Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 5-0 Toronto FC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Welcome to the top of the table, Philadelphia!

In the biggest match of the 2020 season, Philadelphia Union trounced Toronto FC 5-0 in the best performance in franchise history Saturday night at Subaru Park.

The Union entered the match just three points behind the Canadian club, with the winner jumping to the top of MLS’s Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield race.

Propelled by a hat trick from forward Sergio Santos,  Philadelphia proved they are truly among the league’s elite.

The win also served as a bit of revenge for the Boys in Blue, who lost the first meeting with Toronto this season 2-1 in Hartfort, CT. It also snapped a nine-game unbeaten run for the visitors, who hadn’t lost since Sep. 5th. Conversely, the Union remain unbeaten at home this season.

The Union’s midfield diamond was bolstered by the return of two regular starters. Captain Alejandro Bedoya served his one game suspension in Philadelphia’s 2-1 win over New England Revolution Monday night and took is place on the right flank. Meanwhile, José Martinez returned from international duty after missing the previous four matches.

Toronto head coach Greg Vanney made four changes to a formation which saw out a 1-0 win in their last match over Atlanta United. Notably, their side saw the return of their own captain in Michael Bradley.

The Union started brightly, pressuring the visitors in the opening five minutes. A golden opportunity, however, was squandered by their goal-starved striker. Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro’s lofted pass found a wide open Kacper Przybylko five yards from frame. The Polishman’s header drifted wide of frame as his goalless drought reach eight games.

Philadelphia’s pressure was unrelenting, securing 71% of possession through 20 minutes. Through 25 minutes, they earned five corners and took six shots. On the seventh attempt, the Union opened the scoring.

Martinez sprayed a ball to left back Kai Wagner in the 27th minute. With acres of green grass ahead the German pushed forward before whipping a stunning cross  into the box. On the receiving end was Santos who clinically nodded home his fifth goal of the season.

Just seven minutes later the Union doubled their advantage on their seventh corner of the match. Monteiro’s cross travelled to the far edge of the box where Przybylko headed the ball back toward the six yard back. Mark McKenzie was there to reap the reward. While not as brilliant as his first professional goal, the center back’s second goal was just as sweet.

The successive goals forced Toronto into an early change. Forward Patrick Mullins replaced Erickson Gallardo at the tip of their 4-2-3-1 formation, who made just his second start of the 2020 season.

Before the first half ended, Philadelphia nearly had a third goal, but Bedoya’s headed effort from another corner was barely denied by a diving Quentin Westberg in goal.

When play resumed, the Union didn’t relent.

In the 56th minute, Przybylko played a ball toward the top of the box which seemed intended for an open Brenden Aaronson. Instead of accepting the pass, the future RB Salzburg midfielder let the ball roll through his legs. The dummy left Monteiro with room to shoot from 20 yards out. The Dutchman unleashed a right-footed rocket, caroming off the crossbar and in for the Union’s third goal of the match.

They weren’t done. Wagner and Santos combined in the 63rd minute for their second assist and goal of the match, respectively.  The full back rolled a ball through the box with the Brazilian clinically directing the ball by Westberg.

With his last touch of the match, Santos got his hat trick just five minutes later. Aaronson led a 2-0 breakaway, getting the assist on Philly’s fifth goal of the match.

Wholesale changes were made with the result beyond question, with each team looking toward midweek matches.

There’s still some work to for the Union to win their first piece of silverware in club history with three games left in the regular season. Next up is a home meeting with Chicago Fire Wednesday night.

Three points
  • A quick word. If the Union do hang on to win the Shield, I wouldn’t mind if the Union told that foundation to “shove it” after the stunt they tried to pull. It was a horrific initial decision, and they deserve no credit for reversing their tyrannical edict.
  • A shame. Can you imagine how Subaru Park would have been rocking at full capacity? And I don’t want to see any claims this somehow undermines my first point.
  • A ghost. While Przybylko still couldn’t find the back netting, he was very active in the Union’s offensive approach. It’s something he can take as a positive going forward.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jakob Glesnes, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; José Martinez (Jack Elliott 74′), Alejandro Bedoya (Ilsinho 82′), Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Anthony Fontana 82′); Sergio Santos (Andrew Wooten 69′), Kacper Przybylko (Cory Burke 69′)
Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Aurélien Collin, Olivier Mbaizo, Cole Turner

Toronto FC

Quentin Westberg; Auro (Justin Morrow HT’), Omar González, Laurent Ciman, Richie Laryea; Marco Delgado (Liam Fraser HT’), Michael Bradley; Tsubasa Endoh, Alejandro Pozuelo (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 72′), Nick DeLeon (Ralph Priso-Mbongue 66′); Erickson Gallardo (Patrick Mullins 35′)
Unused subs: Kevin Silva, Tony Gallacher, Jayden Nelson, Jacob Shaffelburg

Scoring summary
PHI: Sergio Santos — 27′ (Kai Wagner)
PHI: Mark McKenzie — 33′ (Kacper Przybylko, Jamiro Monteiro)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro — 56′ (Kacper Przybylko)
PHI: Sergio Santos — 63′ (Kai Wagner)
PHI: Sergio Santos — 68′ (Brenden Aaronson)

Disciplinary summary
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro — 9′ (unsporting behavior)
TOR: Auro — 10′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Andre Blake — 64′ (time wasting)
TOR: Patrick Mullins — 73′ (persistent infringement)


  1. If you told me that one team had been drugged before the game I would believe it. Alternatively, if the Gatorade in the Union locker room featured methamphetamines, I would believe it. What a shocking performance. I have never seen the Union run a team off the field until tonight. It was dominant from every player against his counterpart. They won every contested ball. They passed with pace and guile. They tracked back like demons and sprinted forward like racehorses. WOW. To a man. WOW. 8’s across the board and a 9 for Santos? For stealing Kasper’s goal, he gets a 9 instead of a ten.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    That was as good as sex. Maybe a shade better depending on mitigating factors.

  3. FUCKING EPIC!!!!!! I think we may have seen the best match our beloved club ever freakin play! You got your doors blown off TFC! Where are the Toronto trolls now? Where you at? YOU GOT FLAMED!!!!!!!!

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Epic. an M.O.E.

      • And while we had a night like that……I can’t help but think of TFC fans singing the song from Kneehigh Park on the Chappelle show…….”what ya’ll don’t understand….is that we make love to our hands, we don’t need you honey……we beat our d—ks like they owe us money…….Toronto!”

  4. Przy's Irritable Vowel Syndrome says:

    Reminiscent of Atlanta last year.

    For Philly, Martinez should be known as the Barometer.
    So many played well, no coincidence their best game of the year was also their best passing game of the year.

    Missing person’s report to be filed on Larayea. Apparently the Ghost in the Machine was that of Roberto Carlos.

    Is it finally time for 23 & Me to sit one out and think about things? They’re going nowhere if he continues to misfire.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I’m good with him being quiet another 120 min…..
      Score in season finale then 3 times in playoffs… he does it in bunches- and the timing will matter I think.

      • ^ wisdom here. I think tonight was closer to reclaiming that spark. I’m fine with the offense coming from all over the pitch while he sorts it out. I don’t think Burke is ready yet and Przybyłko is good on defense.

  5. Wow this was wonderful. Martinez and Aaronson had great games, and Santos had some slick finishes. Most of all, really impressed with Curtin. He saw how Toronto wore the Union down in Conneticut and this time made a point of beating Toronto at their own game, with the Union emphasizing high percentage, short passes and slowing the game down in possession while still pressing hard when TFC had the ball.

    I remember thinking after the 2-1 loss it would have been a different game if Gaddis had played and I think we really saw that today.

    If there’s any negatives, Striker Muffin is still in his funk. Would have been nice if he’d got a goal to get him going.

  6. What a game. Some have been complaining about recent performances and not accepting that missing players, fatigue etc were playing a part even though the team was grinding out results. We finally get a full strength squad and what do you know, we absolutely clobber the league leader to take their place at the top. 27 shots to 3 shots. Comprehensive.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Noted….To your point, however, I will never concede giving Cincinnati 64% of possession at home — with even me as a pivot.

  7. Just wow

  8. Omg what happened?? I blacked out.

    What a dub. FIRST. FUCKING. PLACE. and a massive goal difference now thanks to the 10 goal swing!!! Dooooop!!!!

  9. That was a mugging. A hit and run. I love it!!

  10. Great time at Subaru Park tonight! Martinez was man of the match for me. Passing has been sloppy for the last several games without him. First half was by far THE best half of the season if not in team history. (Second half had one more goal but was somewhat sloppier.)
    The only negative was Monteiro picking up a card, but at least he misses Chicago and should be rested for Columbus Sunday.
    And the result pretty much sealed up any goal differential tiebreaker (except possibly against Seattle)

  11. Micah Bertin says:

    Nick, I always enjoy your articles. You have an eye for the game and a way with words. But even in jest- i hope it was in jest – the suggestion that the Union would reject the Supporter’s Shield is just stone cold wrong. Yes, the foundation was caught in the fog of war, with their heads up their individual and collective asses for a moment there, but that just a momentary blip. If we get there, we are earned it, we deserve it, we will put it at the top of our trophy case (I think there’s room) and our chests will swell with pride.

    • “we will put it at the top of our trophy case (I think there’s room)”

    • Nick Fishman says:

      Hah, thanks for the kind words! It might be bad to admit, but I had no idea there was an actual foundation that gave out the Shield. It’s “somewhat” in jest, but I’d love to see MLS create their own trophy for the league’s top performing side.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      …The Union don’t get the Trophy. It belongs to the Supporters, so they give it to the Union to dance and sing with should they win, and then (presumably) the Sons of Ben get it and the responsibility for taking care of it for all of 2021.

      • Oh, so it’s going to wind up in a Philadelphia gutter like that world traveling robot if we win it?

  12. Does Aaronson get the “dummy” assist? That was slick. And the shot from Miro…wow

  13. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Well that was fun!

  14. WOW!

  15. Statement win! These are the games we traditionally don’t walk out of with 3 points. Everyone was firing on all cylinders and truly dominated a great team. Doop!

  16. Confident. Relentless. Dominant.
    A fulll-throttle throttling from a well-oiled MACHINE of a team.

  17. What is there to say other than, what a flat out ass kicking; a wedgie pulled to the ears.
    Michael Bradley returns to the starting 11 for Toronto’s worse loss in years.

  18. Russell Rogers says:

    Their passing was awesome. Their passing in tight space was super-dooper awesome. What a great team effort. The defense was nothing like I’ve seen from the Union. It reminded me of the 2016 World Cup final between Germany and Brazil. Every time Toronto came down field there were 6 boys in blue waiting for them in the box. What a dominant performance.

  19. OneManWolfpack says:

    They beat the brakes off the “best team in MLS”. I don’t care who didn’t play for Toronto. That was incredible and even better to watch in person. Beyond impressed with what I saw. Carry this through and finish first. As a 10 year, day one, Union fan… this is an absolute joy to watch.

  20. I’m still in shock. Is this… really… our team?? Our boys in blue, crushing the team at the top of the table like so many insects, and taking their place?? Is it possible??

    Assuming what I saw this evening wasn’t a dream from which I am still waiting to awaken, the key was the absolute bossing of the midfield, and that was provided mainly by Martinez and Monteiro. The latter has, in the late several matches, finally looked like the guy we had pre-injury last year. And Martinez should be called El Vacuum — he sucks up anything that comes near him, and covers a whole lotta carpet. He’s probably the best defensive midfielder in MLS right now. What a find by Tanner.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Primarily for my own education, I wrote up an explanation of gegenpressing at the beginning of the season. I saw the organizing principle “attack the ball carrier” illustrated last night.
      I also saw the Curtin Corollary to it — Eleven-man effort.
      For the record, the Union did that one one day of rest less than Toronto had.
      May I suggest that the Man of the Match is the entire Starting Eleven.

      • Yes. And it was very impressive to see it for 90 minutes.

      • I think I would give it to Martinez by just the slightest hair, but if you wanted to give it to Monteiro, or to Wagner, I couldn’t much argue.

        Meanwhile the guy who scored a freakin’ hat trick had probably the FOURTH best performance on the squad.

      • Fourfourtwo has a great article a few years back on the origins of gegenpressing……..the Mainz guys, including Klopp at the time…..said they got the idea from hockey actually……..while Biesla was already doing it in South America. The whole concept and how they grew in each continent is fascinating……..

  21. Just amazing, and so much fun to watch. They kept coming, with wave after wave of attack, even after going up by several goals. The instinct to finish the kill has been missing from the Union at times in the past, but it seems fair to say that they have found it. The only thing that would have made it better was being in section 109 as I have been for eleven years.

  22. Wracked Opinion says:

    Most rewarding.

    A fantastic, dominating, epic team performance: perfectly coordinated for a high-stakes match.

    Thank you… plus congrats… to Jim and the squad all!

  23. John O'Donnell Jr says:


  24. Henry Scobie says:

    Last night I attended my first Union home game since last year’s playoff win, and if to further reinforce the bizarro nature of 2020 I sat in the completely opposite stadium of Subaru Park (not even the same stadium name since when I last visited) than I normally do with my season ticket.

    The weather was crisp, the socially distanced fans in attendance were enthusiastic, and the staffers/employees from entry to exit did a fine job at keeping everybody orderly without invoking visions of the subterranean prison scenes in “12 Monkeys.” Plus I had my Governor Wolf drink special, which is just a Budweiser and a platter of afterthought chicken fingers. Temperance never cost so much money.

    I have only followed the Union for the last few years, but last night was by far the shocking Union performance that I ever witnessed. Thorough domination of a table-topping squad, and while the built-in “we have injuries” excuse sought to temper any enthusiasm about this trouncing, surely a first-place team has the depth to overcome any absences.

    Even though he did not join in the goal-fest (though he had two assists), I was very impressed with Kai Wagner last night. Excellent crosses, lots of fluidity on his side of the field. Jose Martinez was a welcome return as he marauded throughout the midfield for almost the entirety of his excellent performance. Really there were great performances throughout the Union’s starting XI.

    Finally, as this was my first Union game this year, I finally had occasion to wear my new Union home kit was purchased at the Union’s kit reveal party many moons and one way of life ago back in last February/early March. I went with a personalized option – Jakob Glesnes – and after last night’s 5-0 thrashing, I realize that I have the right number choice.

    • As someone who went to the Montreal game (as well as the Union II game back in March precisely because I was worried we wouldn’t get to go to many games this season), welcome back to the stadium!

  25. Say it to me SANTOS!!!!!!!!! Phun times!!!!!!!!

  26. Best. Match. Ever. #DOOP

  27. 2 Union goals up for GOTW (Monteiro and Fontana from Monday night) and the 1 goal they gave up Monday is also in the running.

  28. That was an awesome game! Just finished the replay, how much the team missed Ray and Jose was on full display!

    Also…I thing Mr.Gaddis is trying to score! That would be an amazing thing to see! Hope it happens soon!

  29. In Tanner We Trust says:

    2 more things to note:
    1) this game has proven that anyone on our team can score. No one mentioned the fact that Fontana, our hottest scorer, didn’t factor into the final score at all. Shows the hot hand (or foot) can be passed around or even possessed by several at once.
    2) Santos could have had 5 goals. As mentioned above, as incredible as he was, the assists were even better. Imagine if he scored the one Bradley deflected and the one he took from Kacper! His teammates just kept finding him in space!

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