Match Report

Match report: Nashville SC 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

On a bright and sunny Sunday in Nashville, the Philadelphia Union left brand new GEODIS Park with a point and a feeling perhaps of what might have been.

Mikael Uhre scored the opening goal in the 66th minute, but a late penalty conceded by Jose Martinez and converted by Randall Leal gave the hosts the equalizer.

The first half

The Union dominated the opening minutes, culminating in some lovely passing on the right wing. The interplay found Mikael Uhre in the channel and as he approached the end line, the Danish striker ripped a tight-angled chance directly at the Joe Willis. That parried strike woke the home side from their new stadium nerves and only the goalpost itself kept Dax McCarty from opening the books moments later – his half-volley was otherwise righteous.

It was McCarty a second time who played Alex Muyl into space after an atrocious giveaway by Kai Wagner. The Union were unpacked and once again it was the frame of the goal keeping things level, this time the crossbar.

As commentator Jon Champion correctly noted, the atmosphere and the game were “frantic.”

In the 17th minute, the Union’s trademark counter was on. Julian Carranza won the ball in the box off a Nashville corner, took it sixty yards himself, played Daniel Gazdag on the wing, and his low shot was spun wide. The ensuing corner was countered by the home side, and only Leon Flach’s sprint saved the Union from Nashville having possession in the visitor’s box.

An outrageous save in the 23rd minute by Andre Blake was “Of the week”-worthy, as Alex Muyl snuck to the far post off a corner and hammered his shot at the keeper’s outstretched knee. The former Red Bull man looked offside, but it wasn’t called and the play stood – Nashville were going straight at the Union defense, finding gaps during the run of play and off set pieces.

In the 30th minute, another needless giveaway by the Union landed on the chest of Hany Mukhtar. He put the ball coolly in front of him and blasted a right-footed volley that stung Blake’s hands and went over the bar – unquestionably one-way traffic after the Union’s two good minutes to start.

Things got chippy on the way to halftime. Nashville earned themselves two quick yellow cards for late and careless tackles, the second of which was as orange as they come – had Alex Muyl come from under Jose Martinez with his high boot, his foul would have almost certainly a red. Because he came from above, jumping through a lost challenge, a yellow seemed more warranted.

The free kick that ensued was pin-balled around in the box until ending up on the foot of Uhre, but his strike was straight at the Music City goalkeeper through a crowd.

Andre Blake was again center stage in the 45th minute, parrying another cleared-and-volleyed Nashville chance. Then, with mere seconds left in the four minutes of extra time, one of the best build ups of the Union’s season landed on Carranza’s right foot, drifting behind the Nashville line – his shot skimmed just wide.

The Union started and ended the half well, but were not the better side in between or on balance.

Second half

The Union looked much more poised after the break.

Carranza was kicked with high studs in the knee early in the second half, but for the second time in the match and third in three weeks, a yellow was given instead of a red.

In the 53rd minute, Alejandro Bedoya sat at the top of the box waiting for a second ball from a Union free kick. It landed on his left foot and only Walker Zimmerman’s lunge prevented the Union from taking the lead. A break moments later looked promising too, but again the Union’s shots were blocked or cleared. Nashville responded in kind, forcing a diving save on the other end from a daisy-cutting Randall Leal shot.

The game was beginning to boil – and right on cue, Jose Martinez earned himself a well-deserved yellow card (and almost a second for dissenting the call).

The Union got their goal moments later. A bad giveaway by Nashville in their attacking third put the ball on Gazdag’s foot. He turned, saw Uhre between defenders, and lofted a ball through for him. The new striker finally finished a chance for the Boys in Blue – turning USMNT defender Zimmerman around and slotting home. It was a quintessential Union goal – three touches, 80 yards, one Auld Onion.

If the Union are going to win silverware in 2022, it will be because of goals just like that, ones they’ve been creating but not finishing all season long.

Minutes later, a long range blast from Martinez was actually put on frame. If not for a defender putting his body on the line, the Venezuelan might have opened his all-time Union account. Glesnes headed the corner that came after on frame, but innocuously so.

The Union’s interplay came together as the game wore on, either because Nashville started letting space open or the Union simply allowed themselves time and space on the ball when Route 1 wasn’t on. In either case, it was an attacking dimension Union fans haven’t seen much of in recent years. The possession forced more chippiness from Nashville, who were being undone on their new stage and not finding themselves feeling good about it.

Walker Zimmerman bloodied Jakob Glesnes with an outstretched hand in the 77th minute, but walked away without caution. Nashville were getting desperate, physical, and vertical to try and salvage the tie.

A Jose Martinez handball in the box in the 83rd minute gave the hosts the opening they needed to do so. Randall Leal scored from the spot after the penalty was given, the first goal in GEODIS Park history for the home team and just beyond Blake’s fingers.

In the 90th minute, Chris Penso nearly inserted himself into the outcome of the game – but instead overruled the VAR and made the right decision. Reviewing a chicken wing touch from Cory Burke in the box, Penso correctly ruled that the Jamaican couldn’t have done anything about the inadvertent deflection, his view blocked by bodies and a redirected ball. For all the flack the PRO Referees deservedly get, this was a solid decision.

Nashville kept pushing, their energy renewed by their goal against the run of play. The Union were properly organized however and saw out the draw, despite an extra few minutes of extra time beyond the announced four.

Both teams will feel frustrated by the result, which is precisely why ties were invented.

It’ll be a late-night outing next up for the Union, as they visit LAFC this coming Saturday. Kickoff from Banc of California Stadium is slated for 11 p.m.


Philadelphia Union 

Blake, Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Harriel, Martinez, Bedoya, Flach (Real, 90+5), Gazdag, Uhre (Sullivan, 75′), Carranza (Burke, 64′)

Unused subs: Bendik, Findlay, Mbaizo, Bueno, McGlynn, Aaronson, 

Nashville SC

Willis, Romney, Zimmerman, Maher, Lovitz, McCarty, Davis (Loba, 72′), Muyl, Mukhtar, Leal (Anunga, 87′), Sapong

Unused subs: Washington, Zubak, Miller, Meredith, Haakenson, Longmire, Bwana

Scoring Summary

PHI – Uhre, 66′

NSH – Leal, 85′

Discipline Summary

NSH – Lovitz, 33′

NSH – Muyl, 37″

NSH – Davis, 49′

PHI – Wagner, 59′

PHI – Martinez, 62′

NSH – Leal, 76′

PHI – Blake, 84′


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Nice for Uhre to get on the board. 7th straight game the Union scored first, but 3rd straight they didn’t win.
    I don’t think Penso inserted himself into the game, the VAR told him to look at it and he did. It was the VAR who inserted himself. Penso just did his job.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      You’re right, wrong phrase. I wrote it assuming some home cooking and unexpectedly had to amend the ending.

    • I think Penso only overruled VAR because his wife was there to protect him from the Nashville Coach.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        LOL. I actually think Penso realized there were two major coin flip calls and given that he hadn’t awarded the red card Muyl he went Philly’s way on the PK. Had he given the red card, he probably would have also given the PK in this situation.

  2. Martinez… again.

    Urhe…. finally.

    2 Red Cards, spikes up… missed

    Good result, tough crowd… point proven.

    Ring Master, King Clown Garber in the crowd…

    Now on the LAFC.

  3. We’re a good squad… best in franchise history… despite Philadelphia reporter types who think they know.


    How ’bout that Jim?


  4. IN CURTIN WE TRUST, right Dave?

    Section 114

  5. Fair result. Union were not at their best and Nashville were understandably pumped up. Thought the U were particularly poor I’m the first half. Point on the road is good, but the best news is Uhre’s first goal. That man is really fast. I think he’s going to score many more.

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    Perfectly acceptable outcome.
    The penalty was a bummer but if that’s the only miss-step Harriel and the team make against a quality opponent near impossible to beat at home– particularly when kicking off it’s new stadium… I can be fine with it.
    Point blank….Union were better.
    Fasten your seatbelt cause that hook up between Uhre and Gazdag will be on the regular. Exceptionally talented players.
    Yes that’s the elephant speaking in the third person avatar… patting himself on the back. Gazdag is different– been saying it from the beginning. Guy is a flat footballer.

  7. Its good that Uhre and Carranza look like long term players for us because behind that it’s bleak. Burke is a shell of his former shelf and showing some poor body language, and Santos is already out for multiple weeks and it just turned into May. When will Darboe be ready?

    • Union fan says:

      And yet again Burke is first sub. Changing out both strikers is the new Illsinho as first sub in exactly the 60th minute. Jim has it in his mind that “changing out the strikers to run at tired defenders” has to be done every time no matter what the game looks like. And he will probably continue to do it for weeks (months?) whether it works or not.

      I was pretty stunned to see the stat that today was first Union goal after minute 60. Doesn’t seem like the strategy is paying off.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        OK, we know you’re not happy with Curtin, but what specifically would you have done differently given that Santos was unavailable and the Aaronson, McGlynn, and Sullivan weren’t going to come in until at least the 60 minute mark since all 3 played 60 minutes 24 hours earlier for Union II?

      • Union fan says:

        Play Carranza and Uhre 90 minutes. He’s been subbing strikers and it hasn’t resulted in a single goal from any Union player in 9 games after the switch. OK, Uhre has been trying to gain fitness in some of the earlier games but at this point let’s see the by far most productive trio of Gazdag-Carranza-Uhre for as long as possible in a match. I’d also ask that if the 3 youngsters are such important subs why are all 3 playing 60 minutes the day before and hurting their availability for the game that matters? Because they need minutes? If they are important bench players and need minutes why isn’t Jim playing them in MLS? Anyway, I’m not really unhappy with Curtin, but there are other personnel strategies he could try during games instead of doing the same thing every week that actually seems to be suppressing the offense rather than enhancing it.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Fair enough on the idea of playing the forwards 90 minutes, although we’d likely hear criticism if Curtin used no subs (and I’m not sure why he didn’t bring McGlynn in for an obviously ailing Bedoya when Real replaced Flach).
        As far as the kids go, I’m not sure they are ready to go 60-90 minutes regularly in MLS so there is something to be said for getting them playing time in MLS Next Pro.

  8. Union fan says:

    Going into the game, I was thinking considering the opponent and the occasion, a draw would be a very good result. Little disappointing they had the lead so late but couldn’t close it out but I’ll take the point.

    I will say considering all the times we are forced to watch multiple junk Miami, Orlando, Cincinnati national games that LAFC-Union being on 11PM on a Saturday night is pretty disappointing. Was it not apparent before season started this would be the matchup of the week?

  9. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Martinez put your arms down. Blake was awesome and thinks he should have saved that penalty. The chemistry is building between Gazdag and the strikers. I’ll take the point from what was truly an amazing debut for the stadium where the team now has a 19 games home unbeaten streak.
    I read on an MLS summary of the games that Flach was substituted for an injury but since then they took it down. I did find it odd that Matt Real was the sub that late, makes me wonder it he picked up a knock?
    Looking at the new stadium and seating for 30K it makes me wonder if
    A.) Are the Union ever going to announce plans for development around the stadium?
    B.) How much could they expand the stadium in the future because at some point they’ll need more revenue to keep up?

    • Sell Subaru to Widener or Westchester or even Villanova… after building a soccer only 25,000 seat stadium over the tracks at 30th street… playing international matches at Mr. Laurie’s house when needed.

  10. Deez Nuggs says:

    I had this pegged as a draw weeks ago. Can’t say I expected it then to be so exciting. So glad to see Uhre off the blocks. He’s gonna be solid. Blake is a superhero.
    On another note, I think it’s unfortunate for the penalty. Looked to me like Brujo was pulling back to chest the ball and the ball takes a slight deflection into his arm. Not much he could do about it but a fair call.
    Sooo glad we got the second var call. Good lord.

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