Union / Union match reports

Match report: Columbus Crew 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union came up short in their attempt to clinch the Supporters’ Shield on Sunday afternoon in Columbus, falling to the Crew 2-1.

Artur opened the scoring in the 37th minute with a shot from a distance that nestled into the lower left corner. Jamiro Monteiro equalized from the penalty spot just after halftime, but Krisztian Nemeth won it for Columbus, tapping in Luis Diaz cross after Joe Bendik failed to deal with the ball in the 84th minute.

Jim Curtin was forced to make two changes to the team that defeated Chicago on Wednesday. Bendik made his first start of the season in place of the injured Andre Blake. Olivier Mbaizo started at right back as Ray Gaddis was only able to claim a spot on the bench after waking up with back spasms. Jack Elliott started in the holding midfield role as Jose Martinez was unavailable, and Warren Creavalle returned from injury to make the bench.

Columbus worked the first chance of the match in the 6th minute. Lucas Zelarayan found time and space to cross from the right side and put the ball on a plate for Gyasi Zardes, but the striker’s header was high over the crossbar from just 5 yards out.

Kacper Przybylko would come close for Philadelphia in the 16th minute. Sergio Santos was able to break at pace down the left side and found a good square ball to Brendan Aaronson 25 yards out. Aaronson found Przybylko near the edge of the box on the right and the striker hit a low, curling effort that was just wide of the Columbus goal.

Mbaizo forced Eloy Room into a great save in the 28th minute. The Union would work a nice move that ended with Mbaizo playing a one two on the edge of the area with Jamiro Monteiro before hitting a low shot that looked destined for the bottom left corner before Room pushed it against the post and behind for a corner.

Columbus took the lead in the 37th minute through Artur. The Union did well initially to deny a Columbus cross from the left side. However, Monteiro couldn’t get a head to a bouncing ball that was eventually settled by Artur and played back to Harrison Afful. Afful played it back to Artur at the top of the box, where Kai Wagner was slow to react, and the midfielder slotted into the bottom left corner beyond the reach of Bendik.

Philadelphia would come close again in the 47th minute. Aaronson found Kai Wagner on the overlap down the left side, and the outside back’s hard cross was deflected against the post by Przybylko from eight yards out.

The Union found an equalizer in the 56th minute. Santos chased down a long ball over the top down the left side and was clipped on the heal by Jonathan Mensah as he broke into the box. Referee Alan Chapman wasted no time pointing to the penalty spot. Monteiro stepped up and powered the spot kick down the center of the goal as Room dove to his right.

Philadelphia almost took the lead just minutes later during a series of corners. First Santos was denied on the doorstep after the Crew failed to clear. Then McKenzie could only push a shot over the bar from close range from the ensuing corner.

Columbus found the winner in the 84th minute through Nemeth. Luis Diaz ran a long way with the ball down the Columbus right on the counterattack. Diaz lofted a ball toward the back post that Bendik flapped at but failed to touch. The unmarked Nemeth simply guided a shot into the empty goal.

Philadelphia worked a few late chances with Przybylko heading a Wagner cross that was parried by Room and then Elliott also forcing a save from Room after a bouncing ball fell to his feet near the edge of the box. In the end, Columbus held them off.

The Union will again look to clinch the Shield next Sunday (3:30 p.m.) when they host the New England Revolution on MLS Decision Day.

Three points

  • Coming up short. Another match where the Union had a chance to clinch a trophy and couldn’t find a victory.
  • Bendik. Andre Blake has been a stalwart in goal for the Union this season but missed this game with a hand fracture. His replacement Joe Bendik failed to deny Artur’s goal from distance and then flapped at Diaz’s cross on the Columbus winner.
  • A good performance. The Union were the better side in Columbus, outshooting the Crew 22-7 and forcing Eloy Room into a number of spectacular saves. A similar performance next week against New England could deliver the club’s first trophy.


Philadelphia Union

Joe Bendik, Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner, Alejandro Bedoya, Jack Elliott, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Ilsinho 83′), Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Cory Burke 71′)
Unused Subs: Matt Freese, Aurelien Collin, Ray Gaddis, Warren Crevalle, Anthony Fontana, Andrew Wooten, Michee Ngalina

Columbus Crew

Eloy Room, Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Aboubacar Keita, Milton Valenzuela (Waylon Francis 86′), Darlington Nagbe, Artur, Derrick Etienne (Luis Diaz 73′), Lucas Zelarayan, Pedro Santos, Gyasi Zardes (Krisztian Nemeth 83′)
Unused Subs: Andrew Tarbell, Chris Cadden, Grant Lillard, Youness Mokhtar, Emmanuel Boateng, Aidan Morris

Scoring summary

CLB: Artur – 37′ (Harrison Afful)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro – 57′ (PK)
CLB: Krisztian Nemeth – 83′ (Luis Diaz)

Disciplinary summary

CLB: Milton Valenzuela – 71′ (unsporting behavior)
PHI: Jakob Glesnes – 72′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. Recap could have been much shorter. 10 of 11 players played well. Columbus keeper made some great saves.

    • Mike Servedio says:

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I told my friends if the teams switched keepers, Union win 4-0.

    • Bring on Matt. Id rather win or lose with him.

      Never heard the full medical report on Blake but hand fractures take 6 weeks to heal.

      Id rather rather go with Matt for the playoffs if Blake can not go. I always thought Bendik was soft when he played at Orlando.

      I hope the medical staff can work some miricales on Blakes hand.

      The Union front office should be contacting the nations top ortho and hand therapist to get Blake back at 85 %.

      Otherwise they are screwed.

  2. Moe B. Bentdick says:

    They had to close down everything
    they had to close down my mind-
    too many things were telling me
    their hype can make me blind…..
    I’ve seen so much in Porterhouse places
    so many heartaches, players who are feces
    “That’s so Union!” things
    you wouldn’t even believe!
    I won’t stand in line for this-
    it’s on the line? their shorts they piss…….
    Oh Joe! Goal Joe.
    then it fell apart, fell apart-
    goal Joe, Oh Joe…
    then it fell apart,
    like it always does, always does

  3. John O'Donnell Jr says:

    The culture can’t change until they learn to win big games with less than idea circumstances. 0-4 when it matters the most.
    If the culture of this team is building through the academy, Matt Fresse should start the next game. A Twitter stat on Joe Bendik I saw was in his last 23 games started he’s 0-21-2. Let the kid start at home and believe in the system you’ve chosen to compete in MLS.

    • *Sigh* Context is everything here. He played for Orlando City who had at the time the historically worst defense in league history.
      And no Matt Freese isn’t making those saves either. He was very pedestrian while playing for Union 2 this season.

  4. BrighterSide says:

    Frustrating. U were the better team most of the game. Snow and wind and we made them work. Credit to the Crew on their goals and their keeper who stood on his head — and had to!

    But… Valenzuela should’ve been off. That kick to Santos is a yellow every day. He’s of had his second two minutes later. Who knows whether that changes things for us.

  5. What in the world is going through Kacpers mind when he stops in the middle of the box during Aaronsons run that leads to a shot/cross across the center of the box???

    Any professional paid striker would be crashing the far post like a monster in that momemy. God knows that is the run Zardes or Jack McInerny would make

    It’s little things like these that probably show why he never got out of the Koln reserves (other than injuries of course). He is so good at almost everything else, it’s almost like he is a #10 in a strikers body.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      This. Twellman and Twitter saying shoot the ball. He has to shot the ball. the angle was terrible. Bollox. Aaronson’s ball to Kacper was lovely. He’s a striker for gods sake… how in the world are you not crashing the back post there?

  6. Sorry, Joe. Blake keeps a clean sheet….
    But that doesn’t excuse how many times we failed to score on the 10 million chances created. One of the most frustrating two hours I’ve ever endured.

  7. “Come together, right now… over three.”
    Three points lost…
    But Jim and Ale gotta help them clear their heads, refrain from any finger-pointing, stay together, gather their strength, and focus on the next challenge.

  8. Henry Scobie says:

    Tonight was an incredibly frustrating outcome, especially with the number of scoring opportunities that were squandered or which were deftly defended by an excellent performance from Crew goaltender Room.

    Admittedly I have been an Anthony Fontana disciple in this forum, but it is perplexing as to why he wasn’t given a late substitute to infuse some scoremaking ability and energy. Ilsinho didn’t cut it in my mind, as much as his past resume speaks for itself, is super-sub spark hasn’t always been a lock this season.

    Joe Bendik was awful, and that to me is the most frustrating part of tonight’s loss. All clubs must navigate through injuries no doubt, but not having Andre Blake was just so aggravating. Beyond the two goals I thought Bendik looked clumsy throughout the afternoon.

    At the risk of sounding like a WIP wingnut, I would not hesitate in giving Bendik his walking papers and showing some trust in Matt Freese. If the Union are a homegrown squad, then we should give the Academy products some faith (and haven’t we been rewarded enough with that approach).

    But of course all is not lost, so when the stink of today’s loss wears off, there’s one more game to clinch, and a whole playoffs’ worth of opportunity to bring home some hardware. Such a silver living is hard when the weather in the Delaware Valley and at the Union’s seventh circle of hell, MAPFRE Stadium, felt like the archetypal meteorological accompaniment to The Smiths’ wailing, lachrymose guitar riffs in “How Soon is Now?”

    Let’s keep the faith and not treat today as another verse in the endless dirge of “That’s So Union or DOOP me if you think you’ve heard this one before.”

  9. Atomic Spartan says:

    No Fontana. So Curtin. So so Curtin. Still can’t get it right when it counts. Still learning while we wait for him to catch up. Not one but two bad personnel decisions. Bendik but no Fontana, his only proven garbage goal man with so much garbage available. So so Curtin.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      This also has value and is productive post game content. Why not Anthony.. ‘on a rainy night in Stoke?’

    • el Pachyderm says:

      This is productive post game content. Why not Anthony.. ‘on a rainy night in Stoke?’

    • Yeah. The Union were generating attacks, they needed a proven finisher. Fontana seemed a natural choice as he has continued to bang in goals. What happened? We had plenty of substitutes left.

    • Just stop already. Look at the history of the Union since Curtin became head coach. They have improved EVERY season under him. Curtin has evolved as a coach as well, even if you refuse to see and/or acknowledge it.
      Who are you taking off of the field to bring Fontana in? Montiero? Hell no, he was playing a great game and is the best field player on the team. Aaronson? Nope, was having a great game. Elliot? Nope again, as the game was tied. Yes you want to push for Victory, though you also want to preserve the point you have earned at that time. Maybe Mbaizo, though again that would compromise the defense.
      As for Bendik, he’s an MLS veteran who is more than capable in net. You don’t start an unproven Homegrown Keeper in a game of this magnitude unless you are absolutely forced to. This is why they went out and got Bendik last season.
      The first goal, the D didn’t step up and prevent the shot in the first place. The second goal started with a horrible pass in a bad spot on the field. Should Bendik do better there? Yes. Should McKenzie not lose his man on the back post? Yes.

  10. Wracked Opinion says:

    What a tough, frustrating loss!
    Too many missed offensive opportunities: combined with Bendik’s terrifyingly shaky play.
    Would have liked to see Fontana at some point, but oh well.
    Hopefully the Guys can band together and salvage the chance to grasp the hardware.

  11. Bendik. Creavalle. Ilsinho.

    Curtin’s safety blankets are going to kill us. He hasn’t learned.

    Freese should have started. Creavalle shouldn’t be on an MLS roster. Fontana should have come on in place of Ilsinho.

    Would be so appropriate and not surprising if this team gives up on the supporters shield then gets eliminated in their first game of the playoffs. And in the process loses out on a champions league spot.

    With Caleb Porter as coach this team would have already won the supporters shield and be would able to rest Bedoya and Monteiro for the playoffs.

  12. Totally on board with the idea of Freese over Bendik and the wasted opportunities that came back to bite us in the ass in this game.

    Is it me or to our substitutions seem to constantly changing the way we play. With Santos and Arronson subbed out, we lost pressure and hustle all over the field, instead getting Ilsinho’s ineffective tricks and flicks along with another pretty much useless appearance from Corey Burke (only good thing to say about him was at least it kept Wooton off the field!). Fontana would have provided much more.

  13. Martinez is hurt?

  14. Tonight proved that Andre Blake is the most valuable player in the league.
    The games since Oct 7 v Cincy prove that Jose Martinez is the best DCM in the league.

  15. el Pachyderm says:

    people need to stop with the lamenting what Andre Blake would have done. He is injured. great Blakes makes the saves. he’s injured. FFS. its irritating. Peple like Kevin Kinkhead… on Twitter.
    can one argue Freese should have played? Sure. that has value. lamenting Blake is …
    the real issue in that game was not finishing chances. Should have won 4-2 easy.
    Going in to Columbus with multiple first team players missing was no easy solution. Negadelphia …is sky is falling sky is falling.. Union are losers forever until profen otherwise is also just dumb…just beat New England as they should and today is moot. that’s what happens when you position yourself in such a way to NOT have to win today.
    Come on people who need it. Chins up.

    • +1 I was more frustrated by the lack of finish than the goaltending. Sports, especially futbol, always have a mix of luck involved. They had multiple opportunities and set pieces in the 2nd half that they just couldn’t convert.

    • Thank you.

      Also worth noting Colorado beat Seattle. A win over New England fixes everything. Today was essentially a bonus game. Games on the road against top clubs with three important starters missing are ones Toronto loses 5-0, so a 2-1 loss doesn’t seem that bad in comparison.

    • Hindsight is 20/20. Bendik was a proven MLS goalkeeper. Of course he should have started.

      There’s no way I’d play him again.

  16. Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

    Have won in Columbus exactly TWICE all-time. Not sure exactly what y’all were expecting

  17. The only solace I can take from that loss is the fact we looked the part. It looked like two great teams playing a late round playoff game. We created so many chances, we were able to force one of the best, well coached teams in the league to cough it up in their half multiple times, leading to chances for us.

    Of course, we need to finish some of those chances. But you take that team, on that kind of form, and (hopefully) add Martinez to the midfield and put them at home in a win-and-trophy game? I like those chances.

  18. 1. This is the second time the Union played even with or better than the Crew, in Columbus, and lost. Soccer is a cruel and random game sometimes.

    2. Have no damn idea why Curtin did not bring Fontana on for the last 15 minutes. The kid has scored some ridiculous goals this season. Bringing him in for either Monteiro or Elliot seemed like a no-brainer to me. I just don’t get it.

  19. Section 114 (former) says:

    Why was this game in Columbus? Both matches this year were there and the U had two more road games than home. It’s like MLS counted the points from the first two games but ignored where they were played.

  20. Lots of comments above regarding whether Freese should have played over Bendik. Just curious how many of those commenters watched Freese play with Union II where he certainly made his share of errors. If he had made costly mistakes yesterday there would have been just as much if not more criticism. Going with the veteran in the big game late in the season when neither keeper has played at all in over a month and in MLS all season is a sensible decision that just didn’t work out.

    • The difference to me is that Freese is young and cut his teeth with the youthful reserve BS/U2 where rookie mistakes and fine tuning for the MLS is supposed to occur. Bendik is 30 y/o and has been on am avalanche downslide in the MLS.

      Either way, though, we have to wish whoever plays on Sunday the best for our sake’s and theirs.

  21. Is Kepa still available??? Mbohli???

  22. I was there. Weather was awful but the team played well. It just wasn’t our day.

  23. Not finishing your chances in the first half, and sub par goal keeping…………..Santos and Kacper have a hard time finishing chances, so does Aaronson……..Fontana finishes his chances. Just a random thought from the match….,,

  24. Would love to know what that predictive software says the game score should have been based on quality chances.
    …you know that software that said Fontana was the hottest scorer in the league based on results vs quality chances in x minutes of playing time?
    …yeah, right, that guy Fontana – remember the one who didn’t play yesterday – the hottest scorer in the league? Well its not like we needed a goal or anything.

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