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Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-2 New York City FC

photo: Marjorie Elzey

Talles Magno tapped in from close range in the 88th minute as New York City FC defeated the extremely short-handed Philadelphia Union 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Final. The Union took an unlikely lead in the 63rd minute after Alexander Callens redirected a Daniel Gazdag’s cross into his own goal. But Maxi Moralez equalized just two minutes later and Magno scored the winner late on.

The Union were forced into a radical lineup shift after defeating Nashville last weekend, with 11 players in the MLS Health Protocols due to COVID-19. Jim Curtin opted to keep his 4-3-2-1 Christmas tree. Matt Freese started in goal. Aurelien Collin and Stuart Findlay started at center back, flanked by Olivier Mbaizo on the right Nathan Harriel on the left. Leon Flach, Jose Martinez and Jack McGlynn made up the three, with Jamiro Monteiro (who captained the side) and Daniel Gazdag just behind Kacper Przybylko.

The first half was a cagey affair, with few chances for either side.

The Union carved out their best opportunity of the half in the 36th minute. Monteiro found space down the right side and found Przybylko in behind the NYC defense, but the striker couldn’t get much power on the shot and it flew straight at Sean Johnson.

New York would carve out a a decent opening in the 56th minute. The visitors were able to advance into the Union box on the left side and Heber cut a pass back for Jesus Medina, but his deflected shot from 17 yards was collected comfortably by Freese.

Philadelphia would take the lead in the 63rd minute via an own goal. Gazdag found time and space to cross from 30 yards out on the left side and lofted a perfect ball toward Przybylko in the center of the box, but Alexander Callens slid in to block the cross and tapped the ball into his own net from 7 yards.

The Union lead would be short-lived as NYC would equalize just a minute later in the 65th minute. James Sands swerving shot from distance was denied by Freese, but the goalkeeper could only parry the shot straight back into play. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi acted quickest and slid a pass to Maxi Moralez, who made no mistake with his finish from 5 yards out on the left side.

Matt Freese would make a huge save in the 75th minute. After a set play cross from the right side, Callens header from 8 yards deflected off Collin but Freese stretched out his right hand to deny the chance.

The Union would have a great chance to retake the lead in the 86th minute. The Union did well to work a cross from the right side and the ball found Nate Harriel at the back post, but the youngster’s header hit the top of the goal.

New York would take the lead in the 88th minute. Olivier Mbaizo fell asleep as New York played the ball over the top down the left side and Gudmundur Thorainsson stole in behind the defender, collected the ball and squared a pass for Talles Magno to tap in from close range.

Three Points

  • Guts. With the entire starting backline and Andre Blake among the 11 players missing through health protocols, a make-shift Union side put up a tremendous fight and were minutes away from forcing extra time. It was a valiant effort from those out on the pitch.
  • A terrible way to lose. You can point to Olivier Mbaizo on both NYC goals, particularly the winner. It’s a shame to have gifted NYC the winner after such a hard fought game, particularly as it came through the only defender who was a regular player this season.
  • What a ride. Despite the sad ending, it’s been a hell of a ride for Union fans this season. A semi-final run in the CONCACAF Champions League. Two huge home wins in the playoffs. A hugely successful season in a year many thought Philly would struggle.

Philadelphia Union

Matt Freese, Olivier Mbaizo, Stuart Findlay, Aurelien Collin, Nathan Harriel (Anthony Fontana 90′), Jose Martinez, Leon Flach (Paxten Aaronson 90′), Jack McGlynn (Jesus Bueno 75′), Jamiro Monteiro, Daniel Gazdag, Kacper Przybylko
Subs: Greg Ranjitsingh, Cole Turner, Anton Sorenson, Brandon Craig

New York City FC

Sean Johnson, Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Malte Amundsen (Gudmundur Thorainsson 58′), Tayvon Gray, Maxi Moralez, James Sands, Santiago Rodriguez, Jesus Medina (Ismael Tajouri-Shradi 58′), Heber (Talles Magno)
Subs: Luis Barraza, Thiago, Rony Rocha, Andre Jasson, Gedion Zelalem, Nicolas Acevedo

Scoring Summary

PHI: Alexander Callens – 63′ (OG)
NYC: Maxi Moralez = 65′ (Tajouri-Shradi)
NYC: Talles Magno – 88′ (Thorainsson)

Disciplinary Summary

NYC: Maxi Moralez – 41′ (foul)
PHI: Jamiro Monteiro – 71′ (foul)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo – 75′ (foul)


  1. Mbaizo will be the big target, as he should be. But man oh man, we got so far in the playoffs while getting absolutely ZERO from our strikers. We absolutely need a big upgrade there.

  2. John O'Donnell says:

    I didn’t think I would be upset because no team has ever had to do this but after we scored…..
    Game of inches today and I’m without words because I thought a miracle was about to happen.

    • The fact they played well enough for us to have real hope is the best thing I could have asked for, given the circumstances. No one for fault them for getting blown out. What a team!

    • Mbaizo screwed up in the end with the goal but he hustled all match with a scrub defense and was tired out. NYCFC had the subs that made the difference late in the match, including producing the late goal.
      . . .
      Everything I’ve seen or heard points to a Blake birthday party being the glaring prime suspect that so many players got bounced for COVID.
      . . .
      The ones who matter most and always are the fans. The team is a business, and we are the customers. I attended every home match this year plus every away match in DC and the NY metro area. There’s the SOB and others who also put the time and dime into it.
      . . .
      To get to the cusp and get bounced because 11 player got disqualified for COVID warrants an explanation and, if due to player negligence, an apology by the offenders to fans and teammates they let down.
      . . .
      The backup players did well today. There’s no shame in the result.

      • I also made it to all 23 home games as well as all they let us in to last season (although not the away games). Before the game I let my ticket rep know that I’m seriously considering not renewing due to this fiasco.

      • MLS needs to give an apology for not postponing the match like other sports do.

      • Well said all around.

      • Eddie the eagle says:

        Your assumption on the origin of any COVID related source is incorrect and factually baseless.
        Why persist on this rumour?

    • John O'Donnell says:

      Crazy stat for the Union in the playoffs.
      Their record is 3-5
      They’ve never lost in extra time (3-0) and never won in regulation time (0-5).

  3. Gruncle Bob says:

    Inexplicable shit from Mbaizo. Sell him.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    That’s on the manager tonight. Needs to hold up his hand and accept responsibility for playing not to lose. That starting 11 gave you a chance… and NYCFC adjusted with 3 subs and when it went 1-1… Paxten and Fontana needed to come on.
    To think you were going to hold 1-1 for 120 min is bad coaching. Kept telling my buddy it’s too long to defend defend defend. Had to inject vigor and “Go for it.” I coulda been fine with attacking subs and losing.
    Hell Phang had the right idea with the towel and sweatsuit standing right next to you.
    On you Jim. Own it.

    • 100% this. As soon as the only sub was Bueno for McGlynn, it was clear the goal was to play for ET. The obvious play to win subs would have been Aaronson for Gazdag? and Fontana for Kacper (yeah Fontana does not impress as a striker, but see my above post on my thoughts as Kacper).

      Curtin rolled the dice and it was risky and it failed.

    • Agree. Not long before NY went up, Gazdag and Przybylko were limping around the pitch. They needed to come out by minute 70 if not sooner. Might have been able to keep the ball in the attack with fresher legs.

      Still proud of the team. They fought with everything. Fucking Covid. Will be rooting hard for Portland next weekend.

    • 100% wrong. This is on the league for playing this game. Curtin had an impossible hand to work with beyond praying.

    • Those 2 players you wanted subbed out were awfully effective on our goal to put us up.

      And what a situation to be in for a manager. It’s easy to second guess any coaches decisions, but to drop this game on Curtin is incredibly harsh. Let’s be realistic.

      • I’m one of the biggest Przybylko fans here, and he could have run/limped around out there another 90 minutes and not scored a goal or even contributed to it. He’s a fighter and a gamer. Love him. But he needed to come off. We needed speed to keep that back line second guessing itself.

      • Andy , the i think have the best youth program in the league. The way Curtin wants to play ( counter attacking team), without much possession will drain your players faster. Should have believed in the youth like I do and made the appropriate fucking subs. Like Kacper for one. Curtin needs another team. He needs to get out of Philly.

      • Union5, he ended the game with 3 non offensive players on the bench who have a grand total of 1 MLS appearance and that as a late sub. If he had brought in Aaronson or Fontana for Kacper earlier, he wouldn’t have anyone to bring off the bench for a stoppage time push when NYCFC went ahead.

    • The coach was without 11 players including the best goal keeper in the league, the captain of the team, one of the best center back parings in the league (who played every minute of every game this year), and his best 2 scoring options off the bench…he was staggeringly limited…at that point you got to try to defend to keep this thing goin as long as you can, considering how shorthanded you are…so sry but, I’m not having that shit, your wrong, not his fault …Andy is 100% correct

      • Kmax… I have to disagree. You are correct in that the coach was without 11 players…however, they were the better team tonight and had every opportunity to win this game. Tbh, I was surprised that it was 0-0 at the half and thought we were winning this game. NY coach came out in the second half and saw it wasn’t working and he made 3 subs in the 56th-ish minute. That’s what a coach is supposed to do…Coach! You look at a game and coach according to what you are seeing. He doesn’t do this. His coaching style is the same game in and game out regardless of the game he is watching. Never changes! When this game went 1-1, he should have brought on fresh legs. Your playing at home with a huge crowd behind you! Instead, they go down a goal and you bring on Fontana, who bailed you out of a million games last year, and expect he can create a magic scenario in the 90th minute. I’m sorry, but the man is not a good coach in the sense of the word. In fact, I think he’s pretty terrible. Then to hear him in his presser say he feels bad for the 11 guys sitting at home watching is a slap in the face to all the players who followed protocol and were stranded without half their team. Unbelievable.

      • Not sure what game you were watching, Juan, but it’s hard to agree that the Union were the better team with 35% possession, 69% passing accuracy, and fewer shots. Their only goal was an on goal and not much else really threatened the NYCFC goal.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Yes. Buck stops with Jim. Same ol Jim who doesn’t know when to sub

      • Andy… maybe what I should have said was the union had every chance to win this game as opposed to me saying they were the better team. There wasn’t a big drop off between the product the union had on the field and the NY team. That’s why I believe this comes down to the choices Curtain makes as a coach..subs, etc. Another issue I have with him is the ridiculous way he tries to hype his players as seen on his IG page…”we have nothing to lose”. Huh?? How about a spot in the MLS cup final??? If he put more effort into his coaching choices as he puts in the sneakers he’s wearing each game, scenarios might be different. How long is this city gonna be accepting of this?? SMH

    • I was saying this the whole last 20 mins or so. The offensive guys were totally dead. Young legs could have forced some mistakes.

  5. As much as Mbaizo screwed the pooch on that play, many others failed this team before that moment happened. MLS, Don Garber, the person who originally infected the 11 players, and IF it was the case that Blake’s birthday party was the place of origin, then he himself deserves almost the majority of the blame. If I were Sugarman, I would have told security to not let Garber in the building. This league is a joke. And not a funny one. How they could have Ted Unkel refereeing this match is beyond me. This couldn’t be more Union.
    Be well. Be safe. All.

  6. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Well it’s unfortunate but please no negativity. This is a massive offseason coming up and we need to make wise decisions, particularly at striker. But we have the best long term situation in the league. Aaronson, McGlynn, Sullivan, Harriel, Freese. Be excited! The young guys are gonna be huge next year. And of course, let’s go Timbers!

    • Start spending $$ and “the young guys are gonna be huge” is getting tired and old. This is a time to rage against the Karma Gods who have smeared this team for 11 years now. WHEN THE F DOES IT STOP?

    • I’m a mix of super proud of this team and really annoyed, mostly at Covid and that NYCFC is going to the final instead of us. I’m a lot more annoyed than I thought I’d be. A testament to how well the team played tonight despite the odds.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Shifted expectations are a good sign. They continued to surprise us throughout the run, especially after many left them for dead in August. Some really gutsy performances out there today. Harriel, Collin, Martinez, Flach, McGlynn, Monteiro, etc.

  7. Respect to Aurelian Collin. I disliked him when he was at red bull but all season he celebrated every Union goal like he scored it. For a guy who never saw the pitch this year, he played well under the circumstances.

    • He was a beast in this match. I had very little to no hope because he was starting and honestly expected him to get sent off with a red. He certainly proved me wrong. I’m quite proud he wore the Union’s jersey. Thank you Aurélien.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Yeah great points from both of you. I thought he and Harriel would be the shakiest in the lineup but you could argue they were the 2 steadiest.

      • Harriel had a great game. This is probably a knee jerk reaction, but after today I’d rather he start than Mbaizo next year.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        Mbaizo’s value is quite high right now with starting for Cameroon and everything, so I wouldn’t mind a high priced sale. Harriel has proven to be the future. But we’ll see what happens, Mbaizo had a great year.

    • Peter P Tozer says:

      So many guys played well including Collin and Findlay but the man of the match for me was Martinez. He was all over the field, in the center of everything and made play after play. Hated seeing the U lose but it was an amazing effort by all. My only concern going forward is our absence of a true striker. I’m sure the club understands their needs and I hope they can find an upgrade before the February start.

    • Collin was better than expected at interceptions and clearing the ball but almost every time he touched it the ball wound up in NYC’s possession. He also was caught offsides once or twice.

    • Collin played amazing tonight and could be one of or the best header on the team. He’s a vet but knows the game really well. It’s a shame he couldn’t be rewarded with his coach making horrible and embarrassing subbing decisions.

    • +1 for Collin props

  8. I am truly sorry. You got screwed by protocols, and OF FUUCKING COURSE, A LATE GOAL SENDS EVERYONE HOME SULLEN. The U may never recover from this. #DecadeOfIrrelevance to follow? They didn’t even score a goal, since the 1 was an owner. Typical Union. Typical Philly.
    This team has been starcrossed since the halcyon (sarcasm) days of Peter Nowak. Time and again, coughing up leads again and again. Why win when you can have a tie. And yet again today, why tie, when you can come from ahead. Great job, MLS. You got your effing NYC team in the final. Hope you choke on that.

    • Agree with RePete and various others.

      How on Earth do 11 players end up in Covid protocol ahead of the most important game in our history? If it turns out that this is the result of personal irresponsibility and senior players including our CLUB CAPTAIN were involved in partying in the build up to this game, the powers that be should think very seriously about how they respond. As a season ticket member, I want to know what happened to make our best shot to win the MLS cup turn to ashes overnight. Anything that happened on the pitch today is irrelevant next to that. If we want to be a serious team, we need to act like it because this looks like some seriously amateur crap from where I’m standing. We need a proper explanation.

      P.S. As an aside, the playoffs last for about, what, 3 weeks from start to finish? If the team could exist in a bubble for MLS is Back down in Orlando last year and Covid still remains such an obviously massive risk to torpedoing our success, shouldn’t we have done the same thing again for this? Just a thought.

      • Vince Devine says:

        Meanwhile we just jammed 20,500 people into a stadium build for 18,500, yelling, cheering, singing, screaming for two+ hours. Please explain that in the context of covid protocols. I don’t know if any of the 11 tested positive or not, but if there’s no positive test and they’re vaccinated, they should be on the field playing regardless of “exposure” possibility.

  9. Oh course it’s Mbaizo. Broken record time from me. I’ve never seen an outside back make such a basic error. On any level.

    • He’s the second best right back in all of Cameroon, apparently…
      I agree. I’ve seen enough and am ready for Harriet to be our RB. Mbaizo doesn’t offer enough going forward to make up for his defensive lapses. Every time he got the ball he stepped on it, slowed everything down, and let NYC get reset… so frustrating…

    • Well I’ve seen worse than Mbaizo being a season ticket holder since 2010. Curtin tires the team out with his coaching style. We have the players, we need a new coach who will use them !!!!!

  10. I used to think the Union organization tried to treat their fans well, but to charge us 40% extra and then give us that quality of play makes me realize I’m completely wrong. The team should have either reported enough additional COVID tests to postpone it or they should have forfeited and refunded our money.

    • Tim Herring says:

      Hi Andy — that is the best idea you ever had in your life! Now, it seems you have finally learned what low quality the ownership and front office of the PR organization is and that they care more about a steady, continuous flow of money to them rather than victories in the playoffs and an MLS Championship. Sugarman has never had and still has no true vision for this team and its success. But he is still the principal owner and living comfortably!

  11. The future is bright, but that was a shitty way to go down.
    Jim waited too late to sub again – playing for a tie.
    BS there was even a game with 11 in protocol.
    Great season for a rebuilding year!
    Time to get a DP striker.

  12. The worst Philadelphia pro sports playoff loss EVER among all 5 majors. Worse than Eagles-TB NFC title game. Worse than Flyers-Islanders-Don Koharski’s non-call in 1980. Worse than Phillies-Dodgers 1977 NLCS game 6 in a monsoon. Worse than Joe Carter.
    A catastrophic, disastrous day. Prove me wrong.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      They were missing six starters. It’s no where near the worst.

      • Respectfully disagree. This is the kind of result that sends franchises spiraling into a decade-long funk. Just ask the tenants of Citizens Bank Park for the past 11 years.

        Fuck MLS”health and safety protocols’.

      • Want to add; worse than Sixers-Raptors game 7 with the luckiest shot in pro sports history.

    • With all due respect, this is ridiculous. When you’re missing 6 of your last starting XI in a single elimination match, losing is not a catastrophe. Were mistakes made? Sure. But let’s not get carried away. This team scrapped is easy to a 2nd place finish and nearly made it to the finals with 6 playoff starters attaching from home. No where in the same universe as a disaster.

      If you wanted to talk about real guy punches, see the two open cup finals lost. Those were blows.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I was at both US Open Cup losses. That was some rough stuff. Given the lack of starting players yesterday, deep down, this result was expected. What happened was – OF COURSE – the classic Philly thing of giving you hope and stringing you along, despite all odds… and letting you think they might pull it off. Sucks the way it went down.

  13. 3 goals all scored by nyc that tells you everything you need to know about the union’s offense

  14. OneManWolfpack says:

    Team desperately needs a game changing DP striker or our peak will always be to barely lose the close game. Today was fucked because of Covid but man oh man did the guys out there play their heart out. Collin and Findley played excellent. To be undone by that kind of mistake was just absolutely brutal. Get a 15 goal striker and you’ll be hosting the East Final again next year for sure.

    • Also lack of pace up front laid some nice through balls to waste.

      As the second half wore on you could feel another NY goal coming. With few options on the bench, Union possession became non existent. If it didn’t happen in regulation, it probably would have in OT.

      Kids showed well along with the old man. Will be interesting off-season.

      Can’t think of a more horrible ending to an otherwise successful campaign, then watching a NY team celebrate on Union turf.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        The problem in that game was a lack of speed. No threat to get behind and everything taking so slow to materialize. In the second half alone there were 3-4 golden opportunities and it was all just too slow- most notably KP.
        New York attacked.
        Jim blinked and hoped he could hold on for PK’s (with a back up goalie who arguably coughed up the first goal) against Sean Johnson.
        On a night with 20,000 people in the stands… he needed to play loose and swashbuckling… for the last 20 minutes.
        People can say its revisionist. I’m aware he was dealt a rough hand to play. But I stood in that stadium and begged him to do it from about the 60th minute on- and he didn’t listen so it’s not revisionist.
        I’m proud of those men tonight. I feel bad for Olivier. I wish Jim would have given Anthony and Paxten a chance to make Union Legend.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Moseman – Agreed on that feeling of watching an waiting for NYC to get one. I was saying to my dad at the game, the Union were looking tired and I had a bad feeling. They needed the perfect game and they damn near got it.
        Also agree with you Elephant… Jim needed to throw caution to the wind and decide to either win it 2-1 or lose it 3 or 4-1… just should’ve went for it. I don’t think anyone, with the lineup they had to field, would have been mad if they went for it and lost.

  15. If anyone here raises their hand and says you didn’t go into this game thinking the results were a foregone conclusion, I call BS.


    It means the team made a game of it when you thought they had no chance. They played with heart and almost pulled it off. The fact it stings is better than the resignation you would have felt if they’d rolled over and got blown out.

    • It WAS a foregone conclusion. My only error was predicting a 3-0 NYC lead at the half. Tired of the ‘playing with heart’ BS. They lost because machinations that were beyond their control sealed their fate Nobody remembers who came in 2nd.. Asterisk city today.

      • PaulH… if today was asterisk city, so was last year when they won the supporters shield. Played half the league all season and played New England 6 times while NE was missing half of their starters due to injury. I love the union, but I’m no homer. I’ll call it as is. Covid was responsible for them winning the supporters shield last year and covid was responsible for their demise this year. Full circle.

  16. I’m still processing…decompressing from standing in the River End and trying to will the team to victory…
    I think Deez has the best take on this. The fact we are mad – btiching about not having a DP striker, bitching about Mbizio…means we all believed that there was a chance.
    A chance that even with 11 players (including 5 regular starters) watching the game from home…that we could beat a team that could pull a DP player (who cost more than the entire team he was playing….) off the bench, and NEEDED to…
    Be glad. Root for Portland (or don’t). Come back in February to cheer on a team that took us on a ride to the Semi-Finals of CONCACAF and the Eastern Division Finals this year…
    I’ll be there.

    • It’s all about the Benjamins. The refusal to distribute them *coughErnstTannercough* vs. the willingness to spend like a drunken sailor (NYCFC). And as long as those 2 things remain the same, there will be heartache upon heartache, frustration upon frustration. And send Mbaizio to Turkey or something similarly boondock-ish like Liverpool did with Karius when he let in those 2 soft goals v. Real in the UCL final.

      • Benjamins had nothing to do with this result. Would it have helped to have more expensive players out on protocol? I don’t think so.

    • You have a great point, but if Curtin is around next year nothing will change. He had players who could score and they weren’t DPs. He’s not a good coach. He believes in giving one player every game of the season to try to get out of a funk that just got worse from the beginning of last years season. Kacper should have been pulled off the pitch halfway through the season at Least. Curtin doesn’t believe in the bench it clearly shows.

      • Did you pay any attention to player availability in the second half of the season? Santos and Burke missed huge chunks with injuries. So even if he wanted to bench him it would have meant playing without a striker. If you want to blame anyone, that one’s on Tanner.

  17. AMEN….We all have to deal with Covid protocols in our life, be it work, school, youth sports activities, etc. Those protocols are put in place to (a) prevent as many Covid cases as possible and (b) prevent a case from spreading like wildfire through the organization. In general, when there is a situation with a large number of cases, it either comes down to the organization not enforcing the plan in place or individuals going rogue and thinking they are above the plan.

    The Union owes it’s fans an explanation. Did they let down the players, or did the players let down the organization. I’m not looking for names and to create a scapegoat, but they owe an explanation to the fans as to how this happened and how they can make sure that something like this never happens again. To the fans who bought tickets for the match, they are owed something by the club….be it a partial refund, full refund or credit toward something next year.

    To the players who were on the field for us today, I have nothing but respect. Most of them gave us their all in situations they never expected to be in. I’ve never been a fan of Aurelio Collins, but after today, I have the utmost respect for him. We saw some young guys show they need to be in the conversation next season. But while I respect everything they did, I can’t shake the feeling that our club or a group of our players massively let down their fans.

    So please, Philadelphia Union, please explain to us how this could happen!!!

    • And until the Union gives us answers, as much as I want to, I’m struggling to blame MLS. If it’s a case of the team or players breaking protocol, then I don’t blame them for keeping the game on and not rescheduling. If there are multiple positive cases, they couldn’t possibly delay the game long enough to help the situation. That being said, we all know that if it was one of the LA teams, Seatle, NYCFC or one of the newer expansion franchises…..the game would have been delayed.

      • I doubt it. We’re a large market too. NYC and LA have divided loyalties with two teams. TV and the MLS Final were already set. It’s not up to MLS to keep players from holding parties during playoffs and/or doing other foolish stuff with COVID around. The team knew the risks and the rules. If teammates took unnecessary chances amd got burnt bad like we did, that’s on them. Everyone else with and for the Union paid the consequences.

    • They were vaccinated fully. Therefore, they should’ve played. All of them. I don’t blame them. Blame MLS.

      • Tempting as that is, there’s still breakthrough cases plus asymptomatic people carry it. If a contagious player causes a breakthrough infection to another that wrecks a player’s lungs or worse, that’s a liability and ethical/values problem. They have loved ones too to mind. We went through the ‘take it for the team’ dilemmas before with concussed players or torn this or that, etc. I’m glad we don’t anymore.
        Contagious players shouldn’t play, e.g., COVID, flu, or anything else dangerous that can easily spread to others.

    • Andy, Burke, Santos , Przyblko Have almost no ball control and cannot finish. Sullivan , Davo, Aaronson can have finishing quality.

  18. I’m dying inside…

    I rely on the knowledge transfer I obtain from this site. I’m no soccer guru and have learned so much from the insights provided via the comments historically provided…

    The fact that this team lost in the manner it did just kills me

  19. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Seeing some very emotional responses here… yikes. To hold resentment toward anyone in the Union organization, from management to players, is a stupid mindset. This team gave us a great year, with an ending that felt very much out of their control. And stop acting like this is the worst thing to ever happen to a sports team. I’m a Saints fan… now THAT’S pain. And as for Philly, as someone who loves the Union more than the Sixers, this doesn’t even compare to the shock of the Kawhi shot. That shot put the lid on the basket permanently, taking Jimmy Butler from us
    Imagine rolling out a February lineup like this:
    Mbaizo/Harriel Elliott Glesnes Wagner
    McGlynn/Bedoya Flach/Monteiro
    And some DP strikers!!
    Better times are ahead.

    • Unless the ‘some DP strikers” come here, it won’t mean shit. And everyone here knows it.

    • Today was Disasterpiece Theater.
      Better times? That is profoundly hard to believe right now.
      As long as the ownership considers this city a small-market, we will never be of any significance. Why can’t WE have a Talles Magno? Moneyball didn’t work for the Oakland A’s, and it doesn’t work in MLS. And it WAS the worst Philly sports loss ever because it was taken out of the team’s hands.

    • Sorry but if the Blake birthday party was the spreader event then yes they do deserve animosity.

      • They were fully vaccinated. And I’ll keep saying those words because there’s nobody who can challenge that. Why get vaxxed/boosted if you’re still gonna get tossed in Covid jail?

      • I’ll finally bite Paul. What don’t you understand about being able to catch Covid while still being vaccinated? A vaccine isn’t a magical force-field. It’s a small dose of the virus which allows the body’s immune system to fight it in a controlled manner. There’s also different strains, which aren’t covered by this vaccine. The hope, is that the vaccine allows the body’s natural immune system to fight off the virus when the body interacts with it out in the “wild”. It’s not a guarantee that you won’t contract it, nor that you won’t spread it to others. The “Flu” works the same way. It’s not one “Flu” it’s many different strains of the virus. When they create the vaccine for the “Flu” every year they try and determine which ones are most likely to affect people. It’s not guaranteed either. Sometimes they guess wrong and the “Flu” hits with a different strain than expected and bigger more dangerous outbreaks occur. Get over your obsession with the protocols. They aren’t changing just because of your temper-tantrum.

      • I believe Paul’s point is based on the belief that the current protocols display an unrealistic realization of the situation as it now stands. Supposedly the entire team is fully vaccinated. No one is saying that vaccinations magically end the threat of covid anymore. Many believe that covid isn’t going to be vaccinated away and to force a franchise to hold players out of playoff game because of “high risk behavior”(a birthday party) is at best petty and at worst holding onto antiquated theories of how we should move forward living our lives. I for one think that for all these men went through last year navigating the pandemic at it’s height, they deserve to celebrate something like a birthday. Especially the birthday of a man who was a hero in (to that point) one of the biggest games in Union history. Careful on your high horse, lest you fall off.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Paul and Steve.
        I argued similarly on Friday and was generally rebuffed.
        It is what it is and people all see the same prism— through their own lenses.
        Sign a waiver. Play the game…. or choose not to play the game. These men- who are hyper actively tested ( in my opinion) deserve the right to choose.
        In my opinion, we are spinning our wheels with the Covid stuff now.. and as you argue- using antiquated methodology.

      • Thank you, Steve.

      • Steve, maybe you haven’t been informed, but a birthday party doesn’t actually have to be on your birthday. It can actually be another day. Maybe even weeks before or after. Like say the week after a season perhaps. No one suggested he can’t have a birthday party. As for being on a high horse, it’s a shame the bar has been set so low that from your perspective I’m on one. I assure you my feet are planted firmly on the ground. But hey maybe your right Steve. Maybe I expect too much of people. Maybe I hold them to a higher standard. You’re right, let’s keep lowering the bar because that is working out so well for this country isn’t it? I’m this is the “me” country isn’t it? Getting mine while stepping on you is the way this country works and obviously works so well that we want to keep it that way. Good on you Steve, keep making this country great.

      • El P, naivete isn’t a good look on you. Waivers are a great idea if something only affects you, but this isn’t that case. Please explain how you think you’d get the NYCFC players/coaches/supporting staff, to sign such a waiver. In what dream world would that happen? Why would the opposing team ever sign such a thing? Then explain how you’d get the stadium staff/security and anyone else who came in contact with the team to sign such a thing? Tell you what, if you came to me with it, I’d laugh then spit in your face and you’d probably lose some teeth for threatening me and my family. Because at that point you are threatening bodily harm from my perspective and I’d feel quite justified in defending myself. If all this is under the vein of getting one’s life back, well if you are here typing, then you have your life, it’s not been taken from you. What can actually take your life is this virus and being in great physical shape doesn’t save you from it. Plenty of young healthy seeming people have passed from it. It’s nice to know a healthcare worker is willing to risk the lives of countless others for a soccer match. See what’s actually being missed is what you made of your life and the activities you enjoy. But you can’t enjoy those things if you are dead. And no I’m not suggesting everyone will die because of it. But someone might. The point is YOU don’t know. You can’t know. Be well. Be safe. All.

      • Steve Brown says:

        All4U I clearly hit a nerve. Please accept my apologies. My intent was to voice an opinion different from yours as were others. The “High horse” comment was petty and a response to some of your earlier comments. Again, my apologies for any direct offense I may have caused. I believe, “agree to disagree” is the polite way to end this.

  20. Sorry to say it but Curtin should go to Cinci or anywhere else. The way he wants to play and his horrific nonsensical subbing is the last straw for me. Any other team would sit Kacper. He has been the worst striker maybe in the league. He isn’t a number 9 yet we play like he is. He’s been off all season. Why wasn’t Curtin grooming Fontana to be one of our strikers. He is one of our best players that can hit the target anywhere on the field for the most part. That’s just one example that could’ve been done instead of having Przyblko on the field. The problem I see is that we push the ball from the back line through the midfield all the way to the offense and then the flow of our possession and progress up field dies when it hits our Forwards. When it happens, we are immediately on the back foot again chasing and struggling to gain possession again. This wears and tears on the players. Curtin should actually be subbing earlier than the opposing coach just because of the fact the way the Union play and how frequently we lose possession in the final third. They should have gotten a DP striker. It seemed that curtain was looking to hold out into extra time but it wasn’t that kind of game. I just wanna coach that will sub earlier in the game. Every other coach we play against usually subs in fresh legs earlier in the game instead of waiting to the 80th minute and beyond.

  21. Curtin had two options today; he should have played his starters and give the double middle finger to Commissioner Don, or do like that Portugese team did last weekend, say they only have 8 players available and FORCE MLS to postpone the game. The U need to wield Thor’s hammer in the press against the dictatorial protocols they were screwed with this coming week. Clobber them.

  22. This one hurts. It hurts because of the bad luck from covid. It hurts because the guys who were out there came so close and worked so hard. And it hurts because this really felt like a team that could lift the cup.
    One thing I haven’t really seen above. I thought Martinez and Flach were absolutely massive today. They had to guard a backline/keeper group that had not played a single minute of competitive soccer together. They not only did it, but they did it so well that the backline/keeper had almost nothing to do for the whole first half (and maybe more like 60 minutes) despite NYCFC having the bulk of the ball. They broke up everything and were all over the place. We desperately needed to throw on some fresher legs in the midfield (not by taking out Martinez, mind you, who probably couldn’t have been dragged off the field today). Agree with the above comments that the manager will probably regret not rolling the dice a little earlier on the subs he had, thin as they were.
    I think it’s fair to hope for a bit of explanation on how so many players ended up in the Health and Safety Protocols. I have a feeling Jim probably was trying to drop a few hints by calling the players “completely healthy” and suggesting that the protocols be “updated.” That doesn’t feel like something you say if you’ve got a bunch of covid-positive players sitting at home. There’s a weird, seemingly out-of-date provision in the protocols that requires a mandatory five-day quarantine for covid-negative, asymptomatic, vaccinated players who are “close contacts” if they are more than 3 months from their last shot, which given when shots were first available most everyone probably is. (Players who are fully vaccinated and less than 3 months from their last shot don’t have to quarantine.) If that’s what happened (and I’m reading the protocols right), then Jim and the squad would have a right to be upset in my view that MLS wasn’t willing to consider suspending that protocol or postponing the game.
    This was a really great season, and the future continues to be bright. Those are hard words to write now, coming off that disappointment, but I’m trying to force myself to remember it. Through the ecstasy of 123rd minute winners and penalty saves to the agony of a season cut short one game too soon. That’s sport. We’re on the right track, and are raising a crop of really exciting prospects. Hopefully, with some shrewd off-season moves, we’ll be right back there next year.

    • Anyone who thinks the best days are ahead has been saying that the past 5 years, and you are just whistling past the graveyard.
      The team was fully vaccinated. That’s all I need to know. The 11 are blameless here. You can take their precious ‘health and safety protocols’ and stick ’em up Don Garber’s largest bodliy orifice. This chance may never come again. They were never as this close to glory as they were today. And I blame MLS for that.

      • Paul. The best days have been ahead every one of those five years. The team has been better, gotten farther, and improved. Every. Single. Year.

    • Well said T

  23. Game plan worked perfectly until we took the lead and lost our edge. curtin appeared to be playing for extra time which is idiotic, all forward payers were gassed and Fontana and aaronson should have came on ten minutes earlier. The script called for Fontana and I just don’t get it. Really gutted about the “what if’s” and would like some accountability from Blake if the rumors are true. Hot off-season takes: Collin and Ilsinho coaching positions, cut kacsper the ghost

  24. Ron David Mahlab says:

    11 missing players and the most important one turned out to be Alvas Powell.

  25. Henry Scobie says:

    After having scrubbed off the bottoms of my sneakers which had to “wade” through a half-inch layer of murky sewage water in one (or two) of the Subaru Park’s men’s restrooms, I wanted to look past the bitterness of today’s outcome and the circumstances which preceded it.

    I think the eleven players on the field today for the Union deserve a lot of accolade and respect. I am proud to support a football club whose cobbled-together lineup of players gave a maximum effort and provided a competitive game despite what many (some in this forum included) predicted would be a NYCFC shellacking.

    I give head coach Jim Curtin for fashioning the lineup and motivating his B-squad players for 90 minutes. Curtin has never been my favorite manager and sure one can argue that the substitutions came too late but today I believe that he is deserving of praise.

    Finally, I believe that the fans who attended and packed Subaru Park in spite of the absence of the marquee lineup deserve acknowledgement. The atmosphere was engaged, energetic, and motivating.

    Onward to 2022.

  26. So I had no idea the Accela train had a spur to The Cliff of Union Despair! Did I expect a win…not really. Did I expect a game that was played pretty well by a group that nearly looked like a pickup team compared to the normal squad, no. But I am sure glad I got to see them give 18000 fans hope they just might pull it off! I will let this loss be chalked up to just one more thing covid ruined.

    I’ll be back in the seats I’ve had for 11 years next year, and most likely 11 more after that. I was happy to ride the rollercoaster this season. The glass is half full…the glasses are rose colored!!

    Proud of the guys who stepped up to fight for the win. They impressed me with their play. It wasn’t all great but they gave it all.

    Come on the U!

    • With due respect and no offense, but that is TrumpCult-speak. Blindly following, not realizing just how devastating this loss was. This was the last, best chance to shatter the starcrossed aura over this team almost since year 1. And it was STOLEN from them.

      • You could say Bidencult speak as well haha. Cmon man.

      • Sorry fellas offense taken on both accounts! Stuff it!

      • Dear Paul H,
        You could have said exactly the same thing after the loss to Club America, the same night as that game.
        You are imposing a hindsight judgment immediately without any evidence to support your thesis because no time has passed.
        The Club America match triggered the run to second place, in fact.
        You cannot make definitive conclusions until there is evidence.

  27. Gutted tonight but proud of this team and proud of the fans’ support. It’s been a fun season and I hope for more team improvements going forward.
    Another capricious covid kick in the nuts though. So brutal. A very philly way to bow out.

  28. Jim slyly mentioned in his pregame that he felt sorry for the 11 HEALTHY players that had to sit this out leading me to believe that a short delay would have had a significant effect on the personel available making for a fairer and higher quality contest.

    The league has no real choice but to mimic the protocols adopted by our larger society. But to build a system that is so brittle and inflexible that it cannot accomodate a short delay to handle a single large breakout when such an eventuality was a distinct possiblity is just poor planning. The MLS playoffs were not overwhelmed with problems they just couldn’t clear 1 hurdle.

    • MLS is desperate to a new TV contract, or contracts, with more money. DESPERATE.
      Potential future television revenue dictates everything they do.

  29. “The league has no real choice but to mimic the protocols adopted by our larger society.”

    Yeah, they could have, but chose not to.

  30. Joe Barnett says:

    Capitalism wins Again over Sportsmanship

    Garber is a POS lackey for the Sports Machine (ESPN ABC etc). Once again greed wins over good.

    All Players showed true grit til the bitter end. Proud of their effort.

    This game would have been postponed in any other league semi final game. Can you imagine if this happened in the NFC championship? It wouldnt. AD Sponsors would have pressured the TV executives to pressure the NFL and the game would have been rescheduled.

    I am not surprised that Jim did not make a public statement after the game and said what I said above. He cant because he still has to work for 20 more years so I understand,

    Poetic Justice will be in 2 years after Jim is coaching at Cincinati the a Union team win a championship match vs 1 of the MLS perenial darlings in a crucial match where the opponents have 5 key starters on the sideline.

    Garber is a POS for not postponing the game. If this happened in LA NYC or Seatle the game would not have been played. This loss is on him.

    For those who worry that this country will become Socialist Please dont worry .The dollar always rules ultimately. I still cant believe the Eagles won the Superbowl vs Robert Kraft NBC and ESPN. It was a miracle.

  31. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Nothing like a controversial loss to get people typing out political essays. People, everyone has a choice. Stop dunking on the players for living their lives and getting worked up over what caused the outbreak. I was not there yesterday, because I haven’t left my home outside of work and going to spacious public parks in 18 months. But everyone has a conscience, and it’s unbelievably hypocritical when I’m sure most of you have attended a party or gathering of some kind in 2021. Stop blaming the absent players. You’re including the 2 heroes from the playoff run, our captain, and 8 other people who have contributed this year. Believe in the front office and believe in Curtin’s progress as a manager. Guess what team has the most points since 2019, when Tanner took over. Oh yeah, it’s us, go figure. Now if you wanna be REALLY impressed, look at our payroll compared to other top teams.

    • If 11 players got bounced for COVID in a key end of season Premier League match for determining first place or a Champions League semifinal, there would be hell to pay from fans and it would be a national story.
      . . .
      A team captain is a key person who is supposed to provide leadership against risky behaviors before key matches. Our captain got bounced too.
      . . .
      Yes, I go to parties. I also don’t have an MLS Cup on the line. If it was a midseason match I’d cut slack. They needed to mind a short playoff period of extra precautions and especially for these last weeks for the East amd MLS finals. That’s the job, and it wasn’t a big ask.

      • In Tanner We Trust says:

        I appreciate your measured response filled with facts and logic, cuz the last thing I feel like doing is having a heated argument online. I personally feel that we’re past the bubble days and while I don’t go anywhere, I know most do live normal lives nowadays. I think it’s important to keep in mind that every other team is doing it. All 149 Big 5 sports teams likely have players engaging in risky behavior all year including before big games. It’s unfortunate that we were the ones burned. As fans it feels extremely unfair, I just don’t want players getting bashed for being human. Again, I can appreciate your counterpoint and respect your opinion.

    • What good is it if you pull out the ‘best points since 2019’ card and you still have no MLS Cup appearances let alone the Cup?
      Further, Colorado (I think?) says hold my beer when it comes to scant payroll and they’ll be watching the final on TV, too. NYCFC have the billion $ bankroll of City Football Group behind them. Not exactly a level playing field, is it?

  32. OneManWolfpack says:

    The only thing I want to come out of this loss is for this team to properly and monetarily address the striker problem. They need a DP striker, period. It has to happen.

  33. I’m pretty much spent, energy-ed out over that clusterfuck yesterday, so I’ll end it with this..
    Do the Union have any options to go after MLS for 1) having the game take place at all, like filing a formal protest? Symbolic only, but at least they’re on the record with the media about it, and…
    2) Should the Union explore suing the league for the protocol BS? I’m still in a vengeful mood, I guess, but do they have any legal grounds to take MLS to court for sidelining half their roster under dubious circumstances?

  34. Mbaizo is obviously the fall guy on both goals. Ball watching on the first and the flub on the second. No question, horrible on both clearly. These cannot be understated, they’re the difference in the game.
    However, big however, the offense had mostly it’s normal guys and was pitiful. The defense played as well as you could hope, same with Freese. Not to be lost in all of this is Przybylko playing really poorly all playoffs, and probably harmed the most when the change was made to the christmas tree formation. Anyone who can’t see that we need real forward upgrades is crazy.
    Curtin had a hell of a year. He relies on his late subs, or 60th min sub a lot, and it mostly works for him. I think he waited to long last game and this game especially. Many of the guys were totally gassed and beyond that ineffective. Aaronson for sure, but Fontana too should have been given a half hour in this game at least. I think that is definitely a mistake.
    Can’t discount anyone’s heart in this game or this season. Total team, they like eachother and seem to like the coach and concept, that is a big deal for sure.

    • I don’t think it’s as easy as saying the offense let us down. It’s all connected. Our midfield, including Monteiro, did a ton of work to provide cover for the back line and keep NYCFC at bay. That necessarily cuts down on their ability to get forward and put numbers in the box. If you’ve got Glesnes and Elliot behind you, you’re not quite as worried about leaving them exposed. And that’s to say nothing about missing Kai’s service from the left and on set pieces, and his late runs into the box.
      I agree that Przybylko hasn’t looked great as a lone striker. He’s thrived when he has Sergio to run the channels and make space for him. That was, of course, another big miss yesterday. And I definitely hope we can spend some money to find an elite attacking option in the off-season (not that they’re easy to find on our budget!).
      And I’m with you on Curtin. I think we’re lucky to have him and, if he leaves (which hopefully isn’t on the horizon before the end of next season at least), I think it will be a huge job to replace him. Thought he made an error by not throwing on Paxten and Fontana earlier and just telling them to go for it. But hindsight is 20/20.

  35. My thoughts:
    1) Congratulations to the players as they gave everything they had and to Jim Curtain for putting together a gameplan that was working.
    2) Congratulations to the fans – what an atmosphere
    3) The MLS and Union owe us an explanation – why play the game? Push it by a day/two and lets have a real contest. When the union bench players walked out I did not recognize the majority and knew we were in trouble. With all that against them they worked their butts off.
    4) I give NYC credit for a the endurance over a long season but the fact of the matter is they are an inferior team.
    5) I cant help think that the MLS got what they wanted – A New York team in the playoffs.
    6) Thank goodness Freeze did not get injured as the backup goalkeeper looked very weak during warmups.
    7) I thought Freeze could have handled the shot better on the first goal – he reacted late and left in the middle.
    8) The two areas that I believe we need to nail down next year is Montiero – I expect he will leave. The league has figured out to play physical with him and wear him down. He works so hard and gives everything but given the physically of the league I don’t think MLS is the best place for him. The second is striker. This will be fun conversation in the offseason.
    9) I thought the ref did a good job in the first half but was really inconsistent in the second half – especially when compared to how he called the first half.
    10) In a post game interview I think Jim took a shot at the league (I hope so) when he said 11 players were at watching at home completely healthy.

    I am not over this game but cant think what a great season it has been. It was magical but said that it had to end with 11 players watching from home

    On a non game note : Are there any plans for the union to increase the number of seats. IF appears they have a long rung of being competitive so they should consider increased demand.

    They really need to improve the men’s bathroom situation. Besides the long wait times at halftime it makes the concourse a cluster.

    In all honestly I wish they would not do either one of the above and build a new venue in a better location (wishful thinking I know)

  36. My thoughts:
    1) Congratulations to the players as they gave everything they had and to Jim Curtain for putting together a gameplan that was working.
    2) Congratulations to the fans – what an atmosphere
    3) The MLS and Union owe us an explanation – why play the game? Push it by a day/two and lets have a real contest. When the union bench players walked out I did not recognize the majority and knew we were in trouble. With all that against them they worked their butts off.
    4) I give NYC credit for a the endurance over a long season but the fact of the matter is they are an inferior team.
    5) I cant help think that the MLS got what they wanted – A New York team in the playoffs.
    6) Thank goodness Freeze did not get injured as the backup goalkeeper looked very weak during warmups.
    7) I thought Freeze could have handled the shot better on the first goal – he reacted late and left in the middle.
    8) The two areas that I believe we need to nail down next year is Montiero – I expect he will leave. The league has figured out to play physical with him and wear him down. He works so hard and gives everything but given the physically of the league I don’t think MLS is the best place for him. The second is striker. This will be fun conversation in the offseason.
    9) I thought the ref did a good job in the first half but was really inconsistent in the second half – especially when compared to how he called the first half.
    10) In a post game interview I think Jim took a shot at the league (I hope so) when he said 11 players were at watching at home completely healthy.
    11) I will miss my soccer family for the next few months

    I am not over this game but cant think what a great season it has been. It was magical but said that it had to end with 11 players watching from home

    On a non game note : Are there any plans for the union to increase the number of seats. IF appears they have a long rung of being competitive so they should consider increased demand.

    They really need to improve the men’s bathroom situation. Besides the long wait times at halftime it makes the concourse a cluster.

    In all honestly I wish they would not do either one of the above and build a new venue in a better location (wishful thinking I know)

  37. We need to think about why and how our have lost the whole defending starters. If it is a serious business, then it has cost the union organization a monetary lost almost equavalent to the transfer fee of B. Aaronson or Mark McKenzie.

  38. I think that you have nailed it, Patrick. Jim Curtin was right about this team giving an effort to make us proud. I wanted to add a couple of observations from the last 6 or 7 years during which I have attended home games semi-regularly. First of all, the skill level of MLS in general and the Union in particular have risen dramatically. It is rare to see a Union player outright whiff on an accurate pass. The coaching staff as a whole deserves credit for this. The mixture of national team players from what I call “overlooked countries” and homegrowns has created healthy competition for playing time and the team has benefited. Again, this is a credit to the coaches. My last comment has to do with an observation after the game. Jose Martinez came over to the stands to meet with whom I assume were friends and family. He was sharing his tears–real tears–with them. Though it was obvious from his play, this game meant that much to him. NYCFC tried to foul him in the beginning of the game to make him angry, and he resisted the urge to retaliate. We have seen him mature before our eyes. Yes, Sr. Martinez deserves credit, but so do the coaches. I want a team of players who play with that degree of passion and skill. I think that we are fortunate to have that combination of coaching, passion and skill. I think that the team model that has been created is a formula for continuing success. I for one embrace that.

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