Union match reports

Match report: Charlotte FC 4-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

This article has been edited after publication with details from CF Montreal’s match.

Ten-man Philadelphia Union produced their worst performance of the season in their final road match of 2022, as Charlotte FC’s Daniel Rios scored four goals to lead his side to a 4-0 victory in Charlotte, N.C.

The loss leaves the Union’s Supporters’ Shield destiny outside their own hands, and means that the Boys in Blue still have work to do to clinch the Eastern Conference on Decision Day.

Jim Curtin made just one change to his team after the international break, swapping Nathan Harriel in at right back for Olivier Mbaizo. With Alejandro Bedoya nursing a hip flexor injury, Jack McGlynn kept his place in midfield. Midseason signing Richard Odada made the bench for the first time this season.

The last scheduled road match for the Union in 2022 would also be their first-ever trip to North Carolina. With wind and rain expected from the remnants of Hurricane Ian, the grounds crew had to lay both the soccer and football lines on the Bank of America Stadium turf. Although the situation was unavoidable, it gave the whole thing a minor-league feel, even with a sizable crowd.

The match started slowly. Even though Charlotte keeper Pablo Sisniega only came into the lineup after a pregame injury to Kristijan Kahlina, the Union took their time before testing him. Daniel Gazdag had a nice opportunity in the 19th minute, but his shot clipped harmlessly off Mikael Uhre rather than forcing Sisniega into a save.

It would be the hosts, though, who got on the board first in the 24th minute. A turnover by Jose Martinez in his own half gave Charlotte a rush, and Jack Elliott’s opportunity to clear came and went. Karol Swiderski found Kamil Jozwiak wide of goal, Jozwiak picked out a perfect cross, and no Union player tracked Daniel Rios’s run. The one-time finish left Andre Blake no chance.

Looking for the immediate response, the Union nearly created an identical goal at the other end of the pitch. But the usually sure-footed Julian Carranza whiffed wildly at the shot, and the opportunity went wanting. Gazdag took an optimistic shot from distance moments later, and though the shot had real power, Sisniega wasn’t really troubled.

Charlotte took their one-goal lead into halftime, and the Union were left searching for another gear.

That second gear didn’t come, and Charlotte got a second goal early in the second half. It came from unusually poor defending from the Union. Harriel and Jack McGlynn had Jozwiak pinned near the end line wide of goal, but Charlotte’s attacker managed to bulldoze through the double-team. Harriel, Martinez, and Glesnes all missed tackles as Jozwiak once again found Rios, who shed Flach with a nifty move to create a pocket of space just outside the six-yard box. His close-range finish left Blake no chance.

Suddenly, the Union found themselves chasing a two-goal deficit for just the second time in 2022. Curtin threw on Paxten Aaronson and Cory Burke for the ineffective McGlynn and Mikael Uhre. The subs injected a bit of energy, with Aaronson hitting a vicious shot in the 67th minute that Adilson Malanda had to block.

The Union’s night went from bad to worse when Kai Wagner conceded a penalty and got sent off in the process. Charlotte got behind the Union defense, and substitute Nuno Santos looked to sweep a one-time shot home. Sliding in for the block. Wagner left one arm raised high to the sky, and Santos’s shot made contact. The referee had no choice to point to the spot and hand out a second yellow to Wagner, who will be suspended for the regular season finale and miss his first match of the season.

Rios stepped up and hit an unstoppable penalty past Blake for his hat trick.

With the game well and truly over, Curtin put on Quinn Sullivan and Matt Real for cameos, giving Julian Carranza and Jack Elliott a few minutes off.

Rios added insult to injury with a stoppage-time fourth goal, running behind a static Union defense and smashing a ball from substitute McKinze Gaines into Blake’s net.

With the loss, the Union are behind the eight-ball in the Supporters’ Shield chase. LAFC can clinch the Shield before the final week with a win against Portland tomorrow. And the Eastern Conference isn’t in the bag, either. CF Montreal beat D.C. United 1-0 this evening, which leaves them just two points behind the Union. A Union draw or loss against Toronto would allow Montreal to snag first place with a win at Miami.

Decision Day arrives next Sunday, when the Union host Toronto FC in the last regular season match of the season. Kickoff from Subaru Park is at 2:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Laying an egg. With the pressure building, the Union produced one of their worst performances of the season. They didn’t threaten, they didn’t control the game, and they were poor at the back.
  • C’mon, Kai. If you go in for a block with your hand raised high, you can’t complain if it leads to a card and a penalty. It was a frustrating night for the Defender of the Year candidate, who sees his season end a week early. For the first time this season, someone else will have to start at left back.
  • Offense quiet. There are reasons to explain two straight scoreless games — Bedoya’s absence and road games on turf at the top of the list — but it is a concern. The Union have scored in bunches at times this season, but can they produce consistent offense when things tighten up?

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott (Matt Real 80′), Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez, Jack McGlynn (Paxten Aaronson 59′), Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre (Cory Burke 59′), Julian Carranza (Quinn Sullivan 75′)

Unused subs: Matt Freese, Olivier Mbaizo, Brandan Craig, Richard Odada, Chris Donovan

Charlotte FC

Pablo Sisniega, Nathan Byrne, Adilson Malanda, Anton Walkes, Harrison Afful, Kerwin Vargas (McKinze Gaines 74′), Derrick Jones, Brandt Bronico (Nuno Santos 66′), Karol Swiderski (Andre Shinyashiki 80′), Kamil Jozwiak (Jordy Alcivar 80′), Daniel Rios

Unused subs: George Marks, Jan Sobocinski, Joseph Mora, Quin McNeill, Yordy Reyna

Scoring Summary

CHA: Daniel Rios — 48′ (Kamil Jozwiak, Karol Swiderski)
CHA: Daniel Rios — 54′ (Kamil Jozwiak)
CHA: Daniel Rios — 72′ (PK)
CHA: Daniel Rios — 90+1′ (McKinze Gaines)

Discipline Summary

PHI: Kai Wagner — 39′ (foul)
CHA: Brandt Bronico — 56′ (foul)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 71′ (handball) (second yellow)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 79′ (foul)

CHA Statistic PHI CHA Statistic PHI


Possession % 47.5 47 Duels Won 61
10 Shots 13 2 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 1 1 Saves 0
4 Blocked Shots 5 17 Clearances



Total Passes 375 19 Fouls 18
80.1 Pass Accuracy % 75.2 1 Yellow Cards



Corners 5 0 Red Cards 1
7 Crosses 13 2.9 xG







  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Shake it off, win at home next weekend.
    Again an amazingly poor ref.

    Hopefully the Captain will be back soon

    • Can’t blame this on the ref. Couldn’t string two passes together. McGlynn and Flach had shockers offensively. The rest weren’t far behind in awfulness.

      • Flach had a “shocker” on offense??? That’s par for the course for him. I’d say the shockers are with the defenders and midfielders having poor turnovers in bad spots. Out of all of the 26 goals this team has conceded this season, I’d say at least 15 of them were of their own making with poor passes leading directly to turnovers.

  2. Chris Gibbons says:

    The field and the performance each deserve an F.

  3. Murphthesurf says:

    C’mon DC, C’mon Portland

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      C’mon, DCU? IF your team shows up for their game, you should beat DCU.

      And they beat themselves by an own goal from a guy who gets red-carded a half-hour later.

      The Shield is lost. And home field for the final.

  4. Once again, this team can’t play on artificial turf. Their touches and timing were consistently off on ball handling and passing, they couldn’t keep their footing with all the stretches and slips, etc.
    . . .
    Does this team train at all on turf? They knew they’d play Atlanta and Charlotte on it.
    . . .
    They should have been training on nothing but turf once they knew they faced Atlanta and Charlotte on the road to adjust. If they did and they still perform like that, then it’s a troubling vulnerability. If they didn’t, then it’s a major planning failure and now a costly one given the stakes that were squandered.

  5. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Typical Union…

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      In what context?

      • PaulContinuum22 says:

        Because just when you think they’ve gotten over the hump, they lay such a rotten egg like THIS. LAFC doesn’t lay down the way the U did. For the past 11 years, they are who we thought they were. When the rubber meets the road, they go splat.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Beat it —then hit the road.

    • Tim Herring says:

      PaulContinuum22 is exactly correct here. So begins yet another late season slide into “infuriating mediocrity” and another year in a row without an MLS Championship win…

  6. OneManWolfpack says:

    I surely hope it’s a coincidence that they played absolutely terrible at Atlanta and at Charlotte – both on turf. I don’t know how you play that poorly in a game that matters that much but hey… a team that has 5 losses on the season is still a damn good team. Assuming they right the ship Sunday vs Toronto, this will mean nothing. Let’s hope they get it together.

    • No argument that we’re a great team overall and our record reflects it but turf is apparently an Achilles Heel. I don’t believe we’ll blow the final match. It’s at home on grass and we’re playing near cellar dweller Toronto.
      . . .
      Pro teams should be prepared for away match conditions. Everyone knows turf handles differently for the ball and footing. Being ‘off’ on that clearly showed the past two matches. Charlotte is certainly used to it and made 4 goals from it.
      . . .
      There’s a turf readiness gap for away matches that needs minding. Turf isn’t going away, and away matches obviously count in results. The team needs to be conditioned for it.

      • > a turf readiness gap
        “Mr. President, we must not allow a mine shaft gap!”
        Gen. Buck Turgeson, Dr. Strangelove

    • Tim Herring says:

      No Wolfpackman, it is not a coincidence — that is when two things happen at the same time. Rather, this is called a pattern — one we have seen in the last twelve seasons and are now seeing in the 13th: not the playing of a great team and thus resulting in no MLS championship. Prepare yourself for the heartache.

  7. While this loss is clearly on the team, I thought the first yellow on Wagner (the first card of the match) was completely out of context given what was let go up to that point. Even the homer CLT announcers were surprised at the booking.
    Still, a lackluster effort following the break. Maybe it’s turf, maybe it’s a drop in form, maybe both. I suspect we knew the batterings weren’t sustainable but to go from a stretch of 4+ goals per game to none is puzzling.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Agreed, a shitshow by the Union, but if they don’t win next week, it’s significantly the fault of this week’s ref for giving out such a random yellow card.

  8. el Pachyderm says:

    Union Twitter is whigging out about today and I get it. Within reason. Missed opportunity.
    I am only concerned with The Response to today- not to today.
    Team has played so well this year with so few bad games I can remember each clearly and that’s saying something. They get a pass tonight from me.
    RESPOND. If the Shield is gone so be it— wasn’t in my view.finder—-any.way.
    I encourage people to RESPOND in kind: chin up, head high, shoulders back, chest firm. Let’s go.
    The prize is right there in front of them and by extension- US.
    Play Well.

    • I’m with you. I never wanted the shield. I’m on the fence about first in the East. I don’t want the bye week but I do want home field.
      What a shit performance though. Letting Charlotte bag us for 4. I’ll say I saw a loss coming…. International break, turf, etc. But no excuses for this one.
      Win the last one and then fight for the cup.

    • Respectfully disagree.
      Today was theirs for the taking, all the pressure on Charlotte. The Union had their destiny in their hands, and they failed to show up.
      Strikers, midfielders, defense…all had bad games on the same day.
      I’m concerned for next week. Real is not Wagner. Is Bedoya ready to go? Will Elliot be ready (Craig is not Findlay)?
      They need a win to place them in the best position for a deep playoff run.

      • Tim Herring says:

        Yeah but they need a new Owner & Manager for an MLS Cup win.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Tim, why don’t you go and root for LAFC if you want a different owner? You’re not getting one in Philly and you’re certainly not getting a better coach for this team.

  9. All I can say is I couldnt watch the game this time due to work, so I wasnt the jinx. I dont in general believe this team is overly cocky, but maybe the Soccer Gods thought we needed to be humbled anyway. Can only imagine how pissed the team is at this showing. For my own self-flagellation I plan to play “Shake It Off” on repeat until my ears bleed. Should take only two times…

    • It was a tough watch, especially with the super bright white gridiron paint and the barely visible light yellow soccer markings. My eyes kept trying to tell me the gridiron sideline was the touch line. 🙂

  10. Really uncharacteristically poor performance from the back line. I’m a little concerned about Wagner missing the last match of the season.

    Still, eyes on the only prize that matters. MLS cup. Need to regroup, focus and go.

    • Doubtlessly refocus is the key. Our last match is a home match on our grass against a very weak opponent. Even if we don’t have Bedoya or Wagner we should win it or at least draw it to claim the East.
      . . .
      Losing the Shield matters to me because silverware matters. It’s now a likely blown opportunity, but spilled milk.
      . . .
      The MLS Cup is the most important silverware, so seeding matters. If it’s LAFC versus us for the MLS Cup, we’ll have to play out there if they win the Shield. That’s a big concession to them.
      . . .
      I don’t want to add Montreal to our road trips if that combination comes up. They predictably beat DC tonight so the last match still matters.
      . . .
      For top East seeding, we still control our destiny. Plus, we want to go into the playoffs on a high note rather than a backslide. If we get really lucky with help from Portland and Nashville, then with a win we can celebrate silverware and top MLS seeding.
      . . .
      CCL is already clinched, so that’s upbeat news to keep in mind too.

      • Actually we don’t. The Union NEED to win against TFC. A draw and a Montreal win, and Montreal will win the East on the first tie breaker which is wins….

      • Good catch Jay…that stupid tiebreaker rule again. A win it is then. It’s ourselves to blame but ours to fix with a win.

    • Tim Herring says:

      Pete is exactly correct — the MLS Cup is the only prize that matters; don’t be distracted by meaningless bright shinny objects like Supporters Shields (or non-creative team owners and managers).

  11. It’s strange that all of the starting XI had poor matches. Turf didn’t help but something else seemed amiss.
    The coach had a stinker too- tactically it was a mistake to have Harriel push up as high as the strikers right from the second half whistle. That side was already defensively weak and Nathan doesn’t offer that much offensively, despite his recent friendly goal. It led to the entire back 6 getting pulled out of position and every goal against found him out of position.

    • Your observation is spot-on. Harriel was negatively involved in each of the goals in some way, shape or form. It is worth remembering the the Captain is usually on that defensive side, as well, and let’s just say that he was missed.

    • I think McGlynn is the issue. For all his regista skills with a pass, he’s a defensive hole. He should grow into that and improve, but I think we’re unbalanced when he starts in place of Bedoya.

      • IIRC, McGlynn’s best performance came in a double pivot (with Flach?).
        Maybe I’m wrong, at my age (and the abuse I’ve wrecked on it) the brain is so full of memories only the really important stuff stays for any length of time.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        My memory agrees. Bedoya on the field too, I think.

      • Have to agree about McGlynn here. The midfield was as bad as I can remember. Bedoya’s value to the team shines in his absence.

        But Harriel doesn’t help the midfield with build up and progressive play like Mbaizo does. But he was pushed up so high it nullified his normally sound defensive abilities.

        Very strange tactic.

  12. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Decision day will now actually be decision day. A team playing to avoid playoff relegation was pressure they didn’t handle well on the road.

    • Tim Herring says:

      Yeah but don’t worry, that relegation is not REAL relegation. We all know that REAL relegation will likely never happen in the MLS b/c the League and owners are too afraid of it, and in the long run that is bad for the league and for US soccer. Too bad the myopic vision of those people…

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        Good for the league. Five teams that made the playoffs in the West missed this year. The teams that have no reason to care and you don’t need ambition is out the window with the wooden spoon winner turning if around and making the playoffs. If constant expansion teams entering the league every year is any advantage it’s in a league with no salary budget and an easy 12 points a year for top teams.

  13. Section 114 says:

    We suck a little bit on turf.

  14. The 4-4-2 Diamond puts an incredible focus on Brujo. When he’s having an off night or the other team does a good job attacking him (which every team now tries to do), it’s usually bad news for the Union. This is compounded by Bedoya being absent because he is so smart defensively and in possession. Conversely McGlynn hurts you defensively and is so left-footed that he doesn’t help in possession when you put him on the right.

    Other teams have adjusted to the Union. Need an adjustment going into the playoffs.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Brujo always has an off game after international duty. Same here, although I thought he was not as bad as previous first-game-back. Defensively made some big plays. Also made some poor passes and slow decisions.

  15. Jack Elliot possibly with a cheekbone fracture as well. Likely will be wearing a mask the rest of the way

  16. Tim Herring says:

    Not gonna grade the Owner (& Manager) after 13 years?

    • Suire…Best record in team history, most goals scored in team history, least conceded in team history…fewest losses and most wins in team history. Best road record in team history. Yeah the Coach has done very well this season.
      Oh, and the Union have accumulated more points than any other team in MLS over the past 4 seasons. Have made the playoffs 6 out of the last 7 seasons.
      As for the Owner. He’s hired the right people, who have the team on solid footing, and competing year in and year out now. He even paid a club record fee for Uhre this year.

      • PaulContinuum22 says:

        That fee for Uhre is nickels when it comes to LAFC paying Bale. Can we agree this will be, these playoffs, a referendum on the Union’s way of spending the least money? Moneyball didn’t work with the Oakland A’s. Nothing but MLS Cup will be acceptable. You can only go to a certain point the way the U have done. But you godsdamn well need $$ to get the truly top flight. Money talks. Moneyball walks away without the ultimate prize. We’ll see in a month, won’t we.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I won’t agree with any of that, Paul. 27 teams won’t win MLS Cup. If you want to root for a team that spends a lot of money, go root for LAFC. Or spend your own money and buy a team. Otherwise, learn to live with reality.

      • Tim Herring says:

        “Made the playoffs…” Cool! But 0 for 12 in MLS Cups won.

  17. Tim Herring says:

    Yeah but don’t worry, that relegation is not REAL relegation. We all know that REAL relegation will likely never happen in the MLS b/c the League and owners are too afraid of it, and in the long run that is bad for the league and for US soccer. Too bad the myopic vision of those people…

  18. “minor league feel” … you were referring to the Union performance and not the turf, correct? An expansion team completely undressed you and you’re excuse is ‘the paint on the pitch’. OK.

  19. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Well, at least we won’t have to worry about getting the shield this year.

  20. PaulContinuum22 says:

    . Forkity fork fork. Portland, you bite…

  21. PaulContinuum22 says:

    . Forkity fork fork. It was in reach, and they had to pick this weekend to have a winless streak.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’d blame blown leads against Toronto, Montreal, Nashville, LAFC (twice), New Jersey, and Cincinnati a lot more than I’d blame a couple of poor performances on turf. Besides, even if they won yesterday, they’d still need LAFC not to win at home against Nashville (who they already beat on the road).

      • This. Exactly this. The dropped points from winning positions in the early parts of the season came back to bite them.

  22. PaulContinuum22 says:

    ESPN:”There’s no way to explain Philly getting absolutely ransacked by Charlotte, so let’s say they were distracted by all the football lines on the pitch and move on.”

  23. That was a disappointing game. It was tough to watch a Union team that has been so good all year just seem to give up. In deference to Charlotte, they showed up. Charlotte clearly came with a plan, executed it, and Rios made it look easy to unlock the Union defense.
    This game, combined with their previous performance, make me worry about Toronto and the playoffs. The Union need to turn this ship around and get back to playing well. They need to reignite the joy they had in those games they dominated especially since they’ll have a bye week before their first playoff match. I am confident that the Union can finish high, lock up the East and host the path to MLS Cup. But they found ways to make me worry.

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