Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 FC Cincinnati

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union and FC Cincinnati played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday night in Chester. Alejandro Bedoya gave the Union the lead in 17th minute with a lovely curling effort, but his goal was canceled out by Brandon Vazquez’s header in the 39th minute.

Jim Curtin was able to field his likely preferred starting XI with Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre partnering up top. New signing Chris Donovan made the bench, which also featured two goalkeepers with players missing with callups from the USA U-20s as well as Sergio Santos working on his visa. Former Union players Haris Medunjanin and Ray Gaddis both started and Alvas Powell was on the bench for the visiting FC Cincinnati.

Philadelphia opened the scoring in the 17th minute through Alejandro Bedoya. Tyler Blackett tried to see the ball out over the end line but failed to do so and Carranza was able to gain possession and play a pass back to Bedoya at the top of the box. Bedoya cut inside on his left, waited patiently for a lane to open up, and curled a lovely shot into the far left corner of Roman Celentano’s goal.

Cincinnati grew into the game after the goal and found their equalizer in the 39th minute. Blackett rose highest to meet a corner and nodded the ball down and Vazquez dove in with a brave header at the left post to beat Andre Blake to the ball to tie the match at one.

Cincinnati were on top after halftime and Blake was forced into a few strong saves. Philadelphia took time to grow into the second half, with a number of players making uncharacteristic giveaways. The home crowd even booed after a series of poor possessions.

The Union did finally put the visitors under pressure. In the 73rd minute Daniel Gazdag did well to find Bedoya down the right, who played Burke in behind, but Gazdag’s shot was straight at the goalkeeper as Burke cut the ball back for the Hungarian.

New signing Chris Donovan made his MLS debut late on, replacing Carranza in the 85th minute. But the Union failed to create another significant chance and the match ended 1-1.

The Union are next in action when they host Eastern Conference leaders NYC FC next Sunday (6 p.m.)

Three Points
  • Tied Up. The tie was the 9th of the season for the Union, with four of those coming at Subaru Park.
  • Rust. The match saw some of the worst Union possession we’ve seen in some time, with the three week layoff making the team look sluggish and disjointed. The home fans were right to pepper in some boos as Philly couldn’t find the game in the early parts of the second half.
  • Old Friends. FC Cincinnati 2.0 looked a much more serious contender than the Eastern Conference doormat they’ve been in years past. Old friends Ray Gaddis and Haris Medunjanin were solid in their return to Chester and Brandon Vazquez looked a real player for Pat Noonan’s men.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach (Matt Real 85′), Alejandro Bedoya, Daniel Gazdag, Mikkel Uhre (Cory Burke 64′), Julian Carranza (Chris Donovan 85′)
Subs: Joe Bendik, Matt Freese, Olivier Mbaizo, Cole Turner, Jesus Bueno, Stuart Findlay

FC Cincinnati

Roman Celentano, Geoff Cameron (Ian Murphy 74′), Tyler Blackett, Nick Hagglund, Haris Medunjanin (Allan Cruz 86′), Obinna Nwobodo, Alvaro Barreal (Luciano Acosta 78′), John Nelson, Ray Gaddis, Brenner (Dominique Badji 78′), Brandon Vazquez
Subs: Alvas Powell, Nicholas Markanich, Harrison Robledo, Zico Bailey, Kenneth Vermeer

Scoring Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 17′ (Carranza)
CIN: Brandon Vazquez – 39′ (Blackett)

Disciplinary Summary

CIN: Haris Medunjanin – 54′ (foul)
CIN: Obinna Nwobobo – 57′ (foul)
CIN: Nick Hagglund – 62′ (foul)
PHI: Cory Burke – 64′ (foul)
CIN: John Nelson – 68′ (time wasting)

PHI Statistic CIN PHI Statistic CIN


Possession % 54.7 46 Duels Won 51
13 Shots 17 13 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 5 4 Saves 4
5 Blocked Shots 8 28 Clearances



Total Passes 455 10 Fouls 12
76.4 Pass Accuracy % 80 1 Yellow Cards



Corners 8 0 Red Cards 0
17 Crosses 17 1.3 xG






  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Wow, the Union have only lost one game! They must be the best team ever.
    Actually they are a mediocre to bad team right now drawing mediocre teams. They have drawn 5 of 8 home games including 4 straight (the first bullet point above missed one of the home draws). Given that this isn’t the NHL where a tie counts as half a win, this many draws is just bad.
    Not having possession is fine, but giving the ball away in midfield time and time again is not. Has this team practiced together at all?
    Hopefully they won’t be embarrassed too badly next week on national TV when they play a good team, but my early prediction is Union 0 NYCFC 4.

    • I think they’re much more like a good team with a really obvious flaw. They want to win every game 1-0, but that’s not always possible because (1) even an elite defense will allow a few goals, and (2) they have no plan for how to consistently get a second (or, gasp, a third). Right now, they’re not getting either the 1-0 win or the 2-1 win, and it feels like they’ll be stuck they can find the connective tissue between the base of the team and Gazdag/Carranza/Uhre.
      But a team that is as defensively sturdy as the Union is a good team that has a chance to make a deep playoff run. They have good results this year against good teams (LAFC, Nashville, NYC). I’d be surprised if they get played off the park next week.
      That said, I totally agree with your frustration. Draw after draw isn’t a fun watch, and it is a lot of points thrown away.

      • I thought Jack had a not so sturdy game. I felt like they could not deal with FCC’s physicality tonight.

        That said, the second half was so much better than that first.

        Flach still makes some of the worst passes in MLS. Gazdag could have had a couple tonight.

      • Peter, that is ridiculous. It is their style of play; there is no desire to win. 9 draws, 9 points. 5 losses, 4 wins, equals 12 points. Which is better. I could give a rat’s @$$ that the Union only have one loss. Seedlings are based on points. They are not a good team. They are an average team that can’t win.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Since this is a continued circle jerk with us.. and a fun one in truth- I never said they were the best team ever, Andy. And yes the one loss has helped. Would it be better if some of those were wins? Of course. Would it be worse if some of them were loses? Of course.
      Important to note for the record… there are 14 teams in the conference and Philadelphia Union are currently tied for first in points. And top three when factoring the rest.
      My contention has been all along they will wind up in the top three positions by seasons end, hopefully playing their best footy of the season with a team that is healthy— which gives them a legit chance to win MLS Cup.
      Best team ever words have never been in my posts. And Jiu can see my mood after tonight’s game in my post game comments. DOUR. To say the least.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I definitely agree that it’s fun to disagree on this, especially when we both realize it’s not personal…and I know I was exaggerating with the best team ever.
        As far as being better/worse with wins and losses, I’d be a lot happier with 8-4-3 rather than 6-1-8 (and that’s more losses than wins).
        Right now they are on a pace very similar to Nashville last year…3rd place with over 50% draws. And we all know how their playoff run ended last year.

    • That’s probably the same prediction given when they played in the Eastern Conference final and the Union nearly pulled it out despite most of the starters being out with covid. Hey it’s a long season, and we seem to forget that we beat them early in the season at their place. We’ll all be pumped next week and it’ll be fun regardless.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        When they won in New York early in the season, NYC was concentrating on Champions League. Right now, NYC is playing much better (and probably better than they were in the playoffs last season).

      • If Colorado can go get a draw in NYC today, there’s no reason the Union can’t get a result next week…parity is crazy in MLS.

    • They had a whole month to give us THAT last night. Curtin should be ashamed of himself… again nothing working so he waits for 70th minute to sub? Calls again for “FIRE CURTIN” from Sec 114.

      … and Urhe, shades of Marco Fabian, waste of our money, Cory did more in 5 minutes albeit looking like a baby deer learning.

      Just pathetic, the whole team. Maybe like Phillies a firing would help.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        Sometimes the time off hurts more than it helps

      • Urhe is fine, we’re a kick and run team so finding out forwards feet half the time is impossible. They need to Just play feet more !!!!

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    As a reminder, the last time they won at home, was due to the Columbus keeper putting the ball into his own net on April 9.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    Terrible soccer tonight (save that brilliant piece of work by Carranza on the gol).And that’s the whole story.
    Wash my hands. Use some Listerine.

  4. The only thing that would’ve made this game interesting was if Ray Gaddis had scored. Who on the union gets a rating over 5? None.

  5. Ray of Sunshine says:

    Tanner needs to get on it in the next few weeks or they can put the year to bed. They are that bad right now. All but unwatchable. 80% possession by Cincy at one point?

    Since they don’t spend a ton, maybe a formation change is in order. 3-5-2 once Kai goes? At least it would give opponents a minute to think about it.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Once again… the team is on 26 points and top 3 in the conference with 14 teams. People can bitch about individual games and runs in the aggravate but it is intellectually dishonest to say, “put the season to bed.”
      I spent years just crucifying this franchise on these pages when it earned every bit of the ire. Now I find myself constantly having to be a voice of reason.

  6. Was at the game. It was both entertaining and frustrating in equal measures.

    It’s hard to know what the problem is. Seems to me the whole midfield is just not good enough, Bedoya’s goal not withstanding. Lots of running without much to show for it. Gazdag was off it and Martinez was a spaz. So many turnovers. We were good the first fifteen and the last 15. Rest of it we were lucky to only concede the one goal. I just have a hard time with this whole system. Don’t like watching my team defend all the time at home. Credit to Cincinnati that they always seemed to have numbers in defense. They played well and earned their point.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Reasonable commentary. We share a commonality about being so willing to give the other team the ball. From my POV under Jim there has always been these strange moments of such little thoughtful movement and cycling in and out of space. It’s like they want so badly to just be done with the ball there’s no time to find any rhythm in possession. It’s all German blitzkrieg. Works fine when it’s working and has moments of shock & awe but when technical deficiencies and poor like mindedness are the rule for the game it’s nearly unwatchable and defeatist. Jack Elliot kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds down the field like an exorcism. BE GONE!
      I take deep operations on the ball as a strategy to win war. Whatever. I still think we see this come together as the summer wears on. There have been flashes of what’s under the hood. In my opinion… people have very short memories about just how fucking terrible this franchise was for many years. Or they are new here and totally impatient.

      • In general, I share your optimism for the team. I remember very well the seasons of despair… Yes, there are the flashes of possibility. I would just like to see more of that potential met.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I was there too. What I saw was a team that was clearly slow of thought. I saw lots of good ideas a second too late — Uhre a mile offside is a great example. Two or three touches in the box when one was required. I blame the three weeks off for that. The team can train but the game mind slows down. It will come back.
      Martinez and Gazdag both had to switch back from a different system they played with their National teams. That ain’t easy.
      I also saw too much separation between the back line, the midfield and the front 3. The spacing was wrong and that meant often there was no link. That led to a lot of long balls over the top and low percentage thru balls that seemed to get picked off more often than they got thru. (Of course when they do get through, it looks like brilliance. And that’s great, because it means the brilliance still exists.)
      In the late second half, Elliot and Glesnes start pushing forward on their own to try to clean up the space issue. And it largely works.
      It will get better. But yeah, frustrating, because this one was there for the taking.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        It’s those low percentage thru balls that killed the Union as they led to counterattacks putting the team under pressure. The long balls over the top at least provide an opportunity to press for a turnover.

  7. Uncceptable. Can’t keep handing over two points per game to the ether. Anytime you score one goal, you should rout FC Cincinnati.

  8. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Martinez makes a brilliant play in the corner by leaving a Cincinnati player on the ground looks up takes a few dribbles as two Union players are flying the other way two on one…. What’s he do…. Passes the ball right to the defender in the middle of the two players.
    Martinez and Flach kill counters constantly by either holding the ball or just making terrible decisions when they have it.
    They are 8-9 out of ten defensively and 1-2 offensively. At some point Flach has to become the backup to Martinez and they need a more skilled player that can hold the ball and break down a defender.

  9. Had a feeling the few weeks off was gonna create some rust, but rust or not Martinez was just brutal with his passing, we all know he’s not the best passer to being with but tonight was ugly…I guess uhre is still gettin used to playing with this team, he just seemed to run around aimlessly and without much purpose…on a positive note Ale is just the man, I’ve been critical of him for the better part of 3 years but this year he seems in great shape and just an absolute model captain

  10. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Give Pat Noonan some credit.
    After spending a few years teaching Tanner’s narrow diamond in the midfield! Who better to know it’s weaknesses, and who better to know the foibles of its personnel.
    Cincinnati seemed always to have three v one in the middle third of the central channel. And in the first half the Union did not attack through the outside channels much.
    A priority is the get the whole squad back to 90 minutes match fit, and most especially Mikael Uhre. We fans will have to be patient while the Dane gets back to full fitness.

  11. Tim Jones says:

    The US U20s beat St Kitts & Nevis 10-0.
    None of the Union quartet started. Three came on as 2nd half subs, Sullivan at halftime and Aaronson and McGlynn around the hour mark.
    Sullivan created the St Kitts own goal and had two assists.
    Arronson had a brace within five minutes of coming on.
    In the group stage they play every other day., so they have Canada Monday evening.
    All info from The US Soccer article post match.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Thanks, Tim. I was thinking about that game as I was waking up this morning so you saved me the trouble of having to go check.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    I don’t have a problem with the lack of possession (and I was worried as hell about a turnover in the second half when they had possession featuring Elliot, Glesnes, and Martinez passing in a triangle.
    But in order for the style to work, they need to avoid the bad giveaways. Elliot sending the opening kickoff out of bounds in a failed attempt to hit a runner is fine as it’s deep in the opponent’s territory. Martinez stripping an opponent but then giving it right back with a poor pass on his own side of midfield isn’t because it creates a dangerous situation and continues to wear his own team down.
    One of the Union II games earlier this year showed how it’s supposed to work. They had minimal possession, but they also pressured their opponent into turnovers in the offensive end of the field. When they turned it over, the Union II would press quickly to try and score…i.e. with little possession, but never letting their opponents get comfortable. The Union have put some pressure on the ball, but not enough to make their opponents feel uncomfortable.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      The problem with bad giveaways comes down to spacing. There often wasn’t any outlet, so they get forced into playing low percentage balls.

  13. Happy Fathers’ Day – The Union would like you to have another ugly tie

  14. The Truth says:

    Haven’t booed like that in years. How many turnovers did we have? Anybody got a real tally? Was it more than 30? Felt like it.

  15. Frustrating that they do not yet seem to be more in sync and hopefully they will gel more as the season progresses. Next week will be an interesting test as they will need to play “up” to an opponent. If this team figures out a way to get the ball from back to front consistently and the front 3 get on the same page they will be fun to watch. A consistent stretch of games will help them I think.

  16. Andy Muenz says:

    Anyone else planning to go see Union II today? Not expecting much better given the players in Honduras, but still looking forward to spending a cool afternoon on the last full day of spring at the stadium.

  17. Not the beautiful Game.

    Favorite part of the game for me was watching a sequence of about 4 passes late in the game that ended with Gazdag unfortunately hitting the the ball squarely into Celentanos arms.

    It least it gave me hope that the Union are capable of playing a different style of soccer and that the players can actually connect a sequence of meaningful intentional offensive passes.

    The rest of the game was very hard to watch. Hopeful long balls over the top, predictable crosses from Wagner. Flach is useless offensively. Martinez played his worst game ever.

    If Wagner stays with the team he will be the assist leader for the second year in a row! To me that says enough the current midfield is screaming for a skilled experienced offensive minded replacement for Flach who is willing to play some defense as well. Mc Glynn is not ready for that for a full game. Tanner must see this . It is so obvious . Need to acquire someone ASAP. (A Barnetta/ Montiero clone of sorts)

  18. Why can’t this side get an Ibra, Henry, or Chicharito? So frustrating. People can rail on the mids, but the strikers just cannot finish. Losing interest. And the gaffer just threw his own strikers under the bus in post-match comments. Crikey! That should help, right?

    • Jim Curtin: Philadelphia Union need difference-maker in final third | MLSSoccer.com Last night post game statement

      Just cant see any contribution from Flach in the Final third.

  19. Happy Father’s day to all! I was thinking during the game that playing against your former coach has to be tough. They know you,your players,your system,tendencies. Martinez was giving the ball away on the regular. And he was looking to force too many passes. With the way they are playing at this point it’s not what any of us want to see! But I feel like our collective expectations are much different than years past. This is a much better team than the pre Tanner years. And I think the calls for a change of manager are out of bounds. I think Jim has earned a chance to get things back on track. A few years ago this could have been 5-6 losses and 3-4 ties.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      100% accurate. Every word.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Agreed. Stay the course with Curtin (although I must admit to being a long time defender of his).

    • Why can’t JC improve? Why can’t he adjust? That game last night was pitiful.

    • Jim has earned chances? OK, sure. But when is enough enough? He has shown he cannot adapt. Doubt me? Prove otherwise; demonstrate otherwise.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        So last year when he realized the need to switch from the diamond to the Christmas tree formation and was a COVID outbreak away from MLS Cup wasn’t enough of an adjustment? Or should Curtin be blamed for the COVID outbreak as well?

      • el pachyderm says:

        Andy with checkmate.

  20. Goodmorning OCTinPHL, I think if you look back over Curtin’s tenure with the U you have to admit that he has greatly improved his managing abilities. As fans we are always going to be critical of bad play. As frustrating as the slow substitute thing is ,he had been that way from game one. Overall he has better players and has demonstrated his ability to get results from his team. I’ll agree that you have every right to be frustrated. I believe that is because of the expectations we all have. Those expectations have been raised by the players and the manager and staff.

  21. The problem is simply possession and finishing. They get caught up in counter attacking too much and never consider becoming an outstanding possession team. They have the ability to do this but Curtin objects to this it seems. When you just play counter attack and press all game you will tire out your players quickly, lose possession more often and create a habit of forcing passes. How about we continue being one of the best counter attacking teams in the MLS but also have an established possession game where if need be we can lock down results when we’re not hitting the target. It frustrates me because they have played games before with incredible possession, not to mention it will allow your team to get into a smooth and relaxed groove moving down the field with purpose. The loss of possession in the midfield kills us. ( Martinez ). It has to be fixed.

    Also , Stop playing Burke !!!! He sucks! He’s not good enough for this team! End it! Have balls Curtin!

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