Match Report

Match report: Philadelphia Union 5-1 Orlando City SC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

The Philadelphia Union dispatched an overmatched Orlando City SC squad 5-1 on Saturday night. The visitors, fresh off a midweek cup match, offered little resistance to the buzzsaw that is Jim Curtin’s Boys in Blue.

First half

The game started brightly, with both teams trying to push the tempo. Only the Union mustered a shot in the early going, but neither team had any time for the “feeling it out” phase. Neither team’s final pass was quite on key either however, and the first ten minutes sounded more like the orchestra warming up than one playing on.

Jose Martinez even unleashed his trademark tuba blast in the 14th, just a touch sharp.

Then, as if on cue, the Union struck a trademark goal – one pass, the full length of the field, and a clean break for Carranza. Only the Assistant Referee’s flag kept the scoreline blank, with no call from the VAR for review (despite requests from the Twitterverse for a second look, even the broadcast didn’t show another angle).

Bright then turned to staccato, with these old foes remembering how much they loathe one another and making sure the other knew it time and again. More than raising the temperature, Orlando were filling space in the midfield despite their high line. The Union were able to switch fields, but often not break lines beyond a few balls over the top.

Just like that, a break did fall the Union’s way in the 39th minute. A quick transition found the ball on the right side, on the foot of Olivier Mbaizo. The Cameroonian smacked a cross bound for Mikael Uhre at the far post, but the pass was deflected, arcing its way over the entire defense and into the far corner of the net. It was nothing but fortuitous, but it was a goal nonetheless.

Just minutes later, the Union found their second. Having won the ball in his own end, Leon Flach looped a pass over the Orlando midfield to Daniel Gazdag’s boot. Uhre was already at full sprint to his left, a half-field 3v2, beating the visiting back line with his run, receiving the ball, and burying his chance with the outside of his boot. What had been a very even game suddenly felt like it could get out of hand – and not just regarding fouls.

The halftime whistle came just before that could happen for Orlando, with only one minute of extra.

Second half

But get out of hand it did.

The right foot of Mbaizo unlocked another chance for the Union in the 53rd minute. His cross off a recycled Kai Wagner free kick forced the Orlando goalkeeper into a save – which he bobbled, and then bundled over Uhre in trying to recover. It looked like and was called a foul in real time, a truly assertive move from the Dane, but the VAR thought it was worth a second look. In the end, replay only confirmed the initial violation, and Gazdag blasted the ball home from the penalty spot for a three-goal cushion.

Uhre rifled another right-footed shot toward the near post in the 60th minute, but it wasn’t enough to find a fourth. Then, just two minutes later, it was Uhre again from a difficult angle forcing a kick save on the line. The midfield was opening up, Orlando’s will to press draining as the clock wore on.

A fourth goal did come in the 63rd, a diving header from captain Alejandro Bedoya off another wonderful cross from Wagner. It was not without its price though – Bedoya came up holding his groin, subbed quickly out for Jack McGlynn. The game been calling for the youngster, but not like that.

In spite of the change, the Union kept pouring it on with a blast from McGlynn, another from Gazdag, and a third from Flach over the next few minutes. Orlando were finding out that their weekend opponent was a bit more formidable than their midweek one, a first place side offering a bit more resistance than one from the lower divisions.

Then, Orlando got on the scoreboard. A poor clearance kept the hosts in their own end, and off a throw in came a rocket through traffic by Andres Perea that beat Andre Blake at the near post. It wasn’t less than the visitors deserved, but it was certainly against the run of play. A minute later, a free header at the six nearly gave them a second but the chance was sky high.

Orlando weren’t going to lay down though, and the game became stretched as both teams searched for the momentum.

In the chaos, the Union got their fifth as time wore down, a massive header from center back Jack Elliott off a corner kick from Wagner, smashed hard and low and into the back corner. Elliott hadn’t played particularly well up to that point, but scoring a goal always helps the eventual player ratings. Quinn Sullivan and Paxten Aaronson gave two starters their curtain calls, and three minutes of stoppage was all that stood between the Union and another absolute thumping of a hapless opponent.

The Union head to Atlanta next weekend with a chance to get closer to locking up the top seed in the conference and the Supporter’s Shield.


Philadelphia Union

Blake, Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo, Flach, Martinez, Bedoya (McGlynn, 65′), Gazdag (Sullivan, 89′), Uhre (Burke, 72′), Carranza (Aaronson, 89′SUBS – Donovan, Freese, Real, Craig, Harriel

Orlando City SC

Satjduhar, Moutinho, Schlegel, Carlos (Smith, 66′), Teixeira, Pereyra (Urso, 66′), Perea, Cartagena (Araujo, 84′), Mulraney, Michel, Gioacchini SUBS – Junior, Torres, Grinwis, Akindele, Kara, Angula, Halliday

Scoring summary

PHI: Mbaizo – 39′ (Gazdag)

PHI: Uhre – 43′ (Gazdag)

PHI: Gazdag – 55′

PHI: Bedoya – 63′ (Wagner)

ORL: Perea – 75′ (Urso)

PHI: Elliott – 87′ (Wagner)

Discipline summary

ORL: Schlegel – 66′

PHI: Flach – 85′


  1. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Magic number to clinching home field throughout the east playoffs?

    • 3. Theoretically they can do it without playing Tuesday night if Chicago somehow win in Montreal.

    • We have a 10 point lead over 2nd place Montreal. They’re the only East team left that can surpass us.
      . . .
      As Andy said, if we win just 1 of our 3 remaining MLS matches, we secure 1st place in the East regardless of what Montreal does.
      . . .
      If we lose 2 and draw 1, then Montreal must win at least 3 of their 4 remaining matches and at least draw the other. A draw plus 3 wins would tie us on points but they’d have more wins for the tiebreaker.
      . . .
      Montreal must make up the 10 points so if they lose any of their 4 matches or fail to win at least 3 of them, we lock 1st in the East regardless of what we do.
      . . .
      In short we’ve essentially locked 1st place in the East absent a complete implosion against much weaker teams on paper for our remaining 3 matches along with Montreal doing the opposite against much weaker teams on their remaining schedule.
      . . .
      We have also essentially locked a place in the CCL again. We’d need to lose all 3 remaining matches and Montreal–who can’t qualify as Canadian–must match or exceed their 10 point deficit. Austin in the West with a 12 point deficit to us after their loss tonight would need to win all 4 remaining matches on their schedule to be the better US second place team. Their remaining schedule is also harder than ours on paper.
      . . .
      Since LAFC also lost tonight, we now have a 3 point lead for the Shield. They have a match in hand, but their remaining schedule is also much harder than ours on paper.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    I tuned in to watch a soccer game and what happened was a Jordan Peterson speech about The Dominance Hierarchy broke out.
    It’s cool. I’m not complaining.
    Rule No. 1.
    Philadelphia Union are smoking hot.
    Of note…
    … Jim Curtin’s half time check in consisted of this tome.. “If you wanna street fight, we can street fight. If you wanna play soccer we can do that too.”

  3. Did anyone have a better angle with the goal that was called back? Almost looked impossible for Carranza to be offside. The ball was in the air for 50 yards and he was running diagonally… at least that what it looked like from my angle. That’s my only complaint. Boys look good! I love how everyone wants to be involved with the attack. It’s easy when you have that D and Andre in goal. Union.. let’s roll!!!

    • I didn’t have a great angle from just the other side of midfield, but as soon as the ball went in, I looked downfield expecting to see the flag up and it was.

      • Not to VAR Carannza’s goal? Poor… what a shame…. that ref was truly terrible.

        ‘Head Clown’ Garber allows that crap to happen all the time. It’s again on his big clown head.

        And… NOTHING about Union blizt of the US Open Cup Champs, right?

        12 more points to run the schedule Boys.

        Hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester.


      • Villareal was pretty bad, but he doesn’t make the decision whether to go to look at the play again or not. He only looks at it if the VAR tells him to (like was done on the PK).

      • I liked the ref allowing physical play. Curtin likewise credited him with that because it mucks up match play with to much caution and can ban players at a key season time. We could have picked up some cards, especially with Martinez’s headbutt.
        . . .
        The disallowed goal seemed okay from my seat angle and I’d like to see it again close up on video, but he went with his linesman and the VAR linesman also apparently approved by not calling for it.

  4. Hope Bedoya’s OK. When the Union scored their 3rd, I suggested to my wife that he be subbed, not that I was worried about injury, but that I was worried about a card which would make him miss next week in Atlanta. For the same reason I was also surprised to see Burke play given the score.
    I’m guessing he didn’t want to bring the kids in earlier so all but McGlynn (and Freese who’s suspended) can go 90 tomorrow for Union 2 who are fighting for a playoff berth.
    Now if Dallas can hang on to the 2-1 lead against 10 man LAFC (with Ferreira getting goals 2 goals in the 78th and 81st minute), things will really be looking good.

  5. Among the greatest sports writing ever:

    “Neither team’s final pass was quite on key either however, and the first ten minutes sounded more like the orchestra warming up than one playing on.

    Jose Martinez even unleashed his trademark tuba blast in the 14th, just a touch sharp.”

  6. The Union are on an absolute roll. And no, since you asked, I am not tired of the beat-downs. Here is the view from Section 105:

    1) If you load the Union highlights and stop the action at :14, you will see the best view of the alleged offsides by Uhre. He appears to be onside in that view, but the ball was kicked about 2 seconds earlier. You cannot see Uhre’s exact position when the ball was actually kicked, but it looked to me from where I was sitting that Uhre took off exactly when the ball was kicked and split the defenders. His first touch was sublime and he beat the keeper. It looked onside to me, and we all were shocked (and very unhappy) that ref Villareal was not called to review it on VAR. Perhaps those of you who watched on TV might have heard some of the crowd’s displeasure.
    2) The Union’s defense, particularly in the first half, was smothering of anything that came into the middle. Martinez and Flach kept Orlando to the sides, where they were not very threatening.
    3) Jose Martinez did not get a yellow card; Leon Flach did, I think more for his complaining than the particular play that resulted in the foul. Given some of the fouls that Villareal let go, Leon had a legitimate gripe.
    4) The play that resulted in the Union PK in the second half looked like pretty marginal contact from where we were sitting–we felt sure that Villareal would overrule his call after looking at VAR, but he didn’t. Gazdag blasted the PK and it was essentially game over after that.
    5) The Captain’s goal was a thing of beauty, not just being in the right place at the right time but the anticipation of a veteran. That said, from here on in to the playoffs, he needs to come out at the 60th minute. He is still better than the kids, at least for 60 minutes.
    6) The description of the Elliot goal off Wagner’s corner was a little misleading. The kick was not hard and low, it arced high over the defense towards the far post. It seemed that the entire Orlando City team (including the keeper) were protecting the middle and the near post. Elliot got an unobstructed straight run at the ball from the top of the box and he blasted it forward.
    7) I do not care for Villareal’s refereeing. He makes up for his inconsistency and incompetence with officiousness. The MLS has some poor officials, and he is near the bottom. He will not give a card in the first half. My major complaint is that he often fails to call dangerous fouls. I fear that he will cause some player a serious injury because of his failure to control play.

  7. Wonderful game, so much praise to go around but I have to take issue with the match report, how is this statement in the article:

    Elliott hadn’t played particularly well up to that point, but scoring a goal always helps the eventual player ratings.

    Before the goals started coming he was my motm, then he 100% earned it with the goal at the end. He was all over the field, did I miss something?

  8. Not that we needed it, but I don’t like seeing goals gifted to us like that and I’m just trying to be fair. Can anyone explain how that was a called PK? Are they just that incompetent or is the rule that stringent that they couldn’t “officially” call it clear and obvious to overturn?

    • VAR can’t overturn it on their own. When they think it’s a clear and obvious error, they recommend that the center ref take a look at it (which they did). 95% of the time the ref looks at it and agrees. The exception happens when the Union play Orlando as both games this season have featured a recommended clear and obvious error where the ref stuck with his original call in the Union’s favor. In the first game I thought the ref was correct as Gazdag was fouled first. Last night not so much.

    • Seemed like compensation for the Carranza goal that was called back. That one was not offside. From my analysis after rewinding and pausing the broadcast images, Carranza was still onside with the ball in the air midway through to him.

    • My only read of it is this: Uhre got the ball and the keep didn’t. Then he legit cleaned Mikael out. (Threw his body sideways and crumpled Uhre’s back leg.) Now was Uhre going to be able to do anything with it? Doubtful. Did it cross the end line before or after the foul? Not clear from the replay.
      I could go either way on it. I’m just as surprised VAR flagged it as I am it was allowed to stand.

  9. I had forgotten that I exchanged my tickets for a game earlier in the season for a second set of tickets to this match against Orlando so I was pleasantly surprised to get to see this result in person. Better yet I got to see it with my sister-in-law, my brother, and my son.
    It was clear in the first few minutes that Orlando was set to press Jack every time he was on the ball. It was also clear that Curtin anticipated that and directed Glesnes to go running through the midfield whenever he wanted. The Union looked completely happy to give up the center of the field and play on the wings and then use the length of the field to slow down the Orlando attacks until they could strangle a turnover.
    It was a dominant performance by a confident team. I’m really enjoying this season so far.
    C’mon, the U!

  10. Re: the penalty call. I can only believe that the ref saw extra movement with the intent to take Uhre out of the play. IE, the keeper rolled through Uhre’s legs well after the block, resulting in the foul. If that’s what he called, then I don’t see why the replay would overturn it.

    TBH, that type of call being a point of emphasis would be good for the game. Goalkeepers take excessive advantage of their protected status and fling themselves at other players all the time, without concern of causing injury, because they know they won’t be penalized for it.

    • That is interesting to hear about keeper’s tendencies, though I didn’t see any intent or ability to stop his momentum on the replay, and Uhre certainly wasn’t going to do anything with the ball there. As a relative noob to soccer, it’s the kind of thing I maybe don’t have an eye for yet. Perhaps, similarly, I hate to see offsides called when the play has been well in or around the box. Is that an issue that has been discussed by the soccer world? I can’t really think of a way that they could make a new rule that would distinguish when offsides seems kinda ticky tacky, though. a blue line like in hockey probably wouldn’t work; cherry picking would make defending too hard and the only other way I can think of would be to give a subjective judgment to be made by the side refs which would be a pretty hard call to keep it consistent. Those of you who really know the game and maybe have played, do offensive players hate when defenders move their line up to draw offsides?

  11. I’ve been on this Union bus ride since the very beginning, years before their first match down at the Linc and stood on the empty lot staring at the Commodore Barry Bridge wondering how The City Of Brotherly Love & surrounding area would recieve a MLS team. To be in Subaru Park last night was an exclamation mark on The Union’s slow & steady rise toward the top of the head in the MLS. A tip of the cap to Big Jim Curtin’s part in all this success & keeping the team’s eye on the prize. One question before I ramble on~ does anyone know what the altercation between the Union coaching staff and Orlando’s coach , Joseph Bazan was about at the end of the match in front of the Union bench? I may be wrong on it being Bazan but man, he was upset. Thx in advance

    • Great comment Will. I’m thankful every season to the SOBs and all the people who helped in bringing a team to our area. I’m so impressed with the direction this organization has taken. The academy system,the U 2, the first team players. And all the great memories! Can’t help with the post game scuff. I think he thought thevU ran the score up.

      • Ran the score up? Interesting.
        I help run my local intramural league and running up the score is a problem we face. We tell the coaches to take off players if you end up ahead by 4 or more goals.
        That’s intramural, this is MLS.
        I sympathize and would not want to be on the other side of these scorelines. If that guy is a coach, he should coach his way out of that, though.

      • I was really just guessing. Goal differential is a tie breaker so you do keep scoring as much as possible. Some guy just don’t like it.

      • At this point, the Union know that goal differential will not make a difference (due to all the draws), but if it did, one goal isn’t going to make a difference for the Union at this point…their lead is 20 over the next closest team and there are only 3-5 games to go.
        But by all means they should run up the score because it’s fun for the fans.

    • The altercation was directly across from us. It was not Orlando’s head coach that instigated it. It looked like one of their training staff and I am not sure what it was about. Had Union head trainer Paul Rushing been out on the field, there would have been no dustup ;-).

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