Union match reports

Match report: New England Revolution 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Paxten Aaronson’s first career goal wasn’t enough for Philadelphia Union to snatch a point at Gillette Stadium, as goals from Matt Polster and Gustavo Bou gave the league-leading New England Revolution a 2-1 win on Sunday night.

With rotation ahead of Thursday’s Concacaf Champions League match against Club America a priority, Jim Curtin unveiled an experimental lineup to take on the Eastern Conference leaders. It set up as a 3-4-3, with Stuart Findlay coming in at the back alongside the usual duo of Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott. Jack McGlynn paired with Jose Martinez in the center of midfield, flanked by Leon Flach and Olivier Mbaizo. Up top, Paxten Aaronson made his first career MLS start, alongside fellow Homegrown Quinn Sullivan and behind striker Sergio Santos.

For New England, MLS MVP candidate Carles Gil missed out due to an undisclosed injury.

The Revs took the lead in the tenth minute through Matt Polster. With the Union camped on the edge of their box, a 1-2 with Tommy McNamara slipped Polster through the defense. His well-placed finish left Andre Blake helpless.

Paxten Aaronson found an equalizer for the Union in the 31st minute. Receiving a pass from Glesnes just outside the box, Aaronson found himself surrounded by four Revs defenders. But the young man shimmied and created space for himself before unleashing a perfectly placed shot into the upper corner of Matt Turner’s net. It was a sumptuous goal for a player making his first MLS start.

But the good feelings from the goal dissipated within ten minutes when Leon Flach conceded a penalty. The dangerous Tajon Buchanan drove into the Union box, but was dribbling away from the net when Flach made a pointless, poor challenge on the Canadian international. Gustavo Bou’s penalty was weak and saved by Blake — but the rebound fell right to Bou, who smashed home his eleventh goal of the season.

At the start of the second half, Curtin introduced Kacper Przybylko and Kai Wagner for Santos and Wagner, in what had the feeling of a preplanned substitution. The half started well for the hosts, with Buchanan forcing a springing save from Blake.

A fantastic save from Matt Turner kept the Revs ahead in the 55th minute. A lung-busting run from Glesnes covered about two-thirds of the pitch before he slipped in Sullivan. The youngster’s shot was low, powerful, and destined for goal before Turner — fresh off a strong spell with the USMNT — got a hand down to keep the ball out of the net.

The planned subs continued moments later, with Alejandro Bedoya and Ilsinho replacing Jose Martinez and Olivier Mbaizo. And Daniel Gazdag replaced Sullivan in the 77th minute.

But none of those changes moved the Union any closer to an equalizer. The closest may have been a half-chance for Przybylko in the 89th minute, but his shot was smothered by Turner. Or maybe it was Kai Wagner’s chance a moment later, with his low shot clanging off the post and out. The final whistle blew with all three points going to the hosts.

The focus turns to intercontinental competition for the Union, as they travel to the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City to take on Club America on Thursday night. Kickoff in the first leg of the CCL semifinal is at 10:00 p.m. on FS1.

Three Points
  • Let’s experiment. Squad rotation? Three at the back? Multiple Homegrowns starting? It was an unusual starting lineup for Philadelphia, and that added some interest to the match.
  • Defensive mistakes. It wasn’t the new additions toe the lineup who were responsible for the goals. Olivier Mbaizo got caught watching on the first Revs goal, while Leon Flach’s unnecessary tackle led to the second.
  • Pure Pax. What is it about Union Homegrowns scoring bangers? It wasn’t quite as audacious as Quinn Sullivan’s bicycle kick, but Paxten Aaronson’s first MLS goal was a thing of real quality.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Stuart Findlay, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes; Leon Flach (Kai Wagner HT), Jack McGlynn, Jose Martinez (Alejandro Bedoya 57′), Olivier Mbaizo (Ilsinho 57′); Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan (Daniel Gazdag 77′), Sergio Santos (Kacper Przybylko HT)
Subs: Matt Freese, Nathan Harriel, Aurelien Collin

New England Revolution

Matt Turner; DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye; Maciel, Matt Polster (Arnor Traustason HT), Tommy McNamara (Scott Caldwell 75′); Tajon Buchanan, Gustavo Bou (Teal Bunbury 90′), Adam Buksa
Subs: Earl Edwards Jr., Brad Knighton, A.J. DeLaGarza, Christian Mafla, Emmanuel Boateng, Wilfrid Kaptoum

Scoring Summary

NE: Matt Polster — 10′ (Tommy McNamara)
PHI: Paxten Aaronson — 31′ (Jakob Glesnes)
NE: Gustavo Bou — 39′

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 22′ (foul)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 54′ (foul)
NE: Tommy McNamara — 69′ (foul)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 84′ (foul)
NE: Teal Bunbury — 90+3′ (time wasting)


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Definitely the most positive loss in a long time, especially given that the winning goal came after Blake saved the PK but just had no chance on the rebound.
    One big question, though. Any idea what’s up with Corey Burke? He wasn’t even on the bench and probably would have been a better fit for the counterattack than Kacper was.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I had the same thought. Aaronson had a nice pass to spring space but Kacper couldn’t catch up to it. Overall very happy with the rotation. Thought the kids played well and proved critics wrong. Paxten and McGlynn playing 90 and Sullivan being out early is telling. I think Sullivan may play a big role Thu.

      • What critics were proved wrong? A few internet/Twitter pontificators?!?!?!
        The coaching staff has been saying all season that it was only a matter of time before the kids were getting starts and contributing.

      • Dave Greene says:

        Hope not. Pax and McGlynn are levels above Sullivan. Time will show.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        That’s true, calling them critics gives them too much credit. We all knew Sullivan was ready, and had a feeling the other 2 could hold their own as well. Trust the process, unless you’re a Sixer fan. Then you know better than to trust the process.

    • Section 114 (former) says:

      I just presumed after the Gold Cup and with the turf, Curtin was resting him in advance of Thursday. Because of how thin the team is this year (thanks Union II!!!), we needed to play two of the three strikers for a half each, and Santos and Kasper have seen less action over the last six weeks.

  2. Union trivia– Who were the two players younger than Paxton to score for the Union?

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    I really liked the formation change and the player selection. Strangely Union had the better scoring chances and easily could have won. Paxten is next level. The oriented volley touch he makes in the second half to out play his direct mark and try to get KP in behind was beautiful and next to the gol the moment of the match for me. I’ll thoroughly enjoy his growth the next two seasons before moving to Europe. Been watching him since he was about 11 or 12.

    I think Findlay was a bit weak tonight – surprised a bit by what appeared to be some discomfort. Mbazio continues to be weak in possession and with his specific assignment this evening. Flach over aggression unnecessarily. Bedoya thwarted a couple beautiful counters with poor passes. Lastly, I thought Martinez coulda had more service as the stalwart on the field.

    I teach my son to just open the hip and redirect a ball coming across the body for a shot and two times tonight Wagner had the chance and chose to ‘overpower’ it … unsuccessfully. BUMR.
    Truth is they shoulda won that match.
    Good luck in Mexico. Very very tall order. 5,000 ft… with 50,000-80,000 lunatics depending how many get in.
    Would be thrilled to get an away gol and keep it to about 3-1. At least gives them a chance on return leg.

    • Wikipedia says Azteca is 7200 feet.
      That jibes with my memory of the 68 Olympics, when Bob Beamon shattered the world record in the long jump.

  4. Well well. Was that Aaronson and McGlynn on the field at the end of the game? Nah couldn’t be. They’re too young. They have no body mass. They’d get run over. Hmmm….
    The kids played better than their older peers. They consistently played 1-2 touch, worked triangles and were defensively responsible.
    Jim Curtin, I give you all the credit in the world. I hoped you’d go for a lineup like this but I doubted it would happen. Kudos Jim. This is the happiest I’ve been after a match in at least a month.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Were you the one that kept echoing “I’ll believe it when I see it”? Cuz I was the same way. Very encouraged by this game, hopefully a sign of things to come.

      • Yes I have said that, even the other day. I always have hope though. I think Jim is more willing to be flexible than we might imagine. I think in the past Jim didn’t believe the talent was there on the bench. Maybe even that he didn’t have the players to believe in or able to execute the “system” (I think it’s more like being defensively responsible first). Though as we’ve seen in recent years, the more tools Jim is given, the more likely he is to use them.
        I think Jim is more capable and willing to change than we understand. When Jim does and doesn’t do something, you can bet there is a reason. Whether or not we like it or understand it, there are reasons.

    • Another step in their development. Glad for the progress. Even so, the match was their for the taking.
      Time to focus on C.A.

    • The extra help the midfield sure helped Aaronson and McGlynn. It minimized the dirty work the kids would have to do. Curtin surprised me by changing formations. I hope he has more surprises for Club America. Even the teams at 5he bottom of the table have figured out how to Crack the diamond formation.

  5. Peanut Gallery says:

    To my eyes, it was Martinez’s fault on the first goal… didn’t stay with Polster after his pass because he was ballwatching.

    • Martinez didn’t follow the run his mark made, though Mbaizo definitely failed to close the space between him and Glesnes.

  6. This is about the most satisfied I can remember feeling after a loss. Jim not only shook up the lineup, but also the formation… and the team largely did quite well. If not for one boneheaded play by Flach, we would’ve had a deserved point. The kids really showed themselves well, all three of them. And all this without our best player, who is apparently waiting transfer!

    Suddenly looks like this squad has some serious depth…

  7. John O'Donnell says:

    That first ten minute thing again.
    The captain is in a passing drought.
    Kai should have scored two goals.
    The offence looks more dangerous with kids taking chances.
    Findlay played better than I expected considering it was a new formation that they practiced three times this week.
    Blake was this close to stealing another one.
    Watching the highlights of Club America the stadium looks empty or still under restrictions.

  8. OneManWolfpack says:

    For me, I would describe this game as: Frustrating. I use this because they could have, maybe even should have, gotten at least a point. And with that lineup, that would have been absolutely incredible. It was also encouraging in a way though – to see the kids play well and really interject life into the team. Absolutely psyched to watch the game Thursday!! LET’S F*@$#IN’ GO!!!

  9. I like the thought process and control that McGlynn plays with..but my god is he slow

    Hope Thursday won’t be to much of a blood bath, if they keep it within 2 goals they may have a shot at home

  10. Kind of enjoyed the loss…they played the kids,this site loves when that happens. They played a new formation, rotating players,making a bunch of subs!! Enjoyable to watch all those things happen!
    There were comments the last few days that the young players may not be ready. Well…I think they are. They were able to hold their own and not really look out of place.
    Now let’s go to Mexico and play well!! Maybe even win!!

  11. The number of passes that were under-hit last night surprised me. I don’t know if they were expecting the turf to play faster, or if that turf is just slow. Hopefully not too many more games on the fake grass.

    • It did strike me that it played slower than I expected as a spectator, too. Some balls I thought for sure would not be caught up to ended up being playable.

  12. This midfield was so much better at passing to each other than our ‘ideal’ starters, even including Jamiro. As for the second half play we’ve seen with Ilsinho….no one cares if he nutmegs someone a mile from goal on the sideline. the heatmap when he is on the pitch is so predictable. cross the ball to kascper!

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