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Match report: FC Cincinnati 1-2 Philadelphia Union

Kacper Przybylko and Paxten Aaronson scored to lead a shorthanded Union squad to a 2-1 win over Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers FC Cincinnati in Cincinnati on Saturday night. Former Union player Haris Medujanin pulled the hosts within one late on, but Philadelphia hung on for the victory and a crucial three points.

Jim Curtin was forced to make five changes from the team that beat Columbus last weekend. The Union lined up with three at the back with Stuart Findlay joining Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes. Leon Flach and Nathan Harriel were deployed as wingbacks with Jack McGlynn and Alejandro Bedoya protecting the backline. Paxten Aaronson started in the offensive midfield. Matt Freese came in to start in goal for Andre Blake.

The Union had a decent chance to open the scoring in just the 5th minute. McGlynn intercepted an errant Cincinctti pass and found Aaronson 30 yards from goal. Aaronson played a pass to Sergio Santos at the top of the box and the striker took one touch before firing a shot with his left foot that was well saved by Przemyslaw Tyton.

Cincinnati would have a decent chance to take the lead in the 11th minute. Brenner got in behind a high Union backline and was one on one with Matt Freese. Jack Elliott did well to retreat and pressure the striker and Freese made himself big, bug Brenner could only drag his shot wide in the end.

Cincinnati would have another great chance to open the scoring in the 31st minute. Former Union man Haris Medunjanin picked a great pass to first half substitute Isaac Atanga, but the strike from just inside the box was well saved by Matt Freese.

The Union would take the lead just before the half through Przybylko. Philadelphia attacked quickly winning the ball near midfield and Jack McGlynn played a great ball behind the Cincinnati backline for Paxten Aaronson to run onto. Aaronson’s cross was deflected right to Przybylko, who did very well to control the ball with his first touch and take his defender out of the play before firing high into the top left corner for his 10th goal of the season.

Philadelphia would double their lead in 56th minute. Jack Elliott, who pushed forward into the holding midfield role after halftime, did well to advance the ball through midfield and find Nathan Harriel on the right side. Harriel hit a perfect, curling cross straight to the head of Aaronson, who got his header down from five yards out. Tyton got a foot to the header but couldn’t keep it out.

Cincinnati would reduce the deficit to 2-1 in the 82nd minute. The hosts advanced the ball down the left side, and a cross was blocked but straight into the path of Medunjanin, who coolly stroked home from the top of the box with his left foot into the top right corner of Freese’s goal.

The Union would hold on for a crucial 2-1 win and remain third place in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind Nashville. Philadelphia are next in action when they travel to Montreal next Saturday (1 p.m.).

Three Points

  • Beating a bad team. Cincinnati was the better team for much of the first half, but the Union went into the half winning 1-0 against the run of play. They grabbed the crucial second goal through Aaronson and hung on even after Medunjanin halved the deficit.
  • Auditions. Jack McGlynn, Paxten Aaronson, and Matt Freese all stepped up given starts in Cincinnati. McGlynn and Aaronson were involved in the first goal, Aaronson scored the second and Freese was terrific all night and unlucky not to keep a clean sheet.
  • Formations. Not sure we’ll see the 3-5-2 again after the Union looked very uncomfortable in it for much of the first half. Stuart Findlay and Nathan Harriel seemed particularly out of sorts in the formation. Philly looked significantly more comfortable in a 4-4-2 after halftime, with Elliott slotting in the defensive midfield role.

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese, Jack Elliott, Stuart Findlay, Jakob Glesnes, Jack McGlynn (Matt Real 65′), Alejandro Bedoya (Jesus Bueno 84′), Leon Flach, Nathan Harriel, Paxten Aaronson, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos (Quinn Sullivan 15′)
Subs: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Davo, Anthony Fontana

FC Cincinnati

Przemyslaw Tyton, Gustavo Vallecilla (Geoff Cameron 31′), Tyler Blackett, Zico Bailey (Chris Duvall 72′), Edgar Castillo, Luciano Acosta, Haris Medunjanin, Caleb Stanko (Kamohelo Mokotjo 46′), Brenner, Yuya Kubo (Isaac Atanga 31′), Alvaro Barreal (Brandon Vazquez 65′)
Subs: Kenneth Vermeer, Allan Cruz, Calvin Harris, Arquimides Ordonez

Scoring Summary

PHI: Kacper Przybylko – 45+3′
PHI: Paxten Aaronson – 56′ (Harriel, Elliott)
CIN: Haris Medunjanin -82′

Disciplinary Summary

CIN: Edgar Castillo – 68′ (foul)
PHI: Matt Freese – 82′ (time wasting)


  1. Not the prettiest game but 3 points on the road for the first time since before Memorial Day was definitely a good thing for the team.
    Of the 14 players the Union used, 8 were 23 or younger, so some sloppiness was expected. Interesting that gave their man of the match to Harriel.

    • I thought Harriel had it rough but then I saw this tweet listing his stats:

      Larry Henry Jr
      Nathan Harriel is a player I am excited to see more of. 90 mins at RWB, 3 key passes, 8/12 duels won, 4 clearances, 6/6 tackles won, 1/3 aerials won, 6 recoveries, created most chances (4). #DOOP HG was sensational.

      Those stats surprised me.

      • Fantasy Sports has skewed has players are viewed. JP and DH were saying how he was caught out of position a lot this match on the broadcast. He was getting beat over the top a lot, and was fortunate to not concede a goal or two.

      • IMO, Harriel had the kind of game you might expect from a talented young defender who was playing in a role he wasn’t fully accustomed to yet. Harriel did a great job contributing to the attack and was very solid in 1v1 defending, while he was also caught out of position a lot. He’s going to get better at positioning, so its good to see the rest of his game is where it needs to be.

        He wasn’t my MOtM, but I was definitely impressed with him.

    • Yeah also surprised about the MOTM. I was not listening to the Union broadcast, but I still noticed how the Union were getting beat on both flanks, and Harriel (and Findlay) were mainly responsible. I’m not getting down on either player — it was a weird formation, and a bunch of guys who haven’t played together — but they still have to take some responsibility.

      MOTM for me was easily Aaronson. That kid is the Real Deal Redux.

  2. Is there a single good reason why Aaronson should not be our starting 10 going forward?

    • Endurance.

    • Size. Just like his brother at that age he needs to beef up a bit to be able to handle the physicality of the MLS defenders week and week out.

    • +1. The kid is consistently dangerous, moreso than Gazdag. The Hungarian is still adjusting to the league and might be better next season, but Paxten will also undoubtedly be better next season. (Of course, next season Monteiro will likely be gone, and maybe they both start…)

  3. Micah Bertin says:

    What was the vertical leap on Paxten’s header? Am I the only one who was really impressed?
    That could become a significant arrow in our attacking quiver

  4. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I’ve been quick to praise everything Sullivan does but this game may have proved that Aaronson and McGlynn are right behind him. Also a nice cross from Harriel on the 2nd goal and some great saves from Freese. I think Aaronson’s performance in this game sealed Fontana’s fate long term, which is bittersweet for sure. Pax is clearly the future. Oh and one more thing… I’ve been very critical of Kacper but that touch and finish was really clean. Something you see elite strikers do, showing composure and giving themselves a chance to make a play. Hopefully we see more of that. Glad to get 3 points.

  5. Great job by Freese, for me MOTM. He’s a keeper…

    • Agreed. Only negative was that he wasn’t able to go another 5-10 minutes before picking up the yellow for time wasting.

  6. Update on the Union players who are serving their country:
    Blake/Powell – I’m assuming most of you saw the USA-JAM game Thursday night. Blake went the distance while Powell came off in the 85th.
    Monteiro – Came on as the halftime sub for Cape Verde who was trailing Liberia 1-0. Provided a huge sparkplug in getting the team going. Scored the tying goal before the team eventually won 1-2.
    Mbaizo – Started and played 66 minutes in Cameroon’s 3-1 win over Mozambique. Score was 3-0 when he was subbed off.
    Martinez – Didn’t see this game but the timeline shows that Martinez started and played the first 65 minutes at which point Venezuela was in position to pull the 1-0 upset over Brazil. After Martinez left, Brazil scored 3 to win 1-3.
    Gazdag – Rode the bench in Hungary’s 0-1 loss to mighty Albania.
    Cape Verde (ESPN+), Jamaica (Paramount+), and Venezuela (Fubo) all play again today. Cameroon (ESPN+) plays tomorrow. Hungary (ESPN+) plays England on Tuesday. Jamaica and Venezuela also play on Wednesday.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Thanks, knew the results but had no idea Martinez was subbed before the 3 goals. That’s brutal. I guess Venezuela doesn’t have a Leon Flach…

    • Monteiro started today but got subbed out in the 69th minute with the score 0-0. He miskicked a great chance at goal early in the second half.
      A highlight was when the announcer said that a throw in went to “Jamiro the trickster” and Monteiro then immediately nutmegged the defender along the end line.

      • Stoppage time own goal gives Cape Verde the 1-0 win. In typical Union fashion Monteiro managed to pick up 20+ minutes after he’d been removed from the game for preventing Liberia from taking a throw in deep into stoppage time.

    • Martinez went the distance today in Venezuela’s 2-1 win over Ecuador. I didn’t watch the game but did see that he picked up a yellow in the dying minutes of stoppage time. Former Union forward Fernando Aristeguieta came in as a sub and also picked up a stoppage time yellow.

    • In Jamaica, Powell came off in the 38th minute. I was paying more attention to the US game so I did not see the reason but I’m guessing injury.
      Blake also picked up some sort of leg injury while diving for a save. He stayed on but by the end of the game was not taking his own goal kicks.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I saw Canada had 67% or so percent possession, so I imagine Blake came up big if the score was 0-0

      • Canada only had 2 shots on goal so Blake didn’t have to be great except for 1 big save. The one he got hurt on was wide.

      • a match commentary I consulted about the Powel departure said injury but only that word, no details.

  7. so happy to see matt freese playing last night…..locally grown, well raised, skilled, smart, an inspirational young man…go matt !

  8. Great 3 points on the road with the youngsters. Anyone else get a chuckle when Sullivan went head long with the step overs at Cameron and ran into him like he was brick wall and them he wiped him off his chest with one arm? I thought it was hysterical…and not being hard on Quinn, he went at him fearlessly… just didn’t come off right and was pretty comical. When you consistently win matches and play well you can find more humor I guess.

    • I liked that play as well as the one where the ball went out of bounds by Curtin’s box. Medunjinan went over, Curtin handed him the ball and they shook hands. Haris then promptly tossed the ball to a teammate to actually take the throw in.

  9. Great game!
    Wonder what the avg age was after Quinn came in? How many homegrowns on field?
    Pax10 is real deal!
    Watching Brazil vs Venezuela now. Not sure that Yeferson Soteldo is a whole lot better than Pax10 in 2yrs. Yeferson Soteldo Is listed on transfermarkt at $8.8M.

    • Average age went down even more when Bueno came in for Bedoya. Homegrowns were Freese (not sure is he’s technically a homegrown, but went through the academy), Harriel, McGlynn, Aaronson, Sullivan, and Real.
      Are you watching VEN-BRA from Thursday or VEN-ECU from today? If the latter, what was Martinez’ card for?

      • My understanding is that Freese remains a Homegrown even after signings contract extension.
        It will matter for the Charlotte FC expansion draft. If he is a homegrown he is exempt from the draft process altogether.

  10. Such a better game than the US game! Think Curtin could have done a lot better last night!

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