Union match reports

Match report: Portland Timbers 0-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Stephen Speer

Goals by Daniel Gazdag and Sergio Santos fired Philadelphia Union past Portland Timbers and back into first place in the Eastern Conference, as Philly earned a 2-0 win at Providence Park on Sunday night.

Coming off a scoreless midweek draw with Inter Miami, Jim Curtin made three changes to his lineup, reinserting Julian Carranza, Jose Martinez, and Nathan Harriel in their regular positions. Cory Burke, Stuart Findlay, and Olivier Mbaizo made way.

Kickoff at 10:30 on a Sunday night wasn’t optimal for Union fans in the Delaware Valley, but across the country it was a perfect evening for soccer in the Willamette Valley.

Daniel Gazdag got the evening started with a special goal in the fifth minute. A long throw into the box was flicked on by Alejandro Bedoya toward Gazdag. With his back to the net, Gazdag unleashed a bicycle kick that left Aljaz Ivacic frozen in place. The ball nestled into the goal, and the home crowd was stunned.

It was the Hungarian’s seventh goal of the year.

The Union kept buzzing, searching for a second goal. It nearly came when Kai Wagner fed Bedoya on a free kick routine from the training ground, but Ivacic did just enough to deny Bedoya’s close-range shot.

Neither side fashioned much real danger for the rest of the second half. The Union did well to force Portland into hopeful crosses toward Bill Tuiloma, none of which really troubled Andre Blake. At the other end, Philly pressured the Timbers’ defense without finding a final ball.

The battle between Diego Chara and Jose Martinez flashed in the moments just before halftime, as Chara went through his Union counterpart outside the Timbers’ box. Chara earned a yellow for his troubles, and tensions flashed between the sides as Martinez received treatment. Carranza took the free kick and blasted it into the wall.

The Union doubled their edge just after halftime. Recycling the ball after a Harriel cross, Jack Elliott found Wagner, who looped one toward the penalty spot. It found the head of Sergio Santos, who cushioned his header perfectly toward the far corner. The shot caught the keeper flat-footed and Santos celebrated his first goal of the season.

Unfortunately, Santos appeared to tweak something either during the celebration or immediately afterward, and the oft-injured striker made way for Paxten Aaronson.

Portland had the ball in the back of the net in the 69th minute, but VAR intervened to wipe the goal off the board. A cross found Santiago Moreno at the back post, and his point-blank shot was saved off the line by Jakob Glesnes. But the rebound fell to Sebastian Blanco, who blasted it home. However, a long VAR check, including a monitor review by referee Allen Chapman, concluded that Josecarlos Van Rankin had gotten a slight touch before Moreno, and Moreno was a step offside when that touch occurred.

The Union breathed a sigh of relief.

Philadelphia spent most of the final minutes playing defense, frustrating an already frustrated Portland side. One late sub did prove costly, though, as Carranza picked up a yellow as he left the field for Cory Burke. That yellow, Carranza’s fifth, will see him suspended for the next match.

With just five minutes left, Portland registered their first shot on goal, but Andre Blake stoned Yimmi Chara at the near post to preserve the clean sheet. Blake also shut down a one-time strike by Tuiloma in the first minute of stoppage time.

By the time the final whistle blew, it was Monday on the east coast. But bleary-eyed Union fans will have plenty to be happy about this morning, as their side is back in first place through 13 matches.

The Union’s last match before the June break is next Saturday, when they travel north to face the New England Revolution in a clash of the last two Supporters’ Shield winners. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Gazdag the magnificent. It was another special moment for the Union’s MVP candidate, bicycling a ball into the net just five minutes into the match. It set the table nicely for the Union to begin frustrating their opponents.
  • Take a second. The Union’s recent inability to hold a lead has been closely related to their regular failure to produce a second goal. Getting that second early in the second half gave the Union a much-needed cushion. (And it helped to get Sergio Santos on the scoresheet this season, too.)
  • A good win. Winning on the road is hard, and winning after cross-country travel is even harder. The Union did both, and they’re back in first place as a result.
Lineups

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, Sergio Santos (Paxten Aaronson 52′), Julian Carranza (Cory Burke 81′)

Unused subs: Matt Freese, Olivier Mbaizo, Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, Quinn Sullivan, Jack McGlynn, Jesus Bueno

Portland Timbers

Aljaz Ivacic, Josecarlos Van Rankin (David Ayala 80′), Dario Zuparic (Zac McGraw 90+8′), Bill Tuiloma, Justin Rasmussen (Larrys Mabiala 66′), Cristhian Paredes (Marvin Loria 67′), Diego Chara, Eryk Williamson (Santiago Moreno 14′), Yimmi Chara, Sebastian Blanco, Nathan Fogaca

Unused subs: Pablo Bonilla, Dairon Asprilla, David Ayala

Scoring Summary

PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 5′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Nathan Harriel)
PHI: Sergio Santos — 48′ (Kai Wagner)

Discipline Summary

PHI: Nathan Harriel — 18′ (foul)
POR: Diego Chara — 44′ (foul)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 81′ (time wasting)
PHI: Cory Burke — 85′ (foul)

Statistics
POR Statistic PHI POR Statistic PHI

65.6

Possession % 34.4 53 Duels Won 48
12 Shots 12 9 Tackles Won

12

2

Shots on Goal 4 2 Saves 2
4 Blocked Shots 6 17 Clearances

28

514

Total Passes 274 12 Fouls 20
84.4 Pass Accuracy % 70.4 1 Yellow Cards

3

11

Corners 5 0 Red Cards 0
21 Crosses 9 0.8 xG

1.1

1

Offsides

2

46 Comments

  1. I watched it! It was awesome.
    Great bookends to today: City wins the league, Phillies dig deep and get a W.
    Union beat Portland on the road.
    All is right in the world.

  2. John O'Donnell says:

    The goals were both pretty special. I’m not sure why Jack Elliott didn’t get a secondary assist because he ran down that ball and fed it directly to Wagner for the Santos goal. Also was it just me or did it look like Sergio thought, well I’ve played enough in this game?
    .
    The ref giving Carranza vacation until June 18th was a little over zealous and would be my biggest complaint for this game.

    • I thought Curtin told him to go down from the sideline. Flach’s reaction to seeing Santos on the ground was priceless

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m pretty sure that while he was jogging off the field, Carranza turned around and said something to Chapman (probably about the lack of a call when he was taken down). If so, the yellow was stupid on Carranza’s part but deserved.

  3. Gruncle Bob says:

    It was a quality win for sure. And a win! On the road! On the west coast! Portland scored 7 goals in their previous game, but none tonight.

    Solid night defensively – Portland only barely threatened when throwing caution to the wind (is that nautical?)>

    Poor officiating as usual in MLS, and it was not uniformly bad.

    Great job! West coast wins are precious. Final West Conf road game is in Dallas, so we can all wave goodbye to PDT!

  4. John P. O'Donnell says:

    In an alternate Universe that was a MLS Cup rematch they won……

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      After watching the Final last year, where Portland rolled over for NYC. I have zero doubt we would have lifted the cup if we’d not been bitten by bad luck the game before.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    Quality. Offsets a ‘bad’ draw or two.
    .
    Team is solid. Not worried at all.

  6. WOW…

    Now that’s the way to do it… on the road… behind our own brick wall Andre Blake Andre Blake, Andre Blake. WOW… way worth staying up, way past my bedtime.

    Just a great game and great result and still in 1st place.

    In Herr Tanner we trust.
    Curtin too.

    On the way to hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester. Doop!

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Glad I stayed up to watch the whole thing… as if I really had another option. For the most part it was just an excellent win. Seems like some luck is back bouncing our way after the VAR offside call went our way. Regardless, the defense and Blake (when needed) was great – as usual. I really don’t have much to say, other than, anytime you can have a clean sheet, win on the road, on the west coast, and in Portland, where I don’t think the Union’s record is good at all… I will take that 10 our of 10.
    .
    Also Congrats to Paxten’s brother who appears headed to the PL at Leeds… I can buy a jersey now!! (ain’t no way I was putting Red Bull anything on me 🙂 )

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Had another thought and the “edit” option had already disappeared. On the disallowed goal… I’m not the only one who thought Wagner got wrecked from behind by the guy who apparently touched the ball offsides, right? I thought that was the foul they were checking the entire time. That seemed way more obvious than the offside call.

      • Section 114 says:

        I thought that on initial viewing but came off it. Two guys going for the ball, and Van Rankin had sufficient position.

        The offsides was the right call. And it saved us twice, as I think the save on the line involved someone’s (Jack’s) hand too. But irrelevant twice.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Offside was the right call.
      .
      But another missed red?? Chara gets his first yellow for jumping through Jose with an elbow. And they he DOESN’T get a second when does exactly the same thing later? Come on.

  8. BBfromUD says:

    Paxten put in a great shift. We need to see more of him as his ability to help close out the game was obvious last night. With Carranza out, Santos possibly hurt and Uhre still on the mend, the U will need somebody besides Burke to play up front this weekend.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Reminded me of Brendan out there with his press. Great shift from Pax!

    • Steve 101 says:

      100% agree. He clearly needs more strength/muscle(that run up the sideline that chara just muscled him off the ball) but the kid looked like he belonged. I texted my friend last night in about the 75th minute. “Regardless of the outcome tonight, Uhre should sit and get himself right through the international break. The guy is coming off a full season played and right into MLS. Let him get his legs right. 4-3-2-1 next week at NE with Aaronson next to Gazdag with Burke or Santos up top.”

  9. Union poses some serious long throw in threats! This team with a healthy Uhre is best in the east

  10. Joe Hassell says:

    Diego Chara was laughing after he got a yellow card in the 44′. The elbow to the back of Flach’s head should have been a red card.

    • and he dodged a couple of other yellow cards for the rest of the game

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Too right. How does he get to walk free there? And Carranza gets a suspension to his back doing nothing but exiting the field?

      • Much Edu about nothing. says:

        I think if you watch the replay JC turned back to Chapman and said something he shouldn’t have.

        Incredibly stupid given the situation.

  11. I was very happy with this performance. The field seemed small as the action was back and forth and you really got to see how fast the players are as they closed on the ball so quickly. Both teams had to fight to find players in open space and the only time they had any easy time with the ball was when play cycled back to the defense. There were several decent one-touch passing series but both teams struggled to use their quick passes to generate shots.
    .
    Thinking back on the game, with the size of the field and how quickly both teams were closing down attacks, I should have realized any goals would have come from a set piece or long ball. Fortunately our CBs stood tall and the Union’s attackers made good.
    .
    Was anyone else frustrated when Blanco grab his face after Harriel grabbed him? I understand he felt the need to draw the foul but that seemed like simulation and could have been carded.

  12. Could only catch the highlights for this one. Happy to see the U get back on top with a nice win. Based on the highlights, Blake deserves a lot of credit for the clean sheet. Some nice stops.

    One thing I found a bit funny was how on both Union goals, Portland’s keeper was absolutely frozen, like a shot on target was the last thing he expected. My first thought was to think he might be able to do better, but both goals were placed really well, if not with maximum pace.

  13. A W on Saturday against NE and the recent winless skid becomes a memory heading into the long break ( granted, a W at NE is no easy task especially with the possibility that Burke may be the only available striker).

    Only critique that I had while watching was at times there appeared to be a lack of recognition that the counter-attack was absolutely on and I thought that led to some missed opportunities to create additional scoring chances.

    There were several positive performances to choose from but two of note were Harriel and Bedoya. Through the first 5-10 minutes or so, it looked like Harriel might by in for a long night in a tough environment, but he did really well to settle into the game, not only defensively but by providing some really positive, and at times, penetrating passing going forward. With Bedoya, I’ve always been hesitant to join the ‘he needs to be auto-subbed after 60 minutes due to his age’ argument. What he lacks in fitness he makes up for with positioning and, mostly, smart passing; taking a guy with such a high soccer IQ off the field should not be taken lightly, which I don’t think Curtin does. He’s one of if not the most cerebral player for the Union and I thought that showed throughout most of the night with, especially on his flick that set up Gazdag’s goal. Dude’s a baller.

  14. Deez Nuggs says:

    Great Job, U!
    .
    Boys were at them from the start. Full energy play on short rest after travel. Dominated from the start. Portland looked like Thunder without any rain. Never really threatened for all their bluster.
    .
    The key points: don’t let them play comfortable and win the second ball.
    .
    Blanco was getting angry mere minutes into the game. That’s about when I knew we would win.
    .
    Sergio has deserved a goal for a long time. Good for him! He earns them well more than he gets them. Hope this builds him up. You could see on his face how much it meant.
    .
    Gazdag is pure class. I was so not ready for his goal to happen at that time, in the way it did, off a throw-in(!), that I sat there as dumbfounded as the Portland crowd for at least a few minutes. Didn’t even cheer.
    .
    Ref was inconsistent, but got the big offside call right. I think Chara probably should have been sent off. I think Carranza could get spoken to before he gets a card for walking. And there is ZERO way that Harriel should get a card. I’m not even sure it was a foul.
    .
    PHL17: “Game starts at 7:05, we’ll begin pre-game at 7”
    FOX: “Game starts at 10:35, we’ll tell everyone it start at 10, but still won’t be ready. So we’ll have them all switch over to a different channel, and then back again a few minutes in.”

    • Boo to Fox for that nonsense, but cheers to whoever was pirating their feed last night, it was crystal clear all match 😉

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Good or not – the draw of Portland and the stadium is made for TV.. vs. one of the best teams in the East… so yeah let’s schedule it at 10pm ET… and then not start it until 10:30 and have to move it another channel because of racing. Well done MLS… way to show off your product. That’ll get that new TV deal done

  15. That was a quality, comprehensive win. I am surprised that the xG numbers were even as close as they were (1.1 to 0.8) given how much we dominated the game; it appears that the huge jump in xG for Portland came with Tuiloma’s shot near game’s end, when Super Dre did his thing.

    I was truly impressed with how we bossed their midfield for most of the match. Whenever there was a loose ball, a guy in blue was there, and there was someone for him to pass to.

    Was also truly impressed with Harriel. That guy has become a lights-out defender. He’s been amazing asset. I hope he continues to develop at this pace instead of backsliding (a la Keegan Rosenberry).

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Martinez makes all the difference in the world in that midfield. He is such a pain in the ass in a good way (when he doesn’t get out of control of course). Agree with you on Harriel too. Dude is solid.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I think Harriel has a higher upside than Rosenberry. And I liked Keegan. But Harriel keeps his head, and is defense-first.

  16. Andy Muenz says:

    Finally got to watch it after work today since I was willing to stay up until midnight, but not 30+ minutes later. Not much more to say about the game that hasn’t already been said here.
    .
    MLS is a piece of shit league for scheduling a game involving an east coast team at 10pm on a work/school night knowing that it would likely get pushed back by the NASCAR exhibition race…yes, not a race that even counts in the standings. And historically that race runs late so either MLS knew the race would likely run late or is even more poorly run than I thought (or both).
    .
    And as usual, FOX did a crappy job on the called back goal, spending a minute or two telling us it was under review rather than showing a replay of what was being looked at. No need to wait until Chapman goes to the monitor to do that. I guess you can’t expect much more from a network owned by the same people who still think Trump won the election.

    • What drove me crazy was that there was no chyron or anything on FS1. How about a little scrolling ticker at the bottom that says, “MLS Soccer moved to FS2”? I missed Gazdag’s goal thanks to their poor management.

  17. Really glad they got a solid road win! I thought I had it DVR-ed, I was wrong! Thanks for nuttin Fox! I guess it ping ponged channels..but when I saw the race on the recording I deleted it. Guess I should have fast forwarded to see if the game popped up but didn’t! Grabbed some highlights and am really happy with this being a road win and pretty dominant at that! Thanks for filling in the blanks everyone!

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