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Match report: FC Cincinnati 3-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union were well beaten by FC Cincinnati 3-1 on Saturday evening in Ohio. Brandon Vazquez, Brenner, and Alvaro Barreal gave the hosts a 3-0 lead before substitute Paxten Aaronson pulled a goal back for Philadelphia late on.

Jim Curtin rolled out his preferred XI, with Jose Martinez returning from suspension to take his place at the base of the diamond while Leon Flach moved to the left side in place of Jack McGlynn. Olivier Mbaizo kept his spot at right back. Cincinnati held a small ceremony for Haris Medunjanin before the match, as the former Philadelphia Union midfielder is moving back to Europe to be closer to family.

In a first half tilted toward Cincinnati, it was the hosts who appeared to take the lead in the 36th minute. The ball came out wide on the right to former Union man Alvas Powell, who curled in a cross that Brenner met with a diving header that beat Andre Blake. But after a VAR review where referee Drew Fischer checked the monitor, it was correctly ruled that the ball actually came off Brenner’s elbow and the goal was waved off.

Cincinnati would take the lead in the 50th minute. Alvaro Barreal found room on the left side and fired in a low cross and Brandon Vazquez met the cross with the outside of his right foot and beat Blake at his near post.

The hosts would double their lead just five minutes later in the 55th minute. After a quick restart from a free kick, Luciano Acosta found time and space at the top of the Union box and found Brenner running behind Jack Elliott, and the Brazilian made no mistake sliding a shot past an outstretched Blake from a tough angle on the right.

Cincinnati would make it 3-0 in the 71st minute. The Union were caught upfield as the hosts counterattacked through Acosta. The Argentinian weaved toward the Union box and the ball was poked into the path of Barreal, who toe poked beyond Blake from close range.

The Union would pull a goal back through Aaronson in the 77th minute. The substitute would find room to shoot from the top of the box on the left side and his deflected effort dipped over a diving Roman Celentano to cut the lead to 3-1.

Philadelphia would throw Cory Burke and Jack McGlynn on but failed to trouble Cincinnati many times late on, with McGlynn coming closest from a free kick.

The evening marked the first time Philadelphia has given up three goals in a game all season and ended a five match winning streak. The Union are next in action when they host Chicago next Saturday (7:30 p.m.)

Three Points
  • Oof. The Union were outplayed for 90 minutes against Cincinnati. It was the second time this season that FCC dug in against big brother.
  • All off. Glesnes, Martinez, Uhre, Gazdag, Carranza – it was a long list of players who all just seemed out of sorts on the evening.
  • A little possession could go a long way. I get it, Philly doesn’t care about not having the ball. But when a team is creating chance after chance and dominating the run of play at home, just holding onto the ball and taking the sting out of play could go a long way.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach Jack McGlynn 59′), Alejandro Bedoya, Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza (Cory Burke 59′), Mikkel Uhre (Paxten Aaronson 74′)
Subs: Matt Freese, Brandan Craig, Nathan Harriel, Quinn Sullivan, Chris Donovan, Matt Real

FC Cincinnati

Roman Celentano, Geoff Cameron, Ian Murphy (Tyler Blackett 46′), Nick Hagglund, Álvaro Barreal (John Nelson 76′), Alvas Powell (Ray Gaddis 66′), Luciano Acosta (Haris Medunjanin 85′), Júnior Moreno (Yuya Kubo 76′), Obinna Nwobodo, Brandon Vázquez, Brenner
Subs: Dominique Badji, Allan Cruz, Alec Kann, Arquimides Ordonez

Scoring Summary

CIN: Brandon Vazquez – 50′ (Barreal)
CIN: Brenner – 55′ (Acosta)
CIN: Alvaro Barreal – 71′
PHI: Paxten Aaronson 77′ (Burke)

Disciplinary Summary

CIN: Geoff Cameron – 34′ (foul)
CIN: Luciano Acosta – 53′ (foul)
CIN: Nick Hagglund – 66′ (foul)


  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Shake it off and get ready for next week…
    All the best to Haris, an all-around class act⚽️

  2. Owns. Owwnnnzzz........... says:

    Wouldn’t want to see Cincy on the playoff horizon.

    No answers in Chester.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    They earned that defeat tonight. Sloppy. Slow. Bleh.
    So I’m offering in my post game post what they offered tonight. Not much.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    At least NYCFC lost too, but it pretty much puts paid to realistic chances of the Supporter’s Shield, especially since their next road game is midweek at Dallas in 11 days.

  5. Gruncle Bob says:

    The sky is not falling. The U are still a very good team.
    Some early, without reflection thoughts.
    1. After a poor showing against Noonan/Cincinnati last time, the team appeared to be not at all prepared for what Cincinnati was going to do tonight. Perhaps JC coached them up all week and the team just didn’t get it. I don’t know, but it’s disconcerting to see no apparent changes at all.
    2. Our guys were just off. I think Brujo had a decent game. The rest. Not.
    3. Fisher just fucking sucks. Shouldn’t be allowed to do U8 games. 1st half 3rd minute – gaz crosses into the box. The ball hits the defender’s extended arm and drops to his feet. Fisher is 8 yards away looking directly at the play – no call. He sucks, so that’s not surprising. But, MLS VAR gets it wrong too. VAR is supposed to correct the shitty calls of bad refs like Fisher BUT IT DOESN’T. WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE? The MLS head of VAR should be fired.

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    They sucked tonight. So be it. Beat Chicago and no one will care. They have 3 losses and it’s August

    • Yeah that sucked. Upside was Paxten had a nice chip goal and McGlynn exhibited yet again free kick tradecraft (short step approach to better control his planting foot and instep, kept head down through delivery to not to sky it, stayed focused on targeting under the bar and to the corner) than almost netted another beauty like last week. McGlynn’s style also would be great for lofty backspin for dropping a more predictable and easier controlled ball in the box. Curtin should try him for midfield and backfield free kicks with placement of such balls in the box for players to pounce upon with prediction.
      . . .
      “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!” – General Patton played by George C. Scott. That applied tonight. Let’s not forget that Pat Noonan was until recently our assistant coach and they have Gaddis, Medunjanin, and Santos.
      . . .
      That’s a lot of insider ‘intel’ on how our coach and players play and think for match strategy and practice. We looked figured out because we were. Our boys should have been better prepared for that.
      . . .
      It reminded me in another way of when we kept repeatedly playing the Revs in 2020 like Groundhog Day, so by the time we had the golden path through the playoffs after winning the Shield and drew them again for the opener, we were suddenly one and done as figured out.
      . . .
      Curtin and the crew need to be mindful of Cincy if they make the playoffs and we draw them. They need to mind that against Chicago next week given Kacper Przybylko and Fabian Hebers. They were also one of the three teams that beat us this year, and they’ve risen rapidly from the cellar to 5th in the East.

  7. Kip Leitner says:

    Not much to say here. Cincinnatti probably played as well as they can play — which tonight was very well — and took their chances. Some very creative offense. They also had a plan to disrupt the Union’s counterattack.

    This type of game shows the limits of Jim Curtin’s overall defensive strategy in a game with an opponent who plays well. If the opponent gets a goal or two, it might be hard to come back and win or even tie, because the team is so habituated to playing counterattacking soccer that it can’t easily play any other way.

    Let’s say it again, C. played really well. If their defense were a little better, they’d be top of the table.

  8. Deez Nuggs says:

    It looked like the best DEFENDERS in the league. But they clearly left the defense part in their luggage at the hotel.
    Yes it’s true that MLS road games are the hardest of any league. It’s also true that FCC has insider information that makes this contest less fair than any other opponents. But we still largely have better talent and didn’t show up.
    Fair point to Mike on possession. It’s something they were better at the last five games, something Jim had talked about, and last night they forgot completely.

  9. Yeah..that was a bad game. But your playing a team managed by a former assistant coach. Who’s also no dummy and has the players to give any team a tough night. The Union can’t just change styles for one game. So they play their style and get what you get. The U looked off, as mentioned above, the midfield was trying to force the middle for too long and Cincinnati took control. They will take a few mins and walk it off then back to what you do.

  10. Micah Bertin says:

    Away games at Chicago, Columbus and Cincinnati, all disasters. Anyone else C a pattern? October 1, @ Charlotte, may be the only time I have or ever will ever bet against the Union

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Toronto was a much bigger disaster than Columbus. Columbus was 0-0 when the team was missing several players.

      • Toronto F CCCC though.

      • Micah Bertin says:

        True, maybe disappointing is a better word. But my son and I were on a road trip, went to Chicago and then Columbus and it felt really bad that we didn’t see at least one victory.
        If anybody takes a road trip to Chicago you have to go to Reggie’s, good food, reasonable drinks, chill vibe especially on the rooftop bar and a free shuttle to and from the game.
        In Columbus, pregame at Betty’s.
        At both places, we wore our Union blue and found friendly home team fans and easy conversation

  11. Gazdag must be allergic to receiving the ball and turning with it. The entire first half was filled with him trying these stupid flicks or backheels and turning the ball over.

    Even Curtin agreed, from his PC: “Curtin on attacking struggles: We played too many balls in the air. We didn’t win any of them…we talked at halftime about playing on the floor more, combining a little bit, getting rid of those one touch flicks. And we still just weren’t clean enough.”

    I understand this is only our third loss and Gazdag has great stats, but he is clearly a specific type of 10 that in games like this offers nothing for us. It will be interesting to see if this is a blip on the radar or the start of a trend.

    • To be fair, Cincinnati marked Martinez out of the match. That limited a lot of what Gazdag had to work with when he was checking g in the midfield – the safety valve just wasn’t there.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        They did indeed. And then you saw Haris pressing Glesnes and Blake!? When did he ever do that with us??
        If I was Jim instead of playing the diamond— which you know Noonan helped invent for this team — I roll out a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 or something he’s not expecting. We may suck at it, but roll the dice and make him adapt.

      • Picking up on what Chris and Deez said, I think the U played a midfield box instead of diamond the second half of a game a couple weeks ago.
        Wondering if it would help when a team tries to mark Martinez out, that the U rotate the diamond to a box with 2 #10s and 2 #6s – Bedoya slides up next to Gazdar and Flach/McGlynn slides back next to Martinez?
        Alternatively, I wonder if it would be harder to mark Flach out of the match at #6 based on his youth/speed/work-rate?

  12. Andy: True that the Shield looks beyond us now. It’s still possible but very unlikely now. LAFC has 6 points and a match in hand at this point over us along with stocking their roster with marquee names.
    . . .
    The bigger disappointment will be if we don’t win the East. If we win the East, then we will still get a CCL slot plus home field advantage through the East in the playoffs and, if LAFC gets outed, also the final. That’s all but the Shield to play for, and we’re in a good position to do that with NYCFC losing Castellanos and other teams trailing worse on points.

    • All of this. I would be very happy with winning the East, claiming a CCL slot, and making it to the Cup game.

      • Agreed. The U have a decent track record in that stadium anyway, and give me this team as a MAJOR underdog against the antithesis of who they are on a national stage ALL DAY.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I for one hope LAFC win the shield. It’s like once ever the shield winner also won MLS cup. In recent memory, the winner drops out of the playoffs first or second game in. That includes LAFC when they had one of the best teams ever. Let them win, drop out and make it a bit easier path for us in the finals.

  13. John P. O'Donnell says:

    I’m fine with not winning the Shield. I think it’s jinxed anyway. Winning the East and maybe getting the most points in team history would be good for me.
    Martinez was invisible in this game and I would have stayed with Flach when they substituted McGlynn on moving Flach back to replace Martinez.
    Also Burke seems done and Sullivan should be the fist option off the bench.

    • FCdelcofella says:

      Burke is done? How quickly we have forgotten that howitzer he scored against NYFC…
      Tbh, I’m not sure if Burke was ever finished. I’m sure he’s a good fella but his work rate is marginal and has no touch/finesse. I totally agree. John. Let the kids play.

  14. Win only one of the last 7 in Ohio? Stupid stumble.

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