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Match report: Toronto FC 2-2 Philadelphia Union

photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union threw away a first half lead and could only manage a 2-2 draw in Toronto on Wednesday night. Alejandro Bedoya gave Philly the lead in just the first minute, but Jozy Altidore drew Toronto equal in the 66th minute before the hosts took the lead through a Jack Elliot own goal in the 70th minute. Sergio Santos drew Philadelphia level with a great header in the 77th minute, but neither side could find a late winner and the teams split the points.

Jim Curtin made one change to the team that defeated Nashville SC on the weekend, with Matt Freese starting in goal after the death of Andre Blake’s grandmother ruled out the starting Union goalkeeper

The Union would take the lead just 32 seconds into the match through Bedoya. Kai Wagner found room on the left side to cross and found Daniel Gazdag with a ball near the penalty spot. Gazdag laid a pass into the path of Bedoya who finished first time in the lower left corner of the Toronto goal.

Philadelphia could have doubled their lead on 63 minutes. Wagner had room to cross again from the left side and picked out Przybylko near the edge of the six-yard box, but the striker’s first time shot was straight at Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.

Toronto would equalize in the 66th minute through Altidore. The Union failed to clear their lines as Przybylko played a poorly timed back heal near the edge of his own box that Noble Okello latched onto. His shot ricocheted off of Jack Elliott straight into the path of Altidore, who finished first time with his left foot from 16 yards.

The hosts would take the lead minutes later through Elliott’s own goal in the 70th minute. Jacob Shaffleburg found time and space to cross from the Toronto left and fired in a hard cross that Elliott slid to block, but could only hit the ball into his own net from close range with Altidore lurking behind him.

Philadelphia would equalize in the 77th minute. Wagner found room to cross from the left after a Union throw in, and hit a perfect ball as substitute Sergio Santos lost marker Chris Mvainga and headed in from 7 yards off the right post.

The Union would have a great chance to take the lead in the 81st minute. Jack McGlynn picked out Przybylko with a ball over the top on the right side, but the striker’s shot hit the top of the crossbar from 10 yards out.

Philadelphia were denied a penalty kick in the 89th minute. A Union shot hit the hand of Michael Bradley in the box, but the ball hit his stomach before deflecting off his hand.

Philadelphia slid to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with the draw, as Nashville came from behind to defeat Cincinnati and advance past the Union. Philadelphia host bottom dwellers FC Cincinnati on Sunday (7:30 p.m.)

Three Points

  • A draw that feels like a loss. Going ahead so early against a poor Toronto side, it felt like a match the Union should have controlled and saw out the win. But instead they let the hosts stick around and had to find a late goal to manage a draw.
  • Przybylko. The Friendly Striker had a poor outing, giving the ball away for the first Toronto goal and then hitting the crossbar on a great chance where he either should have scored or squared a pass for striker partner Sergio Santos late on.
  • Wagner. Left back Kai Wagner was involved in both Union goals with terrific service from the left side. His pin point cross for Santos late on assured Philadelphia at least came home with a point.

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya (Jesus Beuno 86′), Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn 73′), Jamiro Monteiro, Daniel Gazdag (Sergio Santos 58′), Kacper Przybylko
Subs: Joe Bendik, Stuart Findlay, Anthony Fontana, Nathan Harriel,  Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan

Toronto FC

Quentin Westberg, Chris Mavinga (Justin Morrow 83′), Michael Bradley, Kemar Lawrence, Auro, Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 65′), Alejandro Pozuelo, Jozy Altidore, Jacob Shaffleburg (Jayden Nelson 83′), Marky Delgado
Subs: Nick DeLeon, Eriq Zavaleta, Patrick Mullins, Alex Bono, Julian Dunn-Johnson, Jordan Perruzza

Scoring Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 1′ (Gazdag, Wagner)
TOR: Jozy Altidore – 66′ (Okell0)
TOR: Jack Elliott – 70′ (OG)
PHI: Sergio Santos 77′ (Wagner)

Disciplinary Summary

TOR: Chris Mavinga – 57′ (foul)
PHI: Jose Martinez – 87′ (dissent)


  1. 6th straight road game going back to August the Union have had the lead. 1 win in those games. What’s wrong with this picture? (Last road game they didn’t lead was in New England when they rested a bunch of starters prior to the FIRST leg of CCL semifinals.)
    Now the Union are possibly going to need a result at Yankee Stadium in order to get a home playoff game.

    • Andy, that is 12 or 13 straight road games where they’ve conceded at least 1 goal and 9 of those they’ve given up at least 2 goals! It’s amazing the night and day defensive stats from home to road. I don’t know how to fix it or if it’s even fixable at this point in the season. My biggest question besides that is if everyone is healthy (which they currently are), who starts….Flach or Gazdag?

  2. Players are human beings. When scared, many will retreat and not take any risks. When lacking confidence, they will be unsure and hesitant. When tired, they will make poor decisions. When complacent, they will make mistakes knowing that there are no ramifications to their actions.

    This core group is both tired and complacent. That had become evident as they play three matches each week with very little squad rotation by the manager.

    It doesn’t matter whether the manager only believes in his core group and thinks that his alternatives are not acceptable or the sporting director has not been given enough resources to field a first team which can compete for MLS.

    What does matter is that the status quo hasn’t been good enough and that needs to change.

  3. In Tanner We Trust says:

    It’s so sad that I wasn’t even surprised MLS refs didn’t bother to review a handball where Bradley clearly makes himself bigger. Refs didn’t decide the game, technically, but good lord. I’m about done with Kacper. Streaky strikers are dime a dozen. Sergio has graduated past that point. He is our best striker by far and if he’s not healthy come postseason I’m not seeing a lot of goals coming.
    Martinez made some more really bad decisions in what was overall a good game keeping Pozuelo relatively quiet.
    Like Andy mentioned already, THIS was the opportunity. If we don’t win against Cincy, are we screwed???
    Thought Freese was solid and ignoring the miscommunication with Elliott he impressed me.
    Where on earth were Aaronson and Sullivan in this game? I love Sullivan but I understand he hasn’t been as impactful lately so the snub is relatively forgivable. But Pax continues to prove he deserves minutes, much more so than Przybylko and why not go 3 in the back when Toronto’s defense was CLEARLY weakening toward the end. So many opportunities and Jim just sat back, alright with 1 point. Nashville made a huge comeback on the road and they look like the #2 team right now. Gonna be tough to beat them on the road with their best XI…

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I feel the need to add that McGlynn continues to be very impressive and under control with his passing. So much potential there, IF he gets quality minutes in his development.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Kacper spends more time fixing his shorts then he does with optimal production most games. Tonight being a PRIME example.

      He drives me bat shit crazy most games.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        All fair criticisms, but if Kacper gets heat so too should Santos. He barely plays in addition to being streaky.

      • I think “barely plays” is a stretch. Santos has appeared in 26/32 Union games this year, and he’s started half of them. Przybylko has played about 900 more minutes in total: he almost always starts, is very rarely substituted, and doesn’t get injured. No question that Santos’s value to the team is damaged by his consistent injury problems.
        KP, SS, and Burke have nearly identical goal-scoring numbers this year on a per-minute basis. Przybylko is at 1 goal every 226 minutes, Santos 1 every 227, and Burke 1 every 232.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Respectfully, how many have been penalties for Kacper? We all likely remember that time Santos did all the hard work only for Kacper to get the credit. Santos creates his own opportunities and space around him for others. Kacper needs great service from the midfield to even have a chance. I’m so sick of good buildups ending at his clumsy feet.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    Absolute scat of a game. Just unwatchable dRecK and yes I’m aware it was the 4th in 12 days. This is the pinnacle of the game in this country. Couldn’t complete simple passes. Just donkey kicking the ball sometimes as high as they could to pound it out of their end. Inexcusable. Inexcusable inexcusable. As inexcusable as the 97 people who care enough about soccer in Toronto to come to the game.
    That team is 3 years removed from winning MLS Cup. It is indefensible and an issue at multiple destinations across the league. No One Cares about MLS. It’s a simulacra. Nothing but a representation not the actual thing. I have gone to the mattresses with people here about it. Winning losing. It all matters on a proper culture and proper pyramid. It’s what makes the game different. Unless of course the game is owned by NFL.
    . 3 YEARS removed from winning MLS Cup and there were 351/2 people in the stands.

    What’s the point of soccer in toronto?

    New York. New York?
    I’ve watched more games this season with no fans than games with good turn out. It’s a major issue.
    But back to Union. Holy shit. Play different players Jim. Do something different FFS. They turn around in 3 days again and yea! maybe you’ve qualified for the post season -except your players are 1. cooked, 2. totally comfortable with their place in the line up and most concerning and aggravating 3. a complete hit or miss on Any Given Sunday.

    • I do not disagree with the Mighty Elephant’s rain-forest-felling trumpet that there were too few fans in the stands.
      I do point out that in trying to accumulate the Union’s attendance data, I learned that for the Montreal game (in Quebec province) anyone over 13 had to present a vaccination passport to gain admission.
      I have no idea whether that was a national requirement, a provincial one, or a local one since I do not live in Canada and do not know how their levels of government interact.
      I have no idea what Canadian vaccination levels are. I have no idea how a Canadian would get a vaccination passport and how quickly requests are being processed.
      I will say that after watching the Montreal game in Stade Saputo some days ago, I was not surprised that BMO Field was similarly empty.

    • I think MLS ticket prices are nuts, particularly in relation to the product on the field – and I say that as a person that watches a ton of MLS/Union. Add in 5 bucks for a soda, 20 bucks for parking, etc and it’s just too much. I don’t even own kids and it’s an expensive evening for me.


      I went to Atletico v Liverpool champions league match earlier this month. I bought a ticket in the tenth row at midfield for a 100 bucks – directly from the club. MLS playoff tickets cost more than that. The new “club” in Charlotte is making people buy seat licenses before than can even buy season tickets. It’s depressing stuff.

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        The concessions and parking have more to do with the city and state getting a cut. You do remember they gave money to help build the stadium and well….

      • el Pachyderm says:

        It is all hyperinflated. Just like the ‘fake’ valuations of the franchises. I get it with all the other ‘American’ sports…but fuck me if soccer couldn’t have been different. Unfortunately like so much of our culture from youth to majors it’s only about the money, cold and sterile- ‘fake culture’… and then we see the exact representation as apathy from casuals and fans who don’t show or have fingers waved from others as being eurosnobbish and anti MLS when raising valid points for why the game is niche. It’s niche because those in charge want it to be. “The game is functioning exactly as it is intended to function” as someone I appreciate argues.
        And maybe we still can see a right version of the game here. I have silently and quietly watched USL organize itself and it’s aims serve as a beacon, if not the actual light on what the game can be here.
        I hope it grows and builds out and rises up right next to MLS- though I may be dead before it reaches its potential…and then we can watch how people will give a shit game in game out whether they are in a dog fight for promotion, a dog fight for a title or a dog fight to keep from going down- where a reevaluation of investment strategy will be part of the business plan. and maybe it will be small potatoes…but it will be that much closer to real. Not the simulacrum we are being fed.

    • Toronto FC banned half of their own supporters…..including the Inebriati……one of the coolest supporters groups names in the damn league!

      • el Pachyderm says:

        …in the ever present drive for homogenization. This is no small point you are making.
        I don’t want lude behavior and people hurling ethnic slurs to ‘those not the same’ deeply embedded tribal culture that follows the game around the world…and to a degree I think the bonfire/flares in stands (while generally amazing) are a bit frigtening as we see with some hard cores in other countries… but our college football tribalism is something to be harnessed too and banning supporters groups is a typical MLS power play which in part causes the sterile environments in many cities. Hell I was at the Nashville game the other night and one small section of TRE in upper right corner was doing it’s own hyper-frenetic thing, while the rest of TRE was just kinda playing along and going through the motions… in a pretty drab manner if I’m being honest.

    • Dude, I have personally attended a match at BMO Field. That fan base came out in droves, 21K/game, for years and years, when TFC were absolute shit. As they were, in force, during the game I attended in 2010 against the Union.

      I agree that Toronto’s crowd last night was sad. But I would also avoid making too big a generalization from a single match. About the team or the league.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Fair and I understand Scott, thing is this season the team isn’t very good which is one of the overall points. I also think it is fair to argue the ‘new car smell’ back in 2010 had excitment reved up.
        Three years removed from MLS Cup, a strange Covid situation which has allowed the team to play at home this season after a long absence, some hard luck has them at the bottom of table and BOOM… a truly apathetic turn out for this game I am speaking of… coupled with the other clubs in enormou ctities with terrible attendance game in and game out. I think the two NY teams played each other a couple weeks back in their vaunted and totally fake ‘Derby’ and there was far less then 10,000 at the game.
        I think my point is valid and not jsut a generalization. In fairness though it would be intersting to see other Toronto games this season which I haven’t to gauge more closely.

  5. Yo. We got MLS’d y’all. The ref was fine almost all game and suddenly can’t get a call right in the last fifteen?? WTF

    • Higgs said on the broadcast that Bradley was saved because it appeared that the ball hit his stomach first. I would counter that the ball hitting his hand deflected it out of the path of Santos…thus denying a goal scoring opportunity.
      The fact that the VAR ref didn’t have the courage to ask the head ref to take a look at that play is a joke.
      Was it the reason the Union didn’t win? No. Their defense once again gift wrapped two undeserved goals to the opposition for the second Wednesday night on the road in a row.

      • That ball absolutely was sneaking through.

        As far as it hitting the chest first, there was no angle where I saw that. But it was clear as day off the hand. What you did see is Bradley pause, look around, and then go down holding his chest to try and sell something.

        As for the goals, yeah. They were soft ones. Kacper is at fault for the first one. And for missing his chances all match. And for stalling the attack playing backwards every time he got a ball. And for being out of position. He had me grinding my teeth all night.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I want to see Kacper get a 1 on the player ratings. He’s been flubbing chances his whole career, we’re used to that. But for a striker to make the defensive error, a completely unnecessary one, to swing the game…. that’s a benching. Please Jim grow a pair and bench him!

    • In regards to the review, the ball comes off Bradley’s nuts then to his hand, which is why he drops and it wasn’t put to the ref to review. From the head on angle, you briefly see the ball bounce from Bradley’s nuts as his shorts ripple from impact and then goes on to hit his hand. The term “unnatural position” has always driven me nuts. When playing any sport, ones uses their arms to balance their movement. How can having one’s arm out, or tucked in, as Bradley had it, be called unnatural, if that was the player’s actual reaction? I find a modicum of arm movement necessary when playing, and unless the player waves his arms like a bird or strikes a T-pose, then it’s hard to call arm movement unnatural. In fact keeping one’s arms “in tight’ is actually the unnatural position as one actually has to think about it to put their arms there. It’s a terribly worded and written rule by those who can only be determined to never have played the game. Just dumb.

      • Instant Replay dropped today. Charlie agrees it’s a penalty. Much better angles they have to show as well.

  6. Martinez sucks and needs to go…the ghost is just that and needs to go…

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Martinez back to himself– the wrong way last night. Had a nice game against Nashville but is just a black hole in really important areas on the field –with the ball at his feet.
      I’m a bit stunned by it to be honest. So far this season he has become the single most difficult player for me to reconcile with his drop of.

      • Well El Pach,
        I’m not stunned at all. This is what he does. He’s too hyper with the ball at his feet. His passes are sub par , trying to always press forward no matter what. His touch is a joke too. Always turns the ball over too. He sucks. Put Mcglyyn in his place and you’ll see a more organized , calm , and efficient line up. It’s time to start caring about possession.

  7. Nashville coach Gary Smith made a good decision Wednesday to rotate his squad when they were away to Philly and missing two starters to suspensions.
    He had his number ones fresh to go to Cincinnati in their last home game of the season for which they would be expected to make a supreme effort against a geographic rival, and his A-lineup overcame the home team’s special effort and won.
    He’s counting on the Union’s inability to win at Yankee Stadium.

  8. Solution = start Mcglyyn over Martinez. Then flach will act as the D mid. Either Davo or Sllivan in over Kacper. Bring in the young kids earlier in the game not the fucking 85 min. This does absolutely nothing. It’s not enough time to get comfortable in the game and make things happen.

  9. Get rid of the stupid 4-3-2-1…….it’s shyte.

  10. I thought the mistake was in taking out Gazdaq instead of Kacpar when Santos came in. They needed Santos’ speed up top, but the Xmas formation was working.

  11. Was that the xmas tree formation? Seemed more like the 4-4-2 to me with Gazdag and Kacper up top together. There was a lot of interchanging going on throughout the match with Miro floating from middle.

    • They came out in the damn Christmas tree and switched when Santos came in……pretty much acknowledgment from Jim it wasn’t working.

    • 9’s and 10’s are suppose to interchange regardless of shape…..if the 9 checks back between the levels….who gives you length???? The 10.

  12. In my head I wrote this season off long ago. The choice made to sit the kids on the bench for a season and withdrawing from the USL was a grievous error from the start. When the kids did play and showed better, yet were still kept on the bench, only compounded the original error and caused this fan to lose his shit. Since my Bedoya temper-tantrum in late summer, my engagement has been diminished and the want for this season to be over and the next begun, increased. This is a lost season in my eyes. So many lost opportunities for growth, integration and improvement. It’s been a slow motion car crash and I just want the end to come soon.

    • The team is currently #7 in the table out of 27 clubs. What team are you watching?

      • I’m watching the team that puts worse players out on the field than it has on it’s bench. I’ve watched an unbalanced team all season with the same issues game in and game out. I couldn’t give two shits about their position in the table. I’m tired of watching MLS’s version of Ground Hog day.
        Yeah I understand that my view is certainly the minority. Even more likely I’m the crazy old man yelling at the sky. Still, my concern is for the continuing development of the youth and that was stunted this season. I’ve no doubts they made gains but surely not as much as if they played more. Every year we lament the lack of squad rotation. This year is infinitely worse because talented young players that need playing time are sat on the bench. After this season is over do you really think it’s going to be one to be remembered? In five years are you really going to say “Boy ’21 was a great season wish we had that team back.” ? I’m betting no, you won’t be.
        I could be wrong and the Union go all the way and win the cup this year. I highly doubt it, but it could happen. Even if that does happen, the team still hindered it’s youth, while hurting next season and those after in the process. I’m greedy. I want more and freely admit it. We’ve been sold the youth development from within, so let us see it.

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