Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Chicago Fire

Photo: Marjorie  Elzey

Philadelphia Union, a year removed from winning the Supporters’ Shield, drew 1-1 at home with cellar dwelling Chicago Fire. The coup de grâce in one of the worst results in recent memory was that the Union had a man advantage for over 70 minutes of action.

The Union extended their horrid run, with only one win in their last seven matches. For the Fire, it was their first road point of the season.

It was already the third meeting between the Union and Fire this season,— but the first at Subaru Park. The sides split the result in their last clash with a wacky 3-3 scoreline, but Philadelphia won the first encounter at Soldier Field 2-0.

Union head coach Jim Curtin saw a starting eleven strengthened by the return of last year’s Goalkeeper of the Year, Andre Blake, and forward Cory Burke. Both played their first game since departing for international duty with Jamaica for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. There was a surprise absense, however, in midfielder Jamiro Monteiro. The Designated Player wasn’t listed on any injury reports but was not included in his manager’s 18. Postgame, Curtin revealed that Monteiro is currently the subject of transfer talks.

When play began, it took less than ten minutes for the Union to fall into a familiar pattern.

After early pressure from the home side, the visitors scored on their first real venture into the final third. Chicago’s Przemyslaw Frankowski headed home the opening goal from seemingly nothing. Philadelphia right back Olivier Mbaizo appeared to have decent positioning, but the Cameroonian mistimed his jump on the Boris Sekulic cross.

It was the sixth time in the last seven matches that Philadelphia have conceded first— a bad omen for a side which hasn’t won yet this season when allowing the opening goal.

The goal sapped the Union of energy, who couldn’t produce any true chance until the half hour mark. And then a game changing decision was made.

Cory Burke chased down a long ball behind the Fire defense, colliding hard with goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth after a battle with center back Wyatt Omsberg. A goal kick was all to come from that decision until VAR intervened. While not a penalty, Omsberg was shown a red card for a foul just outside the penalty area as the last defender.

And that wasn’t all.

Kai Wagner stepped up for the resulting free kick from just inside the crescent beyond the box. As the wall leaped, the German hammered a shot beneath their cleats to level the scoreline with his first goal of the season.

The second half opened predictably. The side with the numerical advantage pressured the side focused primarily on defending.

And yet the Union’s attack lacked any amount of venom. It forced Curtin into his first sub, introducing the skills of Ilsinho in place of midfielder Leon Flach just after the hour mark.

It wasn’t until the 80th minute — 50 minutes after the red card— that the Union had their first shot on goal following the foul (excluding the goal.) That shot was a blast from the foot of Jose Martinez, whose well hit strike from distance forced a diving save from Shuttleworth.

With eight minutes of added time, Alejandro Bedoya nearly salvaged the result late after being played in by substitute Quinn Sullivan. The captain’s shot, though, was straight at the keeper.

Philadelphia will host league leading New England Revolution next Sunday at home. It will take major improvements for the side to avenge their playoff defeat last season. Just after, the Union travel to Mexico City for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal showdown with Club America.

Three Points
  • A gift horse and such. There is not a world in which that should be a red card on Omsberg.
  • Looking ahead. Ahead of their match with New England, the Union mirror cellar dwelling Chicago more than the Shield favorites.
  • Who are you? Are the Union bad? Or is it bad form? Crazy to think we’re here after last year.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo (Jack McGlynn 89′), Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach (Ilsinho 63′), Daniel Gazdag (Quinn Sullivan 75′); Kacper Przybylko, Cory Burke
Subs: Matt Freese, Matt Real, Nathan Harriel, Stuart Findlay, Cole Turner, Paxten Aaronson

Chicago Fire

Bobby Shuttleworth; Wyatt Omsberg, Mauricio Pineda, Francisco Calvo; Boris Sekulic, Gaston Gimenez, Alvaro Medran, Fabian Herbers (Jonathan Bornstein 81′); Ignacio Aliseda (Luka Stojanovic 81′), Przemyslaw Frankowski; Chinonso Offor (Robert Beric 64′)
Subs: Jhon Espinoza, Gabriel Slonina, Brian Gutierrez, Stanislav Ivanov, Johan Kappelhof

Scoring Summary

CHI: Przemyslaw Frankowski — 10′ (Boris Sekulic)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 36′ (free kick)

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 30′ (foul)
CHI: Wyatt Omsberg — 34′ (red, professional foul last man)
CHI: Fabian Herbers —41′ (foul)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 66′ (foul)
CHI: Robert Beric — 78′ (foul)


  1. Absolutely pathetic. This team is in a slump and all Curtin can do is put out a 56 year old Ilsinho who has missed the entire season with an injury and tell the team to stand still and watch Ilsinho and hope he dribbles past 5 players and scores. What a joke.

    There is 0 reason for that to be his Plan B. It’s not 2017 anymore and Bastian Schweinsteiger is not playing CB for the Fire. All Sullivan has done in recent weeks is bring fire to the midfield and purpose with his movement and passing. And what does he get? More 10 minutes cameos.

    Sullivan and McGlynn looked more decisive and quick with their passing and decision making than anyone else on the team. In a game that demanded we play faster and break lines, Curtin watched as the team walked back and forth for 80 minutes before deciding to try something different.

    I don’t want to hear that the kids aren’t ready or aren’t good, all they have done is look ready when given minutes. Now it’s time for Curtin to continue the process and get them a start and fix this team.

    But hey, I look forward to watching Bedoya’s legs fall off in front of our eyes for the rest of the season while him and Mbazio argue with each other, so good job Jim!

    • Jim and Ernst built this team to apply pressure and score off turnovers. They don’t know what to do when other teams cede possession. They don’t know how to break teams down.

    • 100% spot on. This team needs a kick in the ass and an attack minded center midfielder who has all the skills vision, passing, dribbling and willingness to go forward. The most threataning offensve player yesterd ay was your left fullback. So sad and pathetic.Ernst please sign that person tommorow and trade the other 10 extra defensive mids on rhe team.

  2. To top it off, Curtin just said Montiero is being transferred. We are back to peak Union less than 2 weeks before the biggest game in our history.

  3. I would argue that it’s not “ Crazy to think we’re here after last year.” We lost 2 really good players in Aaronson and McKenzie – who are both now starters for the USMNT “A” team (not the Gold Cup “B” team) – and we didn’t replace them. Bedoya is a year older and looks it. Ilsinho is a year older and isn’t instant offense anymore. Flach is our big signing? He’s ok. Gazdag hasn’t gelled yet and it’s not clear he will. Tanner fell down on restocking this team. And Curtin is inflexible and unimaginative coaching this team. Club America going to eat us for lunch.

    • Flach is good, but really having him and Bedoya as your 8s are redundant because they are basically the same player. Work horses who will run everywhere and contribute but not really a guy on offense who will make something happen.

      I’d say we do not have someone who can fix that problem, but Sullivan has looked good enough to earn another start (after looking fine in his one start) and show us he can be that type of offensive 8, so I will pin this on Curtin and complain about him more.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    I posted the same comment all week to drive home the importance and the point… and it was not addressed- they continue to play like a WD-40 huffing addict. Bereft of ideas, drive and any notion how to stop buying the poison. I mean they did get almost 30 shots off so that must count for something.
    Quinn Sullivan again the only player really capable of making something original and creative possible though.
    Chicago has not won a point on the road this year people. NOT ONE. NOT ONE POINT. They played the game a man down for 60 minutes. And short of a couple vague moments- the team is totally devoid of ideas.
    Fuck… is going on.
    Mbazio a dead end more and more often. At least Raymond Gaddis would make the off ball runs to get behind when Ilsinho was drawing defenders in the right channel. I miss Ray.
    The off ball movement is lacking. Save Gazdag who is hustling but just shy put the ball in the net. Players constantly ping ponging the ball across the mouth of goal in a completely HIT it and HOPE style. It’s so ugly. It’s so unacceptable.
    I thought Burke was decent. I thought ilsinho brought his typical skill but most people just standing there watching.
    I am considering retracting my statement from about 8 weeks ago that this is a good team. They are currently not a good team. I’m unsure if it when they may be one.
    The most scathing criticism I can offer to them right now —- they are boring, listless, and intellectually snakebitten.

    • Exactly this. The team is crying out for any ounce, any modicum of creativity in midfield. All they can do is cycle the ball from side to side and cross.
      No movement, no creativity, no vision, no heart, and no quality.
      Based on the past I guess month or so, the Union are not a good team. I do believe they have the ability to get things right, but sending out the same players to do the same things game after game isn’t it.

    • While I couldn’t put it quite as colorfully and amusingly as you, pachy, I agree — the lack of ideas in attack is glaring.
      In particular, you have a quality No. 10 in Gazdag who is constantly looking for space. Yet there’s almost no attempts from the guys behind him to play the ball to DG quickly and in dangerous positions, i.e., in front of the centerbacks. Every ball is played wide, where it is inevitably circulated for a cross.
      I don’t think they can be a successful team without adding some attacking variety and pressure on the opposing defense, but it’s hard to see any progress in that area, at least from the starting XI.

      • Gazdag received the ball back to goal several times and wouldn’t turn. Loads of space behind him and he back passed. Maybe it’s a confidence thing still but he needs to be taking responsibility more.

    • Yes and yes and yes, etc.

      There might have been some bad mojo around tonight because of the unsettled nature of Montiero’s place on the team, but the Union have been firing attacking blanks for weeks, often getting results with sheer luck, never really controlling a match.

      Something has stunk for a while now in Chester. The system hasn’t been working. I’m not sure what they need to do to make it right. This is where Curtin has struggled in the past, in my opinion. He needs to be quicker to change things up. …. That America match looks really Scarry right now.,

  5. Someone here proclaimed we would be embarrassed by America. I didn’t share that sentiment until after this match and Miro news. Jim needs to find that chemistry potential from this talent and soon

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    I guess it was better than a loss.
    I realize the New England game is important but the team needs to focus on Toronto first.

  7. In Tanner We Trust says:

    So many complaints yet such little time. I guess I’ll start off by saying I had the game muted cuz TUDN announcer is the worst

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    So Montiero is gone/glint to be gone, huh… really makes things interesting…

  9. In Tanner We Trust says:

    And what happens if Monteiro leaves? We were on our way to a typical Union season in 2019 and he changed everything. He may have struggled last year but people forget that when Blake struggled in 2019, Miro was by far our best player. He’s had a decent year for his standards, despite recent struggles. I’m not sure he’s replaceable at the 8. As already said, Flach and Bedoya shouldn’t start opposite of each other, and Curtin ain’t starting anyone younger than Flach. So now what?

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Lotta questions… don’t want to be “Mr. Negadelphia” but we could definrely fall back to “bad Union” if some moves aren’t made. Like your name says… “In Tanner We Trust”….

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        If Monteiro leaves and we don’t sign a replacement I may have to change my username. Must do everything in our power to keep him. Send his family a stinkin private jet for all I care. But you’re right. For the time being, Tanner is the best thing our FO has ever seen so I’ll continue to trust.

      • Well with this recent news it seems like that Jesus Bueno signing IS the replacement…

  10. Vince Devine says:

    We next play Toronto at home Wednesday, then NE in the road.

  11. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Something just occurred to me. Every team we play looks really good. Miami didn’t look like a last place team, Chicago looked mid Eastern conference. Orlando looked like one of the best, which granted they kind of are. That means we’re unlucky, right? Wrong! It means we’re predictable! Every game it’s the same thing. Glesnes and Mbaizo need to feel some pressure and competition, and I think it’s time to play Sullivan and McGlynn for at least 30 minutes every game, with some starts mixed in. They’ve earned it.

    • That was one of my thoughts when Chicago got the same run out / break out from 2 or 3 of our corners in a row.

  12. I’m curious about how much the team knew about the Montiero news and for how long.
    If the best player on my team was leaving and my captain hasn’t showed up in months, I wouldn’t feel too good about being in that locker room at the moment.
    What happened to this team? It can’t all be suspensions, injuries and international absences, can it? I assumed it was. I assumed wrong. I can easily see this team falling off a cliff and I don’t even know how they got here. I’m not even Philly Panicked, I’m genuinely worried.

  13. This is sounding much more like a rebuilding year. Maybe they should just say it and our expectations get set appropriately. They need a right defensive back, a real playmaker, a forward that is a pure scoring threat, and some of the team need to move on so the midfield can start to gel with more young blood. It seems they are buying a lot of pieces and all that change takes time to yield results. Anyway that is how I choose to justify my disappointment.

  14. When Wagner scored after the red card infraction, the team switched off. It was like they collectively said “ok we tied it, they’re at ten men, game over” well it wasn’t over…

    • I don’t have stats or evidence, but from my memory and observations – the U don’t do well a man up.

      • Stylistically, it doesn’t play to their strength and how they’re built (high press, counter quickly and directly). A 10 man side playing on the road bunkers down and makes you break through in tight quarters. We don’t excel at that…

  15. Not to put lipstick on a pig, but the game would look a whole lot better if Gazdag has scored on one or both of his very good opportunities. Or on the Bedoya shot that the goalie stopped with his face.

  16. At this point, I have one realization and one hope.
    Realization: The Union are not a good team right now, nor will they be for the remainder of the season. It is August, and Tanner is still adding pieces. Pieces that won’t have time to gel. Pieces that don’t address existing holes, but are filling newly occurring ones.
    Hope: The Union escape from the CA series without anyone getting seriously injured.
    Negative? Maybe, but I did watch the U tie a league bottom-dweller despite having a man advantage for an hour.
    I will be there on Wednesday…with the SoB…

  17. I don’t really know enough to guess at this, but it seems like this slump got going when Gadzag came in and other transfer rumors started…not blaming Gadzag, but could there be more negativity and issues with the team behind the scenes that we haven’t learned about because of the new (or incoming) players?

    • More specifically, it started when Gazdag came in and Curtin handed him the keys to the 10, even though he was still brand new to the team and needs time to adjust. He should have been playing Sullivan there, or Fontana (this was pre his head injury), etc…

      • Sullivan is NOT a #10, neither is Fontana. Fontana had plenty of opportunity to win that spot and hasn’t.
        Sullivan is more of an 8, he looks & plays like a younger Bedoya.
        Gazdag not only has to adjust to his new teammates, and new league, but also to living in a new country.
        More concerning is conceding an early goal with a more defensively oriented lineup.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        I see Sullivan as a 7 or 11. Straight winger.
        exactly what the team does not have. nor seems concerned about.

      • Well, yeah. The Union don’t currently play with wingers. Why would that position be of concern to them?

  18. Wow, that was bad. It’s been bad for about 6 weeks. Midfield is stagnant, offense lacks creativity and defense is breaking down…. Mbaizo looks lost and his crosses are terrible. Gonna be a long 8-10 weeks people. I was thinking about going Thursday night with my son but after watching that performance I’ll keep my money. If JM leaves this team will be lucky to scratch 10 points out of the rest of the season. Banners look nice in the SOB’s end though…. So embarrassing

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