Union match reports

Playoff match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 New York Red Bulls (ET)

Photo: Stephen Speer

One hundred and twenty three minutes of slop gave way to one of the most spectacular moments in Subaru Park history on Saturday afternoon.

Jakob Glesnes blasted an absolute golazo past Carlos Coronel in the final minute of extra time stoppage time, a volley from 25 yards that sent Philadelphia Union past rival New York Red Bulls and into the next round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Health and safety protocols forced Jim Curtin into two changes from his preferred XI. Both Jamiro Monteiro and Olivier Mbaizo, recently returned from international duty with Cape Verde and Cameroon respectively, were declared out due to the protocols. Curtin slotted Paxten Aaronson and Alvas Powell into their spots in the now-standard Christmas tree formation.

It felt like an occasion by the banks of the Delaware as the teams came out, the fans in a nearly full Subaru Park waving carefully color-coded blue and gold sheets of Mylar and tifo stretching from one side of the River End to the other.

The Union have conceded within thirty minutes of all previous home playoff games, and an early spell of possession put a few nerves in the crowd. But the Union recovered quickly, with Powell forcing Carlos Coronel into a strong save on a first-time shot.

If you hate scoring chances but love running, the rest of the second half was for you. Both teams chased the ball around the pitch with the energy and enthusiasm of a pair of U-8 sides. What few periods of sustained possession there were ended without really troubling either keeper. Kacper Przybylko found himself an isolated and frustrated figure, with little service and wayward touches any time the ball approached him.

The two teams, never exactly friendly, renewed hostilities with crunching tackles and post-whistle chest puffing. Dru Yearwood, who saw red against the Union earlier this season, picked up a yellow card for a brutal foul on Aaronson.

The halftime whistle came with just one shot on goal for either team.

It was more of the same to start the second half, with Andrew Gutman and Tom Edwards picking up yellows within the first ten minutes. But slowly the Union gained control, with Aaronson and Gazdag starting to find space in and around New York’s box. A shot by Aaronson by the edge of the box fizzed just wide.

It was his last action of the match, as Sergio Santos entered in the 61st minute. The Union changed to the 4-4-2 diamond and looked for a matchwinner.

Moments later, Red Bulls claimed handball when a ball clonked off Santos in the box. The referee and the VAR took a long look before waving off the shout.

Kacper Przybylko wasted a golden chance to get the winner in the 82nd minute. Leon Flach turned over the Red Bulls in the attacking half and slipped Santos behind the defense. The striker took the ball to the touch line, drawing in the defense before centering for Przybylko. But he could only manage to pop the ball well over the crossbar with his one-time finish.

Curtin had seen enough from his striker at that point, swapping Burke in for Przybylko in the 86th minute. Leon Flach came out, too, in favor of Jack McGlynn. Extra time loomed, with the Union in control but unable to generate the breakthrough.

Ninety minutes finished scoreless, and the teams regrouped for thirty more.

Andre Blake kept the score level in the 95th minute. Substitute Patryk Klimala got behind the Union’s defense and bore down on Blake, but the Jamaican captain got down quickly to keep the ball out of the net.

Philly’s best chance came in the 107th minute, when Cory Burke squared for Sergio Santos all alone near the penalty spot. Santos fired right down Broad Street, and Coronel got big to stone what would have been a winner.

The post kept the Red Bulls out moments later, when a well-worked move got the ball to Kyle Duncan in space in the box. Duncan’s shot beat Blake, but skittered off the post and harmlessly wide.

The saga of staggering misses continued with just two minutes left in the game, as Burke somehow flashed wide of the post from the six. It should have ended the match.

Then, the moment arrived.

The ball, circulating after a Union free kick, fell to the stalwart Norwegian centerback, about 25 yards from goal. The crowd shouted “shoot,” although it seemed a bit much even for a guy who only scores bangers. Glesnes controlled off his chest, took it on the volley and rifled it into the far corner of the Red Bulls goal, leaving Coronel left for dead and sending the River End into hysterics.

The roar at the final whistle was long and loud.

The Union are back in action next Sunday, Nov. 28, when they’ll host the winner of Tuesday’s match between Nashville and Orlando City. Kickoff will be at 5:30 p.m.

Three Points
  1. Jakob Glesnes. He only scores bangers.
  2. Big misses. The Union’s striker corps had a game to forget, with each failing to convert chances that should have ended the match long. One or more will need to find some form as the playoffs roll on.
  3. No style points. It was one of the ugliest games you’ll ever see (until the final minute), with both teams struggling to generate anything interesting for most of the game.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Alvas Powell, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya (Jesus Bueno 110′), Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn 86′), Paxten Aaronson (Sergio Santos 61′), Daniel Gazdag, Kacper Przybylko (Cory Burke 86′)

Subs: Matt Freese, Stuart Findlay, Nathan Harriel, Quinn Sullivan, Ilsinho

New York Red Bulls

Carlos Coronel, Andrew Gutman, Sean Nealis, Andres Reyes (Jon Tolkin FT), Kyle Duncan, Sean Davis, Dru Yearwood (Youba Diarra 116′), Tom Edwards, Omir Fernandez (Caden Clark 73′) (Daniel Royer 116′), Cristian Casseres Jr., Fabio (Patryk Klimala 58′)

Subs: Ryan Meara, Lucas Monzon, Wikelman Carmona, Frankie Amaya

Scoring Summary

PHI: Jakob Glesnes — 120+3′

Discipline Summary

NYRB: Dru Yearwood — 15′ (foul)
NYRB: Andrew Gutman — 51′ (time wasting)
NYRB: Tom Edwards — 52′ (time wasting)
PHI: Jose Martinez — 74′ (dissent)
NYRB: Andres Reyes — 79′ (foul)


  1. george rawling says:

    Jacob Glesnes, Striker

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed as loudly!

  3. What a payoff for fans. After two hours of the most amazing display of final third impotence, a wonderstrike from the center back in the stoppage time of extra time. Just awesome. Jakob Glesnes. Norwegian for Cristiano Ronaldo.

  4. The effort from both squads was really impressive. Yes, it was a slog but only because both teams were ready to sacrifice everything.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Appreciate this.
      I’m not sure an aesthetically pleasing game was ever played between these teams except the brief moment in time when Thierry Henry’s mere presence elevated the spectacle.
      Just Playing Well for me always has a different meaning against Red Bull.

  5. Latest goal in the history of MLS. Regular season OR playoff.

    November 28, here we come. Just 2nd time the U have made it to the East semis.

  6. I think most, if not all of us, have a new #1 moment as Union fans. Wow! Thank you Jakob! I was already predicting who Jim would pick to take the PKs haha.

    • I thought about it, but winning the Supporters Shield is still number 1 (although a lot fewer fans were there live).

      • +1

      • Yes that’s true, ok we’ll go with biggest goal ever

      • Definitely biggest goal, surpassing the winning goal in the playoffs 2 years ago both from the way it was scored, the time it was scored, and the fact that it was scored by someone we feel is an integral part of the team rather than just a mercenary.

  7. I thought after us missing three sitters that we would lose in pks. Glad I can keep Andre Blake on the pedestal of perfection. Brilliant save to keep us alive.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    As one of the harshest critics of this franchise over the years, couldn’t imagine posting anything sardonic after that game.
    Only in Philadelphia could a team win a playoff game against a fierce fierce rival and read about perceived failures. Mike Schmidt was so right. “The only city where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it.”
    What an epic display of character, skill and passion today by all the players involved and the fans that brought everything to the arena.
    Now what…fuck it. Let’s win the whole thing.

    • This is not the commentary I expected from you after a game of such spectacular ugliness! It was a slog, and I pulled hair out several times. But to have been in the stadium for that… yeah, it’s what Union fanship is all about.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Yup. That’s why I stipulate to being a tough critic to lead out– but not last night. Personally, I never expect games between Red Bull or Union to be anything other than what we saw. Like watching the Eagles Giants — just brutal affairs typically.
        I feel the tenor of the article, which should be reporting the game not commenting on it (in my opinion)… and some of the comments from posters about the strikers after winning a home playoff game against Red Bull is typical of what Mike Schmidt posited. This is the Philadelphia way.
        I don’t know. Maybe it’s me. Plenty of time to break down some of the aspects of the game over the week.

      • Pachy – keep in mind that the match report is basically written as the game unfolds. (You’ll note that I posted less than 10 minutes after the match ended.) So the report is going to capture the entirety of the game rather than just the final minute. And I think it’s tough to argue that the 122 minutes that came before the winner were anything other than messy. But you’re absolutely right that all people will remember, in the end, is that Glesnes goal. (In part because of the wonderful contrast between that moment of immaculate skill and so much of the play that came before.) Thanks as always for your thoughtful commentary.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Right on Peter. A fair rebuttal.

    • What does sardonic mean? Can anyone actually like Mike Schmidt, let alone quote him?

  9. RBNY opened brightly and the U did well not to concede in the first ten minutes. The result was just.
    I was watching with the sound off. Why was Paxten subbed out? I thought he was playing well

    • I think he wanted to get Santos on the field (and Santos would have had a huge assist if Kacper hadn’t skied it). So really it was a choice of Paxten or Gazdag. A month ago it would have be Gazdag coming off but given the form he showed for Hungary, I think Curtin made the right choice there. (Plus if the game had gone to penalties there’s something to be said for Gazdag’s experience there.)

      • My sons and I were very aggravated that he pulled Pax instead of Gazdag. The former had been playing much better in the match and should’ve stayed on.

        Now pulling Kasper for Burke was definitely the right move.

  10. There are items to be discussed later. But now: YEAH BABY!

    Who wears red to a Union game? Assholes

  11. What a game to initiate two of my kids. Loved every minute of that.

  12. John O'Donnell says:

    Has Jakob Glesnes ever scored an average goal for the Union? I wonder if the Pink Cows think we are a rival now?
    Not much to say about this one, other than I think the coach celebrated that goal like he scored himself.

  13. A 123 minute energy drink induced slog fest punctuated by one of the most beautiful Union goals ever. I’ve rewatched that goal more times than I care to admit.

  14. Atomic Spartan says:

    Thought Captain America was especially sharp. Gave it his all.
    Thor with the lightning bolt. Impetuous. Homeric.

    I haven’t screamed that loud at any other game. Total catharsis.

  15. June 10th, the Union sign Alvas Powell. November 21st, it pays off in the biggest way. He was rock solid pretty much all match.

    • Yes, going in I was a lot more worried about missing Mbaizo than missing Monteiro, in large part because Powell hadn’t played in over a month and I wasn’t sure if he was game ready.
      In the end, he not only had a fine game but also helped provide one of the funniest moments of the match. Late in the first half, he helped usher the ball into touch by shouldering one of the Energy Drinks. While they were busy arguing with the ref for a foul and the player was lying on the sidelines, Fang was standing right next to the player in the stands and kept peeking over the boards to look at the player and then looking away. Rinse and repeat until the player got up.

  16. After having a night to reflect, it’s time to start thinking about the game itself rather than just the raw emotion we had yesterday. One thing I thought the Union did really well and much better than the Dead Bull was to adjust to the how the ref was calling the game. Early on, Kacper was livid about not getting a couple of calls when he was taken down. But then it became apparent that the ref was letting the players use their hands and bodies in challenges. The Union realized this and became more physical and stopped arguing calls. The Dead Bull weren’t ready for the Union to adjust and were getting more and more agitated with every non-call. And originally I thought the ref was biased but then realized he was actually calling a very consistent game.
    Likewise, the Union were much better at not delaying restarts by kicking the ball away or picking it up and holding it (something they are frequently guilty of). Yesterday it was New Jersey getting the cards for that whereas the only times the Union would pick it up when it wasn’t their ball was to quickly toss it to the spot of the foul when it had gone 20 yards away and they were closer.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Every time NJ had momentum we responded pretty well. Annoying that the best we looked all game was followed by an injury that stopped the game and momentum for 2 full minutes!
      Like you said, the emotions are finally dying down. I’m ready to address the concerns. The biggest one is striker. Apparently Burke’s shot was deflected and Santos hasn’t really had a chance to heat up since coming back, but man that was brutal. If we exit the postseason largely due to an inability to convert chances from the forwards, it’s clearly time to find an upgrade and question again where Davo is. Maybe this is what it takes to give him a shot.
      Powell was great filling in, as Mbaizo was surprisingly not missed too much. Monteiro was definitely missed on both ends, it seemed Brujo and Flach were struggling to effectively cover ground at times despite heavy running.
      Speaking of covering ground, Bedoya was a monster in this game, and Paxten was the best on the field in my opinion before being subbed off. With Monteiro and Mbaizo hopefully coming back, I like our chances next round.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Good commentary Gentlemen.
      Union were very physical yesterday and slow to temper. There was an edge to their play. Important. We’ve seen them be passive in the past at these moments and it was nice to see a mature performance even Martinex who walks a fine line sometimes.
      As for the strikers. We all tend to agree they could be better there but I think they are good enough. I do think Santos was excellent last night. And I think in the next match two of those missed chances could be bagged and we’d all be thrilled. For me it comes down to Kacper… to win the Cup he needs two gols over the next three games. Are they going to win MLS Cup? Who knows. Could they? 100%.
      They are a tough out.

  17. great comments from everyone above! I just want to second what everyone has said but also acknowledge Bedoyas play. his work rate was amazing and I know some of us have come down on him as being past his prime but he really showed up.

    • +1. Ale came to *play*. Amazing energy and drive. Was visibly and seriously pissed off when he had to come out (after cramping, it looked like).

  18. One of the things I noticed is how Jim and the squad were trying aggressively to win the match in the second half and extra time. That was appropriate and appreciated, but did lead to some defensive breakdowns where the RB players got a couple of golden opportunities from basically bypassing our midfield.

    Other than these couple of instances our D was really strong. Agree with commenters above that Powell had a very solid match. He does not provide what Mbaizo does on the offensive side, however.

    As for the missed shots, Burke was thrown off by Gutman taking him out from behind, which may have redirected the shot. Santos — who completely transforms this team’s offense, BTW — hit his chance straight at Coronel, but it was close range and at least it was on frame. The one Kasper missed was simply, pathetically painful. The team is gonna need another addition to the striker corps for next season.

    That last minute was basically a justification for years of sports fandom in general — and Union fandom in particular. What else can you say?

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Yeah Kacper’s was inexcusable. He was somehow not ready for a great pass that everyone knew was coming, and hit it completely off balance instead of taking a touch to compose his dumb behind. Santos’ was forgivable, especially since they won and he was a difference maker.

  19. Ok folks, let’s calm down and bring in some objectivity here. Why did it take 120 minutes for the PU to get a single ball into the net, at home, against a team at 13th place in the MLS table (and 5 spots down the eastern side of the table)? Why did so many of the PU’s EASILY finishable chances not get put into the net? Why did SO many attempted passess (from both teams) not find their target? Thanks to Peter Andrews at least being honest and admitting that the virtual entirety of this match was “slop” — good on you Peter! Any objective futbol fan would be very disappointed with the horror show of a futbol match this was. Good gracious, how utterly embarrassing the level of this play of the top league of the US was. This team, i.e. the PU, will go down in the next round of the playoffs as last time then not go on to reach the finals or even semi-finals as a dozen years prior. Then, once again, so many will be saying “just wait until next year.”

    We ALL love golazos — but do not let one blind you to the overall reality of this team and its history. Once again, it is time to clear the house — from the owner on down, of the management of this organization that is the PU.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      You can go shit in a hat today… Tim.

    • Who invited this guy?
      The match was a slog, to be sure. But hard fought elimination games often are. 32 fouls (22 on Red Bull), and that’s with the referee allowing play to get quite physical! The U stood toe-to-toe in a slugfest and came out on top. And they did it by continuing to play positively and search for goals, while Red Bull was happy to wait for penalties and try to nick something on a counter. That’s all that matters for me this morning.
      And that goal from Glesnes. No single greater moment in Union history to be in those stands. But I’m hoping that’s not the last time I get to say that this season.

    • Oh my, that’s how to stir the pot

    • I assume that in reality you’re not surprised that it wasn’t easy to score against one of the three teams tied for best GAA in the league, a team which hasn’t given up more than one goal in a game since before the Union were eliminated from CCL.

    • I forgot that that Tim is the wet blanket who was “done” with the Union two years ago to the month: https://phillysoccerpage.net/2019/11/06/fans-view-im-still-done-with-philadelphia-union-and-you-can-be-too/
      Good to see him back and saltier than ever.

      • Hi Tyler! Thank you so much for in fact remembering — and reposting — that brilliant OpEd I wrote in 2019! Still done and others can be too! Not a dime I have given to Sugarman in over two years.

    • John O'Donnell says:

      Tim Tim Tim….I think you’re playing to much FIFA. The Red Bulls and the Union both finished the season on a roll. Saying the 13th place team and comparing it to other leagues that have no system of parity is a reason to dismiss your comments as whining instead of being objective. Winning against a team you played four times in one year if you were objective would let you think two teams that press would be about set pieces and possibly a wonder strike provided by Thor.
      We sold two players from a SS winning team and retooled with three teens and a 20 year old German American that finished second after out lasting every other MLS team in CCL.
      I get the Debbie Downer routine is your thing but right after one of the top five moments in the team’s history makes me wonder are you really a fan or just a troll? It’s the playoffs and this is the type of game that creates phrases like…. survive and move on.
      I get the strikers had their worst game collectively that I can ever recall but if they go on a little hot steak for three games…I’ll find it in my heart to forgive them.

      • Don’t forget that in addition to selling two players, their shutdown right back retired and his understudy was unexpectedly unavailable at the last minute yesterday.

  20. Glesnes, noun. Replaces the sports cliche ‘dagger’ or modifies it to incorporate brand-appropriate lightning.

    I read a lot and don’t post much. That particular Glesnes, built on a 0-0 foundation that Blake,the defense, and the whole team preserved 2+ hours, breaks me of that.

    It was sublime.

    All the more beautiful in contrast to the staccato, stop start of a fight the game had been until then. All the more exhilarating in bas relief against that growing feeling of dread around PKs. One could have (I might’ve) pictured Tim Melia getting airdropped in to defend the kicks for the Newarks. How could this crew handle PKs on this particular day where nothing would land?

    Watching that Glesnes on repeat you see how narrow the margins were to gather that shot and send it in. Game itself was a decent metaphor for the slog these past couple pandemic years have been (I mean here more… the doldrums of day to day life than the grim impact of the epidemic itself).

    The way the game ended was on a more hopeful note than I’m typically willing to carry, as a Philly sports fan, and in however that applies to one’s overall philosophy of life.

    People complaining about that game… I wonder if that’s just being afraid to let go and enjoy it for fear of the Charlie Brown football getting snatched away next game. That perspective doesn’t do justice to how well the season was used to prepare for the playoffs. Getting through yesterday without Monteiro and Mbaizo, and relying on the kids and the newbies to do it — speaks to the strength of the culture they’re building and maybe to their overall talent evaluation too. It’ll have highs and lows, but if they keep this up it’s going to be a great stretch to watch. If you read the RBs postgame stuff, the coach was talking pride about facing off well against one of the best teams in the US. That’s not something one’s used to hearingin these parts,is it? Not in this rivalry, and not in general. We take, I would argue, we take and smile.

  21. Hi Tyler! Thank you so much for in fact remembering — and reposting — that brilliant OpEd I wrote in 2019! Still done and others can be too! Not a dime I have given to Sugarman in over two years.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      I can hear your ego screaming through my screen lol. No need for me to take the bait, too happy. Have a nice day sir.

  22. Forgive Tim, he probably thinks Norwich is good football.

  23. Like “Rich Parnell”… Jacob Gkesnese is a stone cold missle man!

    Congratulations guys! A well deserved win!

    And Jim Curtin…. nice job!!!!



    Bring on anyone!!!!

    We’re going to win the Cup this year.

    Trust in Herr Tanner!!!

  24. Someone pointed out that Philadelphia/New Jersey games have now produced both the earliest and the latest goals in MLS history. (Grella at 7 seconds back in 2015 being the one at the other end of the spectrum).

    • Correct, and these are in the category of absolutely meaningless statistics that keep so many fans’ eyes off the real ball/fact that the PU has never won an MLS championship or advanced deep into the playoffs, and what the obvious reasons for and fixes for that are.

      • Sounds like you’re just a sore loser Dead Bull fan. Why don’t you get busy searching for Jimmy Hoffa.

      • No Andy, that is an incorrect read/conclusion about me. No I am not a Dead Bull fan — rather, I am a PU fan but simply not satisfied with infuriating mediocrity and with never winning an MLS Championship or going deep into the playoffs. Unlike you, and many others, I am objectively searching for and finding the reasons for these failures and proposed solutions for them. We in Philadelphia deserve a Championship team — and we in the US deserve a men’s national team to not only get back in the WC but to some day win it. Achieving such successes takes much more than infuriating mediocrity.

  25. This is the kind of game we expect to see from this rivalry. Its a mess,its chippy, and the Union faithful hope for the win but brace for a let down! In the coming days we will reflect on the slog fest that happened and spin glorious tails of the heroic Glesnes goal! For me , I’ll remember my wife’s shock at that goal… total disbelief! Then the reality of what happened hits her and she yells ” 2 friggin hours! Its about time!! ” then joined us in proper Dooping!!

    Yes there’s plenty of complaints about the strikers. But also plenty to happy about!

  26. Ugly game, for sure. Huge win. Fantastic goal! The problem is, the Union will probably sell Glesnes soon and play under-prepared teenagers in his place. It’s never going to get better, the quality of play, if MLS fans rejoice in the fact that their best homegrown players are bought by European clubs. Like Curtin said when the news broke that Monteiro was being sold, “respect the process.” Too bad that won’t land the Union a player like Joel Embid.

    Ahoy! On to the next round, and let’s hope for the best.

    Meanwhile, here is my alltime Union starting XI:

    Rosenberry Onyewu Valdes Wagner
    LeToux Barnetta Aaronson (the elder)


  27. Still can’t believe that happened.

  28. My better late than never comments:

    – Nobody will remember the slop-fest, everyone will remember Glesnes’ strike. I can guarantee you 10% of the stadium went to their first Union game as bandwagon jumpers, and now want to become fans.

    – The Curtain-led Union struggle in opening playoff games. Perhaps some nerves that are hard to shake? Hopefully a win like this eases those concerns and we look sharper going forward.

    – Thank you MLS for letting Nashville/Orlando play on Tuesday… whoever has to travel to Chester will be doing so on short rest, and an extreme climate shock to our cold temps. Ask Mexico how that worked out recently!

    – Give Kacper a chance to redeem himself on Sunday. I think he’ll be up to the task.

    – MLS should be terrified of the Union on set pieces. We have Monteiro/Wagner sending in curling balls, a huge height advantage in the middle, creative ways to add chaos, and oh – we have a CB with 35 yd range. NBD.

    – When the time comes, the Union should pay Glesnes what he’s worth, and not be tempted to sell him abroad. He is becoming somewhat of a folk hero in Philly. We have a tiny payroll… pay the man!

    – Can’t wait to watch the Revs go down after a month of ice cold rest. We will host two more playoff games. Nashville/Orlando are garbage.


    • Regarding the hight advantage…I found it odd that the U had trouble winning the head ball on Saturday. I know the 122 mins was Redbologna trying to get to PKs. Just something I saw. Come on the U!

  29. Beating Red Bull without Monteiro is worth a note.

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