Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-0 Charlotte FC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Goals from Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag led Philadelphia Union to a comfortable 2-0 victory over expansion side Charlotte FC on Saturday night at Subaru Park, the home side’s fourth consecutive victory.

Manager Jim Curtin made one change from the unit that defeated New York City FC before the international break. Quinn Sullivan, fresh off a dominating performance with the U.S. U-20 squad, came into the lineup for Alejandro Bedoya, who experienced soreness after training late in the week. Offseason acquisition Mikael Uhre returned to the bench after missing the last two matches with a leg injury.

It took less than four minutes for the Union to break the game open, thanks to Julian Carranza’s first goal for Philadelphia. Kai Wagner smashed a brilliant 60-yard ball that sent Sergio Santos into Charlotte’s box. The striker squared for his partner, who was making a run to the six-yard box. Carranza beat his marker, and his one-time finish beat keeper Kristijan Kahlina.

The Union dominated the next stretch of the match, toying with their expansion opponent with clever movement and strong defense in the visitors’ half. The game could have turned in the 19th minute, when Jose Martinez caught Sergio Ruiz high with his studs showing. It looked an ugly challenge in real time, but referee Timothy Ford judged the tackle only yellow-worthy, VAR saw no clear error, and the game resumed.

From there, Charlotte started to grow into the game, earning a few spells of possession in the Union half but finding no clear avenues to goal.

At the other end, the Union nearly doubled their lead in the 35th minute, when Martinez clipped a lovely ball over the Charlotte backline. The ball found a willing runner in Wagner, but his cross (or shot?) sailed harmlessly wide of the net.

Charlotte’s best opportunity of the first half came six minutes later, when a well-worked switch of play led to Ben Bender receiving the ball about twelve yards from goal. But the first pick in this year’s SuperDraft could only fire his strike into the side netting, and the two sides entered the locker rooms with Carranza’s early goal as the only mark on the scoreboard.

Charlotte made a halftime substitution and a tactical change, but it took less than sixty seconds for the Union to punish their attempts to play out of the back. The keeper, Kahlina, passed the ball directly to Daniel Gazdag at the top of the box, who did not miss the wide-open net he was offered. The goal was his fourth of the season, marking his fourth straight game with a tally.

With the two goal advantage, the Union searched for a third. Carranza stung Kahlina’s palms with a vicious strike moments later, and Union runners began to buzz around the Charlotte box.

Curtin summoned Mikael Uhre to make his Subaru Park debut in the 67th minute. He replaced Santos, while Cory Burke came on at the same time in Carranza’s stead. Charlotte manager Miguel Angel Ramirez made his own changes moments later, throwing on Alan Franco, Christian Makoun, and Christian Ortiz in a last-ditch attempt to make the game competitive. But although his team dominated the ball, the final pass was lacking, and the Union did well to snuff out any hope of a comeback from the visiting side.

Gazdag could have picked up a second goal late in the match, when Uhre did well to find him in space in the penalty box. This time, though, Kahlina made a good play, closing down the angle and coming up with the save.

Uhre showed off the jets in stoppage time, getting behind the Charlotte defense and bearing down on goal. But his touch took him too wide to get a shot off, and his floated cross for Burke found no takers.

The Union are back in action next Saturday, when they play host to the Columbus Crew. Kickoff at Subaru Park is at 6 p.m.

Three Points
  • Carranza creating. Julian Carranza has looked like another sharp Ernst Tanner signing through the first chunk of the season, opening his account after producing assists in his last two games. Now that Mikael Uhre is back into the mix, the competition
  • Hit the Gaz-dag. It took Daniel Gazdag a while to get going last season, but the winter layoff seems to have done him some good. His goal was mostly attributable to a keeper howler, but the Hungarian attacker was all over the field tonight. Four goals in five games is a sterling mark from midfield.
  • Keep the train on rails. It’s been a near-perfect start to the season for the Union, who’ve ripped off four straight wins after a season-opening draw to top the Eastern Conference table. The opposition haven’t always been impressive, but piling up points against weak opposition is a path to MLS success — and a fight for the Supporters’ Shield down the line.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Quinn Sullivan (Jack McGlynn 81′), Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag (Paxten Aaronson 90+1′), Sergio Santos (Mikael Uhre 67′), Julian Carranza (Cory Burke 67′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Stuart Findlay, Jesus Bueno

Charlotte FC

Kristijan Kahlina, Guzman Corujo, Anton Walkes (Daniel Rios 46′), Sergio Ruiz (Yordy Reyna 83′), Jordy Alcivar (Alan Franco 75′), Karol Swiderski, Brandt Bronico, Ben Bender (Christian Ortiz 75′), Christian Fuchs, Jaylin Lindsey, Joseph Mora (Christian Makoun 75′)

Unused subs: George Marks, Adam Armour, Derrick Jones, Harrison Afful

Scoring Summary

PHI: Julian Carranza — 4′ (Sergio Santos, Kai Wagner)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 46′

Discipline Summary

PHI: Jose Martinez — 19′ (foul)
PHI: Paxten Aaronson — 90+2′ (foul)

PHI Statistic CLT PHI Statistic CLT


Possession % 58.9 43 Duels Won 48
9 Shots 10 8 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 1 1 Saves 4
1 Blocked Shots 5 26 Clearances



Total Passes 501 14 Fouls 8
78.1 Pass Accuracy % 84.6 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 6 0 Red Cards 0
15 Crosses 21 1 xG






  1. No red cards in the game as the game stats show.
    That was a very enjoyable game to watch as a Union fan. The Boys seemed fresh and confident. Let’s keep building on these types of performances.
    Columbus should be a good game against a stronger opponent. Zelarayan will be a handful for Martinez, Flach, and Bedoya.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    7 straight halves of shut out ball for the Union. Solid if not spectacular night. Hopefully they will continue to build up points this month given how tough May is looking with trips to Nashville, LAFC, Portland, and New England (with the Portland game being 4 days after a game in Chester).
    20 degrees warmer and a lot less windy than 2 weeks ago but still haven’t figured out the advantage to playing a night game rather than in the afternoon this time of year.
    Hopefully will be able to find a stream of Union II tomorrow evening.

    • supposedly on MLS Next Pro’s website.
      I share your trepidation.
      Wikipedia has a useful list on Inter Miami CF II’s roster uni #s as well as names, and indications of from what level in their organization.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Thanks, Tim. I have the page open (https://www.mlsnextpro.com/video/live-streams/). Just hoping everything works since it will be the first one I’m trying to catch online rather than in person.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Looks like Union2 match has been pushed back to 6pm on Tuesday due to travel issues.

      • Tim Jones says:

        Oh good, you’ve seen the news.
        Here’s what I’ve found so far about watching. I have watched short snippets of the two streams available this afternoon. Links don’t work in comments, of course, so I have deleted most of them.

        Union II’s match at Inter Miami Club de Futbol II has been postponed until Tuesday, April 5th at 6 pm due to travel considerations imposed by inclement weather according to the organization’s press release.
        It seems a good opportunity to share details of how to watch MLS NEXT Pro matches that are not the enhanced Game of the Week productions.
        Video stream
        The video is stated to be available five minutes before tap-off on the MLS NEXT Pro website itself, here. Old match streams are not saved on the league’s website, and an incomplete check of YouTube found only match highlights, so parties interested in full matches must watch live.
        The league states it uses Spiideo. Spiideo provides an automated camera and its free level of service says that there is audio commentary. In earlier preseasons the Union has used Clearwater Florida’s automated camera to provide scrimmage videos at the DiMaggio complex. In the main those video streams were useful, except for long diagonals directly served from individual defenders to individual attackers. At first glance Spiideo’s platform seems significantly higher above the pitch and seems to cover it all.
        Five decades and more ago, when you went to a major league baseball game with your Mom and Dad, hawkers would sell scorecards with the cry, ‘GIT YA SCOAH CAHDS HEAH, CAN’T TELL THE PLAYAHS WITOUT A SCOAH CAHD!” In those days it was 50 cents for a useful souvenir of the game.
        The internet replaces all that. But right now, as clubs and the league are scrambling, the only scorecard information you seem certain to get is player names. Uniform numbers, precise positions, and formations are chancier. Search each team on Wikipedia and look for rosters. An hour before tap-off search Twitter.

    • The answer to your question about night games in March and April is easy…those of us with kids who play youth soccer can’t make it to a lot of the afternoon games. The stands are always noticably more empty during day games than the night games.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Thanks. When I was growing up we only had soccer on fall Sundays so it wasn’t an issue this time of year.

      • SoccerDad says:

        This portion of the spring has the joy of 2 games a weekend with state cup and league games. (at least in PA)

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Easy win.
    I thought Sergio was the best player on the field tonight. Consistently probing spaces out there with some deft play….and the run he made on the first goal was outstanding.
    Hopefully he is not ‘injured’ and will be operational come next week.
    After spending so many years watching this team struggle in the opening portion of the season it is nice to be so well positioned this early on… all while playing pretty well.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Sergio started that beautiful run very early. I spotted it and luckily Wagner did too. What a lovely ball in. And we were playing them all night. I agree, Sergio was feelin it. He was trying shit.

      I thought Gazdag could’ve had three with a bit more luck. Great game from him too.

      Carranza doesn’t get enough credit for all his dirty running. Glad he got his goal finally. Felt like it was coming.

  4. Micah Bertin says:

    Union have a long history of dropping early season points so this is a very encouraging start!

    Will Swidorski challenge Higuain as petulant punk a** DP?

    Founding member season ticket holder section 108 but I watched this game from my business hotel room in Portland Oregon. Bonus:I’m going to the Timbers game tomorrow. My son said it’s okay to wear my Union tshirt so I will be repping the next MLS cup winner

  5. First time really watching Charlotte. Wasn’t too impressed.
    Whoever their #11 is was an angry man the whole game. Especially as it appeared Elliot was told to know where he was at all times and to stop him.
    Gotta win these games if you want to be in the mix later in the year.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Really enjoyed the way Elliott and Glesnes denied service to #11 (Swiderski, not the correct spelling), all game long. Just fun to watch.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Definitely kept Swiderski (correct spelling) in our pockets all night. Clearly the plan. He’s the guy scoring for Charlotte — brace in the last two. Keeping him locked up is how to win games.

  6. Thought they were pretty good on the night as a whole. No real trouble posed to the defense. Leading the East and looking comfortable doing it. The bride and I warmed up on the trip home and are off to bed with smiles.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    The first few mins l, before the Union scored, I immediately thought – well, Charlotte is going to sit back and see if the U break them down. That’s been the big question with the Union – can they break down a team that sits back on them, especially when the Union are at home? Then the Union scored. Then they just bossed, pretty much the rest of the game. Gazdag for me was the guy that would make this season work. He has been absolutely incredible… not only scoring, but just being the #10 we needed and hoped he would be. Carranza is legit and I can’t wait to see him playing with a fully fit Uhre. I’m beyond impressed with what I’m seeing with this team. Great game tonight. Keep it rolling next week.

  8. The first 15 minutes or so (before the Martinez challenge) were the best I’ve seen the Union play in a long time. The pressing, the intensity, even the work on the ball were all incredible to watch. They looked like real MLS Cup contenders out there for stretches today, even if Charlotte isn’t very good.
    Also, Uhre continues to look promising, and I look forward to seeing him bang in some goals when he gets his feet under him.

  9. Deez Nuggs says:

    Had a great time at the game tonight. Took a lazy time exiting and ran into Ale Bedoya who was kind enough to pose for pictures with the kids. What a class act. My son also noted that Christian Fuchs, despite losing, seems like a genuine good person. Every time someone went down, he seemed like the first one there to check on them. And he also stayed around to take pictures with people.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Cool to hear on all fronts. After the pressures of England, Fuchs has to be loving playing here in America – win or lose.

  10. Hi everybody.
    Just moved to Philadelphia from London and finally got the tele set up in my flat and watched the game. Top side you got here!

    Can someone suggest a pub in the city to watch matches with other supporters? Ta very much. I hope to get to a match, too, so please let me know the way there and the best section to watch from. And how to get to the grounds, as I don’t have a car.


    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Welcome to the best (and worst) city in the world lol. Unfortunately I live just outside the Philly area so I don’t think I could offer much info. Who’s your premier league team btw?

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Fado and Misconduct get a lot of traffic on game days (Premier League and MLS). As for getting to the game, you can take a train but I’m the wrong guy to ask on how. Welcome to the city.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      If you take the Wilmington/Newark Regional Rail line to the Chester Transportation Center they have free buses from there to the stadium before the games and then back after the games https://www.philadelphiaunion.com/stadium/transportation.
      As far as where to sit, that depends on what kind of experience you want. Sections 134-140 are where the Supporters stand and sing and chant all game. Section 133 are where the visiting supporters sit. Sections 107 and 127 are midfield (107 is more expensive but I’m pretty sure it comes with extra perks…I’m not 100% what those are since I’m in 127.) But really, the stadium is small enough and designed so that there’s not a bad seat in the house.

    • Buccistick says:

      The Union site still has a list of official “pub partners”:
      Standard COVID disclaimer: def confirm that a place is still in operation before rolling up. And some places just have a good spontaneous Union vibe, e.g., I’ve heard good things about MeyersBrewing.com.
      For summer matches with daytime kick-offs, the northern (south-facing) sideline enjoys zero shade. Sitting in sections 122-132, the deyhdration/sunburn can get … intense.
      Otherwise … it’s a no-frills modern stadium. So like @Andy Muenz says, not a shabby sightline to be hand throughout such a small, simple 18,500-seater.
      … but a shite beer will set you back $15 because ¯\(°_o)/¯ ‘murica.
      For a chattier Philly soccer space, including the odd ticket offer, check out the Union subreddit:
      P.S. You didn’t ask about EPL pubs, but coincidentally, another (nonprofit) local news source just posted a run-down of Premiership watering holes in Center City:
      If you’re new to the region, check out Billy Penn.
      Most importantly … you have already found THE BEST indie local coverage of the Union. PSP is run entirely by volunteers, and supported by Patreons (like me!).

    • Welcome to Philly and PSP! You’ll be hard pressed to find better game analysis and overall Union coverage than here! We sit in section 114. Its the corner so the river end is harder to see but they are cheaper seats and we love how close to the pitch we are!

      • Ditto 114… But be prepared to hear alots of yelling at the opposition, especially ‘the scrubs’.

        Washington Ave in the city has a ton of Asian restaurants and markets… and then Italian Market on 9th.

        Two great locations to eat great Philly food.
        Enjoy exploring this great city.

        And Announce Yourself at the next game in Sec 114. Yell loudly… “I’m the British Bloke”… everyone will know and start yelling at YOU! We yell alot in Sec 114 row H.

    • Welcome Andrew!
      More info on seating – 106, 107, 108 are Club Sections. Club tickets have access to the Union Club 1-1.5 hrs before and after the game.
      Club has separate entrance, separate (less crowded) bathrooms, fixed price buffet and a-la-cart food options and 2 full bars.
      Can watch game inside behind glass (cold/rain) or outside on the patio. Upgraded parking. Does cost more.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Also, the seats in those sections have padding and arms which can be more or less comfortable depending on the width of your body.

      • Vince Devine says:

        Better to skip the club and attend the SOB tailgate before the game. Three hours of food and drink for about $20.

    • Tir Na Nog (16th & Arch) is the Chelsea bar (we are the Philly Blues).

  11. Comfortable and well managed. Charlotte never really looked like scoring, thanks to our back line and Martinez snuffing out everything that got near them.
    The creativity and interplay in tight spaces in the first half might be the best I’ve seen from the Union. It didn’t come with as many clear chances as I’d have liked, but I imagine that will come. Things opened up in the second half, and the Union should have had at least one more. Credit the keeper on the Gazdag chance, but thought Corey should get something on what looked like an inch-perfect Uhre cross.
    Martinez was really good pulling the strings at the base of the midfield and covering the back line. He may have been slightly lucky to escape his reckless challenge in the first half with a yellow, but then played 70 minutes without ever being close to picking up a second. That’s a level of maturity that I don’t think we’ve seen from him in years past. Really important player for us.
    Gazdag has been really great as well. Turns out he is exactly the player we hoped he’d be when we picked him up last year.
    Thought everyone played well. Santos is a serious problem for defenses when he’s feeling up to it, and he clearly was last night. Harriel continues to impress on the defensive side, and Wagner continues to be Wagner. That ball to Santos was incredible, and Santos did well to get it across to Carranza who himself did well to get across his defender and put it away. The result never felt in doubt after that.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I give Cory some slack because it looked like he pulled back from leaping straight into the post. And it wasn’t like it was win or lose.

    • The Uhre-Burke (almost) connection happened right in front of where I stand.
      Burke just…and I mean just…missed it. Lots of credit to Uhre for salvaging the cross, he was one better touch away from having a go at goal himself.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Rewatched the game this morning. I thought it was ironic that in the pregame, JP and Danny praised Kahlina’s distribution skills.
    One thing that irked me last night and that I didn’t hear any possible explanation on the rewatch was around the 73rd minute mark when Harriel had a throw in. It looked like he was going to take in about 15 yards behind where it went out but Ford waved him over to where it had gone out. Then when Harriel picked up the ball, Ford ran over and just got in Harriel’s face (if it was the other way around it would have almost certainly been a yellow card). It seemed completely inappropriate on Ford’s part to me.

    • Agreed – watched that again on dvr and still no more clues as to what set the ref off.
      Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that you are allowed to throw the ball in from anywhere behind where it went out of play, just not past where it went out of play.
      Then Harriel went to throw the ball in from where the ref wanted, but had to wait because there was a second ball on the field.
      Can only assume the verbal assault was for time wasting, but it was a really bad look for the ref against a rookie who has been amazingly processional and effective since the minute he got on the field with the first team.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I think technically the rule is that you’re supposed to throw it in from the spot it went out so it was OK to wave Harriel forward, but it wasn’t like Harriel was slow moving from one spot to the other and, as you pointed out, by the time he got there the other ball was on the field so it would have been illegal to restart play.

      • Plus on an earlier corner where Harriel was knocked over on the dead ball the ref went over to talk to him just as the ball was to be played in. It was a foul but I could see why you wouldn’t call it. Per above Fuchs went over to check on the rookie. Anyway, Harriel, who had another good game, heading one off the backline and generally distributing and defending well, blew Ford off so he could focus on the impending corner. Seemed very professional and composed for the Rookie. He has two way traits that Mbazio just can’t match (not a knock, just an observation) .

        As well as Harriel played, thumbs up for the entire back line. Elliot and Glesnes are monsters back there, but Wagner had a heck of a game. The pass to spring Santos was a thing of beauty. He just goes forward all the time and recovers each time. We are lucky to have a talent like Wagner and indeed such a solid back line Martinez too), to allow the team to focus up top.

    • I remember that. I guess the Villanova game was on the Philly radio partner so I had to listen to the Charlotte radio- who were on-site, no cheating out with them. For what it’s worth they both said Harriet was doing too much mouthing off to the ref, don’t know if that’s accurate.

      The funniest part of the broadcast was that first half golden opportunity Ben Bender had inside the box that just went high. The play by play guy went nuts “Cuts it back to Bender!! He SCORES!!….oh wait…no, he missed actually.” The analyst couldn’t help herself from laughing at the guy for the next 20 seconds.

  13. UnitedPenn13 says:

    My comment has nothing to do with the match last night which, by the way was fun to watch. My comment is about the sudden appearance of Jeff Skversky with LeToux. I don’t understand why the Union would hire him after years on Channel 6 ignoring not only the Union matches but also the US National team news. The man doesn’t like or appreciate Soccer. Very disappointing.

  14. Early on the way Charlotte goalie was handling the ball, you could see Gazdag’s goal coming…. surprised it took so long.

    Charlotte is a poor team. In years past, we might have played down to their level. THANK GOODNESS those years are long behind us. We can win ANY game we put our mind to.

    Hosting MLS CUP in Chester….

    Unless Clown Master Garber decides otherwise… CLOWN LEAGUE… Do NOT merge with Liga MX.

  15. From section 139 I thought for sure Martinez was getting a red, happy to catch a break on that one…as usual a rough night for the officials, like Andy and others I don’t understand what Ford was doing in Harriel’s face there, strange…otherwise, loving Carranza and it looks like Uhre should be able to score in this league right away, excited to see them play together

  16. Great atmosphere in the stadium! I can’t believe the team is playing so well and improving on last year’s performance! Can’t wait for the US Cup to start again and hope to be playing again against Mexican opposition. Hope this time that more season ticket holders show up rather than sell their tickets to Mexicans!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      If you’re referring to the CCL Semifinals, I don’t think season ticket holders sold their seats so much as just didn’t bother to buy them for that game since it wasn’t included in the season ticket package.

    • Vince Devine says:

      I may have misunderstood your comment, but US Cup is only open to domestic competition. We wouldn’t play Mexico again (except the scheduled friendly) unless we make Champions League again, but those matches wouldn’t be until next year.

      • You are right; I jumped the gun… Anyway hope we get into the CCL next year again because that was fun!

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