Union match reports

Match report: Orlando City 2 – 1 Philadelphia Union

Photo by Earl Gardner

The Philadelphia Union weren’t good enough to break down an opportunistic Orlando City SC on a sultry Thursday evening in central Florida.

First half

The match was delayed by lightning, the team’s second delay in as many games. It was then further delayed by an illegal kickoff by Orlando “Florida Man” Nani.

When the soccer started, it was the Union’s defense that shone in a free-flowing first ten minutes – until it didn’t. While the Boys in Blue were ball watching, Mauricio Pereyra had time to pick his pass. He found Benji Michel on Olivier Mbaizo’s back shoulder with the Union right back caught in no-man’s land. Jack Elliott’s late step forward across the formation meant the Union’s line wasn’t quite flat enough and the City homegrown slipped his chance past a helpless Matt Freese for the early lead.

Minutes later Pereyra had a chance of his own. After a give and go with Nani, the former’s strike from the penalty spot was just wide. Orlando was committed to possession and more importantly committed to putting an extra man in the attack, specifically on the Union’s weak sides – and it was working.

A counter attack in the eighteenth minute gave the Union their first shot of the night. After Jamiro Monteiro’s effort near the top of the box was blocked, Daniel Gazdag ripped the rebound up into the Orlando supporter’s section. The Union were growing into the game but still second best at this point – particularly in the midfield, where Monteiro and Alejandro Bedoya both looked a step slow.

The Union kept growing though and the next ten minutes were played almost entirely on Orlando’s side. That possession only resulted in one shot though, an errant header on a corner kick from Jack Elliott. More often the Boys were outnumbered by City’s greyhound bus and stuck searching for a chink in the host’s defensive shield.

The visitors finally found chemistry in the forty-third minute and Kacper Pryzbylko and Sergio Santos provided the ingredients. Their interchange put the ball on the Brazilian’s weaker foot but that chance went high. Mauricio Pererya’s elbow found Jose Martinez’s face shortly thereafter, which earned him a yellow card. The ensuing free kick was swung in to Jakob Glesnes’s head but that chance went wide.

The Union had found the match, but just like Nashville several weeks ago, Orlando were sitting on it and trying to kill it off.

Second half

The second half started with the Union’s pressure in full effect – their final ball remained lost though, with more than a few good passes going wanting and several bad ones going to no one.

Then, a Bedoya steal set Gazdag up at the top of the box and his long distance rocket dipped just wide – a second chance from him minutes later was similarly wide, but the Union were knocking.  A scrumptious interchange on the right between three good guy midfielders and forward Pryzyblko went out for a goal kick, but it was the kind of possession-based unpacking that Union fans have been craving.

The flicks kept on coming until Sergio Santos earned himself a foolish yellow card, fouling Perea and smashing the loose ball into the stands. It’s the kind of nonsense that’s gotten fans injured in the past and players suspended for a long time as a result – not necessary. A minute later, Bedoya made a similarly foolish foul, giving Orlando a dangerous free kick in the Union’s final third.

Off the ensuing kick and possession, Orlando doubled their lead. An in-swinging ball from a completely untroubled Nani found the head of Andres Perea, who was also completely untroubled by the Union’s backline. His effort nestled cleanly into the bottom corner, itself untroubled.

Then, out of nothing and with the Union down a man while Sergio Santos stretched his tight calf, Pryzbylko hit another of Mbaizo’s crosses first time into the near post. His top of the box strike was vintage Muffin and suddenly the game was on. Several minutes later, Quinn Sullivan danced his way into the corner with Mbaizo trailing. The right back’s subsequent looping ball needed a little more spice to reach Pryzybylko again because the target man was very much open on the far post.

Minutes later, Mbaizo swung his 804th cross of the night in and Orlando tried to clear it. The ball only reached as far as Quinn Sullivan and his settled strike nearly found the far post, parried only by a diving keeper – Pyrzybylko followed with his own chance high and wide. With less than fifteen minutes to go, there was only one team left trying to play soccer and they were starting to show their class. Then consecutive Union possessions were given away without any pressure at all – an infuriating series of untimely and aimless kicks.

Sullivan had another crack at the tying goal while Nani was down, but again the Union homegrown’s effort was snuffed out – the Orlando Portuguese left the match holding his leg. In the next five minutes, the Union used every tool in their creative toolkit to break City’s line. It was the kind of effort fans have been begging for from the side, but from the early goings in matches and not just when they’re losing.

Four minutes of stoppage time were announced as the hosts sat deeper and deeper. Union youngsters were showing their stuff as time wore on, and with only seconds remaining two Orlando players crashed into each other – with Robin Jansson ending up looking like Owen Wilson starring as Ivan Drago. Then, as the script would dictate, Jack Elliott danced through the box with a last-minute, game-tying chance. His effort was saved, but Jack McGlynn smashed the rebound across the face of the goal to Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan’s first-timer was headed off the line at point blank range, and Pryzyblko’s last-gasp header was gathered too.

The Union needed more early and didn’t have enough late.

Three Points
  • Contrasting styles Orlando plays the same way the Union used to before Ernst Tanner, a possession-focused 4-2-3-1. It was a night and day contrast to the Union’s chaotic 4-4-2. The margin of victory wasn’t in style though, but simple focus – the Union lost it twice and paid the price both times. Orlando only had two shots on goal, Matt Freese made no saves.
  • Space space space Daniel Gazdag and Jamiro Monteiro finally started in a match together in what fans view as their ideal positions. Like a young couple at a high school dance, there was plenty of awkwardness and a lot of space between where each really wanted the other to be – particularly in the space between Orlando’s two defensive midfielders.
  • The back line The Union miss Andre Blake. It’s not fair to say he’s the reason the backline has been less than stellar of late though. Lapses against Chicago and Nashville predated the keeper’s departure, and frankly the chemistry in the middle looks bad – while Mbaizo continues to giveth and taketh away. If they can’t shut down a hapless Inter Miami, it’s high time to give Stuart Findlay a few games and Jakob Glesnes the night off.

Orlando City SC

Gallese, Moutinho, Janssen, Schlagel, Smith, Pereyra (Carlos, 73′), Rosell (Dezart, 78′), Perea, Michel (Akindele, 77′), Mueller (van der Water, 73′), Nani (Alvarado, 83′)

Subs: Halliday, Hope-Gund,  Loera, Stajduhar

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese, Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya (Jack McGlynn, 88′), Jamiro Monteiro (Paxten Aaronson, 90+1′), Daniel Gazdag (Leon Flach, 68′), Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Quinn Sullivan, 68′)
Subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Cole Turner, Matt Real, Stuart Findlay

Scoring Summary

ORL – Benji Michel, 10′

ORL – Andres Perea, 59′

PHI – Kacper Pryzbylko, 68′

Disciplinary Summary

ORL – Mauricio Pereyra, 45′

PHI – Sergio Santos, 56′


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    After a 7 points on 3 shutouts in their first 3 road games (plus 2 shutouts in CCL), the Union have trailed in 5 straight road games and picked up a total of 3 games. They need to find a way to turn it around Sunday night against a Miami team where half of their wins this season are against the Union.
    Hopefully the US can beat Jamaica Sunday night so the Union can get Blake and Burke back with the latter really needed so he and Santos can rotate as the second striker rather than relying completely on Santos.
    Also worrying that most of the midfield seemed to pick up knocks tonight. Hopefully it was just the heat and they’ll all be ready for Sunday.

  2. Michael Hammill says:

    The youth could’ve come on sooner. Recovery gonna be tough before Miami game. Would’ve loved to see a better replay of Sullivan’s ball cleared off the line. ESPN commentary sucked.

    • The ESPN commentary was atrocious. My 16-year old called it out within five minutes. Condescending, pretentious, unprepared, Nani’s fan club. Took away from the game and added a layer of frustration.

  3. Delco Roots says:

    I respect and appreciate Alejandro Bedoya, but I will argue that Flach needs to start the next few games. Once the game gets past 60’, Bedoya is just not useful. Similarly, Sullivan and DeVries added life to the last 5-10 minutes of the game. Maybe Jim needs to start trusting the younger guys a little more. But I know that this is highly unlikely.

    • Especially with Miami coming up so quickly.
      As mentioned below… Seattle, albeit out of injury necessity, started five teenagers tonight… on the road… and won.
      One was 15. One was 16.
      They are top of the table across all of MLS.

    • AMEN… Flach should have started, but as usual ‘Curtin’s Reward’ for playing well is riding the bench.

      But ya know what? It’s just GREAT to have the bench we do. Finally we have confidence and the weapons to back up that confidence. And the kiddie Corp is progressing nicely as we approach.Concacaf again.

      Tough, tough loss… just could not get the ball in the “Ole Onion Bag! (As Tommie Smith says!!!)

      Next Miami, which is in chaos but those Higuain boys seem to love playing our young defense over the years. Yea, they are older, and slower… and Gonzalo thought he was all that, humbled now…BUT… I do not want to hear HIGUAIN!!! anytime during the broadcast.

      We need a win in Miami.


  4. Who’d have guessed? Turns out Big Jack Elliot has the best tight-space moves in the box on the whole squad. To no avail, but still…

    • Sadly this is true. Really disappointed with their decision making and inabilities around the box, moreso than usual obviously because Orlando sat back. Too much standing around at key points in the attack.

    • Eddie the eagle says:

      Big Jack in the Box
      More moves than the frontline all night.
      Apparently he used to play as a striker when he was younger, which probably explains why he is always hanging around the six yard box in the right places at the right time.

    • Eddie the eagle says:

      Big Jack in the Box
      More moves than the frontline all night.
      Apparently he used to play as a striker when he was younger, which probably explains why he is always hanging around the six yard box in the right places.

  5. John O'Donnell says:

    Seattle starts five teenagers for the first time in MLS history. Martinez, Santos, Monteiro and Bedoya all looked spent at the end. At some point Curtin needs to be brave and play more than one at time. At the 60th minute you could see the heat was a factor.

  6. Well that took the shine off. Everything people have been pointing out was on display tonight. On the first goal 3 players, at least, turned off. Mbaizo, Martinez and Bedoya. Inexcusable. Martinez was horrid for the first 10-12 mintues. The strikers were mostly absent the first half, but they weren’t even given much of a chance to do anything. Bedoya. Bedoya is done. His legs are gone. His passing is suspect at best. I mean I can’t fault Mbaizo not going forward half the time cause he knows he’s got no coverage with Bedoya there. Why Gazdag comes off instead of him just disappoints.
    This team was unbalanced with Gazdag and Bedoya in the lineup. There’s was not enough running and coverage being done. Maybe if they play more compact it’s not as bad. As said above, there’s no doubt the heat and humidity played a factor, let alone the schedule.
    Disappointed. This was probably coming. Curtin went with the if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it. Well it broke. I can offer no defense, only apologies.

    • For the record, this isn’t me panicking or saying burn the house down. I still believe things will change and answers will be found. I’m saying I don’t think my position from previous weeks is as defensible. Jeremy was right in saying we should expect better, especially after tonight’s performance.

  7. This game was begging for fresh legs well before Jim turned to them most in the 87th min. I’m not sure why he is such a “stick with them” guy to a fault. I remember an interview earlier this year talking about not subbing and how he liked keeping the group together. Sometimes you have to read the signs and this was one of those games.
    Bedoya looks gassed a lot, earlier and earlier.
    Sullivan was a big bright spot, give him some more chances.
    Wow was ESPN bad.

    • It’s time for Ali to step back, be more like Ilsinho… and Flach needs to start. As someone said he’s usually gased by 60 minutes, but it’s probably.more like after 50.

      Also, Martinez needs to ‘calmate’. His agressive play turns to agressive “social behavior” which might be why In Ernst We Trust is trying to sign another Venzulean defensive midfield who is 23 years old… as good as El Bujo could be.

  8. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Not panicking. If they lose to Miami, I’ll reconsider. They’re holding on while they wait for Blake and Burke, and I think long term we’ll be just fine. The build up to the goal from Gazdag, Mbaizo, Kacper was really nice. Loved seeing all the youth at the end, hopefully a sign of things to come. Glass half full, people.

    • So frustrating to watch this team struggle in the final third. It has no idea how to attack. Everything is miscues and misfires. Lots of running with no end product. Give and goes that don’t go. Strikers never where they need to be. We didn’t look threatening until the kids came on.

      This leaves us with the main issue Curtin has always had: squad rotation. He doesn’t do it. Bedoya looks like he’s done. It’s time for him to lead from the bench. I’m sure Bedoya wants to play every minute, but he really can’t be expected to continue at this pace. He needs a break.

      Union need to bounce back against Miami and Curtain should trust the kids to get it done. Particularly in that midfield. If he keeps running out the same lineup, they’ll be spent by the end of August, if they’re not already.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I think Bedoya can still go 60-70 minutes per game if he gets days off here n there. Also I don’t blame Curtain for last night. Immediately after scoring the first goal, he put in 2 subs so fresh legs could go for the throat. Unfortunately we lost some momentum again, which caused him to bring on McGlynn and Aaronson. I definitely don’t think either of them are ready to start, but I agree that I’d like to see more of them as subs. Same with Sullivan, although I wouldn’t be opposed to him starting Sunday, giving Santos a chance to really make the difference off the bench again. And other than Gazdag, imo the most important player to get minutes is Flach. His stock is really rising, and his emergence gives us the chance to rest our midfield more.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Biggest problem with starting Sullivan over Santos is that Sullivan is a natural midfielder rather than a forward. With Burke gone the Union only have two forwards which makes the 4-4-2 a tough formation to play for 90 minutes every game. What they really need to do is have Tanner pick up another striker.

      • I’d vote for Sullivan despite him being a midfielder. The kid took 3 pretty decent shots on goal/target and any one could have gone in. That’s two more than either Santos or Kasper. I’m for giving it a try.

    • Sorry everyone but they played well… as well as Orlando, but just could not put the ball in the net. Simple as that. Yea we have defensive issues, but so does Orlando.

      And we get back three starters from Jamaica in the next week or so.

      But ya know what… New England doesn’t have ANY holes.. and unless we tighten this team up Jim, America and Bruce are gonna eat our lunch and breakfast.

      This team is the best the Union has ever fielded.

      Thank you Ernst.

      So STOP COMPLAINING All you WHINERS. Its all starting to sound like Philly Sports Talk Radio.


      • You made me chuckle. 🙂

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        I’m kind of in this boat honestly. They’re probably not winning the Shield right now, but they’re also only one Tajon Buchanan trade away from New England coming back to earth and being right back in the thick of it. In the last three games, there have been passing sequences better than anything else in 2021 and though they all look tired, it’s clear they’re working on chemistry-building. Flach is simply the odd man out right now, but as an early sub he’s an absolute bull dog.

  9. If Bedoya starts Sunday Curtin should be fired Monday. Bedoya was slow from minute 1, and his passing was atrocious. Orlando is dangerous in and around the box, in stark contrast to the Union. Freese looked in over his head again. His distribution and command are basically nonexistent. He’s a red card and penalty kick waiting to happen. Im not a big Flach fan but he and the other youngsters injected some pace and energy as they were subbed in last night. As others have commented, they should have been subbed in 15 to 30 minutes earlier. Monteiro disappointed in this game with his standing on the ball and trying to take people on at the top of the box, allowing more defenders to arrive. He needs to play quicker. And maybe the strikers need to be more dynamic and make runs. The team is disjointed in the final 3rd for sure. Probably comes down to having a coach who was a defender. And lack of familiarity with Gazdag. There’s a yellow card missing in the summary: to Michel for taking his shin guards out on the field when he was being subbed. Dick move and deserved card, basically taunting the Union and the ref.

  10. Did anyone else notice at the end of the game when it was Sullivan, McGlynn and Paxten, how well they worked together, especially in transition and attack? They’d get the ball and show for each other, working the triangles and not getting extremely out of shape. Granted it was at the end when the other team was tired but it shows the basis of what’s there. I’ve seen something like that twice, three times maybe, from the more experienced players this season. Maybe a reach, but something positive.

    • Yes, chemistry is important. And this trio of kids know each other way better than Gazdag/monteiro/santos. Cannot believe how long curtin waited to sub Bedoya for Sullivan, who looked inspired. We get FIVE subs, can we please use a little more creativity implementing them. Another positive is that Jack Elliot is on the depth chart for striker, and should be getting forward way more when we are behind late in games. I am so frustrated with Martinez, if he was on another team I would hate him.

      • Sullivan came on for Santos. McGlynn took Bedoya’s place. I get Martinez’ antics can get old and sometimes borderline, if not card worthy. But that’s the price you pay for all the rest he gives you. He may have look liked shit the first ten minutes but the rest of the game he’s a beast. His getting in the other team’s face usually works in his favor and he’s pushed that line so far, that the Union actually get away with some things. And if he were on another team I would hate him too. That’s the beauty and the point of it. He’s the Union’s.

  11. OneManWolfpack says:

    Takes time to gel yeah… but Gazdag and Montiero do not seem to be able to play together. They’ll figure it out I’m sure. Subs should’ve been earlier. Sullivan looks legit. He seems very confident on the ball. Brujo was a stud last night. Had some incredible tackles. Need a “get right” game vs Miami Sunday. Score early and often. 3/4-0… they are good at drubbing teams and then getting their coach fired, right? One more bad loss at home and Beckham will have to fire his buddy Neville right?

  12. Old Soccer Coach says:

    In the Ancient Roman Republic, after the second war against Carthage — the one where Hannibal crossed the alps with an army in winter to invade Italy — Cato the Censor is said to have always ended his speeches in the Senate, no matter the topic, with the sentence, “And Carthage must be destroyed.”
    “Beware the September and October FIFA World Cup qualifiers.”
    Concacaf -Jamaica: Burke, Powell and Blake.
    CAF (Africa) – Cape Verdes: Monteiro.
    CAF (Africa) – Cameroon: Mbaizo.
    CONMEBOL – Venezuela: Martinez.
    UEFA – Hungary: Gazdag.

    August 28, September 3, and October 9 will be affected. Each national team is likely to be playing three matches per window, so will need bigger squads in camp so they can rotate in and. out of the 23-man rosters for the games.
    “Beware the WCQs.”

  13. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “sultry” night in Florida, Chris. But that may just be my anti-Florida bias showing.
    I’m not sure this is a loss to get bent out of shape over. Some bad defensive breakdowns for sure, and Curtin wasn’t happy about conceding goals in his postgame presser. But the defense has overall been pretty solid this season.
    The key to this team being a cup challenger rather than an upper-mid-table side is going to be midfield chemistry. Can Monteiro and Gazdag control matches and create chances? Can Curtin find the right combination of strikers and midfielders around those two? Would like to see more growth in these areas over the next 3-4 matches.

  14. el Pachyderm says:

    6-2-4 for 22 points in their last 12 matches. In years past this time of the season was their wheelhouse… how they managed to be relevant right now it’s a struggle. Multiple astute comments up thread for why in the micro and macro sense. I liked the line up. I like Gazdag a lot and think he sees it so differently the team will take awhile to figure him out.
    I thought they found the final third nicely tonight but managed the final third poorly. Same old.
    Glesnes was horrid tonight and for a few games now to be honest… in my opinion and I’d be okay with Findlay getting a runout.
    I figured 3 points in Florida was a fine outcome and they are still in line for this.
    Needs to be much more attention to detail defensively and inspiration in attacking third.

  15. Losing to Orlando just never sits right. That said, both goals Blake likely saves if he’s in net. Orlando had TWO shots on goal all game, and happened to put both in the net.
    Don’t get the Martinez “hate” at all. Guy is a beast in midfield and covers a ton of ground, and breaks lots of plays up. His passing at times leaves a bit to be desired, as does M’Baizo’s.
    Gazdag is going to be a good player for the Union. You can see his class each time he is on the field, he just needs consistency now.
    Nani is an ageless winder in MLS so far. Did not think he’s put in this type of effort game in and game out. He was responsible for both of Orlando’s goals. On the first he pulled three defenders attention, and Martinez out of position, He provided the cross on the second. That’s what Designated Player AM’s are paid to do.

  16. It is clear that Gazdag is a very talented player who has not quiteb found the chemistry with his teammates yet. And the only way he’s gonna find said chemistry is… to keep playing. They will figure it out, at some point. It’s gonna take a little time. It always does.

    Orlando is a pretty damn good team. Losing to them, just barely, on the road, while missing a couple key players, on short rest, is not exactly worrisome.

    What is a bit more worrisome are the holes that have cropped up between the backline and the midfield in the last several games. Is once El Brujo went on international duty, it’s like he’s lost his chemistry with his teammates. I expect that will settle down too, in short order.

    Just consider the fact that this year’s revelatory player, Leon Flach, the reason why we aren’t missing Brendan Aaronson too badly, is now our first sub. This is nothing short of amazing and we should appreciate our depth. Depth maketh for deep runs.

  17. Really like Flach! The kids played well. And I’d like to them get more minutes as the team heads for the Champions league games. Some rest for the regular starters maybe? Also thought Curtin was slow with the subs. The youth was really pushing Orlando. And nearly tied it up except for the face block at the post.
    Also..Mbaizo switched off on the first goal. And Glesnes looked terrible!
    Jack could show the forwards some moves. Don’t know why they seem to just stall or have no creative ideas in the final 3rd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


%d bloggers like this: