Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 4-1 Atlanta United FC

Photo: Howie Pollard

Philadelphia Union clinched a playoff spot with their third straight win, riding goals from Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag, and Nathan Harriel to a 4-1 win over Atlanta United on Wednesday night at Subaru Park.

Andrew Gutman scored the lone goal for the visitors.

Having seen his side pull off a comfortable 6-0 victory against 10-man Colorado Rapids on the weekend, Jim Curtin made no changes to the starting lineup for his midweek match. The terrifying trio of Uhre, Carranza, and Gazdag got the start against an Atlanta side searching for a way back into the playoff race.

Andre Blake celebrated his 200th appearance for the Union during the pregame festivities, then celebrated further by crushing Luiz Araujo just outside his box after three minutes.

Julian Carranza got the Union on the board in the 18th minute with a pinpoint shot from outside the box. Off a restart, Mikael Uhre controlled at the edge of the box, toe-poking back to Carranza when he hit a wall of Atlanta players. The Argentine hit a shot low and hard to the far corner, where it beat Rocco Rios Novo and nestled in the back of the net for his 14th of the season.

Just like that, the Union were back where they’ve been a lot recently — in the lead.

Unlike where they’ve been recently, the lead didn’t last long, as Andrew Gutman equalized for Atlanta in the 24th minute. Uncharacteristically, Jack Elliott turned it over in his own defensive third with a sloppy pass towards Jakob Glesnes, and the visitors pounced. Thiago Almada hit a powerful drive that forced a spectacular one-handed save from Blake, and Gutman was first to react, diving in with his head to tie things up.

The game was on. Off a corner, Elliott took a solid strike toward the near post, requiring a good intervention from Rios Novo. Olivier Mbaizo smashed one well over the crossbar, too.

Daniel Gazdag nearly added to his incredible goal-scoring tally in the 39th minute, as the Union sprung a full-field counterattack off an Atlanta corner. Uhre got the ball to Gazdag, who looked to squeeze it past the keeper and multiple defenders. But the trickling shot didn’t have enough power, and an Atlanta defender sprinted back and cleared just off the line.

The Union went back on top in the third minute of first-half stoppage time thanks to Mikael Uhre. Kai Wagner’s corner bonked through the mixer and fell to Uhre on the far side of the box, who smashed an absolute rocket from about 12 yards. The ball took a wicked deflection off what might have been the hand of an Atlanta defender and past the helpless Rios Novo.

Behind Uhre’s 10th goal of the season, the Union went into the halftime locker room in the lead.

The second half started chippily, with referee Lukasz Szpala exerting little to no control over the match. Tackles flew in from both teams.

Carranza nearly got his second of the night in the 55th minute, getting into a dangerous position with help from Uhre, but his attempt hit only the side netting. At the other hand, a cutback found Almada in space, but his attempt to sweep the ball home popped harmlessly over Blake’s goal.

Josef Martinez entered for Atlanta in the 61st minute, with Gonzalo Pineda hoping his talisman could again tie the game. Jim Curtin sent in Cory Burke for Uhre two minutes later.

An absolute howler from Rios Novo led to a third goal for the Union in the 67th minute. Burke and an Atlanta defender went up to challenge for a good ball from Jose Martinez in the six-yard box. Rios Novo, wanting to join the party, totally mistimed his jump, knocking over Burke in the process. The ball fell into an open pocket of space, where Gazdag pounced and hammered into an empty net.

His 17th of the season set a record for most goals in a single MLS regular season for a Union player.

Burke nearly had a fourth goal with a towering header moments later, but his shot clonked off the crossbar.

Tensions boiled over a bit in the final ten minutes, with Martinez mixing it up with substitute Dom Dwyer (and a few of his teammates, too). But Atlanta couldn’t get anywhere near the match. Burke had another great chance after Gazdag slipped him in late, but Atlanta broke it up, and Leon Flach’s unlikely follow-up clattered wide.

Substitute Nathan Harriel joined the goal-scoring party deep into second-half stoppage time, in a move that started with Paxten Aaronson getting deep in the box. Harriel’s first shot looked to hit an Atlanta arm, but his follow-up went into the net for his first MLS goal — and the first goal for a Union right back in nearly five years.

The Union will look to make it four wins in a row this Saturday, when they travel up the turnpike to face New York Red Bulls. Kickoff from Harrison, N.J. is at 7 p.m.

Three Points
  • Second gear. Atlanta gave the Union a tougher test than some of the recent patsies that have come to Subaru Park. Philly did well to raise their level after a mediocre first half, not letting the Five Stripes anywhere near a result.
  • Attacking trio. Another game, another goal for each of Uhre, Carranza, and Gazdag. Those three are something else right now.
  • Playoffs? Yes, the Union are back in the postseason again, for the fifth straight year. Anything less than an MLS Cup appearance would be a disappointment.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo (Nathan Harriel 72′), Jose Martinez , Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya (Jack McGlynn 90′), Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre (Cory Burke 63′), Julian Carranza (Paxten Aaronson 90′)

Unused subs: Matt Freese, Matt Real, Brandan Craig, Quinn Sullivan, Chris Donovan

Atlanta United

Rocco Rios Novo, Andrew Gutman, Alan Franco, Juan Sanchez Purata, Caleb Wiley (Edwin Mosquera 69′), Santiago Sosa, Franco Ibarra (Marcelino Moreno 69′), Luiz Araujo (Dom Dwyer 75′), Brooks Lennon, Thiago Almada, Ronaldo Cisneros (Josef Martinez 61′)

Unused subs: Raul Gudino, Ronald Hernandez, George Campbell, Amar Sejdic, Machop Chol

Scoring Summary

PHI: Julian Carranza — 18′ (Mikael Uhre)
ATL: Andrew Gutman — 24′
PHI: Mikael Uhre — 45+3′ (Alejandro Bedoya, Kai Wagner)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 67′ (Cory Burke, Julian Carranza)
PHI: Nathan Harriel — 90+5′

Discipline Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 37′ (foul)
ATL: Juan Jose Purata — 47′ (foul)
ATL: Dom Dwyer — 83′ (other reason)
PHI: Jose Martinez — 83′ (other reason)
PHI: Jack McGlynn — 90+3′ (other reason)

PHI Statistic ATL PHI Statistic ATL


Possession % 56.2 49 Duels Won 63
22 Shots 18 2 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 5 4 Saves 4
4 Blocked Shots 5 9 Clearances



Total Passes 398 12 Fouls 16
75.3 Pass Accuracy % 78.9 4 Yellow Cards



Corners 6 0 Red Cards 0
14 Crosses 8 3.1 xG







  1. el Pachyderm says:

    I’m bored.This is boring. 3 gols. 4 gols. 6 gols. Class all around the field.
    Someone write the next iteration of the Union Bible please- I need to be entertained.

    • Peanut Gallery says:


    • If Wagner can’t get a move to Europe in January he should fire his agent, but here is my selfish hope:

      Win the East
      Win MLS Cup
      Keep roster together and make a run at CCL with this lineup
      Sell next summer and promote the kids

    • I understand the humor but I hope this our new normal.
      1) Each year the Union bring in a bevy of underserved talented players and a few of them turn out to be ballers
      2) The Union school keeps producing hungry, technical players who are led by the history of the school to know that if they just play, they’ll get their time
      3) A fan base that never quite knows who is going to star tor the team but eagerly anticipates fearless soccer on the field.
      That’s a Union Philosophy I could love.

    • Pachy…you better go get a Snickers, king size! Made me laugh reading that! I like being bored by this team!

  2. Union also set a new team record for most points in a season. They also got some breathing room in the standings with both Montreal and NYCFC losing at home (the latter to DC United of all teams). They also maintained a 10 goal lead in goals against and moved into the lead (at least temporarily) in goals scored.
    The bad part is that they blew a lead for the first time since the NYCFC game just over 2 months ago.
    Szpala lost control of the game long before the second half. There were several Atlanta fouls that easily could have led to cards especially in the first half and yet neither of Atlanta’s cards were the result of fouls. He was AWFUL and the players were lucky that no one was seriously injured from a foul.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    I really hate complaining about the refs, cause you know – MLS – but you’re correct Andy. That dude was bad. Just bad.
    Anyway… credit to Atlanta who came to play in the first half. Really gave the Union fits. I didn’t expect that kind of game from them. I was impressive to see the Union be able to play their game, stay strong, and really see it through with the necessary goals to make the score line more comfortable than I think it should’ve been. Union needed a game like that, or at least a first half like that, to remind them all games won’t be 6-0.
    LAFC just lost. Wow. 2-1 at Houston.

    • Hopefully Austin will follow suit if their weather delay ever ends.

    • Delco Roots says:

      Wolfpack, I agree with all of your points. In the first half, the Union midfield looked disjointed and non-threatening. However, in the second half, the four backs seemed to play about 15-20 yards closer to the midfielders and gave them proper support. With the backs and the midfielders choking off any Atlanta efforts to work the ball up field, Gazdag, Uhre, Carranza, and Burke went to work.

      Burka’s first touch still makes me cringe, but his effort cannot be questioned. Seems like the perfect 60’ minute sub when the team has the lead.

      Finally, good to see McGlynn come in for Bedoya and not Flach. Bedoya needs to sit occasionally, and Flach provides the defensive coverage to see out a game. This is not a criticism of Bedoya, just my opinion on the appropriate rotation of players for the situation.

    • The ref was spotty and should have carded one of Altanta’s worst recidivist floppers.
      . . .
      That said, he earlier carded Martinez, but to his patient credit, he allowed our team to spend notable time once again to control one of Martinez’s arrested development temper tantrums that take serious time and effort to calm. The ref didn’t have to put up with that BS. His tantrum could have unnecessarily harmed us again.

      • It was clear that Atlanta decided to try for a red on Jose. Dom Dwyer, Josef, Araujo, everyone came at him to say some words or give a shove. Credit to Jose for pulling back from the brink.

      • Nuggs I agree. Dude carries a heavy load every minute he’s out on the pitch soaking up and dishing out and acting as the shield and buffer for his teammates.

        Not quantifiable by metrics but the dark arts Maestro becomes more valuable as this team gains notoriety for its skills. More to protect with brighter targets.

  4. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Remaining games for Union and LAFC (game in hand)

    Saturday: @ NYRB
    9/10: Orlando
    9/17: @ ATL
    10/1: Charlotte
    10/9: Toronto
    Sunday: RSL
    9/10: @ FC Dallas
    9/13: @ Minnesota
    9/18: Houston
    10/2: @ Portland
    10/9: Nashville

  5. Andy nailed how important this match was given the ‘help’ we received in other results.
    . . .
    In the East, we finally crossed the six point threshold over second place Montreal with their loss (8 pt gap). NYCFC also lost, and it’s now a three win points gap between the NY metropolis teams in 3rd and 4th. Even with Montreal and NYCFC having a match in hand, we’d have to implode not to win the East given marches remaining. On paper, our remaining matches also aren’t the heaviest lift although any team can win matches as we all know.
    . . .
    In the West, LAFC also lost and we’re now tied with LAFC in points for the Shield race. They have two more wins for the tiebreaker, but on paper their remaining matches are harder than ours. We only need to finish one point better than them.
    . . .
    Austin in second in the West is losing as I type in the second half. They’re at 51 points not counting the ongoing match, so if they lose that’s a six point gap between us and five if they draw.
    . . .
    Not counting chickens before they’re hatched, but we clearly control the chickens at this point. That includes qualifying for the CCL again if we simply win the East or finish better than the second in the West if Montreal wins the East.
    . . .
    This team knows that, and has the right attitude so far. They’re confident and hungry. They tellingly didn’t get frustrated or choke after Atlanta scored to tie it up and got three more to win.

  6. Wow, that was fun! The U are a team. Atlanta is a collection of talent.

  7. Murphthesurf says:

    Go beat the Pink Cows and run downhill to the Cup ! DOOP!⚽️

  8. Agree on the ref letting things get out of hand well before the break. I thought Araujo committed three yellow-worthy fouls in the first 8 minutes: clattering Blake late, studs-up into (I thnk) Wagner’s shin, and a cynical takedown on a break. Szpala didn’t even pull him in for a chat and that set the tone.
    Whatever. A nice professional win. Doop.

  9. Pretty epic night of results with our win versus the 2nd and 3rd place teams losing in the east and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams losing in the west… especially considering who some of the opponents were, DC, Houston. Who’da thunk

  10. I was literally on the road last night and I listened to the game on the Sirius XM SFX channel, which carried Dave Leno’s and Sebastian LeToux’s call and commentary to a national audience. This was the first time I had listened to a game call and I give serious props to the radio broadcast team. After I got home, I looked at the highlights having had Dave Leno’s description of the game roughly in my head and I noted to myself how accurate the radio description was. I am excited for the upcoming playoffs!

    • I remember listening to radio broadcasts of NASL games growing up in the ’70s (sometimes in conjunction with watching on TV when the audio was only in Spanish) and good announcers could really give an accurate description.
      What were Seba and Dave’s opinions of the ref?
      Unfortunately, it was too loud last night where I was to hear the radio 🙂

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I was at the game, but in stark contrast to Leno and LeToux, who I have listened to before – the play by play guy on FS1 (I watched the highlights a few mins ago) was GOD AWFUL. Edu was ok, he was on the broadcast too. But man, the PxP guy was brutal.

      • Not surprised about the FS1 announcers. I’ll still probably watch the broadcast later today or tomorrow.
        And it sounds like you had the same problem as I did with it being too loud to hear the radio (I was at the game too).

    • Leno is excellent.

  11. 15 more points, run the schedule, then host MLS Cup 2022 in Chester! Doop!

  12. Great fun to watch, and thanks for the summary right up to the point of throwing shade at Ray Gaddis:”first goal from a Union right back in nearly five years”. We were all praying for that to happen right his last game.

    When you get goals from the back line in the run of play, the system is definitely clicking. Well done, men.

    • I throw a lot of shade, but that wasn’t meant as shade throwing! There has been much discussion in the press box about how long it’s been for Union RBs — not just Gaddis, but Mbaizo last year too. Just another thing to celebrate about this team.

      • Got it. Sorry, but I was so invested in Ray getting that one goal, I thought too much into your time frame. Great season so far., and I enjoy your commentary.

  13. I wanted to let that marinade for a bit. Post game I was looking at a few things on the East/West standings. I know the boys have put a couple of big numbers on the board lately, but they have a +40 GD!….+40! I’m very sure that most of the folks on this site are pretty happy with this club and how it’s trajectory has gone the last few years. When we start to see this crop of players move on it will be sad. After all the joy and excitement of the last few seasons it will be tough to see them go! However, the future is bright! And Tanner has proven to be an important part of the club success. I think later today I’ll drive by the Cliff of Despair and drop off a box of Chocolate chip cookies. There may be some DC fans there, maybe a few displaced Fire fans. They deserve cookies.

    • Yeah, when this crop of players moves on we’ll be stuck watching the current U15s who just beat Bayern Munich 6-0.

      • Well played! (quiet golf clap)

      • +1.
        Then posits hand to chin and assumes Thinker pose…
        …and offers —that was in fact a regional level U14 Bayern Munich team.
        Sometimes in my opinion the U2 coach who has a kid in the pipeline on that team and Steve Graham (who has built a prestigious little 2008 club —within a club and has done so for years) do not conveniently offer the entire picture as that group of boys gets ridiculous RIDICULOUS levels of dispensation.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Just Play Well.
      I can’t even really complain about their lack of possession as I’ve seen lately when other teams are willing to drop off… Union are willing to have a kick about. Their confidence is brimming.
      I’m giddy most days as it relates to the first team. Just so good.
      Almost weekly Union box score.
      Carranza (gol)
      Uhre (gol)
      Gazdag (gol)
      Back 7 ….Stellar defensively.

    • The reply to the main post in the above link is gold.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Delusion thy name is Zontar

    • omg thanks for that link, that was an impressive rant by Zontar who I suppose fancies himself the next Drew Magary, I’m surprised he didn’t mention cheesesteaks or Santa Claus

    • Amazing…..just amazing.
      Atlanta spends a lot of money to be so low in the standings.
      Funny how they complain when “cheap” clubs beat them.

    • How fans of a team that plays on a turf field that has a history of injuring their players can say bad things about our stadium is beyond me. I guess it’s more important to make the fans look good then to have a good surface to play on.

    • I was just about to post this link and saw you already did haha. The meltdowns are glorious. The whining and mental gymnastics to explain how it’s not their fault is hilarious.

      Also one of you must be vrd0708, that is definitely a philly fan lurking in their board.

  14. Since it was my first time listening to the Union radio broadcast, I cannot comment on Daves and/or Seba’s tendencies. They did not seem overly critical of the ref. In identifying him, they did mention how many games he had officiated as head referee this year, which was in the 20s. The highlights that I watched when I got home did not include any of the tackles that escaped discipline.

    My most major complaint about any referee is the allowance of dangerous play. My second complaint, which seems to have been the case last night, is when the referee lets the game get out of control. My third major complaint is inconsistency, and the inconsistency certainly contributes to games getting out of control. I don’t know that Dave and Seba were self-censoring (or even if they knew that the game was broadcast worldwide on Sirius FC), but I could not tell from the broadcast that dangerous plays were being allowed.

  15. Just out of curiosity, what started the dust-up with Brujo? I was at the game, watching another area of the field, and all of a sudden….Brujo seemed to want to fight anyone. Everyone. Even Blake. Even Glesnes (who seemed to say…”you really want some”?)

    • Watched the game this afternoon and the broadcast didn’t shed any light on it since they didn’t pick it up until Dwyer got involved and he wasn’t the first one from Atlanta involved.

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