Union match reports

Match report: Minnesota United FC 3-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Despite a breakout performance from Daniel Gazdag, Philadelphia Union couldn’t overcome a defensive disaster class falling 3-2 to Minnesota United at Allianz Park Wednesday evening.

It was a sloppy night with a performance matching the weather in quality, yet the Union still finished the night holding the third position in the Eastern Conference.

Entering the match, the Union had never lost to Minnesota— going 2-0-1 in the previous three matches.

Union head coach Jim Curtin went with experience in the midweek clash with none of his talented teenagers featuring in the starting 11. Surprisingly, Curtin opted for the “Christmas tree” 4-3-2-1 formation used only once this season in an embarrassing 3-1 loss against D.C. United back on Aug. 28th.

Adrien Heath, the experienced manager leading United, deployed his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation that’s helped them stay just above the playoff bubble. Minnesota entered holding the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

Despite the lack of history, it was a chippy opening.

Play was physical, and a water soaked pitch didn’t aid in the quality of play. Slips turned into dives, and passes were less than precise. Neither side looked better or worse than the other.

But before the first 45 minutes concluded, two goals of varying quality added note to an otherwise ho-hum half.

With less than five minutes before the halftime whistle, the Union conceded a defensively laughable goal. Midfielder Jose Martinez was turned over in Philadelphia’s third, and United hesitantly carved through a less-than-sure-footed Union defense. The ball fell to forward Adrien Hunou who beat Andre Blake from almost point blank range at the near post.

It seemed the Union gifted Minnesota a halftime lead.

But in the 45th minute, Daniel Gazdag scored a beauty.

The other No. 10 in Philadelphia’s formation, Jamiro Monteiro, chested a ball down in the center of the attacking box. The Cape Verde international played his pass to his Hungarian counterpart. His first time strike from the edge of the 18 curled spectacularly by a helpless Tyler Miller in net. It was the type of skill that hints at Gazdag’s potential with the Union.

It didn’t take quite as long for a goal to come in the second frame.

On a corner in the 54th minute, captain Alejandro Bedoya flicked on a header as a likely pass. While it was too near to Miller, the keeper bungled his palming effort. With one foot on the goal line, Gazdag headed home his brace from a “can’t miss” location.

But the lead was short lived.

The Union gifted Minnesota another goal in the 63rd minute.

Right back Olivier Mbaizo tried a no look back pass to center back Jakob Glesnes. If he was looking he would have seen United’s star Emmanuel Reynoso in between. Glesnes slipped trying to recover, and Reynoso played an easy ball to substitute Robin Lod. Blake had no chance on the equalizer.

The defensive calamity continued four minutes later. This time it was Kai Wagner who slipped and gave the ball away in his own box. While Blake made the initial save, winger Franco Fragapane headed home the rebound to give United the lead.

Philadelphia press for a point was buoyed by the stupidity of Minnesota full back Romain Metanire. As Wagner tried to get the ball to restart play, the Malagasy defender winged the ball at the German’s face. It was an easy red card— one of the few cards referee Allen Chapman was willing to produce.

Down a man, Minnesota packed it in. The Union, continuing their struggles with a man advantage, could not produce any late game heroics which sunk them in Montreal.

After concluding their three game road trip, the Union return home for a crucial game at Subaru Park Saturday night. Their opponents, Nashville SC, entered the evening one spot above Philadelphia in a crowded Eastern Conference.


Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo (Anthony Fontana 89′), Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner; Alejandro Bedoya, Jose Martinez (Paxten Aaronson 84′), Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn 73′); Daniel Gazdag, Jamiro Monteiro; Kacper Przybylko
Subs: Stuart Findlay, Nathan Harriel, Quinn Sullivan, Matt Freese, Jesus Bueno, Davo

Minnesota United FC

Tyler Miller; Romain Metanire, Michael Boxall, Bakaye Dibassy, Chase Gasper; Wil Trapp, Hassani Dotson; Ethan Finlay (Robin Lod 61′), Emanuel Reynoso (Fanendo Adi 87′), Franco Fragapane (Joseph Rosales 87′); Adrien Hunou (Osvaldo Alonso 74′)
Subs: Brent Kallman, Jukka Raitala, Dayne St. Clair, Niko Hansen, Jan Gregus

Scoring Summary

MIN: Adrien Hunou — 41′ (Franco Fragapane, Emanuel Reynoso)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 45′ (Jamiro Monteiro, Kai Wagner)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 54′
MIN: Robin Lod — 63′ (Emanuel Reynoso)
MIN: Franco Fragapane — 67′

Disciplinary Summary

PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 5′ (other reason)
MIN: Romain Metanire — 77′ (red, violent conduct)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 78′ (other reason)
PHI: Jose Martinez — 83′ (foul)
MIN: Emanuel Reynoso — 84′ (simulation)


  1. Defense picked a bad night to have a bad night.

  2. I hope Martinez goes to Europe next season. His play led directly to the first two goals. Yes, Mbaizo should have been sharper too, but for some Martinez should have been going forward rather than playing soft back passes. And I realize Glesnes fell on the wet surface but again, it was due to lack of awareness on Martinez’ part to put him in that situation.

    • How is Martinez making it to Europe when he is the worst passer on an MLS team and can’t stop getting suspended..mbiazo should have been shaper? Dude, he tried a no look pass 5 yards in front of the box with two opponents literally on top of him..absolute trash play from a player who thinks he’s better than he really is

      • Martinez casually nutmegging a defender towards goal like hes on a playground led to the goal, i don’t blame mbiazo’s backpass at all. Why would martinez be so casual with that pass to mbaizo if he had a defender pressing in on him

      • Dude he no looked pass with the same casualness as Martinez’s unbelievably stupid pass and was even closer to goal than Martinez was, how you can say mbiazo has no culpability is a joke and we are not watching the same game

      • I’m trying to say that mbaizo didn’t look in part because of how casual martinez played him the ball

  3. Looks like everyone close to the Union in the standing played to a draw. Nashville had 4 players in yellow card jeopardy and two of them picked up cards (one of them picked up a straight red so he’s out regardless). They’ll be missing Mukhtar (who scored their goal tonight) and Haakenson Saturday night.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    I wrote this long ornate scathing post—then decided to bag it – tag it- sell it to the butcher next door” in favor of only this….

    ((( There are players on that field who don’t belong there. I can move on from a few of them, namely The 3 M’s: Montiero. Martinez. Mbazio.
    Martinez. He was so bad tonight I don’t even have words for it and that’s no Little Feat. He can go. Watching him tonight made me think of the song Dixie Chicken and the sap who’s woman left him high and dry for a guitar player because he was shit faced and lost all his money.
    Montiero. All I can say about him is MLS has turned him into a lazy lazy player. He can go too.
    Mbazio. The Third Musketeer. Can’t even discuss his game. I don’t like it even one bit. Same old same old —shitty touch after shitty touch. Lucky he didn’t get a red tonight.
    Glesnes. This one Defending like one of the three blind mice.
    Kacper. Kacper was there in body only tonight… as we now likely prepare for his autumnal hibernation after a quick and short ‘hot streak’ … He was asleep. Though I actually think he’s right sometimes- frustrated with the delayed service… he doesn’t get.
    Wagner rolling around like an absolute punk. Pitiful. I’m for The Dark Arts. I’m not for his histrionics. I’ve seen genuinely ill people with schizo-affective behavior act less obtrusively.

    Then Anthony Fontana. Buried on Jim’s DogHouse Ale of a bench only to be given a 5 min cameo at the bitter end there to GO GIVE IT A GOOD ONE. Repulsive and disrespectful IMO )))

    ….There is not one Philadelphia Union player WITH AN IOTA of vision, movement, talent or skill of Emmanuel Reynoso. And I’m jealous as fuck about it. Actually, it is envy. Not jealousy. Jealousy isn’t a bad thing per say. Envy is bad.
    You can always count on me- since the beginning- for measures of truth. They suck so bad sometimes.

    • That match deserved a rant. Gazdag’s brace was laid waste with much on the line for end of season opportunities. The ‘defense’ was wretched…comically bad for anyone but a Union follower, a Benny Hill calamity display with some 0-minus player ratings.

      • el Pachyderm is a poet!

        this match was painful. curtin should just tell el brujo, “look, when you get the ball, just boot it upfield; otherwise, kick someone’s ass when they attack us.”

    • Phish and Little Feat references in the same post. Me gusta.

    • McGlynn seems to have the VISION at least

    • Carles Gil, Zelarayan, Reynoso, the old Piatti on Montreal. These are the pace + skill players that just wreck teams. I too would love to have one of those…

  5. John O'Donnell says:

    Five points dropped in the last two games. We should be sitting at 51 in second place. This team isn’t playing with playoff intensity and until they do I see them as one and done. Twice they came back to steal points from themselves. .
    Do we ever take advantage of being a man up?

  6. As Andy notes, the Union got lucky that other East teams didn’t capitalize while we took an unnecessary loss due to horrific ‘defending’ tonight.
    . . .
    Still, the team hurt itself in two ways.
    . . .
    First, the playoff seeding race is extremely wide and close, and we did nothing to improve the situation. It’s even possible to not make the playoffs, although that’s doubtful given the points differences and matches left. We could lose an opening home game though.
    . . .
    Second, there’s been an outside chance that the Union could make the CCL again by finishing as the best 2nd team. Given the USOC wasn’t played this year, its slot will go to the best 2nd place team in the final standings. SKC is in 2nd in the West with 52 points, thus currently ‘2 wins’ over us for the remaining 4 matches. The odds of the CCL are now extremely low despite the Union playing two bottom dweller opponents in the last 4 matches.
    . . .
    It’s great that Nashville only drew tonight. They have only 3 points over us for 2nd, and they got a raft of cards so they’ll be on ‘double secret probation’ when playing us this weekend. If we get a good result, then it’s two bottom dwellers and NYCFC to get us into second or at least secured for a home playoff spot.

  7. Meh. They’ll make the playoffs, but 3 points would have been nice.

    Lost a ton of respect for Reynoso, who is a great player, for simulating a head shot when Olivier knocked him over. That shit needs to be stopped. Post game reviews should issue reds and suspensions for that. The very same should happen to U players if they do it. It may be “part of the game” but it doesn’t have to be.

  8. Remember that song, “Look for the Union Label”?

    Well, to that tune, I wrote this chant:

    Look for the Union DP
    When you are losing to Minn-e-sota
    Where is our Beckham?
    Our own Gallardo?
    We are the Union of Chester, P-A!

    I wrote another one for Robert Pires, but it is too vulgar to share, and it’s in French.

    This is on the ownership… Get a great player, finally! ENOUGH! Adu? Barnetta? Puh-leez!

    Until MLS stops priding itself on developing talent that European clubs snatch up, this will always be a mediocre league.

    But at least the Eagles are winning, right? And Ben Simmons is a Philly legend!


    • I don’t think a DP helps. The issue last night was the defense. Pretty much all 3 goals were ones that a U-10 team could have scored against them the way they gave up the ball.

      • A player like Gallardo wouldn’t help?

        Go buy your overpriced turkey soon, dude.

        We have the lowest number of goals scored for any team in the Eastern Conference on the verge of the playoffs.

        A true, creative number 10 wouldn’t help?

        The Union need Ben Simmons!

  9. Nashville, Atlanta, DC and Orlando all couldn’t win at home, so I’d argue that they missed their opportunity more to gain points. Union win on Saturday and they’re in 2nd place, simple as that. There were so many things wrong with last night’s performance, but mainly someone just needs to sit and talk with Martinez and show him the film.

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    The Good: Gazdag
    The Bad: Pretty much everything else
    Just a maddening, winnable road game that the Union gave away. Obviously Saturday is more important, but with all the other teams tying last night, this was such a prime opportunity to at least pick up one point… let alone you were in position to get all three.
    I believe I saw on Twitter last night that Nashville will have their top scorer Mukhtar and another player suspended on Saturday due to yellow cards. Union have to seize this opportunity and not let Nashville pack it in and play for their 10,000th draw

    • You’re close. Mukhtar will be out due to yellow card accumulation. The other player (who is generally a sub) would have been out with a yellow, but instead will be out due to a straight red :-).
      Both were 90th minute or later.

      • Never mind, I just saw that the red was rescinded after VAR and changed to a yellow, so you were right all along, Wolfpack.

  11. A 2-1 win turns into a 3-2 loss on a night when our struggling 10 actually nets two goals. Costly mistake and unhurried play. Absolute shame.

  12. The Union are 7-7-6 in MLS when Martinez plays and 5-1-4 when he doesn’t. The one loss with him not in the lineup was the loss to New England just before Labor Day when they were missing 7 others to international duty and suspension. I’ll argue the Flach provides the same defense in that position without the bad turnovers we’ve seen over and over from Martinez.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      His play has been horrid. I’m unsure if he’s pspread too thin with trips back and forth to South America. Who knows. But his play has been HORRID.

    • Constantly playing with Venezuela has taken a toll this season.
      Similar negative effect with Monteiro I’d say.
      Our best players are 2 steps behind last season’s level.
      No one else healthy can pick up the slack. Maybe Gazdag will maintain last game’s form. Hopefully.

      Aaronson and Sullivan are nice impact subs. Starting they reveal their true status.

      I hope Blake can get back to top form we will need him there.

  13. vagabond ben says:

    Is Davo Portuguese for Oravec?

  14. Team can be so baffling. Some really nice looking passages of play to get out of pressure in the back only to have someone dribble way too much into a crowd of defenders and get dispossessed. Yelling similar things to my TV I’d say to my U-14 team. Lots of really maddening play from both Montiero and Martinez… singling them out primarily because I expect better. Just mentally switched off. And the defensive failures leading to the goals were mindboggling. In the last 15, up a man, not sure I’ve ever seen the ball batted around the box so much without a purposeful strike on target. Better be better against Nashville on Sat.

  15. Not ranting about this one because, as Danny H. said on the broadcast, it was extremely uncharacteristic for them.

    Sometimes even a solid team lays an egg. Just move on. I expect they will be far more formidable against Nashville this weekend. (They better be, since I’ll be in attendance…)

  16. Does is drive anyone else crazy when J.P., in broadcasting these games, calls players by their first names? McCarthy does it during Phils broadcasts, too. I cannot stand it and might just take up pickleball!

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