MLS / Union / Union match reports

Match report: Columbus Crew 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Andre Blake saved a penalty kick and Lucas Zelarayan had a goal chalked off by a VAR decision as Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew shared the points in a 0-0 draw on Sunday night in Ohio. Blake made a series of top notch saves to keep the clean sheet and make sure Philadelphia returned home with at least a point.

For the third game in a week, Jim Curtin made four changes to the team that lost in Chicago on Wednesday night, reverting to a lineup featuring a back five in the absence of the suspended Jose Martinez. Stuart Findlay and Olivier Mbaizo joined regulars Jakob Glesnes, Kai Wagner and Jack Elliott. Cory Burke and Chris Donovan, making his first MLS start, partnered up top in place of Julian Carranza and Mikkel Uhre.

Columbus was given a penalty kick in the 18th minute as Daniel Gazdag was adjudged to have brought down Sean Zawadzki as the ball was delivered from Columbus corner kick. Replayed showed minimal contact between the two players. Pedro Santos stepped up to take the penalty kick, but was denied by Blake diving to his right and pushing the ball away.

The hosts thought they had found the break through in the 66th minute when Zelarayan finished a first time shot from 16 yards. But after a VAR review, it was ruled that Erik Hurtado was in an offside position and blocking the sightline of Andre Blake and the goal was disallowed.

Philadelphia’s best chance of the game came late on from Julian Carranza in the 84th minute. The striker found room to shoot from near the penalty spot after a good build up down the Union left, but Carranza scuffed his shot and Eloy Room was down low to make the save.

Philadelphia Union are next in action when they host D.C. United on Friday night (7:30 p.m.).

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Stuart Findlay, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo (Nathan Harriel 88′), Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, Alejandro Bedoya, Cory Burke (Julian Carranza 69′), Chris Donovan (Mikkel Uhre 69′)
Subs: Jesús Bueno, Cole Turner, Joe Bendik, Matthew Freese, Matthew Real

Columbus Crew

Eloy Room, Josh Williams, Milos Degenek (Derrick Etienne 80′), Jonathan Mensah, Sean Zawadzki (Kevin Molino 80′) , Darlington Nagbe, Aidan Morris (James Igbekeme 60′), Pedro Santos, Steven Moreira, Lucas Zelarayan, Jacen Russel-Rowe (Erik Hurtado 45′)
Subs: Jalil Anibaba, Evan Bush, Miguel Berry, William Sands, Luis Díaz

Disciplinary Summary

CLB: Jonathan Mensah – 1′ (foul)
CLB: Lucas Zelarayan – 36′ (foul)
PHI: Jack Elliott – 39′ (foul)
CLB: Erik Hurtado – 39′ (argument)
CLB: Pedro Santos – 43′ (dissent)
CLB: Steven Moreira – 59′ (not retreating)
PHI: Alejandro Bedoya – 61′ (foul)


  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Give these guys a few days to sleep, they looked knackered again today… it will be good to get the kids back, maybe that will light a spark

  2. I’ll take the point, on the road, short-handed, on short rest. The offense looked disjointed, as usual, but with backup strikers starting and a new formation I didn’t expect any better. I will expect better for the next match, with everyone back. The defense was quite solid, as usual. 13 goals against in 18 matches is rather amazing.

    One critique I will make is Gazdag plays mighty high. I feel like there’s often not enough of a link between the back 7 and the front 3. It comes on the wing, but then it’s too easy to trap the wingers and middies there, with nobody showing to make a triangle in the middle.

  3. Splendid save by Blake. What a treat it is to watch those.
    Otherwise, not a lot of flopping from the boys. I wonder why…
    Like others said, a point on the road, under these conditions — I’ll take it

    Been a rough week.

  4. Wow…. ridiculous. Can’t even begin to comment on last night’s game.

    WORSE than Chicago game, this squad SHOWS how unmotivated they really are, and I guess that has NOTHING to do with the Coach, right?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Played 3 games in a week. Two on the road. Missing key members of the team.

      • Com’mon pach… you know of which I speak. It’s the same pattern… and when the ranks are thin, it’s exposed and Blake saves the day. Last night was another embarrassing “partial lose”…

        Happy 4th../ at least all the other East teams are simply worse. Doesn’t mean we have to accept this squads need for winning motivation, a closing mentality it has NOT displayed except in last minute wins.

      • Tim Jones says:

        We know both from direct statements and observed behavior that the Union sports science staff rates a 60 minute effort in a game as the equivalent of a good daily practice.
        Logic, sports science, and direct observation suggest that going beyond 60 requires body resources that do NOT recover in 24 hours for a highly conditioned professional athlete.
        My direct concrete evidence of the above is that at least twice this season Marlon LeBlanc has been required to remove first-team players who are needed in the immediate future by Jim Curtin after 60 minutes no matter the circumstances of his Union II match.
        I suggest my premise in relation to the past three games because Daniel Gazdag, Alejandron Bedoya, and Leon Flach have each played 90 minutes two Sundays ago against NYC FC, 90 minutes last Wednesday against Chicago, and 90 minutes last night against Columbus.
        And I would point out that when statistics are complied what player has run the most miles in a match the player is always a midfielder.
        The Union midfield looked tired. There was no no connection between the seven defenders and the three attackers, especially in the central channel. There is a direct correlation between those points.
        Finally, please recall that Brenden Aaronson did not play attacking mid game after game after game consecutively for 90 minutes each time. Daniel Gazdag was asked to do so, and will be so asked until Paxton is ready. (Next behind Paxton is 15 1/2 year old Bajung Darboe who is not yet ready for a first team contract at least as of July 4th.)

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        @Tim… this is an excellent post, sir.

    • Steve101 says:

      JFav I agree with the some of the sentiment of yesterday’s comment but I can’t get behind this “paper tiger” concept. Full disclaimer, I wasn’t really able to sit down and concentrate on the game last night, I spent half the game at a bbq threatening children that if they rooted for the yellow team I’d pick them up by their ankles and shake them. There are definitely problems and I think coaching is a lot of it but in the interest of being fair, it seems that curtain learned his lesson and opted not to trot Elliott back out as the 6. He also gave the strikers a break and kept them in reserve. We’ll see how much he’s truly learned on Friday when the kids are back and available. And as offensively inept as this team is, the simple fact remains that the 2022 Philadelphia Union are a hard team to beat. I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet and furthermore I believe in this roster.

      • ‘paper tiger… simply defined as underperforming their obvious talents.

        Nine ties… in my mind, as lack of closing out wins… and losses to 2 last place squads.

        That is NOT a squad who can win anything, let alone MLS Cup.

        Very disappointed in this teams ability to get the win… and can the players ALL be to blame?

        But we’ll see. 16 games left. 7 with squads below the playoff line… 8 home games.

        We’ll see….

      • Tim Jones says:

        JFav, of the three games played most recently, which opponent was the most challenging, and which match did they win?

    • Of all the draws, this one was probably the most excusable. Third match in a week, 4 key squad guys unavailable (Aaronson, Sullivan, McGlynn and Santos)… You take the draw. And still, we’ve a better points total than all but three teams in the league. I think it’s fair to critique the performance, but there’s really no cause for outrage.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Last game, Curtin was attacked for not doing anything. This game, he goes all in on changes— including a different formation and new starting line— and he still gets beat up. What’s the guy got to do?

    • This is ridiculous statement. Squad has most points in MLS since 2019, sits in 2nd place in 2022, and has a bottom 3 payroll every year. Played 3 games in 8 days with 4 players missing(2 of 3 games on road) and went 1-1-1. Get a clue dude.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        July 16th 2021.
        5-5-3. 20 points.
        July 4th 2022
        7-9-2. 30 points.
        It’s open and shut.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Can’t really compare record after 13 games last year versus 18 games this year (for the record they were 7-7-4 last year after 18 games), especially since they had the typical Champions League early season slump last year.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    Zero Zero away is always an acceptable outcome. But man what a brutal stretch of play by this team.
    The story truly is about those Union young men in Honduras. Focus on that today.
    I’m going to surrender this stretch and expect better going forward.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      Started off hot, leveled off in the middle while staying in a good position and peaking for the playoffs would be so MLS. Mr. Blake provided a point on the road. Let’s figure out how to score again as nobody playing above the backline is making any noise right now.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Agree John. Held a season to steadily improve and rise at the right time. Appreciate.

    • Tim Jones says:

      I do not have a trumpet to match the Mighty Elephant’s. I do agree — wholeheartedly — with his point about the four in Honduras.
      And I would suggest in addition that the story also be about those boys down in Dallas who were down 2-0 in the 50th minute and scored three goals in roughly 20 minutes to win the U17s MLS NEXT Cup.
      In your notebook put a checkmark next to the name Marcos Zambrano among several others.
      I hope the entire squad will be introduced Friday at Subaru Park, and then they will all get a chance for a richly deserved break. But by August we will be getting to see some of them with Union II.
      I look forward to learning who will be coming up, and watching them play at the next level.

    • A few key moments that stick in my mind from last night that indicate the issues this team has:

      Flach winning the ball deep, dribbling into space, raises his arms in search of a pass and promptly directs the ball to the feet of an opposing defender well before he was even put under pressure.

      Chris Donovan collecting a nice through all in open space down the right, looking up outside the boxmfor support and all the shirts are yellow. Knocking it off a defender’s shin for a corner was the only option.

      Totally agree with the result being perfectly acceptable. But the play has to get better.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        That Flach play was … oh man… I do think Gazdag did him no favors there. He just shadowed the run and then when Flach needed him wound up in a bad angle of support and boned his teammate. It was actually a very troubling moment cause I really think DG is a high level thinker and player.

  6. Crikey!

    Another draw! And two hours of my life that I will never get back. Can the Union get a real striker already, please? The ones up top currently are just useless.

    Cool Chant: “We won’t cheer for a yellow football team, yellow football team, yellow football team.”

    But at least the yellow team have a couple of titles and had McBride, right?


  7. Deez Nuggs says:

    I am not sure anyone will agree, but from a pure watchability perspective, I found this game much more enjoyable than the last one. There were some really pretty sequences. And anytime Blake saves a penalty gets me up off my ass cheering. It’s fair to say we didn’t really trouble the goal at all, but the team was much more energetic and there was plenty of drama.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Definitely thought it was more coherent then Chicago. At this point it is nearly impossible to put my finger on it. Gazdag not getting the ball in spots befitting his skill set .. that is what I am 100% convicted of.
      He is either too deep or too high then the ball doesn’t get there or worse…. He’s out wide. He’s not a Brendan Aaronson wide type 10 IMO.
      I also feel he’s slow at the moment. Seems like he’s playing on fatigued legs. Can’t separate on the ball at all.
      People blaming the strikers but it’s not the strikers…. Although Corey getting his head on the end of the Bedoya flick on from that corner is EXACTLY the gol he has to score.
      I’m unimpressed with Donovan thus far. He’s a prototype of an American striker IMO— no real discerning ability to create space for himself on the ball. No real courage on it. He had a chance to attack the end line in a 1v1 and just pulled out and hoped for help.
      Once again for me- Martinez, Flach, Bedoya are too much the same type player -not on the ball or talented enough to – build the game through midfield which is leaving IMO the best player on the team hung out to dry in Gazdag. So what we have is Daniel neither assisting OR scoring… and that is hemlock killing them.
      I still think they can and will get it together… all at the right time but man—- let’s go.

  8. Gruncle Bob says:

    I’ve just seen too many “missing the kids” excuses. The kids, when they were available, didn’t play that much and didn’t produce very much. I don’t think that JC’s McGlynn at 78, Pax at 83 and Quinn at 89 would have made a damn bit of difference Sunday or last night. The fact is the U played like dog crap both games.
    The sky is not falling… yet. But we should periodically take a look up there just to make sure.
    I am not all sure where the optimism about future goals is coming from.
    Uhre – some new strikers light it up (Arango) and some don’t (Buksa’s first season). There hasn’t been much to holler about so far. How likely is it that changes?
    Gazdag (or Gaz-dog if you’re a Columbus announcer) – can the 2nd half be as good as the first? is he the right player, did they think they were getting a scoring AMF and not a playmaker when they signed him?
    Carranza – yep, like him, but can he magically find the net when everyone else is sucking?
    Cory – nope, not good enough, and not worth his $. It’s not personal, but as a wise band once said “you’re only as good as your last record”
    Sergio – oft-injured pretty much sums it up. Seems like a good dude. The U system does him no favors. He’s probably better off on a different team, and probably in a different league.
    Donovan – wish it was Landon. Donovan is at this point end of bench depth. The very end of the bench.
    Flach/Ale – yes they MIGHT score once or twice, but even if they go off it won’t make a meaningful difference in total goals.
    The kids – but will JC play the kids???????? Will they produce if he plays them. I sure hope so. To me they seem to be best avenue to a better-scoring team. I haven’t quite bought the Gaz/Car/Uhre will rule the world soon hypothesis. Just doesn’t seem that likely, but I would love to be wrong.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      I agree with most everything but the last paragraph. How many games has Gaz/Car/Uhre played together? Even in this game they only played 30 minutes together. The kids are developing to plan and watching them perform against CONCACAF U20 teams is fun but they weren’t lighting up MLS Next Pro like they did in Honduras where the competition is much better. Five days and they do it all again, hopefully with the whole of the roster available…. Maybe even a new signing.
      My optimism comes from looking at @ElPachyderm post above that puts this team ten points above last year…. Playing with a team being carried by the back four and one of the best goalkeepers in MLS. Now we need the offence to gel and the team to peak for the playoffs. This is Philly, we wouldn’t know what to do with making it look easy.

      • Gruncle Bob says:

        Good point on the trio. I do hope they get it together, and soon.
        On the points, though, stats can be misleading sometimes.

        Points per game (ppg), using the values from above:
        2021 1.54
        2022 1.67
        Not that great a difference. For perspective, eastern conf final ppg:
        2021 1st 2.15 2nd 1.59 3rd 1.59
        2019 1.88 1.71 1.62
        2018 2.09 2.03 1.65
        The improvement over last year is about enough to move up 1 place in the conference. Nice, but I would say they are underperforming. Here’s to hoping that changes!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Pretty harsh on Donovan considering in his first MLS start his teammates are doing next to nothing to get him the ball and when they do there is no one to help him. I thought he made a smart play to kick it off the Columbus player for a corner when he was one on three with no blue shirts in sight.
      Gruncle Bob to the end of the commentator’s bench.

      • Gruncle Bob says:

        Donovan is the SIXTH best striker on a team in a salary cap league. He has no MLS experience. How is that not the end of the bench?
        How about this for ya – If Donovan receives meaningful minutes over the rest of the season, the U are in serious trouble.

  9. Wash Rinse Repeat 0 Goals Clean Sheet and another Tie

    The Union are on pace to score less goals then last year. Most people seem satisfied with last nights result, considering the short rest and limited offensive bench . The UNION can not expect go far in the playoffs with this anemic offense. Other then Blakes mostly spectacular goaltending they have become painful to watch.

    Curtin has either has to commit to playing either Aaronson and or Mc Glynn. Or Demand that Tanner acquire a skilled 2 way midfielder. Flach is no help on offense and Bedoya is an aging warrior who can not be expected to play 90 minutes of quality play every day.

    • They made it to the eastern Conference Finals last season and only scored 3 goals along the way….in 3 playoff games….

      • Playoff Goals 2021 Union

        Miracle goal by “Center fullback” Jacob Glesnes in 123rd minute vs Redbulls.

        1 Goal vs Nashville by Midfielder Gazdag plus Miracle saves by Blake combined by Nashville full choke on PKs.

        Own goal by NYC in finals.

        Thats 1 goal in 3 games in regulation time by an “offensive Union player.”

        Thats just not going to cut it in a typical playoff series. The Union were very fortunate to win those 2 first games.

        Not saying their effort was lacking in any way especially against NYC in the short handed finals, but this team must score more goals and get better production from offensive players. Left Fullback Wagner was the leading assist leader in 2021.

        The union will never spend the big bucks on a superstar forward, That’s never going to happen. There is no excuse for them to obtain a high quality 2 way midfielder this season to help inject an offensive attack or spell Bedoya.

        Tanner must do it if the want to reach the finals. Curtin will not make any changes to his current midfield unless he gets the ok from Tanner. Barring injury dont expect Aaronson or Mc Glynn to play significant minutes at the stat of any game.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Just got home from a weekend away and watched the game. Obviously, the team needs to rest some legs, most evidenced by the lack of scoring chances and the persistent infringement by Bedoya. Was half hoping he would somehow pick up a second yellow late in the game (without costing the team a point) so that he could get the rest he needs on Friday.

  11. Why are we talking about how great it is to have the youth back ? Curtin Barely let’s them see the field. See I knew all along that the youth on are squad were really good. They are the only few that move on the field to get into space and give options, the few that can keep the ball up top and in tight spaces and the few that know how to put the ball in the back of the net. Other teams and their coaches have figured out how the union play and the style we play. And once again we have another horrible forward that will maybe play every game in Burke. The players aren’t the problem. They have shown in the past that they can keep the ball and move it with purpose around the pitch. Curtin’s no possession play is killing this team along with his player choices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *