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Match report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 Orlando City SC

photo: Marjorie Elzey

Kai Wagner tallied in the first half in controversial fashion and Kacper Przybylko scored twice in the second half as the Union defeated Orlando City 3-1 on Sunday afternoon at Subaru Park.

Jim Curtin named an unchanged side from Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Club America. Sergio Santos recovered from injury to start on the bench, while Jesus Bueno made the bench for the first time in his Union tenure.

Philadelphia dominated possession for large portions of the first half but failed to create many clear-cut opportunities. Their first chance came in the 30th minute when some good interplay down the right side ended with a good cross from Olivier Mbaizo that Cory Burke couldn’t get a touch to. The ball was only half cleared and Leon Flach was presented with a good shooting chance from the top of the box, but his shot was wide of the right post.

The Union would take the lead in the 37th minute in controversial fashion through Wagner. Philadelphia won a free kick 40 yards from goal, which Wagner took and poorly gave the ball away with a low free kick down the middle. The assistant referee appeared to wave his flag for a foul on Kacper Przybylko on the free kick, but referee Alan Kelly didn’t whistle as Orlando tried to break. Wagner did well to break up the counterattack and the Union advanced down the left side through Przybylko and Burke. Burke cut the ball back to Wagner at the top of the box, and the left back’s shot took a wicked deflection and flew in to the top right corner of the Orlando goal.

Orlando would draw level in the 57th minute. Mauricio Pereyra did well to get down the left side and had time and space to loft a cross to the back post. Ruan lost his defender in Wagner and nodded a lovely, lofted header back across goal and in off the left post.

Philadelphia would retake the lead just four minutes later through Przybylko in the 61st minute. Alejandro Bedoya did well to force a turnover near the end line on the right side. Bedoya found Jamiro Monteiro, who drove into the box and found a wide open Przybylko eight yards from goal and the striker made no mistake, firing first time into the lower left hand corner.

The Union would have a great opportunity to add to their lead in the 76th minute. Jack Elliott hit a fantastic ball over the top for substitute Sergio Santos to run onto. The striker took one touch and fired a poor shot straight at the goalkeeper with his right foot when Przybylko was wide open for a tap in in the center of the box.

Philadelphia would secure all three points when Przybylko fired home from the spot in the 89th minute. Super sub Sergio Santos sped into the Orlando box down the Union left side and Antonio Carlos bundled into the striker from behind. Alan Kelly was quick to point to the spot and issue a straight red card to the Orlando defender for the clear denial of a goal scoring opportunity. Przybylko made no mistake with the spot kick with a powerful shot to the left of Pedro Gallese.

The win puts the Union into 7th place in the Eastern Conference and back into the playoff places. Philadelphia is next in action when they host red hot Atlanta United on Saturday (3:30 p.m.).

Three Points

  • Breathe. The Union are back above the playoff line after a big win against undermanned Orlando.
  • Fair Play, Kacper. I’ll admit that I called for The Friendly Striker to be withdrawn after another poor first half performance. But Przybylko found the game in the second half and probably more importantly found the back of the net with a clinical finish from close range and a confident late penalty.
  • Hey, Sergio! Santos came off the bench and put in a superb substitute performance, giving the Union a different dimension running behind the Orlando defense. Przybylko and Burke have shown little chemistry and Santos certainly made an argument for a start next weekend with his play.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya (Sergio Santos 65′), Jamiro Monteiro, Cory Burke (Daniel Gazdag 58′), Kacper Przybylko
Subs: Joe Bendik, Alvas Powell, Stuart Findlay, Paxten Aaronson, Jesus Bueno, Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan

Orlando City 

Pedro Gallese, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel (Silvester van der Water 75′), Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith (Joao Moutinho 68′), Ruan, Joseph Dezart (Raul Aguilera Jr. 20′), Mauricio Pereyra, Junior Urso, Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele (Daryl Dike 67′)
Subs: Michael Halliday, Emmanuel Mas, Adam Grinwis, Alexander Alvarado, Rio Hope-Gund

Scoring Summary

PHI: Kai Wagner – 37′ (Burke)
ORL: Ruan – 57′ (Pereyra)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko -61′ (Monteiro, Bedoya)
PHI: Kacper Przybylko – 89′ (PK)

Disciplinary Summary

ORL: Rodrigo Schlegel – 31′ (foul)
PHI: Leon Flach – 53′ (foul)
ORL: Ruan – 59′ (excessive celebration)
ORL: Benji Michel – 74′ (simulation)
ORL: Pedro Gallese – 80′ (foul)
ORL: Robin Jansson – 80′ (foul)
ORL: Raul Aguilera Jr. – 85′ (foul)
ORL: Antonio Carlos – 88′ (red card – denial of goal scoring opportunity)


  1. Watching the red card for the DOGSO makes me hate that we got robbed Wednesday even more. That’s a whole game changing decision that went the wrong way. And now that every one and their mother tweeted about it today and it was mentioned by the commentators, I had to relive it.

    That being said.

    I think Orlando fans might be some of the saltiest I’ve seen on Twitter today, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to rile them up.

    All in all. Decent game against an inferior team, so take it for what it is. We need to show up against teams that can actually score and defend. Still 3 points is 3 points. Well deserved.

  2. Now is precisely the right time for the strikers to get hot. Let’s hope this is the starting whistle.

  3. Well I hope that this is the start of the turn around because despite the win it was a really unsatisfying game. Besides a single nice run by Montiero and Santos changing the game, I still saw the same bad that got us into this position. Even the positivity of Santos proving he can change the game is overshadowed by the fact that he gets injured so, so much I feel like with him it’ll always be a case of “what if”.

    Bedoya is so, so cooked. His game is so deliberate, so slow, that even though he gets on the ball a lot due to sheer intelligence and positioning, he is never a danger on the right. At this point he is more likely to lull the defense to sleep than create anything on his own. (yes I know he had the nice backheel on the second goal, no I don’t think one good moment in many many games overrides my overall point)

    Flach has been playing better recently, and I think he is basically what Bedoya used to be. A feisty, determined glue guy who contributs to both ends of the field. But having him AND Bedoya on the field together is just not enough danger from the 8 spot.

    Montiero is not a 10, he never has been and never will be.

    I don’t think Martinez has ever had such an awful game as he did tonight. He was constantly, CONSTANTLY misplaying passes and killing counters. He looked really, really off.

    Przybylko had two goals sure, and yeah I hope this is the start of a hot streak for him. But I am not holding my breath. Burke is also nothing more than a nice rotational MLS striker – the guys touch killed multiple attacks for us.

    It is borderline insulting that Gazdag saw the field instead of any one of the 3 HGs. Like seriously. Pardon my french opinion, but Gazdag has not shown shit in his minutes so far, and him getting on the field in front of say Sullivan is just ridiculous and indefensible.

  4. I’m not sure if Santos is going to be fit to start Saturday, especially given that he was lying at midfield hurt after the game. If you can’t rely on him for at least 45 minutes, it makes sense to bring him on as a sub rather than as a starter.
    Yes, Orlando was undermanned, but they are still ahead of the Union in the standings so still a worthwhile win. I’m sure Curtin won’t be completely happy given that once again a poor goal was given up.
    The good news is that they have a game in hand against the three teams immediately above them. The bad news is that it will be played during the international break when they’ll likely be down 7 players again (and I’m guessing Cincinnati will be down several fewer).

  5. 3 points is always good, but I’m worried that the locker room is fractured. Santos was screaming at Noonan after Kacsper took his PK, Montiero doesn’t want to be here, Gazdag isn’t fitting in and looks miserable. Where’s Curtin’s vaunted man management?

    • You may want to consider that Gazdag has just added a newborn to his family. (See union post on Twitter in the last few days.) That might possibly be affecting sleep patterns.

  6. Better showing today than in the recent past. Not amazing, but a deserved win. Hope this gets Przbylko firing again. Santos back is a good thing. Definitely need more of him.

  7. Santos shows how valuable speed is to the attack…and how little the Union has other than him. Too bad he is so frequently injured.

  8. Lots to digest with that game. That shadow was wicked. Some good stuff today. Some not so good stuff today. It was an important victory so I’ll defer negativism. The team has a strange vibe to it though. It’s been such a weird season with so many stops and starts and players being away and and and…
    …I don’t know. A needed 3 points. Let’s see what comes of it. Carry on.

  9. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Echoing what many have already said, it’s nice to get the win but I’m not sure how much faith I should have. Faith is assured expectation of things seen, and I haven’t seen enough. Still gonna complain about not seeing enough from the kids, and where was Davo? By now it’s painfully obvious Kacper and Burke have no chemistry and are too similar to start together. Yesterday was a reminder that as frustrating as Kacper and Santos can be, their partnership in the past did produce several hot streaks. So we’ll see.
    Really sick of guys playing out of position, especially in the midfield which is such a key part of the squad. Flach yesterday did make me question if I was wrong and that he may have a future as an 8, but right now we need Monteiro in that spot. He had a great 2nd half yesterday, but none of it came from being a 10. It’s not his game. And on the other side, I almost question if Bedoya wouldn’t be really good opposite Martinez as duel 6s in a 4-2-3-1. It would bring some stability to CDM and it could give the kids minutes starting on the wings. Imagine how dangerous we could be starting Sullivan and Santos on the wings. Again, just a thought. Anything is better than Curtin hanging Ale out to dry and slowly trying to ruin his legacy here. Whatever happens next, let’s not forget that his signing was the beginning of everything changing.

    • Yeah I’m surprised Curtain hasn’t shown a 4-2-3-1 it would seem a better fit for this personnel.

      Good reminder about Bedoya’s signing and the overall impact he has had here.

  10. I feel like our strikers are simply too one-dimensional. They are tall and can clean up loose balls in front of the goal. Santos has speed on top of that but lacks some of the physicality of Kacper and Burke. The two big men can’t effectively move with the ball and a turn from receiving the ball onto goal seems more luck than intention this year. Santos seems to offer more than the other two, but none of them offer more than a basic skillset at the position. I feel like we’ve got a lot of basic pieces across the field that really rely on the entire machine functioning properly in order to perform passably.
    Last year Aaronson provided the creative spark and the touch of chaos that allowed everyone to thrive. It wasn’t as directly attributable to him as an individual last year, but the lack is glaring.

    • Chris Gibbonds says:

      “Touch of chaos” is the exact thing Aaronson brought to the team. Fans are remembering him with rose-colored glasses right now (forgetting he disappeared nearly every other match in a Union shirt), but that phrase is precisely what he did in either case. Nice.

      • In a tactically pressing team, if you’re not creating chaos up front you get what we’re watching this year. The opposition just moves the ball around and your transition game has to build through multiple levels of defense, instead of only breaking down the defense you just disrupted. Even if the Union’s opponents lose it on the distribution it’s still in the midfield already. Brendan’s (at times wreckless) attacks on the opposing defense broke passes across the back and really opened up shots for our strikers while they were facing goal.

    • Don’t forget Mark McKenzie’s contributions last year. He usally locked down one side of the field to the opposition, making it easier for the Union to defend.

      • I don’t feel like Elliot and Glesnes are a weakness. They play differently, but they strike me as a strong pair and mostly pick up any slack. They might not have the developmental upside that McKenzie did, but I don’t feel like they’re a big drop from his presence.

        At the same time, every little bit makes a difference over the course of a game. Still not the positions on the field I’d point to as our weaknesses. The really crazy thing is that I don’t feel like any of our players are not MLS starter quality – most of them are probably even better than 50% in the league on their own talents. I just don’t think we have the standout talents that can pick up the slack when one or two players have ‘off’ games. That and we’re stacked in a couple of positions (#6 with Martinez, Flach and McGlynn, #8 with Bedoya, Monteiro, sometimes Santos, Guzdag) and we’re lacking in others (#9 and #10). Some games players step up and play to their potential out of their best positions and we look fantastic. Other games we just look impotent and lost.

  11. Andre Blake’s fully extended save when the score was 2-1 deserves mention, IMO.
    We should give thanks. We should also be concerned that he was hobbling at the end of the match with some errant distribution.

    • Hasn’t errant distribution always been a trademark of Blake? :-). If you’re thinking of the same play as I am, Glesnes deserves some credit for getting up with the Orlando player to keep him from getting full force on the header which allowed Blake to make the save.
      That being said, I think Blake was poorly positioned on the goal he did let in.

  12. The good news is that the Union finally won. The bad news is that I’m watching guys fight over who should take a PK and guys constantly getting pretty upset with each other. Thankfully Santos came into the game to stretch the Orlando D because Burke and Kacper are incapable of doing it. This team has just seemed off most of the year and is still unable to break down a defense with gtheir passing or lack of it. They obviously need production from the strikers but when your shuttlers give you nothing offensively (1 goal, 4 assists total) it’s very difficult to win matches on a consistent basis.

  13. Chris Gibbonds says:

    I’m not as concerned about Santos being upset over the penalty choice. Of course he wants to take it, and of course Kacper does too – isn’t that kind of selfishness exactly what fans want out of a striker? Now, whether he should have been allowed to take it before Kacper is another matter, and one that has plagued the Union for everyone not named “Sebastien LeToux.”

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