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Match report: New York Red Bulls 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A late goal by substitute Sergio Santos cancelled out a brutal error by goalkeeper Matt Freese, earning the ten-man Philadelphia Union a 1-1 draw against host New York Red Bulls on Thursday night.

Coming off a weekend loss to Nashville SC, Jim Curtin made two changes to his lineup, with Cory Burke and Andre Blake off on international duty. Homegrown keeper Matt Freese came in for Blake, while Jose Martinez returned to the base of the diamond — an adjustment that pushed Leon Flach to the No. 8 role and Daniel Gazdag up as a second striker alongside Kacper Przybylko.

After a half-hour lightning delay, the Union kicked off in their appropriately lightning-patterned light blue kits.  They had the first good chance of the match through Flach, who fed the ball through the Red Bulls back line to an onrushing Gazdag. Former Union loanee Carlos Miguel Coronel made himself big to deny Gazdag’s dangerous shot.

Freese made a huge save in the 17th minute to keep the score level, after the ball came to Patryk Klimala at the top of the Union’s box with only the keeper to beat. Freese came off his line and knocked aside Klimala’s shot.

First half stoppage time saw a flashpoint, with a bone-crunching tackle by Dru Yearwood on Jamiro Monteiro earning a yellow for the Red Bulls man. Moments later, Monteiro had a goal-bound shot saved off the line, sending the teams in at halftime scoreless.

Philadelphia started the second half brightly, putting pressure on the Red Bulls defense. Monteiro had a curling shot from just outside the box denied thanks to a leaping Coronel, and Gazdag failed to squeeze a free header past the keeper off the ensuing corner.

Matt Freese earned a straight red and conceded a penalty in the 57th minute for denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity. Tracking an eighty-yard bomb toward Wikelman Carmona, Jakob Glesnes hit a soft pass back toward Freese. With Carmona closing him down, Freese attempted to take a touch around the attacker rather than blasting the ball clear, and wrapped his arms around Carmona in the process. With Joe Bendik entering the match, Patryk Klimala made no mistake with a penalty that sent Bendik the wrong way.

It was a devastating sequence for the Union and their promising young keeper.

Down to ten men and with Daniel Gazdag withdrawn, the Union struggled to get back into the game. Sergio Santos came on for Leon Flach in an attempt to generate some attack.

It worked. In the 85th minute, Olivier Mbaizo found Santos’s head in the center of the box. The Brazilian’s perfectly placed header found the inside of Coronel’s post, and the Union had clawed their way level.

Despite the man advantage, New York failed to create any clear-cut chances in the final moments, and the Union left Red Bull Arena with a draw.

Philadelphia have this weekend off, returning to action next Saturday against D.C. United. Kickoff from Subaru Park in Chester is at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points

  • New combinations. With chemistry absent up top, Curtin tried Daniel Gazdag as a second striker. There were some flashes, but it wasn’t a clear-cut success. More important may be the late goal for Sergio Santos, his first of the season.
  • Matt Freese. The first opportunity of the season for the young keeper couldn’t have gone worse. On a personal level, you feel for him.
  • A good point. After two tough results, it looked like things were going the wrong way again for the Union after the penalty. The Santos equalizer was as important for morale as it is in the table.

Scoring Summary

NYRB: Patryk Klimala — 59′
PHI: Sergio Santos — 85′ (Olivier Mbaizo)

Disciplinary Summary 

PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 42′ (foul)
NYRB: Dru Yearwood — 45+ 1′ (foul)
PHI: Matt Freese — 57′ (denial of goal scoring opportunity, red)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro — 90+7′
NYRB: Kyle Duncan — 90+7′

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese, Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach (Sergio Santos 73′), Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro, Daniel Gazdag (Joe Bendik 59′), Kacper Przybylko
Unused Subs: Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, Aurelien Collin, Nate Harriel, Jack McGlynn, Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan

New York Red Bulls

Carlos Coronel, Kyle Duncan, Tom Edwards, Amro Tarek (Mandela Egbo 78′), John Tolkin (Jason Pendant 88′), Cristian Casseres, Dru Yearwood (Frankie Amaya 51′), Sean Davis, Wikelman Carmona (Omar Fernandez 79′), Fabio, Patryk Klimala (Tom Barlow 88′)
Unused Subs: Ryan Meara, Mandela Egbo, Florian Valot, Cameron Harper


  1. T.Coolguy says:

    I’m disappointed because I think the Union dropped 2 points that were for the taking if Glesnes had just made a better backpass or Blake been in goal. But, I’m going to choose to focus on being happy that the Union showed grit to come back and salvage a point, while also noting the Red Bulls never really looked like a threat to score from open play all game long.

    There’s reason to not like the result, but I see no reason for concern overall.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      It shows what a jackass league it is when teams are penalized for having good players while a shitty team like the cows don’t lose anyone.

      • T.Coolguy says:

        In fairness, both Aaron Long and Caden Clark would be with the US squad if not injured.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Horrible pass by Glesnes. 60% of the red was on him, although Freese should have just kicked it rather than play around with it. Glesnes deserves the lower score of the two in the player rating.
    Other than that, it was a much better effort, although the team still needs work on their passing and not holding the ball too long when under pressure. They also need to shoot more when they get the ball inside the box.
    Any idea what Monteiro did to earn the yellow in the melee? Maybe the Union can appeal that it was a case of mistaken identity and the yellow should have gone to Martinez who was at least shown on camera at one point. Horrible job by the ref not to give Edwards a card as soon as he pushed Santos after the ball was out and for not giving a red to Yearwood for aiming at the head.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Agree on most of what you said. Glesnes made the first mistake by not clearing it or making a better back pass, but Freese had every chance to clear it. And even worse, he could have just cut his losses by letting RB score. 1-0 with 11 men isn’t the end of the world, but getting such a clear red was so unnecessary. Glesnes put an inexperienced keeper in an awful position but Freese ultimately got overconfident then panicked. I still really like Freese long term and I’m sure he’ll learn from it.

  3. Jeremy Lane says:

    I feel so bad for Freese. Poor kid. I agree the back pass was soft, but Freese needs to just boot it. He’s a good keeper, and will come back from this, I’m sure, but oof. And he’d looked so good up until then, too! Glad to see, and hear from Curtin after, that the team is behind him. Keepers don’t get do-overs for their growing pains, sadly .

    • The red card was obviously the right call but I do love a keeper who is willing to try to play the ball with his feet. I would caution Freese against a Cryuff in the box with an opposing player that close but I love the confidence.
      Bigger than the loss of two point is the loss of prime game time. Freese will only get to play when Dre is unavailable and that one foul will cost Freese the next game and nearly half of this one. 1.5 games is likely half of his possible game time this season. That is development time he needs.

  4. Micah Bertin says:

    The assist on Santos’s goal aside, I thought Mbaizo was a huge negative on the union’s attack. I lost track of how many times he gave the ball away,lost it at his feet, had a pass intercepted. I don’t really know what the alternative is, but the last few games he has become a real drag on the offense.

    • He is still pretty unrefined. Maybe that’s just the type of player he is, but I still think he has room to get better and more consistent. He is still only 23 and this is still his first year as a starter.

      But I notice it more with this team recently. You have Mbaizo playing it too fast and loose sometimes. Martinez – despite being an amazing defender – feels like he had 5 turn overs this game, most of which came from trying to dribble away from 3 players instead of making the simple pass. Not to mention his awful decision making sometimes, like taking that shot in the first half when the clear choice was to send it down the left flank to a wide open Wagner OR Flach…

      And to a lesser extent, Montiero has been caught on the ball more often recently too. KAcper and Bedoya also had a few misplaced passes.

      Come to think of it, Glenes’ pass back on the red card was very lackadaisical too.

      So yeah, seems like Curtin has some training to do. Not sure if it was the long layoffs, the players coming and going for NT duty, or the tweaking of the lineups to accommodate Gazdag, but the team has been off for the past few weeks.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I agree. Thankfully, most if not all the issues are short term. Especially Mbaizo’s development. He’ll get there.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    ‘Good teams’ get a draw on a night like tonight. Down a man leave with a point… well done.
    …but yeah brutal to watch otherwise. Team is disjointed completely. Out of sorts I argued on Twitter.
    Unsure what to make of it to be honest. They seem temperamental towards one another more than usual.

    • Great read on the team’s mental state, currently. Possible the addition of new people starting immediately (Gazdag)?… but that’s exactly what’s going on. That and bad passing.

      Tighten up passing… essential.

      The Yellow Cards have got to be reduced too. LOVE agressive play but smart agreaaive play, curbing emotional mistakes that cost us player games we cannot afford.

      Kinda wishing for an “L” for Jamaica.

  6. Overall I thought everyone had a better match. Bedoya looked more like his usual self, Monty played well, Flach was back, being all over the field, and Gazdag didn’t look that bad up top.
    This tie has left me feeling entirely confident in this team. The only part that matters is what happened after the red card. The mistakes, giveaways, bad passes, blaaah! Drek, drivel, irrelevant nonsense to keep old biddies occupied. None of that has anything to do with the heart, guile, and perseverance the Union put on display. You always here the commentator line about” …taking advantage of an opposing player off the field.”. Last night the Union actually did. In the heat, humidity and rained soaked swamp lands of the armpit of America, the Union grabbed the bag of tricks and pulled a tie. They didn’t give up. They yelled and pointed fingers and demanded more effort from each other. They chased the cows too and fro and hurried back to close the web, smothering any attempt at finding joy in the pasture.
    If you are concentrating on anything but the how and why the Union got a tie last night, then you are missing what that performance had to tell us. What it told me, is that this team is more than alright. It told me that the little mistakes, bad passes, missed runs and opportunities are all irrelevant to this team. This team, is going to find a way to put points on the board more match days than not. This team is going to put in the effort and not quit until that final whistle. And if this team does lose, more than likely the other team was better on the night. Once again, I’m proud to say I’m a Union fan.

    • I largely agree, All4U. As Brendan Rodgers might say, the Union show ‘great character.’ I think that’s a tremendous positive — something that we shouldn’t doubt.

      I still can’t help but feel like I’d like to see this team sharpen its knives in attack and be a little bit more tidy on the ball. And I mostly want to see that for when they do get to the business end of both the CCL and MLS playoffs.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Agreed. Unless something crazy happens I think the Shield may be unwinnable. But what’s important is positioning ourselves to have the best possible chance at MLS Cup and CCL. I’d be ok with 3rd in East and a strong showing against America. Just give ourselves the best chance at another trophy, while also getting back to NA competition next year.

      • Listen, I’m in no way saying they are perfect. Oh heck no. What I’m saying is, I have confidence they will figure it out. I have confidence that Gazdag will find his role in this system. I have confidence the offense will morph but be basically the same. Even if things don’t work out like we hope, or the Union hope, I believe they will find a way to either work around it, or fix it or the player. This is a PROFESSIONAL team. Not because they play in MLS. No. It is because of how they approach their “profession” day in and day out. This team is everything an underdog, blue collar, down on their luck, kicked in their teeth, screwed over by fate, down right just pissed on by the sports gods, town and it’s peoples could ever hope to ask for. This team Evolves. They are unapologetic, in your face, workmanlike. They acknowledge their flaws, work on them and strengthen their strengths. As a Philadelphian sports fan, this is all I’ve ever wanted from one of our teams. You want to see the “Gold Standard”? Follow the rainbow to Chester, there’s a whole fricking pot of the stuff.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Appreciate the perspective. Do not appreciate the veiled nature of it,
      Carry on, All4U.

    • I really agree with this.

      Yes, the Union were rather sloppy, particularly before the red card, though I think some of it is just integrating Gazdag into the lineup, and how his positioning affects everyone else’s.

      Obviously Freese made a terrible mistake, and obviously Glesnes bears a fair amount of responsibility for it. (And it’s more concerning for Glesnes, who’s done stuff like that before, than for Freese, for whom this was a one-time blunder.)

      But for the last 40 minutes, it sure didn’t look like the Union were down a man. They completely outplayed the Red Bulls. That showed serious grit and energy and determination. (And conditioning!) I think it was an impressive point to earn under the circumstances.

      • Tim Jones says:

        To me the most important point Scottso makes is the one in parentheses.
        When is the last time someone ran Red Bulls into the ground?

  7. I largely agree, All4U. As Brendan Rodgers might say, the Union show ‘great character.’ I think that’s a tremendous positive — something that we shouldn’t doubt.

    I still can’t help but feel like I’d like to see this team sharpen its knives in attack and be a little bit more tidy on the ball. And I mostly want to see that for when they do get to the business end of both the CCL and MLS playoffs.

  8. “Brutal error”? Please Peter, the brutal part was the back pass. That was atrocious. Should Freese have done better? Yes. But Glesnes put the backup goalkeeper in a horrible position.

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