later, D.C. earned a penalty when a blast into the box hit Alejandro Bedoya’s elbow, which was adjudged to be away from his body. Yamil Asad stepped to the spot and sent Blake the wrong way with a well-taken penalty. Adding insult to injury, Bedoya picked up a yellow card on the play, which will see him suspended for the Union’s match against New England.

With the match getting late for the Union, center back Mark McKenzie picked a perfect time for his first MLS goal. An attempted centering pass from the touchline found its way out to the top of the box, where it met McKenzie’s boot. The Homegrown defender unleashed a howitzer of a shot that left Seitz totally helpless and knotted the score at two each.

The Union get a tiny respite from their relentless schedule, as their next match against New England Revolution has been rescheduled for Monday night. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium on October 19 is at 7:30 p.m.

Three points (plus a bonus)
  • Getting in gear. The Union have struggled to assert their will in first halves recently, a trend that continued tonight.
  • Penalty problems. The match-swinging penalty was only the second penalty Philadelphia have conceded this year. An unlucky call on Bedoya.
  • Mark McKenzie. Enough said.
  • Scoreboard watching. With Toronto (draw), Columbus (loss), and Orlando (draw) all dropping points, it looked like the Union were set to gain ground in the Eastern Conference table. Instead, they keep pace with leaders Toronto ahead of the big Oct. 24 showdown at Subaru Park. The Union did clinch their fourth playoff berth in five years with the draw.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo; Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson, Jamiro Monteiro, Anthony Fontana (Ilsinho 62′); Sergio Santos (Andrew Wooten 62′), Kacper Przybylko

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelin Collin, Matt Real, Matej Oravec, Jack de Vries, Cole Turner, Michee Ngalina

DC United

Chris Seitz; Oniel Fisher (Griffin Yow 90′), Frederic Brilliant, Donovan Pines, Joseph Mora; Kevin Paredes (Chris Odoi-Atsem 83′), Russell Canouse, Yamil Asad, Edison Flores (Julian Gressel HT); Erik Sorga, Ola Kamara (Gelmin Rivas 65′)

Unused subs: Earl Edwards Jr., Axel Sjoberg, Moses Nyeman

Scoring summary

PHI: Anthony Fontana — 49′ (Sergio Santos)
DC: Donovan Pines — 71′ (Yamil Asad)
DC: Yamil Asad — 75′(Yamil Asas)
PHI: Mark McKenzie — 87′

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Sergio Santos — 42′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Anthony Fontana — 53′ (unsporting behavior)
DC: Russell Canouse — 60′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 74′ (handball)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 81′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. Disappointing. They had a chance to gain on Toronto and squandered it. DC outhustled then all night, showing more energy and seeming to beat the Union to 50-50 balls all night.
    Where was Monteiro and Aaronson?
    Also, after DC played easily through the midfield on the first half, I think the Union should have switched to the 4-2-3-1 in the second half to better control the midfield.
    Nice goals by Fontana and McKenzie though

  2. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Screw you, ref. Whoever you are. We played poorly in many ways but I was proud of the effort to come back, and congrats to McKenzie on his first goal.

    • Don’t blame the ref on that one, blame FIFA for the ridiculous handball rules.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I guess that’s fair. No matter where the fault lies, that one really hurts. With Martinez already gone, that one bad call may cost us 5 points.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Even more blame FIFA for ordering Martinez’s absence to sit unused on the bench once.

  3. Why does Wooten even get minutes? Mbaizo is slow on the ball and not very dangerous. This team needs a couple back ups to be a contender. And i don’t mean Creavalle.

    • I agree. I’d rather see Michee at this point than Wooten. And Mbaizo slows down every single play… he needs to play much quicker. I miss Ray…

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I think Corey Burke will quickly take Wooten’s minutes going forward

      • I have been waiting for Burke to come back and take Wooten’s place for a year now!
        I’m hoping he jumps right back into the scoring form that we’ve seen him in during his time in Jamaica and Austria.

  4. The Union REALLY need to work on their passing. It has been off for at least the last 4 games and has hurt their attack. Much as people have criticized Ray, Mbaizo is still a step down on offense with a lot more giveaways.
    Now they have a really tough ask on turf Monday with no Martinez and no Bedoya. Does Oravec get his first action or can Turner potentially play D-Mid?

    • I’m guessing Monteiro at the 6 or Elliott if Glesnes is able to play.

      • The problem with Monteiro at the 6 means you then have Aaronson (who’s looked worn down the last few games), Fontana, and who in the midfield? Ilsinho? That buys 60 minutes but then what? Do you give 30 minutes to one of the kids (DeVries or Turner)? Is Fontana ready to go a full 90 or are you going to need a sub for him?

      • Real can start at left mid. They’re going to have to get creative. I just worry all of our guys will be gassed come playoff time.

  5. The most astute comment made tonight -in game- was a reference by Tommy to pinball early on… and I immediately wondered …”how do you think he does it? I don’t know.”
    Pinball. ~~~~~For sure Tommy. For sure. I stayed quiet as best I could on line during the game the second half was better … loved Tony Montana Fontana scoring – then unceremoniously getting sat.. on his birthday no less. I loved the strike by M&M and agree with Peter Andrews- McKenzie is their best player. Mbazio is just so slow to read the game, makes poor arcing runs to the ball when darting is proper, dribbled out of bounds and generally offers nothing in attack… and is just not good enough because he didn’t make up for it defensively…. Raymond (Ring of Honor) Gaddis can’t get back fast enough for me.
    I’ll refrain from the postmortem beyond that as truth here tonight— or the “these droids aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ mind tricks I get ALL4U hot in the britches over.
    But yeah… that was not very good… again on a Wednesday.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Why Jim? Why? What plausible reason is there for subbing out Fontana? Did he hide your skinny suits? Is it that he’s not your guy since you didn’t coach him since he was a baby? He sure doesn’t look tired! He scored the goal that should have been enough to win this game, and you keep taking him out. Haven’t you noticed that he is your only consistent finisher? Every team needs a “garbage man” and Fontana keeps taking it out to the curb for you, but you refuse to pay him what he’s worth in minutes. Watching your personnel misjudgements is just plain maddening.

      • He had a yellow card on him and did not seem in complete control of his tackles. Curtin had confidence in his defense being able to preserve the shutout against an anemic scoring team. Obviously he didn’t realize that it was a Halloweenish night with both DC and Cincinnati scoring 2 goals (the latter’s first goals since Harris’s on Sept. 19)

      • Sitting on a yellow, and he is one that strikes me as someone without the nuance yet to avoid getting a second. I normally would agree….but he had to get subbed last night. If he wasn’t on a yellow, I’m there with you.

    • I cannot fathom why Jim hates Fontana so much. At this point, there’s nothing the kid can do. Even when he outplays the rest of the midfield and maintains his goal scoring form, Jim decided to take him out on his birthday and give ANDREW F%*#^#+#^#*# Wooten THIRTY MINUTES OF UNEARNED TIME!
      For those of you using the “he was on a yellow excuse”, our midfield operates in a yellow in a pretty consistent basis.

      • He was sitting on a yellow……and I could totally see him getting a second. He had to get to get subbed unfortunately. I’m just glad he got a start.

      • Wooten was for Santos (F for F) while Ilsinho was for Fontana (M for M).

    • I thought he made a pretty bright comment noticing that Monteiro and Fontana were staying tight and anchoring Bedoya. We were basically in a 4-3-1-2 at times. Miro should be the 6…..he is the only one with the pace, engine , and defense tenacity besides Martinez that can play there in the diamond. The second I saw Bedoya there I knew we would have problems. We are still getting points for all this sub par play……..silver lining? Part of me says yes.

      • agree. I did hear that. I appreciated his follow up too… “which I don’t think Bedoya needs.”
        I just read on line, Jim made a sacrcastic comment about grass length as a means of making the game ugly by DC…. Amazing. Union did a nice of job of hitting the ugly stick themselves for quite awhile last night.
        I do stipulate to the yellow card but also find it interesting Jim said, “Fontana did not have his best game,” I’d be curious of the archives and whether he has offered similar criticism about Aaronson, especially on a night the kid scored.
        Wasn’t exactly Fontana’s fault the team was kicking the ball over his head the whole first 60 minutes.
        If I could rescind my comment, I would say the comment after Fontana got the yellow card Tommy made about it being “just one of many cards he received on the day” was pretty comical. I doffed my cap to him for that one.

      • I don’t think Jim would ever make a comment like that about Aaronson on his worst day. Yet, when Fontana scores two goals, curtin doesn’t even mention his name post-game. There’s a weird dynamic there.

  6. Fifa needs to change the handball rules. Its affected many games across the world of football. Just bad. Kinda like the U in the first half! Montero looks just to casual on the ball. No urgency to protect the ball or make a pass! They got out hustled to 50/50 balls all night. Lucky to get a point! Thanks Mark!

    • Their effort to make the handball a black and white call has just resulted in increasing the gray area.
      He got the card because he moved his arm toward the ball, but when it actually hit him his arm was solidly against his body. Regardless of all that, in no way did it make his body profile any larger as it would have hit his chest if he didn’t have arms.
      The new handball rules suck.

      • Yeah I don’t like it. Too many similar calls all over. Not that they all have PK implications, but affected the game negatively. I saw a Premier league game where VAR overturns a goal that goes off a guys hand who was not looking at the play. If I remember he was falling over another player. Makes no sense.

  7. “Laser beam”
    Whatever you want to call it, McKenzie’s shot took a significant deflection off Brillant.

  8. Diamonds are for never says:

    at least when Bedoya is at the back of it.

    The Union are the strangest of entities to me in that they run their attack seemingly in the inverse. By that I mean that the true QB of the offense is actually Martinez. He’s your MVP if not for Blake. Without him destroying teams, creation is at a premium until Ilsinho steps onto the field. Aaronson is not all that-and Fontana is out of position at the top of it as well.

    They count on Monteiro to “fill the gap” but he’s a defender from the side-playmaking and breaking opponents down really isn’t his forte either. Now; for a team that relies totally on pinball soccer to begin whatever constitutes an attack-and down J-Mart, Ale and Creavalle…..next formation should certainly be interesting.

    Put Burke back to work. These forwards are tantamount to useless and underwhelming.

  9. Not really much to say besides thanks to the Red Bulls for keeping the Union in a place where they control their destiny so long as they beat Toronto at home. The formation was a mistake, we have to hope Creavalle can play at least a half against New England and that the forced rest does Bedoya well.

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    “United keeper Chris Seitz, perhaps acting as a long-term mole for the Union”… I laughed hard at this because I thought the exact same thing during the game!
    Also really hoping Corey Burke takes Wooten’s minutes going forward. Wooten seems like a great dude, but he just hasn’t performed here.

  11. McKenzie is up for goal of the “week”. Vote by 9am tomorrow.

  12. We can argue if you want, but I’m fed up with Jim Curtin. I’m not a Curtin Hater and I’m not calling for his head, but his refusal to learn or adapt is nuts to me.
    What other manager would take Anthony Fontana off in his current goal scoring form in that game? A game where Monteiro and Aaronson were gassed and invisible for long stretches? A midweek away game against a bottom-dwelling team? And you take no risks? I would have been happier with this tie if it wasn’t the same old same old refusal to adjust tactically or adjust personnel strategies.
    The icing on the cake is giving Andrew Wooten THIRTY MINUTES of playing time when he has literally not earned thirty seconds. I had someone tell me that was one of his better games and I couldn’t control my laughter. A two out of ten is a better game for him.
    I don’t need Jim to be fired but I’m fed up with his in-game adjustments and personnel management. It’s like watching the same game over and over again.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I agree with this entire post. Not a Curtin hater, but his substitutions, lack of, lineup changes or refusal to, etc… is beyond perplexing. I too am growing very tired of it. He should be better at this by now.

    • So you are saying don’t sub players out but don’t wear the starters down? Unfortunately, the team’s current depth (due to injuries, international duty, and not having a full roster) is such that the only other options are basically untried players who’ve seen very limited minutes. We don’t know what Fontana’s fitness is like and whether he could have gone significantly longer, although we may find out Monday night.

      • I don’t feel that’s what I said. I am in favor of substitutions. My problem is the personnel chosen and the predictability.
        This has been a problem curtins whole tenure, regardless of depth.
        Fontana has reportedly won almost every conditioning challenge the union have (along with McKenzie) so we don’t know for sure, but I feel fairly confident fitness is not an issue.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I mean this sincerely, what alternative line up would you have chosen?

      • Same starters. I don’t feel I mentioned an issue with the starting lineup. Fontana stays in. It’s not a sin to sub out Aaronson when he’s on an invisible stretch. Nothing against Brendan,I love him and trust him, but I think objectively he is prone to stretches of ineffective play.
        Subs: ilsinho for Aaronson. He was tired and I still think ilsinho is a game changer even when he isn’t stuffing the stat sheet.
        Next, anyone on earth but Wooten for santos. Santos was the right call to take out. I would rather watch Ngalinas growing pains than another second of Andrew.
        Bedoya is dying. He’s the heart of our team and our glue, but the man is leaving a piece of his soul on the field every game. It’s DC and a midweek game. Let’s see what oravec or turner can do. I’d be fine with a tie or loss if it means having bedoya down the stretch.
        NOW, in the 75th-80th minute, let’s get Fontana out. My point was how early that sub occurred, not that it occurred in the first place.

      • +1 I looked at the bench mid-match, and thought, welp, the best players are already out there.

    • Disclaimer to my original point, I AM NOT A CLIFF OF DESPAIRER. I am genuinely enjoying the Union and believe in them. I’m just interested in discussion. although I posted this on a match report, the above issues I have with curtin are not unique to this game. Across His whole tenure as coach, I do not feel he has improved in these aspects regardless of the talent, depth, and tactical changes available to him.

      • Sorry if my earlier response came off as too much of an attack mode, I didn’t mean it that way.
        I think Curtin has improved as a coach but right now the bench is extremely limited due to injuries and absences. I know I questioned Fontana’s fitness but I think the real reason Curtin subbed him off was the fact that he had a card and had committed several fouls on the night so Curtin was worried he would pick up another card.
        And I 100% agree that Aaronson has looked gassed the last several matches. I just hope his decline in play isn’t hurting his sale price.

      • Saul Goodman! I was mostly just venting about recurring problems anyway. I am generally happy with the team (how could you not be with our current standing, right?).
        The available depth is definitely a problem. It is visibly hurting Bedoya and Aaronson in particular. I would like to see a couple upgrades this offseason, but we also need some depth pieces, so should be interesting to see how that plays out.
        With El Brujo out, somebody has to pick up the enforcer title, right? lol

      • Ale’s leading the league in yellow cards. Does that make him the enforcer?

      • It just might! We do have a pretty hard-nosed midfield and I like it!

    • Jim has certainly been hit or miss when it comes to in game management. His use of subs (or lack there of – he sits in the bottom third for subs used this year) has been consistently frustrating throughout his tenure.
      But at the same time, he has set this team up to be able to get points at the end of games. In other years we absolutely lose that game last night.
      Chagrin with Wooten’s playing time and Fontana’s lack thereof aside, Jim is still a huge reason we’re 2nd in the SS race right now.

      • Good point, I think he is good at getting the most out of the players he has. And thats why I don’t think a coaching change is warranted. I look around the league and think there might be 2 or 3 guys who could get as much or more out of this squad. Some of his personnel just make you want to scream though.

  13. Playing subpar and still getting points………I’ll leave it at that. Bedoya is not a 6!!!!!!!!

    • I thought he did ok there, but he definitely looked out of his natural element, but honestly I can’t tell if it was the position or fatigue. He generally does ok in a double pivot, but asking him to play alone at the six was suboptimal.

      I hope Tanner has games like this in mind and decides to add an extra midfielder capable of mopping up minutes next year.

  14. Anyone see the post on Twitter about K.Wagner being done here after this season?

    • His contract is up at the end of the year, so it will certainly be interesting to see how Tanner handles it.
      I’ve definitely enjoyed watching him here, and with left backs being so hard to come by he’s been really good for the Union in that regard.
      I’d like to see him come back next year, but we’ll see what Tanner has up his sleeve.

    • That would suck. I thought the ultimate irony last match against Montreal…..and no one brought it up shockingly……was that we had TWO left backs in the match….Lolz. After all those years of pleading for a left back…….we had two out there. I chuckled at that…….

  15. After the second goal the team showed some real urgency.

    As others have pointed out, the team was late to every 50/50 balls. DC played hard, certainly harder than I have seen them play.

    Shake it off as a sub-par effort.

  16. Dropped points. Wooten is useless. Both goals were lucky. Haven’t seen much creativity in the last few games. This isn’t a playoff caliber team right now.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Ok seriously, they’re #2 in the league in points in one of the most unpredictable years of the most unpredictable league. Things aren’t perfect but this is a really really really bad take, man.

  17. Anyone notice how after an ugly draw the match report thread blows up with 50+ comments within a day but for most of our wins (Union 3-0 Inter Miami CF = 35 comments, Impact 1-4 Philadelphia Union = 26 comments, New York Red Bulls 0-3 Philadelphia Union = 19 comments), we average way less?


    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Personally, I tend to comment more on player ratings articles than match reports. But often when we lose there is a lot of blame being cast by the rational and irrational alike that I don’t always agree with. In my opinion, people have been too quick to blame Gaddis and Blake in the past. More recently there’s an idea that Monteiro has been bad and I just don’t agree. So I think I comment more after draws and losses.

  18. James – regarding more comments on a draw than a win….not at all surprising to me – this is Philadelphia after all! LOL!!

    General comment about the handball – agree with all the posters. FIFA needs to get some common sense for once. To practically award a goal and change a game outcome for a play where the player was basically trying to avoid the ball, his arms were tucked at his side, and with little chance of that shot going in is ludicrous. And he gets an automatic yellow card. I mean, really? Come mon, let’s use some judgement here – the “black and white” of this type of play should be overridden for the good of the game. It’s a joke.

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