Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Inter Miami CF

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

The Philadelphia Union listlessly drew against 12th place Inter Miami CF on Wednesday, on a cool night in Chester, PA in front of a half full Subaru Park.

Both sides featured new faces from their weekend matches, with notable names missing the match altogether (Mikeal Uhre) or sitting on the bench (Deandre Yedlin) – the crowded part of the MLS schedule rearing its ugly head.

First half

The Union started the match in a defensive shell, content to sit at midfield and let Miami try to pass through them, in hopes of the visitors making a mistake. The first shot of the night came after a mistake of their own however. Jack Elliot, playing as a defensive midfielder, was dispossessed on the wing and Miami got in behind. Andre Blake was up to the task, and moments later it was the hosts just missing after some lovely interplay put the ball on Leon Flach’s left foot.

Only some outrageous goal-keeping – a leaping kick save – kept the score level.

Both teams had awoken.

Another bit of great keeping kept the Union off the board in the 15th minute. Passing around Miami like they were flamingo-colored traffic cones, Dániel Gazdag turned his man in the six and attempted to roof his shot into the minuscule angle presented to him. The chance was parried high, but the Union were starting to turn the proverbial screws.

An atrocious turnover by Kai Wagner, missing Elliot in a congested rondo on the left side, undid that work and sprung Miami on a 2 v 2. Only Blake’s sturdy post kept the Union even. Jakob Glesnes took a Union free kick from 30 yards out shortly thereafter, the result of Cory Burke winning a foul. The Norwegian glanced the frame on a near-worldie – inches from picking out the top corner with a laser beam.

Defensive pressure created another Union chance a few minutes later, but ended with Burke smashing a left-footed shot directly at the keeper – another chance a mere moment after that, this one from Gazdag, was cleared off the line. The game was sufficiently wide open.

A series of half chances on both ends ended without either team taking a shot on goal, though each had the ball in the box more than once, and the first stanza ended.

Second half

There were no changes at halftime, and the second frame’s first chance came 5 minutes after the whistle.

The Union switched fields off a throw on the left and Sergio Santos played Olivier Mbaizo in on the wing. The right back’s near post blast was hard and low, but saved. The home side were pressing every inch of the Subaru Park field, but Miami were doing their best to pass through. In the 53rd minute, their efforts were almost rewarded by a near point-blank shot that sailed over the bar.

End to end, Elliot trailed a counter and attempted to slide a first-time chance into the corner – it was wide, but neither team had come for a point: they had both decided they were here for three. Then the Union won a foul just outside the Miami box, thanks to some timely interplay and Gazdag’s savvy positioning. Elliot and Wagner stood over it, and it was the center back who curled his ball into the keeper’s diving arms.

Burke forced another diving save in the 63rd minute off another bout of Union pressure, just after Jim Curtin brought two subs off his bench and Phil Neville two of his own. Another pair of subs came before the 70th minute, Quinn Sullivan and Union killer Gonzalo Higuain. Both coaches were going for it, but it wasn’t clear either team had enough in them to take it.

In the 78th minute, Paxten Aaronson won a free kick on the left side. Wagner swung a ball to the six and Stuart Findley pushed his header high. Over and over, neither team inspired confidence they were going to break the other down and the game was a wide open affair of miss-hit passes that devolved along with the player’s energy meters.

A half chance for Miami in the 84 minute was hit 10 yards wide and 10 rows into the north end. A similar opportunity on the other side was smacked right at a kneeling keeper at the near post. Aaronson inserted himself into the narrative, dancing at the top of the box – but also turning his ball into a buoy for the Delaware River.

The final 10 minutes of the match passed with the Union turning the ball over as often as they had it. Even a flurry of chances near and after the 90th minute weren’t to be, a cross skittering in front of the face of goal and a few more simply getting turned away.

The Union remained unbeaten at home, but that stat felt more like a participation trophy to the home crowd – who booed their Boys off for the second time in four days.

Three Points
  1. For all his quality as a center back, Jack Elliot is not a defensive midfielder. Playing in place of the suspended Jose Martinez, the Brit was fine – but left the Union without a great link between the lines and didn’t cover nearly as much ground as the Venezuelan.
  2. Stuart Findlay reminded Union fans this week why he was signed in the first place a year and a half ago: he’s a darn good center back, who was among the team’s best players on the night – chasing runners, snuffing out attacks, and keeping his poise.
  3. Olivier Mbaizo had some of his worst minutes ever for the Union Wednesday night. Time and again, his decisions were off and his touch errant – he missed a half dozen crosses that simply went out of play, let alone not finding a teammate.
Lineups

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Stuart Findlay, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo (Harriel, 62′), Jack Elliott (McGlynn, 82′), Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach (Aaronson, 62′), Daniel Gazdag, Sergio Santos (Sullivan, 70′), Cory Burke

Unused subs: Freese, Real, Bueno, Turner, Craig

Inter Miami FC

Callender, McVey, Sailor, Lowe (Yedlin, 63′), Ulloa, Duke, Gregor, Mota (Lassiter, 63′), Taylor, Campana (Higuain, 70′), Vassilev (Rodriguez, 83′)

Unused subs: dos Santos, Jones, Allen, Quinteros, Adam

Scoring Summary

N/A

Discipline Summary

PHI – Flach (19′)

MIA – Duke (60′)

58 Comments

  1. I don’t even know where to start. Nothing is good. Nothing is fine. Curtin really needs to turn this ship around cause its heading in the WRONG direction.

    Actually I do know where to start. BURKE IS TRASH. After a performance like that he deserves to be placed on waivers. Get him out of here.

  2. Well that didn’t go well. The good news is that they didn’t lose and they can only get better (I think). The homegrowns made the game more interesting at least.

  3. Disorganized. Uninspired for 70 mins.
    Best I can say is it occurred.

  4. Did Flach actually complete a pass? He and Mbaizo, the worst of a sorry lot. Almost no energy from any of them, and save a few nice moves from Gazdag, no one better than meh.

  5. Coaching change. That’s the fix. Caleb Porter or similar. Proven. I’m done with the home-grown feel good in-over-his-head “I only know how to coach defense” coach. But Sugarman won’t put out for a real coach. Sigh.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      .
      Out of your mind with this train of thought.
      .
      Guy has lost 2 games since being ousted in CONCACAF last year and you are arguing to fire him.
      .
      NYCFC
      MONTREAL.
      .
      Two times.
      .
      There is no re-engagement by me beyond this comment. It isn’t even a discussion point the posturing of it is that -inane.

      • Franklin Delano Roosevelt says:

        *Three counting Orlando USOC loss

      • el Pachyderm says:

        League play. but yes… noted.
        .
        25 games. 2 loses. 3 if you include the playoff loss.
        .
        it’s phenomenal.

    • coaching change wait let me find my … oh man everything’s been boxed up since the move … oh good here they are my asbestos oven mitts for this searing hot take

    • Agree with el Pachyderm. Out of your mind.

  6. You forget how vital Martinez is until he isn’t there. No cohesion whatsoever without him. He sures up the back and backs up the front. He’s the cog that makes it all work. Absolute mess otherwise.
    Highlight for me – McGlynn’s field vision is so good. All his passes push the offense. He frequently sees beyond the side and back passes. If only Burke and Santos had any semblance of a touch.

    • Agreed. Agreed.

      Just a boring game, started yelling in 50th minute for “Jim, put in replacements. Don’t forget to use your substitutes”. He didn’t hear me!

      BEDOYA was gassed at 50…. and yet, Jim still allowed it to continue.

      And NOT sure what’s up with Burke, but at this point where the hell is URHE? Is he homesick or what? MY GOD…. Another headcase or is he healing?

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Only 12 draws behind Nashville’s record. First time the team was shutout since CCL semis. Last regular season shutout the New England game 2 weeks before that when they had 8 players either suspended or on international duty. Last shutout with essentially a full team available since Nashville on July 3. At least it’s now 10 straight that they haven’t given up the first goal.
    .
    Elliott is just too slow to play the #6 effectively. Mbaizo wasn’t useful but made sense as squad rotation. Not sure why they didn’t go with the Christmas tree formation so they had a forward to bring in off the bench. McGlynn looked great Monday night for Union 2 but I don’t think he’s ready to play regular minutes in MLS.
    .
    Scary thing is that it looks like they will be back in first place after tonight (although NYC is only 1 point behind with a game in hand).

  8. the top 2 strikers were unavailable, the team did not score, this is an unsurprising result

    • This can’t be underestimated. The team lacking scoring hasn’t had its major scoring threats on the field tigether…. Wait until they do!

  9. I just can’t.
    .
    Miami played at least the last 20 minutes for a tie.
    .
    Every quality shot that wasn’t off the woodwork was right at Miami’s goalie.
    .
    Gazdag’s body language said it all towards the end…wasted opportunities

  10. el Pachyderm says:

    The issues are multifaceted. Not the least of which tonight was Gazdag’s comportment to hog the ball a bit instead of pass- to Burke— sitting on pure sitters in front if the gol. Does anyone recall those moments? Slip the ball off there Daniel. Important moments.
    .
    Course how does Corey not crash the back post when Gazdag attacks end line near 90th min. Holy hell.
    .
    Beyond that man are the current strikers just a vortex. Say what we will about Martinez he in ultra important in connecting the midfield.
    .
    This team needs Uhre and Carranza on the field. PERIOD. Once that happens they will score in droves.
    .
    Harriel EVERY game over Mbazio. I feel a bit bad for the guy. Remarkable to me people think / thought he is better than Raymond. You know who is better than Raymond? Harriel.
    .
    I’m still not worried.
    .
    As I wrote in the pregame report… and upline— Union have lost twice since being beaten by Club America a long long —— long time ago.
    .
    It needs to be better for sure but many people on social media and here at PSP will need to take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, walk the dog and let them figure this out.
    .
    They will.

    • Jeremy Lane says:

      I saw Cory get mad that Gazdag didn’t lay the ball off to him, and in a vacuum he’d be right. But Gazdag is on absolute fire right now, and Burke spent the rest of the game taking four touches when one or two would do and not running hard enough, so I’d say Gazdag had the right to be selfish there. Burke and Santos both need to actually score for me to have any sympathy at all for them.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m OK with Mbaizo getting about 90 minutes over the last 2 games given the hectic schedule and that Harriel and Carranza are the only starters that have not played a full season before.

    • Gazdag is a tremendous dribbler and has very good touch, but does exhibit a little bit of tunnel vision. I saw at least 3 times (on the offensive end of the field) that Paxten made a checking run into the middle from the left, was wide open 25yds out and Gazdag instead dribbled to the right corner.
      Now maybe that is because Flach doesn’t make those runs so much and Gazdag isn’t looking for it.
      Agree that they will work it out though and love the point made that they have lost only 2 in 25 with the 1st team on the field.

  11. A few items were confirmed tonight. Santos and Burke are no better than reserves, and I am not sure Burke should even be a reserve in MLS. The other is that Harriel should be the unquestioned starter at right back. And just like Burke, Mbazio is probably not even a reserve in MLS.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Curtin thinks Mbaizo should play in France. While I agree, what does Jim have against the French?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        OK, we get it, you don’t like Mbaizo playing. But what will you say if Harriel plays every minute the rest of the season and then is gassed by the time the playoffs roll around?

  12. The Union Jack says:

    NOT

    GOOD

    ENOUGH

    BOYS!

  13. MLS parity baby! 10 games tonight…all draws or 1 goal games except for NYC. Love the late night action…Monteiro gets the winner for San Jose…Austin takes down LAFC…and Vancouver beats Dallas go figure.

    Given all that parity, you can’t convince me that all is that bad for the Union…of course it can be a lot better. We obviously want to separate ourselves from middling teams like tonight. And this game presents some red flags. But it’s still only May. And, oh yeah, we’re in first place! For the next couple days at least. We play Portland on Sunday…hey they have 6 draws too!…parity like I said.

    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt says:

      Union draw got less bad as the night wore on:

      Two points from the Shield. Top of the East. Best defense in the league. (The old nemesis NYCFC creeps closer in the standings though)

  14. It’s close to turning out the Union teams of 2020-21 were an anomaly. Anytime you score one goal you should wallop Miami. Yeah, I went there. The season is in danger of slipping away.

  15. Let’s try this again.

    The Union’s 2020-2021 sucesses appear to be an outlier. Any time you score one goal you should clobber Inter Miami,

    Right the ship before it’s too late.

    • Ummm….you’re forgetting the 2018 and 2019 seasons in your hot take…..
      .
      Season is not slipping away. The Union are in first place in the East. Could/should they have more distance at the top? Yes, we can make that argument. They’ve lost once this season.
      .
      The fan base needs to take a breath and relax.

  16. John P. O'Donnell says:

    I saw more fluidity from Union II on Monday night. Santos & Burke just don’t seem dangerous as it looks like they are tying to make a highlight play and seem to just lose the ball or sore it over the goal. Bueno looked good on Monday and I can’t understand why he didn’t start the game. I get that he played 90 but I think he would have been the better choice over Elliott.
    I’m tired of the sister kissing, they need a Dub.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I agree. Where was Bueno? He looked solid last year in his limited minutes, and it is his actual position. For the record, I’m still okay playing Findley, but we could have got Elliot a rest for that money.

  17. This result was always in the cards with our starting striker duo unavailable. Not surprising.

    In order for this offense to click, it’s going to need more than Gazdag’s creativity. It needs quality attacking play from either the 8s or the fullbacks. There were a lot of attacks in which only three blue shirts were trying to slice through more than half a dozen pink defenders. Bedoya and Wagner provided some, but not enough. The team looked sharper with Harriel, Aaronson and McGlynn.

    I think it will get there. This is not time for a coaching change. Only thing I really wish Jim would do is lean a lot less on Bedoya. He can’t pay almost 90 every match.

  18. I was a bit disappointed walking to the car with my bride. I didn’t see Saturday’s game but she did. When we got to the car she said.”can we just put the ball in the net!! Just like last game! To many missed shots!!”

    I don’t think she’s wrong. But Burke and Santos were lacking most of the game. Mbaizo is not as good as Hariel.

    The youth movement brought the game to life. And if Jim can have a little more faith in them the minutes will come. I was hoping for a 1/0 Union win but Martinez is the missing link. And that was on full display.

    It was forced a bit but I hope we see some more rotation. The summer heat will take its usual toll.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Mbaizo is not as good as Harriel. This is not Ligue1.

      • It ain’t France either but here we are! His offense was better than Gaddis, but thats about it. Nathaniel is the future in that position. I think Mbaizo has lost his mojo. Maybe never had it!

      • And yet it was a tracking run from Mbaizo that likely saved a point for the Union and prevented a Miami goal…..
        .
        Mbaizo was strong on defense last night, and he had good movement going forward. His crosses and passing in the box were very bad. The final ball was severely lacking though.

  19. Gonzalo HIGUAIN was a riot when he came over to work out, before the half. Someone yelled “fat ass” and “best in MLS riding the bench”… and he laughed and joined right into the abuse.

    Made the evening fun. Game was just boring… No energy.

    But still in 1st place, Portland, New England and Cincy waiting to be taken. Doop!

  20. The Big Q says:

    Does not stand for Quality in the Quaker State. T00thless.

    Where is the depth I hear so much talk about? Nobody scores if they stay all night.

    Coach has no answers…..only sound bites.

    Let me help: your diamond is dysfunctional with this roster. Formation change required if you are going to continue to field this slop.

    You went into the off-season needing forwards. You still do…. There are a number of players you continuously choose to put out there who are sub-standard. Cease doing so.

    People actually paid good money to watch that?

  21. Evildunk99 says:

    While that game sucked for many reasons, we learned or at least confirmed a few things:
    .
    1. Elliott at the 6 is not gonna work when Jose is out.
    .
    2. Findlay is a capable #3 CB… he didn’t play great per se, but he was usually in position, communicated well, defended 1v1 OK, I’ll take it.
    .
    3. Mbaizo is unplayable. Try someone else at RB if Harriel needs a break (Real? Sorenson? summer transfer?).
    .
    4. Burke is unplayable. Play one of the kids in his place, call up Riasco, transfer, anything but him.
    .
    5. Pax can play the 8 as a way to get minutes. It was kind of formation-less chaos down the stretch, but it looked like Mcglynn was playing LB/D-mid, and Pax was connecting the MF with the attack. He draws so many fouls on the ball and can play up top or in the mid field IMO.
    .
    On to the next, it’s a long season! DOOP

  22. It kind of looked like the Keystone Cops out there the last 15 minutes.For those under the age of 50 please Google keystone cops. The game proved 2 things to me. 1 scoring is very difficult in soccer. It’s a team effort of knowing what your team mates are gong to do, where they are going to be as a play develops and then executing the final step.Cant fully evaluate how far this team can go until all are healthy including vmost importantly Uhre to see how far they can go. If we had all players available Burke would be the 4th striker.Do not release him to another team. AT least not this year. WE were lucky to get a tie. There were just too many player’s out there who had very little knowledge of how to interact. I was not surprised by the result. If we had the full team out there and got that result, I would be concerned. Let’s all take a deep breath.

  23. OneManWolfpack says:

    So conflicted on how to feel. On one hand they should have beaten a weaker team at home. This team is good enough for me to say that with confidence. So the draw feels like a loss. On the other hand, it wasn’t a loss. Miami didn’t score. We missed our two best strikers. I guess what I will say is that I have seen enough of Mbaizo and Burke. I realize rotation, injury, etc… but these guys aren’t up to level they need to be. For anyone new here – the Union have lost this type of game uncountable times in their history… so relax on the “Curtin has to go” or “this is garbage / slop, etc.” We have one of the best teams in the league with one of the best defenses. It’s mid May. I realize the goal posts have moved and we all expect better. And that’s a good thing. But, come on, we are fine.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      so often we have peered over the Cliff into the abyss. Give us here…..just one reason not to jump.
      .
      It’s been a long haul to this place of WSSM (credit upthread to Sieve!) NOW meaning: we have tied 6 games, are in first place, have lost 2 times in 25 games, only been beaten once in 12 this season, coming off a conference finals appearance. Oh man. Those were some dark days.
      .
      Just Play Well.

  24. Deez Nuggs says:

    I plan to be contrarian. Buckle up.
    .
    Disappointed in the result, obviously. But this is a tough one…
    .
    It is another disappointing draw. A draw that leaves us 1st in the East, 3rd in shield. A draw that leaves us the only remaining team in MLS with a single defeat on the year. A draw is not a loss.
    .
    And we are drawing our way through the toughest part of the schedule. Other teams in this league WISH they could do that. Right LAFC?
    .
    And I’ll admit I enjoyed the hell out of watching it. Chances were flowing at both ends, but more at theirs. Glesnes bangs one from a time-zone away and hits post. Gazdag is spinning people like tops. Dangerous mistakes from both teams up the drama. If you can’t enjoy that in the moment… perhaps this isn’t your sport.
    .
    Cory played hard. He was first to press. At them full steam. He’s forcing errors that turned into the chances we all lament as ‘almost but not’. There’s not a ton of gel in this 11 because there hasn’t been enough time. But I’m not down with the Cory hate. He worked his @ss off.
    .
    I am totally cool with Mbaizo playing this one. He made mistakes. His touch was off. Some decisions were poor. BUT… Jim is nothing if not a man manager. This team needs Mbaizo to be better. You can’t just demand that and have it happen; Jim needs to show him the light at the end of the tunnel. It gave him field time to scrub at that rust, and hope to keep trying. And ultimately, this game didn’t NEED Harriel to keep a clean sheet. Harriel, though, DID NEED the rest.
    .
    If it’s me… I play Bueno in his natural spot and give Elliot some sleep.
    .
    It’s a broken record to say the Bedoya needs some rest. He does. But he put in a decent shift running. Less tired than last weekend somehow.
    .
    Flach never looks tired… he just keeps running. But I think we’re seeing how tired he really is with some of those misplaced passes.
    .
    And another thing… for those that complain Flach offers nothing in offense: YOU ARE DEAD WRONG. He doesn’t score, and he has a tendency to drop passes behind people in the final third. But his runs are brilliant at creating channels and opening up space. Not everything in soccer is about kicking.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Should clarify. I mean the 11 we put on the field to start. This game. Not the ‘first choice’ 11. Although the same point applies to the subs. At any point in this one, a good set of the team had played barely a handful of minutes together.

    • I really agree with almost all of this. But when Jose is out, I’d put Flach at the 6, where he can function as a destroyer, and insert one of the Homegrown Crew at the diamondside. McGlynn if you want more D, Pax or Quinn if you want O.

  25. Andy Muenz says:

    Lots of comments how the Union are in first place, but that’s somewhat of an illusion. NYCFC are only 1 point behind, have a game in hand, have more points per game, and are playing a lot better of late.
    .
    First 6 games Union amassed 16 points or 2.33 points per game. That would be 6 points better than New England did last season and obviously not sustainable. Last 6 games, they have 5 points or 0.83 per game. That would put them in last place in the league. Sure, they played LAFC and Nashville, but they also played Toronto and Miami who sit 12th and 13th in the East.

    • They played LAFC, and Nashville, and NYC, and Montreal. Their schedule has not been easy at all. They’ve lost a single match. They are in 1st or 2nd place in the conference, depending on how you measure, and it’s no mirage.

  26. 1. I blame this draw on Curtin. He made too many changes in the back 6 and ruined the team’s chemistry. Each of them was reasonable to try in isolation — Jack has played the 6, Findlay is very solid, and Mbaizo to get more offensive punch against a weak team. But altogether, combined with Carranza’s absence, and it was disjointed.

    2. The game was a disappointment, for sure, as was the NYRB match (which I attended in person). The Union are definitely in a slump. But consider this: a “slump”, for this team, means taking a point in just about every match. They’ve only lost once this year and are 1st/2nd in the conference (depending on how you measure). This is a kick-ass team in a slump, not a bad team where major changes are needed.

    3. I am just *loving* that El Pachy is now the new PSP optimist. I raise my glass to you, sir!

    P.S. While I think “Jack at the 6” and “Mbaizo starting” were reasonable to try… they did not work and should not be repeated.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      My guess is that Jack at the 6 won’t be repeated but Mbaizo starting will. It’s really not much different than Powell replacing Mbaizo last year. For better or worst, Mbaizo is the backup if either Nathan or Kai needs a rest (probably just Nathan on that one), gets suspended, or gets injured.

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