Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 New York City FC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A last-second deflection by Cory Burke won all three points and sent Philadelphia Union to the top of the Eastern Conference table, salvaging a 2-1 victory over New York City FC.

Mikael Uhre gave the Union an early lead in the ninth minute, and Philadelphia dominated the first half. But City grew into the second half, and a late penalty conceded by Kai Wagner and converted by Taty Castellanos equalized with just moments remaining.

Jose Martinez’s shot from distance, though, clanked off of Burke and past the City keeper. Although the offside flag went up, VAR determined that Burke was onside at the time of the shot, and the River End went into hysterics.

Union manager Jim Curtin named the same lineup that managed a draw last weekend against Cincinnati, with Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza looking to find some chemistry leading the line. With three Homegrown midfielders on international duty and Sergio Santos wrapping up his green card, Curtin’s bench looked light on attacking options.

Ex-Union man Brenden Aaronson banged the pregame drum as the two teams walked out to a packed, exuberant Subaru Park, where many in the crowd remembered the last time City came to Chester — last year’s Eastern Conference Final, a heartbreaking loss for a decimated Union side.

City began the game pressing the hosts high, and Philadelphia looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable playing out of the back. But it gave the Union a chance to play on the counter, and they quickly converted through Uhre. A ball over the top from Jack Elliott found Alejandro Bedoya, who played a one-time pass on the ground to Uhre. It wasn’t clean contact, with both Uhre and Maxime Chanot sliding onto the ball, but it did just enough to beat Sean Johnson and trickle into the Union net.

It was the Danish DP’s third goal of the season.

Uhre nearly had his fourth moments later, when Bedoya fizzed another dangerous ball toward the six-yard box. It snaked through a mass of bodies for Uhre to redirect on goal, but his shot was straight at Johnson. An ensuing free kick found Elliott’s head, but his attempt was into the ground and didn’t trouble the keeper.

NYC had more of the ball, but the chances kept coming for the Union. Daniel Gazdag ran onto a ball and fed Carranza in a dangerous spot. Johnson, once again, was in the right place to keep it a one-goal game.

The Union controlled the remainder of the first half. Talles Magno and Taty Castellanos found no joy down the middle of the park, where Jose Martinez and the Union’s center backs snuffed out any opportunity. Frustration built in the Pigeons’ body language with each failed attack.

A loud roar of appreciation sent the home side into the halftime locker room.

New York’s interim manager, Nick Cushing, swapped both his fullbacks at halftime, introducing Anton Tinnerholm and Malte Amundsen into the fray. The changes seemed to spark City to life, who looked much less shambolic in the opening stages of the second half, pinning the Union back a bit more.

Looking for a second goal, Curtin threw on Cory Burke for Uhre in the 65th minute.

There’s a first time for everything, and Sunday’s first was a red card for the Union’s head trainer, Paul Rushing. While treating Carranza for an injury around the 78th minute, there was pushing and shoving involving Rushing, Castellanos, and Nicolas Acevedo. Referee Armando Villarreal saw fit to send off the Union trainer, handing a yellow to Castellanos.

Magno was in on goal when Nathan Harriel turned it over to him right on top of the Union box. The young Brazilian, though, rushed his shot and hit a tame effort right at Blake. Moments later, Magno thought he had drawn a penalty off Harriel in the box, but the referee concluded that the contact wasn’t a foul.

But there would be a penalty for City in the end. Sliding in to block a cross, Kai Wagner smacked the ball with his extended hand, and Villarreal pointed to the spot after consulting with the assistant referee. Castellanos stutter-stepped up to the spot and sent Blake the wrong way.

In the dying moments of stoppage time, Jose Martinez took a speculative shot from well outside the box. It made contact with Burke near the edge of the box. The deflection wrong-footed Johnson and nestled into the net, but the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside. After a trip to the VAR screen, though, Villarreal determined that Burke was onside and that the offside Gazdag didn’t interfere with the play.

The final moments saw one more shout for a handball from City, but the final whistle blew and the Union left with their prize: first place in the East after their first 16 matches.

It’s a short turnaround for the Union, who head on the road for a midweek fixture with old friend Kacper Przybylko and the bottom-of-the-table Chicago Fire. Kickoff from Soldier Field is Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Three Points
  • Hot start. For the eleventh time in 16 matches, the Union scored the first goal. But more impressive than that was the way they dominated City in the first half, preventing even the sniff of an attack from forming.
  • Get the second. Of course, the Union also failed to pick up a second goal for nearly 90 minutes, allowing their tenacious visitors to grow into the match and get a fluky equalizer.
  • Late-game dramatics. There are no points for how pretty your last-second winner is. Cory Burke (and Jose Martinez) will take deserved credit for the final finish.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre (Cory Burke 65′), Julian Carranza

Unused subs: Matt Freese, Joe Bendik, Olivier Mbaizo, Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, Cole Turner, Chris Donovan

New York City FC

Sean Johnson, Chris Gloster (Malte Amundsen HT), Alexander Callens, Maxime Chanot, Tayvon Gray (Anton Tinnerholm HT), Alfredo Morales, Nicolas Acevedo (Heber 81′), Santiago Rodriguez (Gabriel Pereira 69′), Maxi Moralez, Talles Magno, Valentin Castellanos

Unused subs: Luis Barraza, Justin Haak, Andres Jasson, Gedion Zelalem, Thiago Andrade

Scoring Summary

PHI: Mikael Uhre — 9′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Jack Elliott)
NYC: Valentin Castellanos — 89′ (PK)
PHI: Cory Burke — 90+6′ (Jose Martinez)

Discipline Summary

NYC: Santiago Rodriguez — 13′ (dissent)
NYC: Alexander Callens — 79′ (other reason)
NYC: Valentin Castellanos — 80′ (other reason)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 85′ (foul)
NYC: Maxi Moralez — 87′ (dissent)

PHI Statistic NYC PHI Statistic NYC


Possession % 58.6 49 Duels Won 56
12 Shots 10 6 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 5 4 Saves 4
3 Blocked Shots 2 18 Clearances



Total Passes 475 21 Fouls 12
68.3 Pass Accuracy % 81.9 1 Yellow Cards



Corners 6 0 Red Cards 0
10 Crosses 16 1.9 xG






  1. Deserved the win. Great to see the relief on the faces of everyone in that last celebration. Those goals won’t make anyone’s highlight reels, but we held that team really well. Thrilled with the result.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Every time Martinez blasted one into the stands from a ridiculous way out, and people made fun or got frustrated, I just smiled. “He’ll get one one day.” Just keep trying and eventually you succeed. Cory gets the credit, but I bet it means more to Jose.

      • should corey get the credit though? this is not hockey and corey made no attempt to play the ball- it was a deflection, that never would have been ruled an own goal had he been a defender, right?

      • John L – yes it would have been ruled an own goal had Burke been a defender since it was headed off target

      • Mike – it was not headed. it deflects off Corey’s thigh as he is jumping out of the way

      • Andy Muenz says:

        John, I think Mike means the ball was going (headed in the direction of) off target had no one deflected it.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        Except I don’t think it was. Looked on target to me…
        But Cory still gets the credit

      • Looked like the curl would’ve taken it wide in my opinion, but thankfully it’s a moot point!

      • Jason Artermis says:

        The ball was on frame, it was going to Johnson’s right. He would have saved it if not for the deflection (which he still go a hand to).

  2. Jason Artermis says:

    Still shocked after the whole toss up that Acevedo didn’t get a red card. Twice he put his hands to Gazdag’s face and neck.


    And I’ll say this. Rushing was unprofessional. Deserved a red card, but it’s against the rules for a player to interact with a player being check by medical staff. Acevedo went between 2 staff members to touch Carranza. Acevedo should have seen a yellow card for that alone. Castellanos should have seen a red as well. He further instigated the whole situation, then went after 2 players in the process.

    They’ll get fines across the board, no suspensions will come of it, and the *MLS Champions* will keep their star player in tact.

    • Castellanos is one of the biggest punks I’ve ever watched with a soccer ball at their feet. I’m still hot after watching that game but Castellanos seems to be one of the biggest instigators on a field and doesn’t seem to get reap the consequences (again, I’m still fairly hot after watching that “game”

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        I legit do not like that dude. What a dirty player.

      • Jason Artermis says:

        I agree. I think the only player I hate more who ALWAYS runs his mouth is Blanco from Portland. Far worse than Castellanos imo.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Villarreal completely lost control there. Not sure why he didn’t just tell all the NYCFC players to get at least 10 yards away from the injured player at some point to separate the two teams. And yeah, no reason NYCFC came out of that with 11 players on the field except the league probably told him to do all he could to keep NYCFC in the game.

    • Tim Jones says:

      We saw why few top quality European teams seem to have interest in Castellanos.

    • Strange match, but quite enjoyable and dramatic.

      The physio does not look like a guy to mess with!

      Glad for the win, and enjoying watching the U20 US side with those Philly lads!

      Cheers to all…

  3. Castellanos is one of the biggest punks I’ve ever watched with a soccer ball at their feet. I’m still hot after watching that game but Castellanos seems to be one of the biggest instigators on a field and doesn’t seem to get reap the consequences (again, I’m still fairly hot after watching that “game”

  4. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Intensity just drops after they score a goal and it seems mostly concentration on passing. Carranza just didn’t seem to have any energy for this game until after the Red card in the second half. The goal for Burke was a break that Curtin said they haven’t been getting in the beginning of the year. Overall I thought Burke injected some energy and the best he’s looked this year.
    On another note Wagner insisting that ball hit his head in the age of VAR….lol.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Playing press-ball in 90F can’t be easy. Everyone started to look tired. But then they sent off the trainer… next thing you know Union find a second gear and crowd is screaming for payback. You could suggest that moment won the match.

    • Jason Artermis says:

      Intensity definitely didn’t drop after the goal today at all. And I think we watched two different games. Carranza forced several turn overs and very nearly had Callens tied up twice. He was very good today. And his flick on for Uhre early in the game and Uhre shot it right at Johnson was S tier awareness.

      That being said. Burke missed several clear chances to pass because he’s 3 seconds behind every other player on the field. It shows that he’s a B team player because he very clearly has no connection with the first teamers anymore. No chemistry at all.

  5. Surprised by some of Uhre’s touches. Not surprised by some of Flachs touches. Martinez has a better game and I am very happy for Burke. I loved how they shut down nycfc in the final third for the most part.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    If this team learns how to get the second goal, and I mean before the 90+ min off a deflection of course, they will run away with this conference. I realize the bench was short and the weather was hot, but they had 2-3 serious looks and they have to bury them. With that said, their defense is top notch. Just so solid. I just don’t see them giving up 2+ goals in a game.
    Loved getting some more revenge against that team. God I hate them. 2 wins in two games this year. Excellent.

    • pragmatist says:

      The second-goal issue is huge. I have a feeling that when Sullivan and Aaronson come back that we’re going to see much more of them unless the current group scores 5 in the next 3 games…each. They need a spark and it’s not coming from the current starters.
      That’s not to knock the current group, but something is missing. Maybe some youthful naive confidence will make a difference.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Have to hope Curtin puts a little more trust in them and gives them real time to influence games, but just run outs for 10 mins or so.

  7. Deez Nuggs says:

    Shameful to see NYC playing for the penalties the whole second half. Yes, they got one, but Talles went down easy multiple times. And that one guy — Rodriguez? Araujo? — could easily have been booked for simulation.
    But it does say something about how strong a performance the team put in! Well done!

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    “Union finally win a game. Move back in to first place.” – Kevin Kinkhead
    Has any tweet ever summed things up better? Nice work.

  9. That was a bizarre game. John’s point above about the Union’s intensity is spot on. After the break, the Union were a step slower and playing packed in defense. NYCFC mostly controlled the 2nd half tempo as a result and they had what looked like some decent chances–many more than the Union. Anyway, here are my observations from Section 105:

    1) There were few Americans out there playing for these sides tonight. The Union have a pretty good excuse since 4 of their players are playing for the US Under-20 MNT.

    2) Though I appreciate Cory Burke’s energy, he is awful with the ball at his feet, which he continues to prove every game he plays. I fear it may be contagious because Uhre had a potential breakaway that he flubbed (Burked?) with the ball at his feet. My friend with whom I share season tickets said that on the goal, Burke played like “a traffic cone.” I found it fitting that he did not score with his feet.

    3) Leon Flach was excellent on defense. Flach’s touches and passes this game were better than usual. Like many of his Union teammates, he routinely passes up shots from the top of the box that ought to be good goal-scoring opportunities. I think I would rather see him scuff a shot than pass it up.

    4) Jose Martinez had a strong game. It was his shot that deflected off Burke to win the game and if memory serves me correctly, that was the only shot he took all night. He kept his composure, even during the crazy melee involving the Union trainer.

    5) On the play that Carranza went down, it looked like he took an elbow to the head and no foul was given. Then he fouled a NYCFC player at midfield and got a yellow card. Then a minute or two later, he was held back by a NYCFC defender right in front of us and he was called (wrongly) for the foul. He gets no love from MLS refs. I don’t want to trot out some wild conspiracy theory (a very Philly thing to do), but he gets fouled without calls being made and does seem to get yellow cards for marginal plays. Hmm.

    6) Speaking of refs, there was a lot of inconsistency out there. I have a very big gripe about the hand ball call on Wagner apart from whether it should or should not have been called. The ref did NOT call the handball on the field. The AR on the opposite side apparently did. Since the ref did not see the hand ball, he should have viewed the VAR himself before awarding the penalty.

    7) For the most part, this was a well-played match between two of the better sides in MLS which makes for a great rivalry. I wouldn’t mind seeing this matchup again for the Eastern Conference title.

    • Jason Artermis says:

      Corey Burke is easily one of the worst players on the field at all times. I don’t care that he scored the luckiest goal of his career for a game winner. He’s several steps behind every play. Twice today alone he was late on passes that could have been very good goal scoring opportunities. Also his shot straight at Johnson toward the end when two players were making decent runs. He had no angle at all. He’s not even a good back up. He brings nothing to the table other than an aerial presence that he does nothing with. He has no vision. No finishing ability.

      Also.. I disagree with Carranza getting “no love”. He’s like top 20 most fouled players in the league with 4-5 less games than most ahead of him. He draws a ton of fouls. He also sells them a bit too much sometimes.

      And I half-agree with the handball call. Before VAR, it was the ARs job to assist on things like this. VAR stops the flow of the game. I do think the VAR assistant should have stepped in a bit more and said like “hey this is a tough one, you might want to look at it” or something similar. To me.. It’s a penalty. It’s a tough one to give. Anytime the arm is away from the body like that and the ball plays directly off of it, I think it should be called. Where as the 2nd possible handball, it played off of his hand while he was fighting for position and being bodies by another player. Tough call but I think it was a penalty.

      • Burke has been off it all season, it’s probably time to move on from him. I still think he can be a solid MLS player for a lower tier team.

        And unless signing Chris Donovan was a charity case, they are probably planning for that sooner rather than later.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Right now they need Burke for depth, given that the kids are still away for 2 more games (unless they lose to Costa Rica Tuesday night) and Santos is still dealing with visa issues. While Donovan has looked good with Union 2, I don’t think he’s ready for too many minutes with the big club.

      • Yes, Jason–that is exactly my point on the hand ball on Wagner. The ref on the field should be making the call, and as on the Burke goal in which the ref himself reviewed the VAR, the head ref should have reviewed the video himself and made the call. I thought the call was harsh, but from where we were sitting, we initially thought that Talles Magno’s earlier dive over Harriel was being reviewed.

      • They made one sub last night.
        Martinez, Bedoya, Flach Gazdag, and Carranza all played the full 90+.
        Donovan and Turner will both — barring disaster — play the full 90+ tonight against NYC FC II.
        They go to Chicago Wednesday, playing on the third day, except for Donovan and Turner who will be on the second.
        Matt Real has been working at midfield. but even if the US loses to Costa Rica Tuesday night, those kids will not be back in time for the Chicago match.
        There might be a short-term call-up or two from Union II for midfield depth on the bench in Chi-town. Jack Jasinski and Boubacar Diallo are possible candidates.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Hopefully Donavon only goes 60 tonight to save some legs for Wednesday. Any idea what’s up with Bueno considering the team still had an open spot on the bench?

      • Bueno was listed as questionable with an injury, so I’d assume he was out for injury reasons

    • To you point #2, he reminded me of Wegner….retired sines 2018

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    For months several of us having been saying that the team will score in bunches once Uhre, Carranza, and Gazdag all get on the same page. However, I just don’t see it and the issue is not of their making. Time after time, the back 6 has been unsuccessful at getting the ball to the front 3 on a break which is really one of the best chances for the team to score. Yes, Uhre flubbed one chance at midfield pretty badly, but time after time, the long balls went to the NYCFC defenders rather than over them or the player would make a run only for the pass to wait until he is offsides.
    This next week has some big potential for the team as they play two of the bottom three in the conference, but they are significantly shorthanded on the bench and don’t have the depth available when they could really use it. It’s nice to have the guys playing with the U-20 national team, but it would also be an opportunity for 3 of them to get minutes with the first team. I’m definitely worried the team will be dragging by the Columbus game.

    • For 45 minutes, I thought they did just that. The next 45… not so much.

      • I think Chris is right.
        Why? Let me answer my question with another.
        Is it that Cory Burke has gotten worse? Or is it that this season the Union’s quality in the attacking third has gotten significantly better, more precise technically, quicker of mind and body, and — except for Gazdag — pacier?
        Two other things to keep in mind.
        Curtin is not trying to win the Supporters’ Shield, but instead to prepare his team for a deep run in the postseason. They looked really good for the first half an hour Sunday. but Curtin needs to time things so that they have enough in the tank but also enough left in the tank in late October.
        Tanner is always trying to improve the quality demanded of his young prospects in training. He improved their practice environment in the attacking third significantly this offseason by adding Carranza and Uhre to Gazdag. We will find out if Cory Burke can improve or not. Same with Donovan.
        But I draw attention to an anomaly down in Honduras. US U-20s start a midfielder at center forward in the games they have to win, Paxton Aaronson. He is the middle of the front three. A Union midfielder is judged to be better than the other forwards on that roster.
        Part of it is that the Union kids are in better game shape than their competition because they get game minutes in MLS Next Pro as they need them. But part of it is also the quality of the training milieu Tanner has created in which the Union kids must compete every day.

    • I thought that the Union had a number of chances in the offensive third last night. The problem is that Carranza, Uhre and Gazdag frequently pass up good shots in favor of passing for a more “beautiful” goal, as they did last night. I for one would like to see more shooting, which might lead to more ugly goals (along with potential handballs in the box and more corner kicks) and less “beauty,” but maybe that’s just the Philly in me coming out.

      • I suspect that statistically the closer in you are the higher your chance of scoring.
        The reason Jack McGlynn’s strike against Canada got so much attention is because scoring in that fashion is so rare, so “new” and therefore “newsworthy”.
        If Elliott bounces his header closer to the line so Johnson has to short-hop it rather than tip it, and if Uhre puts it anywhere other than Sean Johnson’s belly, it’s 3-0 after half an hour.
        Final point. They do miss having Santos available off the bench. Badly.

    • pragmatist says:

      They hit 4 shots in the first half right at Sean Johnson. All he had to do was not move. The chances were created and they could have had that game done and dusted by half, but they just aren’t finishing the chances they are getting. I don’t know what the solution is there, or if there is anyone on the roster that can change it, but those chances need to go in. If they do, this team will be downright scary. But right now, the league isn’t worried about a Union offense.

  11. In re: Cory Burke.
    if I have correctly recorded my own information, and if the sources I found were accurate, Burke signed for ’21 and ’22 on December 2nd, 2020. There is a club option for ’23.
    it will be interesting to see what happens with it.
    Chris Donovan is direct competition, and roughly eight-and-a-half years younger, as well as about $ 330 K cheaper (assuming Donovan’s contract is the current reserve roster minimum.) One source puts him in slots 25-28 of the Supplemental Roster.

  12. Can we have a post dedicated to Gazdag’s 20 yard flip to himself? I need a full breakdown to conclude whether carranza was setting a pick or just spacing out

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      My read was that Chanot correctly read it as a pass to Carranza and blocked his run. But then he didn’t look back, and the rest of NYC stood stupid, and Gazdag just kept running. I personally LOVED it. A great moment from him and excellent awareness.

      • If only Carranza could have finished it! would have been a fascinating highlight reel goal

  13. Deez Nuggs says:

    Just want to call out that the U scored two goals from open play. Whereas NYC scored only a penalty. Harriel had Talles Magno so wrapped up and frustrated that he flubbed the GIFT Harriel accidentally gave him. Outside the penalty, Castellanos was kept in a sealed ziplock bag in the freezer, and Maxi Morales, for all his craftiness, really didn’t generate much of anything.
    Martinez was a beast this game. Clearly back on track after his (usual) off game coming back from international duty.

  14. Thank you Maurice Edu

    Dr Joel MacNyk declares Martinez goal no good. at least that is his theory ( sound familiar) Player who Deflected goal was offsides…. Thank God Maurice Edu had the stones to point out that replay shows the Goal deflected off Burke who was not offside therefore the goal should stand.

    Meanwhile JP Dellacamara never batted an eye and went on to ask for the good doctors opinion on the Wagner questionable handball call, Which the good doctor said was also the correct call by the sideline ref.

    Here is “my theory “, that I dont think the good doctor ever looked at either video replay and wanted to rubber stamp the refs call on the field.

    It is also my opinion the the good doctor was probably on his third beer and 2nd Nathans Hot Dog and was completely caught off gaurd. I also believe the Doctor based on his accent is a life long resident of Brooklyn. He also wears thick horn rimmed glasses and is 75 years old. “Its just a theory “

    • Since I was at the game, I did not see the telecast. Did they go to Dr. Joel for the red card on the Union trainer?

      • No Dr. Joe made his comments shortly after the Martinez Shot / Deflection Offsides call. No Video was available when he made his comment. The ref had not even called for a video review at that point. He was called in for comment by Fox ? (at least that’s my theory lol)

        “in my opinion the ball struck a player who was in the offside position”.( Dr Joes Comment).

        If he was worth his salt he should have said lets take a look at the replay first.

        Dr Joe is an employee of Fox Soccer I never heard of him.

        My “theory” is he is told by Fox his job is to agree/ rubber stamp the refs call. Don’t start any controversy that make the officiating look bad “especially if it a call against a New York team or an LA “team. Those are our 2 biggest markets. Its a good theory even though I have no proof.

        I guess its best not to make conclusive judgements and decisions based on theories before examining all available evidence.

        wink wink.

  15. No Dr. Joe made his comments shortly after the Martinez Shot / Deflection Offsides call. No Video was available when he made his comment. The ref had not even called for a video review at that point. He was called in for comment by Fox ? (at least that’s my theory lol)

    “in my opinion the ball struck a player who was in the offside position”.( Dr Joes Comment).

    If he was worth his salt he should have said lets take a look at the replay first.

    Dr Joe is an employee of Fox Soccer I never heard of him.

    My “theory” is he is told by Fox his job is to agree/ rubber stamp the refs call. Don’t start any controversy that make the officiating look bad “especially if it a call against a New York team or an LA “team. Those are our 2 biggest markets. Its a good theory even though I have no proof.

    I guess its best not to make conclusive judgements and decisions based on theories before examining all available evidence.

    wink wink.

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