Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 New York City FC

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Shaky at first, Philadelphia Union responded with a phenomenal final 45 minutes of action to beat New York City FC 1-0 Wednesday night at Subaru Park.

A scorching header from captain Alejandro Bedoya just after the hour mark was enough to hand New York their first loss in seven matches. For the Union, it was their second win in their last three league games.

It wasn’t the first time the Union hosted City this season, and the result avenged 2-0 home defeat in which midfielder Jose Martinez was shown an early red card. This time around, Martinez was the best player on the field.

The visitors entered the game on an absolute tear. They were unbeaten in their last six matches, scoring 16 goals and allowing just three during the run. Overall, NYCFC sat second in the Eastern Conference while posting the best goal differential in MLS.

Conversely, the home side had only one victory in their previous six games. Their last time out was the 2-0  away defeat at the Azteca during their opening semifinal CONCACAF Champions League matchup with Club America.

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin’s starting eleven featured only one surprise. Alvas Powell got the start at right back for the suspended Olivier Mbaizo. The real shock was star Jamiro Monteiro’s return to the matchday 18, who was left out of the squad for the last four matches while seeking a transfer.

“The transfer market is fluid and while interest remains for Jamiro, no offers in the transfer window came to fruition,” sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a club statement before the match. “It was decided it was best for both sides to have him reintegrate with the team for training and matches at this time while options are still being explored.”

In terms of result, it was a solid opening for the Union comparative to their previous performances. Philadelphia avoided an early hole, having conceded in the opening 20 minutes in three of their previous four games. In the 23rd minute, though, NYCFC missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring.

Talented right back Anton Tinnerholm centered a wonderful ball to winger Santiago Rodriguez. A flat footed Powell left the Uruguayan all alone in the center of the penalty area. Somehow, Rodriguez’s curled shot went wide of the target.

If the Union were marginally the better club before that moment, City were clearly the superior side for the remainder of the half.

Philadelphia’s attack was muted. Long balls behind the line offered a hint of trouble to stingiest defense in the conference.

And yet, when the second half began, it was the Union who came out firing. The Boys in Blue added width to attack New York’s defense and looked all the more dangerous for it.

The first changes came in the 63rd minute, and they included the official return of Monteiro to the field replacing Daniel Gazdag. Forward Cory Burke also entered for Kacper Przybylko.

It was sustained intensity in attack, and Philadelphia broke through in the 67th minute.

Left back Kai Wagner whipped in a cross and a racing Alejandro Bedoya was there to head home his first goal of the season to give the Union a 1-0 lead. It was the captain’s first tally since a 3-0 win over FC Cincinnati last October.

NYCFC manager Ronny Deila responded with five changes in ten minutes to his trailing side.

Philadelphia managed the game well, but danger came in the 85th minute. Bedoya’s heavy challenge was deemed a foul. Despite the placement just outside the penalty’s crescent, the Union’s wall did their job blocking the attempt.

The Union will next host CF Montreal this Saturday at 8pm, hoping to build some needed momentum on the short turnaround.

Three points
  • Dish served cold. The Union have struggled against NYCFC, so this result feels similar to that earlier 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew.
  • Monteiro. It’s pretty simple. The Union are a better team with their No. 10 in the lineup.
  • Great Eight. After last year’s perfect home record, the Union started a little rough at home. Now, it’s eight games unbeaten at the Sube.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Alvas Powell (Stuart Findlay 89′), Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya (Ilsinho 89′), Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag (Jamiro Monteiro 63′); Sergio Santos (Quinn Sullivan 85′), Kacper Przybylko (Cory Burke 63′)
Subs: Matt Freese, Nathan Harriel, Jack McGlynn, Paxten Aaronson

New York City FC

Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Malte Amundsen (Gudmundur Thorarinsson 68′); James Sands (Andres Jasson 77′), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi; Santiago Rodriguez (Thiago 68′), Nicolas Acevedo, Jesus Medina (Talles Magno 77′); Valentin Castellanos (Keaton Parks 77′)
Subs: Vuk Latinovich, Luis Barraza, Tayvon Gray, Tony Rocha

Scoring Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 67′ (Kai Wagner)

Disciplinary Summary

NYC: Jesus Medina — 25′ (foul)
NYC: James Sands — 36′ (foul)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 78′ (foul)


  1. In Tanner We Trust says:

    So many positives to focus on, so I’m going to ignore the negatives. 1) I hope his family situation is resolved and I hope he’s happy here, but Monteiro being back is a huge plus for the team itself. 2) Santos continues to motor around and I have to believe his goals will start to pile up eventually. 3) Just a reminder that we have the best left back in the league. 4) Anybody still calling Martinez a liability? 5) Bedoya should still get less minutes for his own good, but I’m so happy for him to get a goal after hours of hard work despite a scoring drought. 6) We. Still. Have. A. Chance. Against. America. Hopefully Monteiro is still here in mid September. Oh also Powell was pretty solid, although I look forward to Olivier’s return. And they wisely extended his contract, for those who missed that news.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    I believe in intellectual honesty and for 12 years have been relentless in my criticism and love of this team. Most times fairly I believe. It is bond.

    What a literal Jekyll and Hyde game. I can’t quite reconcile how a team can look so bad then so much better in the span of a 15 min interlude. I eviscerated them on Twitter throughout the first half and rightly so IMO. I do stipulate the wind playing more a part then I could see from the non shelter if a basement I watch from but have to think the manager (who looked quite aggravated at moments in the first half) gave his players a stern and needed talking to.
    Not much more to say besides… in hindsight seeing Jamiro play I am inclined to think—- wouldn’t it have been nice if he played in the biggest game in team history last week…quite dumbfounded.
    Strange Strange story none of us will ever get to the bottom of there. I liked the live post game Twitter feed. Thanks for fielding my question.
    Anyway. Terrible first half. Much better second half. 3 points and a sizable jump up the table —they need to build upon. Carry on, gentlemen- It needs to be better.
    “Gotta get it together.”

    • They were pretty bad in the first. Got the job done. Something to build on with America Pt II looming

    • Monteiro was suspended from CCL due to yellow card accumulation so he wouldn’t have played anyway

    • Montiero was suspended for leg 1 against America due to yellow card accumulation….if he was with the team he wouldn’t have played. Nothing to be dumbfounded about.
      Hopefully he’ll replace Flach in the starting 11, as Montiero is a much better on the wing than Leon is.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Gentlemen. Excellent call regarding suspension. A forgotten fact. I rescind the comment.

    • When playing the 10 neither Gazdag nor Monteiro hit the press as fast as Brendan Aaronson used to.
      We will need to see if Monteiro still gets called up by Cape Verde. Were it preseason, he would go 45 against Montreal.as he rebuilds being 90 minutes match fit. Were he fully fit Cape Verde would likely take him after the Montreal match for both DC on the 28th and N Eng on the 3rd.
      The picture of him arriving at the stadium looking happy was encouraging. Tanner’s comments make it sound like he might finish the season. Here. Playing well is in his self interest if returning home over the winter is his goal.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I don’t think they can take him for the DC match as the international window doesn’t open until the 30th. It’s not like the Gold Cup or other summer tournament where teams get to take the players early because the rest of the world is in the off season.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      The wind was a big deal. I was fortunate enough to get some great seats at the last minute last night and the breeze was stiff and relentless. Bad clearances were a lot more because of the air than anything else.

  3. I think the wind played a much bigger effect than people were giving it credit for. Kicks in the air were going a good 20-30 yards further when heading away from the river end.
    It didn’t matter due to an offsides but I was impressed by Glesnes’ clearance that glanced off the scoreboard.
    Powell showed why he was available as a free agent. He was good one minute and then would flub an easy ball out of bounds with no one on him the next.
    Didn’t feel like going back and checking, but didn’t Bedoya score the goal in the 1-0 win against NYCFC in the MLS is back tournament last year?

    • I thought the good far outweighed the bad for Powell tonight. He did a really nice job multiple times shielding an NYC attacker off the ball for a goal kick once we had the lead. He’s a very good backup RB to have on roster.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Yeah I remember that game was a tale of 2 shots on goal that looked pretty similar. Blake made an amazing save and Johnson failed to keep out Bedoya’s well-placed strike. And I tend to agree with Mike, Powell is a solid #2 until Harriel is ready.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I agree with the wind Andy… I was there and it was brutal. It was clear to me NYC wanted to get a goal as fast as possible, with the wind in the 1st half, and then would’ve probably parked it. Glad that didn’t happen

  4. They got the win so I’m happy. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Jamiro. I’m glad he’s here for now. I still think the starting lineup is unbalanced. On to the next one.

  5. By the way, does anyone know why Elliott got the yellow when it looked like Flach committed the foul? Or was I mistaken there?

    • Delco Roots says:

      I was confused as well, Andy. Flach absolutely brought the Pigeon down, not Elliott. I assumed Elliott got the card for dissenting.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      Flach was called for the foul that stopped play. Elliott got the card for an earlier foul moments before, where he allowed them to play on.

  6. Atomic Spartan says:

    I finally understand. The Union have invented the Law of Averages Offense. Can’t break down defenders? Lack creative ideas? Just keep on lumping and crossing till something happens.
    It’s aggravating to watch and really shouldn’t work. It’s just not very good soccer. But it’s ours and it beat the Pigeons. So maybe it’s time to just own it.
    Well done to a stalwart defense. Kudos to der Kaiser and Captain America.

    • Wind played a role as did the NYC press, hoping we get some of our possession game back if/when Monteiro gets back in the lineup (hopefully at the 8)

    • Glad for the second half turnaround and win.
      There were multiple times when an open Union player was near or inside the top of the box or simply a half-turn away to see wide-open space for the taking…
      No simple pass to the unmarked attacker in the box…
      No half-turn to drive toward the open attacking penalty circle…
      Instead, kick it back out wide for another cross… over and over. It was not EVERY time, but when they veered from the “cross it again” script, I was genuinely pleased and surprised.
      I just don’t understand the cross after cross attacking script. Can’t we be a pressing, counterattacking team that can attack creatively too?

  7. So great to see a win tonight, but can’t help but to feel their system is built on a unicorn.
    Brendan was a creative player who pressed like defender because he was a teenager and didn’t know stars don’t press.
    Love Gazdag going forward but he doesn’t press.
    Was annoyed about Montiero coming in at #10 cause he’s not one, but his pressing changed the game and they scored and won. (My bad)
    So is the system right or wrong, and who’s the next unicorn?

  8. Lesson learned appears to be: This midfield doesn’t work without Monteiro. What a strange and baffling situation his absence has been. Glad he seems to be back without any hard feelings, because he’s desperately needed.

  9. Good team wins sloppy game against better team. I’ll take it.
    Having watched last nights feeble attempts to get forward I see no way back against America but appreciate others’ optimism.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Yeah the offense consisted of cross after cross, which is never a recipe for success. The CA part 2 game will be be entirely decided in the first 20 minutes. If the Union came out gangbusters and get one… game on. At the very least if it isn’t 1-0 Union by half… it’s all but over. Hopefully Montiero is back and they can work in the new striker over the next few weeks and then give it hell vs CA

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Our usage of subs will be key, and how soon they come in. We’ve seen them bring energy before but it’s hard to erase a 2 goal lead in 15 minute cameos. I think Curtin will go with Martinez, Monteiro, Bedoya, Gazdag but if it’s scoreless at halftime I think he must pull the trigger on at least Sullivan, maybe 1 or 2 others. Maybe Ilsinho is fit by then and proves us all wrong, but I really don’t think it’s an Ilsinho game. If subs are gonna be the difference, Curtin has to trust the kids.

  10. Old Soccer Coach says:

    How the roster mechanics are working is a real question.
    The roster as listed on the Union’s website had 32 players on it late morning Wednesday.
    The notes about rosters below each one on the MLS website says the upper limit is 30. Oravec is loaned out, and Anton Sorenson is reported as wearing his old number now for Union II, so Oravec can be presumed to be inactive.
    Who is the other listed player who does not count, since Monteiro is clearly active again?

    • Maybe De Vries? I seem to recall hearing rumors he was going out on loan to Italy.

    • Maybe Sorenson’s on a pre-contract and his first team status won’t kick in until next year like we’ve done with some other homegrowns in the past

  11. Key thing was the shutout yesterday. Union now in 1st place, tied in clean sheets with Seattle, Colorado and Nashville at 8.
    Almost gave up hope after the first half with no shot on goal. Great 2nd half display!

  12. Said it a million times….the Union are a different side with JM on the pitch.

    • I agree, it’s great to see Jose Martinez and Jack McGlynn get playing time 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • I see what you did there, I’ll bet you knew exactly who I was talking about…….come on man….McGlynn hasn’t earned a capital letter yet……and let’s just be happy Martinez didn’t assault anyone last night……

  13. A day removed, and stopping in to say Ale’s run onto that header goal was lovely.

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