Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 New England Revolution

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

It was Philadelphia Union Foundation night at Subaru Park, Ernst Tanner’s wallet was a big lighter thanks to a fine from MLS for suggesting LAFC’s transfers were as sketchy as they seemed, and the heat gave way to humidity for the packed crowd in Chester.

The Union sent their fans home with a thrilling 2-1 victory over visiting New England Revolution.

First half

It was a rotated and retooled Union that took the field on Saturday night.

Alejandro Bedoya was on the bench along with Mikael Uhre, and they were replaced by Jack McGlynn and Paxten Aaronson. Stuart Findlay took his Union curtain call in place of an injured Jack Elliott. More than any of these changes in personnel however was the team’s change in formation: a 4-2-3-1 in place of their 4-4-2 diamond.

Things started slowly and in the 8th minute the Union got their first chance on frame. McGlynn squared the ball to Findlay just shy of midfield. A retreating Revolution let the Scotsman have twenty yards – so he dribbled into it and blasted a left-footed chance that required every inch of the visiting goalkeeper’s diving frame.

Moments later, off a corner that wasn’t cleared and a back-to-front passing maneuver started by Findlay, Jose Martinez took his trademark thirty-yard blast. This one was low and left, but only just.

The Union were keeping New England in their own half and catching them offside or outnumbered every time they crossed the midfield stripe. Findlay was the one finding the space with his initial passes, splitting Revolution lines time and again to find Leon Flach over the top or Daniel Gazdag sitting behind the opponent’s second line.

Twenty-two minutes in and the Union’s long range barrage continued, this time from the meaty Norwegian foot of Jakob Glesnes. His chance skipped at the New England keeper’s six, but was parried high – the ensuing corner header on goal but right at the net-minder.

The visitors grew into the match however, deciding that possession – even toothless possession – might take the steam out of the Union. For a decent stretch, they were right, passing around the Union but never through them. The Union started mis-hitting passes and getting caught offside. In the 29th minute, Dylan Borrero finally caught Andre Blake flat-footed and pinged a shot off the Union goalkeeper’s crossbar.

The Union weren’t done taking shots from outside the box, with McGlynn forcing another dive from the keeper as his curler just fizzed wide. This was two top teams taking legitimate swings at one another, and also doing their best to protect at the same time. New England’s attacking movement was as good as it usually is, while the Union’s defense was equally as advertised – with some offensive verve to boot.

Both teams went into half feeling certain they could have had a goal, and so a 0-0 scoreline was reasonable.

Second half

The teams poked and prodded their way through five minutes to start the half, neither with a real chance to show for their efforts. It took until the 55th minute that a deflected shot from McGlynn forced a save. Meanwhile blocks from Glesnes and a clearance from Harriel kept the Union’s sheets clean as the clock ticked closed to 60.

Just as the clock did reach that round number, the visitors took the lead. Some build up down the left led to a switch of fields. Brandon Bye received the cross, slid in a ball of his own toward the penalty spot, and Designated Player Gustavo Bou coolly smashed it into the top corner with the first touch of his right boot. It was deflating, and the Union immediately brought Mikeal Uhre and Alejandro Bedoya up from the bench, ready to come in at the next stoppage in play.

A bad giveaway in the midfield by Martinez nearly led to a second, but Bou’s shot this time was straight at Blake. The Venezuelan raised his hand, and he was right: both his pass and his nonchalance in recovery were to blame. As if on cue, things started to get chippy.

Mikeal Uhre’s first offensive touch let him down in the 71st minute, an exquisite, looping pass around the center backs by Gazdag found his right foot – which wasn’t quite ready for the ball. New England weren’t sitting back per se, but they were content to let the Union get to midfield before engaging and then turning the home side over in narrow pockets of space. It was the Union’s first touch that was the true culprit though. Several good opportunities saw the ball popping high in the air instead of trapped calmly at a player’s foot.

Offensive substitutions kept coming though, and the Union started to look like the right-sided, swash-buckling team of Ilsinho’s yore. They put triangles on the right, pushed Bedoya and Mbaizo high, and let Gazdag and McGlynn slot both players through. A corner kick, earned off of one such occasion, was played perfectly by Kai Wagner onto the leaping head of Uhre. The striker made no mistake, smashing the ball into the lower corner.

It was 1-1 and it was game on.

Another chance from the right, this one off of Bedoya’s head to Gazdag’s feet, resulted in a Union penalty. The Hungarian should have hit the ball first time, but made himself big and drew the crucial foul – he then stepped over the ball to take the spot kick. Subaru Park was pulsating – and a breath later, absolutely rocking as the home side took the lead 2-1. Gazdag roofed his shot, no goalkeeper in the world would have stood a chance.

New England brought in their offensive reinforcements too, and turned up the pressure on the Union – but the home side wasn’t done pressing or attacking in their own right. As a result, the midfield was often wide open, with thirty yards separating the team’s respective attacking lines as the ball moved back and forth across the Chester pitch. The Sons of Ben were loud, so were the Keystone Ultras. It was midsummer, late in the match, and the good guys were in the lead – a few New England headers took their chance to change that scoreline, but were wide left and then right. Emmanuel Boateng added a dimension to the attack, but Blake was two steps ahead of each one of his attempts.

Jakob Glesnes cleared a fluttering cross that resulted in a New England header off the line and the Union did their best to kill the game – a skill that has haunted them for more than a decade. Bedoya was given the game’s first card for being disappointed in the official’s decision to allow some physicality in the corner while doing so.

In the end, neither the card nor the foul were enough to take all three points away from the hosts however, as the Union made it a 9-point week with their 2-1 win.

Lineups

Philadelphia – Blake, Harriel (Mbaizo, 73′), Glesnes, Findlay, Wagner, Martinez, McGlynn (Real, 89′), Flach (Bedoya, 64′), Gazdag, Carranza (Burke, 73′), Aaronson (Bedoya, 64′) SUBS: Freese, Craig, Bueno, Sullivan

New England – Petrovic, Bye, Kessler, Bell, Jones, McNamara (Altidore, 81′), Polster (Traustason, 45′), Lleget (Boateng, 81′), Gil, Borrero (Maciel, 64′), Bou SUBS: Gonzales, Edwards Jr., Rivera, Delagarza, Spaulding

Scoring Summary

NER – Bou, 61′

PHI – Uhre, 75′

PHI – Gazdag, 79′

Discipline Summary

PHI – Bedoya, 90+’

46 Comments

  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Excellent come back !!!
    DOOP IT UP !!!

    Get some rest – Crush Orlando !!!

  2. Union fan says:

    That’s what we’ve been asking for: use your bench Jim. Especially use your bench in 3 game weeks. Curtin did a phenomenal job juggling lineups and subs this week. Top notch. Margin of error in the standings restored!

  3. Peanut Gallery says:

    The header heroics tonight… Glesnes saves a goal with his head; Uhre scores on a header; Bedoya’s header pass leading to the penalty call… [insert clapping]

  4. In Tanner We Trust says:

    How sweet this one feels… and we’ve already had some really sweet ones this year. Love this team. Get rekt Arena and Kessler. Never come back

    • Eff Keszler. Bedoya gets carded for a fraction of what Kessler pulled last year.

      • QuakerFlaker says:

        Oh god I hate that guy, Kessler, after that game last year. I even find myself hating him when he plays for the US in the Gold Cup.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Talen Energy Stadium? That was pre COVID.
    .
    Good effort by the team in a game that MLS had set them up to fail with short rest against a rested team. Would have liked to see more of their early shots be on target but I knew they had Uhre/Burke/Bedoya all ready to come in off the bench.
    .
    Bad news is that Bedoya will get another rest next week since he was one yellow away from suspension. Poor decision making by the captain given that it was completely avoidable.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      …still saved in my GPS as Talen. Sometimes it creeps into my brain when I’m trying to focus on other things. Thanks for catching it!

      • Andy Muenz says:

        No problem. At first I thought you were trying to be nostalgic but then realized if that were the case you would have put PPL Park.

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    So much to discuss tonight and I’m a bit too amped to make sense of it coherently.

    Either way the highest compliment I can pay tonight- is… I couldn’t take my eyes off him. The kid needs to be on the field —protected by any permutation of Martinez, Bedoya and Flach —every game. That young man plays with aesthetic….
    .
    ….and is what I’ve meant for years about my willingness to surrender winning and losing in favor of playing well with aesthetic. So happens maybe they are not mutually exclusive.
    .
    I told a buddy there’s not a player in the national team pool now it ever who sees the game and has the ability to hit balls so out of the ordinary. If you watched him in Honduras where he was far and away the best player on the field, tonight only highlighted that level of acumen.
    .
    Higginbotham golfers over the kid.
    .
    As for the game. Just stellar. 9 points this week signifies to me the original instincts from earlier this year were astute. This team can win the whole thing.
    .
    Now Jim just needs to figure out how to play beautifully at the same time…. I wish. I wish.

    • Pachy, I assume you mean Paxten?
      .
      For me, McGlynn had the better night but I thought they both struggled in the 4-2-3-1. I kept hoping the U would put the ball at the feet of Gazdag and Paxten and let them work magic. There were a few sequences where they did that but the team seemed to have trouble finding them consistently.
      .
      Paxten also disappeared in the second half. I don’t blame him as it looked like he had clear instructions on how to play that right attacking midfield position but there was so much space between the defensive midfielders and him in the second half that every ball in his direction got intercepted. Jim did a good job shifting back to the 4-4-2 as the change in formation broke open the game.
      .
      In my opinion, Paxten did a job tonight and showed flashes of genius. three or four more concentrated blocks of minutes and I think his chemistry with Gazdag and the strikers will add a needed dimension for the Union attack.
      .
      Then we’ll have to see if other clubs come to court him.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Hey Paul. I thought Paxten did fine but it is McGlyn that is exceptional…in how he interprets the game. I like having him next to Martinez. I thought their off ball movement in first half often created nice passing lanes to advance ball beyond them.
        .
        I agree with your points about second half…the spacing seemed weird and they moved away from the original intention after Aaronson went off- course that’s when they also wound up taking control of the game.
        .
        Good comments by you. Appreciate.

      • Man idk, McGlynn was phenomenal like usual. His vision of the field is so sound. He’s the Union Pirlo or Modric! He needs more minutes and he needs to be used when we need to shut out teams

    • el Pachyderm says:

      *gloated

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Most likely McGlynn will get some time next week in Orlando with Bedoya suspended. Only negative as far as he was concerned was that he was gassed around the 80th minute (probably didn’t show on TV but he was definitely dragging off the ball at the end). And next week is likely to be tougher fitnesswise in the Florida heat.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      McGlynn was excellent. His combination of vision, passing and game awareness is exceptional. Was at the match and was amazed at some of the line splitting passes that he completed, especially those 10-15 yd reverse balls thru a very small window.

      What a player!

  7. Was at the game. Great atmosphere. Fantastic comeback win.

    McGlynn was phenomenal. Aaronson excellent, too. And Glesnes — immense. The team looked like it was in a 4-2-3-1 with Aaronson and Flach as the wide midfielders and Carranza the solo striker. They exerted a lot more control on the match.

    Man, if this team is finding it’s stride now, look out.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      100% a double pivot until Aaronson went off.

      • Tim Jones says:

        Tom Bogert did a piece July 1 on the MLS website July 1 on the five Union Homegrowns signed in 2020 that has comments from Tanner about each.
        .
        Those comments will explain to you how McGlynn is being handled.
        .
        The reinforcing detail for me comes from two years ago when Union II played Hartford Athletic in their last season in USL Championship.
        .
        Hartford had McGlynn’s older brother. The older brother was a physical beast. That’s what Tanner is hoping will happen to Jack.
        .
        Were it to, he would have a 20 million dollar defensive central midfielder who could be Andrea Pirlo on offense and Claude Makalele on defense.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I was thinking Christmas tree (4-3-2-1).

      • I was thinking about that, but Aaronson and Flach were often pretty wide and high, particularly without the ball. The fullbacks didn’t comkout forward as much either. I think like El Pachy said, once Aaronson came off and Uhre was on, they went back to the standard 4-4-2 diamond.

  8. I am so glad the writer recognized what the Union tried to do to close out the game – ball possession. It was really good and something this team has not historically done. Not perfect, but well done to close out a great game.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Rais M’Bohli might still be a Union player had the team kept possession in the left corner of that infamous match in which he was chipped in stoppage time. Instead, they passed back, then back again, and back to the keeper – without much pressure at all. The rest is history.

  9. David Renfrow says:

    Was at the game tonight with the family. I personally was hoping for a little more ba-zing from Paxten. I know he’s got it in him. Very pleased to see him get the start. Just like the Sixers must do more of, we gotta play our puppies. If they get the minutes it will pay off late this season.

    Really love the snot out of this team. When they went down one, I had a feeling they would score and get the tie. I really thought they would tie. Showed me right by pulling off the W. This has been an incredibly fun week or so. 9 frickin points!

    Didya know Doop is Dutch for “thick sauce”?

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Stroop in Dutch means syrup, though the ‘o’ is pronounced full like ‘rope’. Doop actually means ‘dip’ but is most often used to refer to baptism or christening.

  10. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Three points, comeback win and rotation rotation rotation. This week has been everything you dream about for a team capable of winning a championship. The DP’S are a scoring, the kids are balling, the captain been rejuvenated, and the brick wall is still steady as ever. Mbaizo has even seem to found his game.
    .
    The last thing I thought tonight as I watched the game and they gave up a goal that was well earned for the visitors was there is still plenty of time left and this is a box they need to check. Curtin had some weapons to change the game and change it they did. This team is starting to gel and they have a chance to make some noise.

  11. Anybody know how to look up conversion rates for corners? I think the goal was on the 9th or 10th corner of the match and I told my friend right before that one that I don’t know why everyone gets so excited because the conversion rate is pretty low but watch them score on this one because I said that. I guess the NER keeper heard me and made an absolute flub of a play at that one getting screened off by his own player. Couldn’t have been better timing for the Union as far a momentum.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Don’t have specific conversion rates, but I know the Union got at least one last week on the Carranza bicycle kick. I also remember LAFC scored on something like their 12th corner when the Union blew the lead for the second time in that game.
      .
      My guess is that the conversion rate is somewhat less than it is for free kicks from dangerous areas but somewhat higher than random open play situations where they cross it into the box.

    • soccerdad720 says:

      Chris beat me to it – but yes — they’ve looked into it and scoring from a CK is somewhere in the 5-8% range, both considering the ‘direct’ boom-boom scores or the squbblings in the box/recycle out then score.

      • Thanks to you both. Also seems like some players are much better at scoring from headers with Conner Casey coming to mind. Bedya is pretty good at the redirect also

      • Connor Casey doesn’t count, you could also aim for the shiny spot in the box
        😉

  12. Great to beat the New England Galaxy! Great run of form! Let’s keep this going!

  13. Good seeing the team not only score multiple goals in each game this week, but scoring them in three different game scripts: a goal fest, domination game against DC, finding the second goal after going ahead against Miami (the most important for this team imo), and then a gritty 2 goal comeback after going down a goal. Great stuff

  14. I appreciate everyone’s comments. I could not attend the game in person last night, but I watched on TV–it looked like the stadium was rocking.

    1) For the most part, particularly in the first half, the Union defense kept a very dangerous NE team in check. I liked how they handled Gil by generally keeping him wide. I think Gil was the most talented player on the field.

    2) It was weird to see El Capitan on the bench to start, but I thought “The Kids Are Alright,” particularly McGlynn.

    3) I was particularly watching the other two kids, Flach and Harriel, last night. Flach’s offense was much improved last night and he was his usual pesky defensive self. Harriel had a bit of a tough night. I am not sure exactly what the issue is, but there seems to be a bit of a lack of confidence and his passing is not nearly so accurate as it was earlier in the year. Mbaizo, by contrast, has put in two really good efforts off the bench in a row.

    4) The NE goal started with the Union pressing extremely aggressively in the offensive third, and they got out of possession when NE broke the press. This was the first time that the Union were that aggressive and NE made them pay. Glesnes lost Bou because everyone was scrambling on defense. Coach needs to take a close look at the entire sequence–I am not sure whether it was the formation, the personnel or just unlucky circumstances that caused them to get exploited. The Union were much more effective pressing with the formation change when the subs came in.

    5) Although Findlay had a solid game, he is not as good with the ball at his feet as either Glesnes or Elliott. NE tried to exploit that in the first half by essentially leaving him open, then pressing hard against him. NE got a couple of turnovers as a result. I wish Findlay well with Oxford. I won’t soon forget his courageous work in last year’s playoff game vs. NYCFC.

    6) On the NE shot that hit the crossbar, on TV it looked as though Andre thought it was going over the bar and that is why he let it go.

    7) There were very few fouls committed in the game by both teams. The penalty call against NE was an obvious 2-handed push in the box that had to be called. The game had excellent flow, and as a result, the ref had a pretty easy night. There is no doubt in my mind that NE will make the playoffs and we should probably expect to see them again in Subaru Park.

    • It’s always a good thing to see the opposing 10 dropping into line with his center backs to receive the ball. The tactical switch to 4-2-3-1 to start the game really neutralized NE offense (at the cost of Union offense) but I got the sense the plan was to bring on more offensive players and change formation later in the game if it was still tied. The NE goal just hastened the process.

  15. LiverpoolUnion says:

    Was that the first time the Union have used Carranza as a lone striker? It wasn’t his night, but I’m not sure if that was due to a more defensive formation or that he’s better suited to a two striker formation.

  16. FCdelcofella says:

    Nice win by the men. NE is legit and will be a playoff team. The union showed class and grit in a nice come from behind win. Also nice to see the young fellas play. They need the touches as much as the older guys need the rest. Also, does anyone else love “ GOAL” call from J P Dellacamera? I was checking out British open highlights when the. Union scored off the corner. Wasn’t a big fan of him at first but he’s definitely apart of the Union family I think… am I wrong?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’ve always been a JP fan going back to the ’94 world cup. The Union have been lucky to have him for so long. Think how many of the Union’s color commentators got their start next to him and then left for national gigs. I’m sure he had a lot to do with their development.

  17. Was there for the game. Told my buddy to watch McGlynn. Kid is very impressive! So glad to see the youth get the start. Loved the rotation! Mr.Findlay will be missed for his quality off the pitch and as an occasional sub/starter. I feel like there may have been some direction from the manager on how the younger guys played. Seemed to be not a lot of Harel runs up the flank.Over all I thought everyone had a good game. Loved that it was a comeback win. Get 9 points from 3 bunched up games! Thats what I’m talking about!!!

  18. What did Tanner say?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding ?

    • SoccerDad says:

      He questioned how LAFC could of signed 2 players of Bale and Chialini’s stature (and salary history) to contracts that don’t require them to be DPs.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        One could say he expressed some doubt there wasn’t shenanigans. Which Bale isn’t a DP? I see his point.

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