Union match reports

Match report: Toronto FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Toronto FC came from behind to hand Philadelphia Union their first loss of the season, with goals from Jesus Jimenez and Alejandro Pozuelo giving the hosts a 2-1 win at BMO Field in Ontario.

Julian Carranza scored a first-half goal for the Union.

Coming in on the heels of five straight wins, manager Jim Curtin saw no reason to make any changes to the lineup that pulled out a 1-0 victory last weekend against Columbus. Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza led the line up top for the second time this season

Kai Wagner could have had two assists in the first seven minutes, but his teammates couldn’t find the net. His looping delivery on a fourth-minute courner found the onrushing Jack Elliott, who’d beaten Michael Bradley to the six-yard box. But Elliott’s one-time attempt popped over the bar, not troubling Toronto keeper Alex Bono. Moments later, Wagner turned his man and flashed one across the goal mouth, where Carranza waited for a tap-in, but the service caught the striker flat-footed.

Wagner was at the center of the game’s next flashpoint in the 19th minute, when Jayden Nelson slid in for a tackle and caught the Union defender very high with his studs. Referee Alex Chilowicz, though, only showed Nelson a yellow card, and the VAR somewhat inexplicably decided not to intervene. The hosts were very fortunate to keep their full complement of players on the pitch.

The game turned ever more physical in nature, with the Union typically content to soak up . Uhre felt a crunching tackle from Alejandro Pozuelo in the 29th minute, earning a yellow card for the TFC attacker.

Carranza and Uhre combined for a pretty opening goal in the 33rd minute. Uhre broke down the left wing, playing it to Daniel Gazdag in the box. Gazdag took a touch and played it back to Uhre, who looped a beautiful ball toward the back post. Waiting was Carranza, who headed the ball past Bono and into the net for his second goal of the season.

Toronto struck back. After Pozuelo forced Andre Blake into a special save, Jesus Jimenez found the equalizer in the 39th minute. A bad turnover by Jose Martinez gave Toronto possession at the edge of the box, and a series of ping-pong passes played Jimenez in. It was a silky finish to beat Blake.

VAR bit Wagner again three minutes later, wiping a way an impressive strike that would have restored the Union’s advantage. A Union corner bounced to the left back at the edge of the box, and he struck a powerful one-time volley. It snuck through the mass of bodies and past Bono. But after the celebrations, VAR summoned Chilowicz to the monitor, which revealed Carranza offside and disrupting Bono’s view of the shot. The referee waved off the goal, and the scoreline returned to 1-1.

Right on the stroke of halftime, another collision involving Nelson saw Nathan Harriel require treatment for a head injury, wrapping up a physical half of play.

Perhaps fearing another yellow on his young attacker, Toronto manager Bob Bradley gave Nelson the halftime hook, replacing him with Deandre Kerr.

Pozuelo gave Toronto the lead in the 50th minute with a great individual run. Receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Pozuelo dribbled past Martinez and through a horde of Union defenders, delicately placing a finish past Blake and into the Union net.

It was the first goal the Union allowed in the second half this season.

Toronto suffered a blow shortly after the goal when a muscle injury forced midfield mainstay Jonathan Osorio from the match. Kosi Thompson came on to replace him as the Union’s attackers searched for an equalizer. Around the hour mark, Uhre had two chances bearing down on goal, but Bono managed to stop both strikes.

Needing a goal, Curtin introduced Toronto-killer Sergio Santos and Homegrown Jack McGlynn in the 69th minute, replacing Carranza and Leon Flach. It nearly led to an immediate goal, with Santos and Uhre whacking at a loose ball off a corner right next to Toronto’s net. And McGlynn just missed wide from outside the box a few minutes later.

Burke replaced Uhre in the 77th minute, completing the attacking line change. Paxten Aaronson joined the party ten minutes later, pulling off Alejandro Bedoya. But while Philly had good spells of possession in the Toronto half, few clear-cut chances appeared. Toronto did well to handle the Union’s pressure, and when the final whistle blew the hosts had earned all three points.

The Union return home to Chester next weekend for their second match of the season against CF Montreal. Kickoff from Subaru Park is at 3 p.m.

Three Points
  • Referee! Hard to know what the referee and the VAR saw on Jayden Nelson’s brutal, high first-half tackle on Kai Wagner. The Union have less to complain about on the VAR call that waved off Wagner’s goal, but that first call would have changed the game.
  • Goals… against? The Union’s four-game streak of clean sheets came to an end, and some uncharacteristic defensive errors were at fault. Jose Martinez will be frustrated when he looks at the tape of both Toronto goals.
  • Synchronicity. Philly’s goal was a great example of what Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre, and Julian Carranza can do in tandem this season. You’d like to see that trio get into dangerous areas more often, though. There still seems to be some disconnect between the front three and the midfield base.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya (Paxten Aaronson 87′), Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn 69′), Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre (Cory Burke 77′), Julian Carranza (Sergio Santos 69′)

Unused subs: Matt Freese, Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, Olivier Mbaizo, Quinn Sullivan

Toronto FC

Alex Bono, Kadin Chung (Lukas MacNaughton 79′), Chris Mavinga, Shane O’Neill, Jayden Nelson (Deandre Kerr HT), Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio (Kosi Thompson 56′), Jacob Shaffelburg, Alejandro Pozuelo, Luca Petrasso (Jordan Perruzza 72′), Jesus Jimenez

Unused subs: Quentin Westberg, Adam Pearlman, Themi Antonoglou, Ayo Akinola, Ifunanyachi Achara

Scoring Summary

PHI: Julian Carranza — 34′ (Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag)
TOR: Jesus Jimenez — 39′ (Jonathan Osorio)
TOR: Alejandro Pozuelo — 51′ (Kadin Chung)

Discipline Summary

TOR: Jayden Nelson — 19′ (foul)
TOR: Alejandro Pozuelo — 30′ (foul)
TOR: Michael Bradley — 45+1′ (other reason)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 53′ (persistent infringement)
TOR: Kadin Chung — 75′ (time wasting)

TOR Statistic PHI TOR Statistic PHI


Possession % 46.4 57 Duels Won 69
7 Shots 14 9 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 5 4 Saves 2
2 Blocked Shots 3 28 Clearances



Total Passes 373 10 Fouls 16
74.2 Pass Accuracy % 66.5 0 Yellow Cards



Corners 10 0 Red Cards 0
7 Crosses 18 0.4 xG






  1. Serious question says:

    Can Uhre elevate a shot?

    • But that goal was a beautiful collaboration… a HUGE POSITIVE SIGN of what to expect with Uhre & Carranza….. and Sergio was balistc. The new secret weapon for us… kinda like Ilsinho… but more BLUNT.

      But Jim… at 60 minutes, please. It’s like you forget to substitute….. And then wake up at 65+.

      Hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester! Doop!

      • The sub plan 100% feels like its all based on the plan made before the game and is never adjusted in game.

    • Looking at his highlight reel Uhre seems to be more about getting in behind and excellent positioning, popping up in the right places. He isn’t the kind of player to curl in any laser-guided rockets. 90% of his finishes are well placed strikes inside the box on the ground. The remainder of the time he’s taking a ball out of the air and powering it or heading it. Plus a few deft chips to round things out.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    It was a trap game and the Union showed it. The got complacent, especially Carranza for just being lazy in getting onsides and costing the Union a goal.
    I’ve noticed that Uhre’s had several chances so far one on one with the keeper, but they are all at a bad angle. They need to figure out a way to spring him down the middle so he has options on the shot.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Obnoxiously annoying game to watch. Clear red card missed. No idea how it’s not a red. Luck, etc caught up with them. It all balances out over a season.
    They couldn’t throw a beach ball into the ocean tonight. Stats might say otherwise but I wasn’t impressed with Toronto and thought the Union beat themselves. Missed two early chances (Elliott & Carranza), and had two extremely uncharacteristic goals against.
    I realize they wouldn’t go unbeaten the whole season but this was a winnable… at worst draw-able, game. Kinkead tweeted (I think that’s where I saw this) something like – the Union usually have one bad game and then are right back to being themselves. I agree. This was that game.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Most likely Nelson’ll get suspended for a match or two which will do the Union absolutely no good.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Right. A suspension, yes. A red in-game, at time of incident, no. Someone make it make sense

  4. Deez Nuggs says:

    Jim waits too long to sub. Sergio and McGlynn on at the 60 minutes mark for me.
    Pozuelo was really hard to play tonight.
    I understand the offside call. But to not even go to var on that tackle?? Ridiculous ref.

  5. Losing always feels bad and it’s not good to lose but I thought overall there was a good team behind loss. Firstly those two goals we gave up should not be repeatable going forward. First was off a dumb Martinez turnover and the other was multiple players getting dribbled past. Those are things we can’t/shouldn’t expect to happen moving forward

    And I am not a stats above all else guy, but we outshot them 2-1 and had like a 1.9 xG to their 0.4 And that matches the eye test. We still created a lot of chances. I want to specifically call out our corners recently – we seem to be doing a lot better with them. They seem to be finding open Union players more often than not – namely the very first one in the game that found an open Elliot that he should have done better with.

    Our passing does need to be better (and for as good as he has played, I feel like Carranza is still a step behind with his passing and link up play still), but we are creating more dangerous chances this year and we have strikers who can actually do more than just play defense.

    I thought Uhre continues to look great. His assist and the run with it was great. He got behind the defense multiple times – the kick save by Bono was necessary as it looked like that was a perfectly placed shot to the far post. I know we want to see goals, but it’s not like Uhre isn’t playing well. He is.

    If there is a weak link in the starting 11, I think it is starting to be Flach. I understand he is amazing defensively, but man for every great defensive play he makes he makes a poor offensive play.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Agree with a lot of this. Especially the parts about being the better team. I really think the Union lost. They weren’t beaten. They’ll get beat in some games this year I’m sure, but this wasn’t one of em. I’ll take this team and hope they figure out the finishing and improve the passing, because they are very good. The defense gave up 2 weak and uncharacteristic goals. That isn’t the norm.
      Also agree with the Flach point. He has his moments and can win the ball back with the best of them, but I think he needs a game or two off.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        Seba said post-match that the frustration over the ref was the cause. Having thought about it overnight it wouldn’t surprise me. That little bit of lack of focus could easily manifest itself in a few extra bad passes and that seemed the difference. Toronto weren’t great but a reasonable man has to give credit to Pozuelo’s play.

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    I got up after the game, went to the sink, washed my hands of it. Closed the computer. Moved on with my evening.
    One part totally jobbed. One part Martinez. One equal part ….ole.ole.ole.
    They are not the Invincibles… the key to this season will be immediate positive responses after a loss -whether good or bad.
    I’m not worried. RESPOND.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      The Elephant. So eloquent. Benevolent. Bent. Vent. Spent. Sorry – rhyming words. Anyway – It takes multiple posts for me to convey what he or she can say in like 6 sentences. Top notch as always.

    • Right on… A wake up call.

      This team IS REAL.

      In Herr Tanner we trust.
      Curtin now too.

    • I’m not worried either. The goal they scored was a beautiful interplay between the front three. Needed, and a sign of what is to come.
      The goals they let in were aberrations. We’ve seem them stop similar shenanigans already…just for some reason the soccer gods said “not tonight”….
      They weren’t going to win them all. At least after this loss we aren’t headed directly to the Cliff of Union Despair, looking for the Fabinho-Sun Rocket, while chanting “Close the Curtin!” …

      • FIRE CURTIN was the chant… for many years. Justifiably.

        NOT NOW….
        Sec 114

        In Herr Tanner we trust. Curtin now too.


  7. I for one think that the loss to Toronto is more indicative of the Union’s true level than the antecedent unbeaten streak. A good defense, but poor passing from players like Flach (no skills, just an engine) and Brujo (my favorite current player, but seemed to lack some of his edge in this one) can lead to goals.

    And the U’s offense is horrible. When they need a goal Curtin is forced to play route 1 soccer and kick the ball long to Burke and Santos. (Danny Higgenbotham commented at half time that the Union might be helped in the second half by the wind in their faces so that the strikers could run onto long balls! Is that the plan?!? OMG.)

    The kids – Paxton, Sullivan, McGlynn – are more skilled and could contribute but Paxton comes in for a slow tired (dare I say old) Bedoya at 87’?!? And Sullivan doesn’t even play?

    Curtin has never been able to coach offense and nothing has changed.

    I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see this team finishing in the top 3 in the Eastern Conference.

    • Wrong

      This team is real.

      Hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester!

    • And yet the best composed goal on the night was scored by the Union in the opener. I’m with you on feeling like our 8s are lacking, but the top 3 are by far the best we’ve ever had. It was just one of those nights. Bad giveaways, uncharacteristic moments of indecision defending in the box and a characteristic profligacy in the final 3rd. As Pachy said above, the response is everything.

  8. Defense played badly. Both goals were mistakes by Martinez and backline not picking up open players… But the tackle on Kai should have been a Red Card, and a fine for spikes up tackle.

    That ref has always been inconsistent. That NON-call was definitely an error on his part, then he refused to review… Which is odd to say the least.

    Spikes up = red card everywhere but Toronto, I guess.

    Wake up call for us… Kinda glad we lost. The next 4 games are ball busters, possibly with 2 Open Cup games too.

    The goal was a beautiful collaboration…the meshing of our offense a very, very good sign.



    NO footage of the ‘red’ card spikes up tackle on MLS app.


    RING MASTER GARBER at it again.

  10. They managed to beat themselves last night. The passing was not crisp,and Martinez was just making a few bad decisions and his outlet passing became give aways! The offense made a lot of chances but sadly couldn’t find the back of the net! Wagner needs steel gaiters for the next few games. Let’s keep him healthy and safe! By the way…the bald guy for Toronto played very well! To bad he couldn’t do that the last WC qualifiers. On to the next! Let’s shake it off and get a home win!

    • I wonder if Martinez’s passing is a victim of our style. And as a disclaimer, I like our style and have no issues with it.

      But I think it’s ok to have a Plan A and a half sometimes, and for us I feel like we constantly have the 8s clear out and stay high and wide. We have 0 connecting playing in the middle.

      The small handful of times we had to build out of the back, the only players on the screen were Glesnes, Elliot and Martinez. I would love to see one of our 8s or Gazdag be able to drop deep and at least offer an option. Hell, they can still blast it deep after they receive the ball. I’m just asking for the team to offer a shorter option once in a while.

      I think McGlynn is this type of 8, and his consistent sub minutes in place of Flach is probably telling, so I would like to see more of McGlynn earlier. Maybe even a start or two to see what it looks like.

      • Agree 100%. McGlynn starting would be eye-opening I’m sure. And anything to get Flach off the pitch…

  11. John P. O'Donnell says:

    They lost and it’s their first of the season. They should of could of would have but they didn’t, they lost. Did Kai get a foul worthy of a red? It’s irrelevant because they gave a yellow and as a championship team you learn to move on. This is a lesson in a long season and by journeys end they must learn resilience and the ability to over come. There’s plenty to improve upon and the last game Curtin said as much.
    This is MLS where you learn about your team as you start the season, build your team in the middle and try to get at peak performance as you enter the real season…. The playoffs.
    They have a few pieces working and hopefully more will come on line as the season moves forward. This game Toronto was just the better team and on to the next one. Hopefully lesson learned.

  12. Disagree with one part. Toronto was not the better team. They just won. HUGE defensive mistakes on both Toronto goals… and I believe like someone else said , the squad became distracted by the non call. Not sure why but that does explain some of their distracted play.

    Next…. Montreal. Let’s get There and Carranza locked together, producing 2 GAA, every game.


    PS… Not sure why everyone down on Flach. He has a role with this club that might not fit his play. Offensively he struggles… But locking down opponents, that is what he does, almost as good as Martinez. I’d rather see Flach in front of the backline… And allow Martinez to stretch the offense.

    GREAT season so far.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Agree with your point on Flach but his first 60 minutes on Saturday might’ve been his worst in a Union shirt. He picked it up after that, but was not good for a while.

      • Yeah. Seems the whole team suffered some sort of let down except that beautiful goal…

        But how many years ago would we be hanging ourselves after a loss like that? SMILE

        We’re good, and a loss like that is a wake up call as Montreal, Nashville, LAFC and NYRB are cued up.


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