Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-2 Orlando City SC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Two goals in the first ten minutes for Orlando City SC handed shorthanded Philadelphia Union its first defeat at Subaru Park in MLS play since 2021, a 2-1 final on a cold, rainy night in Chester, Pa.

Martin Ojeda and Ivan Angulo scored for the visitors, while Andres Perea notched the Union’s one marker.

With many players absent — on international duty, injured, or suspended — Jim Curtin had to make his first changes to the Union’s outfield players in this MLS season. In midfield, Andres Perea came in for Jose Martinez (with Leon Flach sliding to the No. 6), while Joaquin Torres replaced Daniel Gazdag at the tip of the diamond. Chris Donovan started for the suspended Julian Carranza at striker. The Union named just a five-man bench — keeper Holden Trent, defenders Matt Real and Nathan Harriel, and midfielders Jesus Bueno and Jeremy Rafanello.

Fog settled over the pitch and the top of the Commodore Barry Bridge as kickoff arrived, Perea greeting his former coaching staff on the Orlando bench. But it would be the team from sunny Orlando who’d warm up faster, taking the lead under two minutes through Martin Ojeda. The Argentine midfielder latched onto a perfect ball over the top from Mauricio Pereya, splitting the Union’s centerbacks and going one-on-one with Bendik. His finish left the keeper no chance, and though VAR reviewed the play for offsides, the goal stood.

For the second week in a row, the Union faced an early hole.

The hole only got deeper in the ninth minute, as Orlando sliced through the Union on the counterattack and doubled their lead, this time with Ivan Angulo applying the finish. After a spell of Philly pressure came to nothing, the Lions did well to work the ball up the field quickly, and the retreating defense couldn’t find its shape. Ojeda slipped in Angulo, whose one-time finish nestled into the far corner.

It was the first time the Union trailed by two in the first half or conceded more than one at home since the 2021 MLS season.

Perea, though, pulled one back against his old side not long after. Torres turned provider, lifting a long cross to the far post, where Perea rose above two defenders. His header hit the post, but the rebound fell kindly and the midfielder smashed home for his first MLS goal for the Union.

The crowd, a bit stunned, woke up. So did the action, as Orlando nearly restored their two-goal edge just seconds later. Once again an attacker went one-on-one with Bendik; this time, the reserve keeper made himself big and blocked the shot.

The Union’s defensive group looked unusually organized. The visitors kept finding free attackers in the danger zone right on top of the box, or free runners in gaps between the center backs. Ojeda nearly had a second but for a last-ditch recovery block by Elliott. Meanwhile, most of the good stuff going Philly’s way came through Perea and Torres, with Donovan and Mikael Uhre cutting hard-working but isolated figures up top.

Elliott nearly had a magnificent equalizer in the 37th minute, a free kick just outside the box that seemed destined to curl just under the crossbar. But Orlando reserve keeper Mason Stadjuhar got to full stretch and just pushed the strike over the bar.

The Union came out after halftime and nearly got an immediate goal, with a Alejandro Bedoya cross finding Torres at the back post. Stadjuhar, again, got down at full stretch to keep his net empty.

It seemed like the Boys in Blue had found another gear, pinning their opponent back and increasing the intensity from the first half. But Orlando slowly reasserted control, finding space in the middle of the field and forcing Philly into retreat. The dangerous Angulo beat Olivier Mbaizo for pace down the wing, though his shot ended up not troubling Bendik. For the first time in ages, a visiting team looked to have the Union firmly on their heels.

With time running short, Curtin rolled the dice with what little he had on the bench, bringing on Jesus Bueno, Nathan Harriel, and Matt Real in a triple sub for Leon Flach, Olivier Mbaizo, and Matt Real. Uhre went to the Union bench, but turned and headed to the locker room rather than sitting down.

Kai Wagner nearly generated the equalizer — twice — moments later. First, he ripped a vicious shot from the side of the box that rippled the side netting. Next, he lofted a beautiful pass that found Bedoya’s head inside the six-yard box. It looked for sure to be a goal, but Stajduhar went full stretch to parry the shot over the bar.

With just three minutes left, Bendik came up big to stop an Orlando breakaway, smothering the point-blank shot to keep his side in it.

Curtin’s men threw everything forward as the fog settled more thickly atop the pitch. But seven minutes of stoppage time passed without a goal, and the 11-game winning streak at Subaru Park came to an end.

The Union continue their homestand next weekend, hosting Western Conference foes Sporting Kansas City. Kickoff from Subaru Park is at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Slow start. It’s the second time in two weeks the Union dug themselves an early hole, this time going down two goals. That’s not a recipe for winning football — indeed, that’s why the side lost at home for the first time since 2021.
  • Defensive instability. Orlando sliced open Philly’s defense in ways rarely seen in recent years. Was it a consequence of Leon Flach’s poor performance deputizing for Jose Martinez, Joe Bendik not being Andre Blake, or an overall dip in form?
  • Playing shorthanded. The Union will be thrilled to see their stars — including Martinez, Julian Carranza, and Daniel Gazdag — back next week. Having some bench depth can’t hurt, either.

Philadelphia Union 

Joe Bendik, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo (Nathan Harriel 72′), Leon Flach (Jesus Bueno 72′), Alejandro Bedoya, Andres Perea, Joaquin Torres, Mikael Uhre (Matt Real 72′), Chris Donovan

Unused subs: Holden Trent, Jeremy Rafanello

Orlando City SC

Mason Stajduhar, Luca Petrasso (Antonio Carlos 80′), Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith, Cesar Araujo, Felipe Martins, Ivan Angulo (Gaston Gonzalez 70′), Mauricio Pereyra (Dagur Dan Thorhallsson 85′), Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique (Duncan McGuire 80′)

Unused subs: Adam Grinwis, Abdi Salim, Rafael Santos, Shakur Mohammed, Jack Lynn

Scoring Summary

ORL: Martin Ojeda — 2′ (Mauricio Pereyra)
ORL: Ivan Angulo — 9′ (Martin Ojeda, Mauricio Pereyra)
PHI: Andres Perea — 17′

Discipline Summary

ORL: Felipe Martins — 20′ (persistent infringement)
ORL: Ivan Angulo — 36′ (dissent)
PHI: Joaquin Torres — 88′ (other reason)
PHI: Kai Wagner — 88′ (other reason)

PHI Statistic ORL PHI Statistic ORL


Possession % 52.5 67 Duels Won 54
26 Shots 12 10 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 4 2 Saves 5
7 Blocked Shots 4 13 Clearances



Total Passes 432 6 Fouls 9
71.6 Pass Accuracy % 75.9 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 4 0 Red Cards 0
20 Crosses 6 1.6 xG







  1. The worst of this is that, when Martinez gets his next yellow card suspension, teams paying attention will see how to easily defeat the Union by going directly at Flach, who was atrocious tonight and should never be allowed to play the 6 again.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Firstly the worst thing at the moment is that all the evidence shows that Jose’s first game back from international duty is usually trash. So. Next week could be rough. Second, I have no idea why we aren’t playing Bueno at the base of the diamond. If nothing else, it’s his damn position.

    • I was surprised by how out of position Flach was all night. I kept expecting that midfield diamond to sort itself out but they never got there. Flach would cheat up field or out to either side trying to cover an Orlando attacker, then another attacker would run into his space and there was no hand off of the players.
      I doubt it was something the midfield had never seen before but there was a ton of late running that I don’t remember with Martinez. El Brujo was a big loss on the night and Orlando used that to keep the ball in the Union half or counterattack more effectively.

  2. It’s a come back to earth year… I love Jim and Ernst and the whole team (Jason Kielce voice) but there’s only so many places to go after the few years we’ve had here

  3. That was poor. Missed Martinez. Missed Carranza and Gazdag. Orlando totally worth the win. We were lucky not to be run up for 5 goals. Just piss poor.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    That loss is 100% on MLS. There is no fucking way there should have been games this weekend except that MLS are money grubbing assholes. [This sentence removed by moderator.]

    • Our community is great because we keep our comments section civil and productive. I have rarely, if ever, had to moderate any comment. However, PSP will not tolerate comments calling for violence against any person, whether intended as a joke or not. I have removed the offending comment. Don’t cross that line again.

      • Joe Hassell says:

        Thanks for moderating the comments Peter. Not sure what Andy said that warranted sensoring, but the comments that he typically shares are well thought out, moderate and level-headed. We all have such high expectations for the U that when they falter it’s so disappointing. I was sitting in the SOB section and the “know-it-all” guy behind me was so down on team (in especially foul language), especially Bendik, it made for a bad game experience. I’m glad I didn’t bring my grandkids. I thought the SOB’s were supposed to support the Union?! This guy should have sat with the Orlando fans.

    • Conversely, could the Union simply say “no” to these national teams? I know the players are honored by opportunities to play for their home countries and some of these games are qualifiers for continental tournaments but these windows could be Moneyball opportunities to pick up some easier points in the league if the Union keep their starting lineup during these windows.

      • This is an official FIFA window, so Union could not have said no to the players called up to senior national teams. Union could have prevented Craig, McGlynn and Sullivan from the U-20 camp, but historically they have not done that

  5. I just want to puke…

    And I had NOTHING to drink!

    Just disgusting.

  6. Few things:
    That first 10 minutes…..ooooofff
    If carranza wasn’t suspended, the Union at worst get a draw from this game. Uhre had to play as a target striker which is not his strength.
    Elliot needs to be benched. He needlessly and carelessly gives the ball away far too often, and it happens every game. Teams are forcing Glesnes to pass it Elliot and then they pressure the hell out of him and he makes careless pass.
    Andre Blake cannot get healthy fast enough. The defense is still playing as if he is back there and can clean up their few mistakes. 4-5 years ago, Bendik could make some saves, he’s not that keeper anymore. IMO this was the one misstep by Tanner this offseason. They should have let Bendik retire, and resigned Freese. With all of the games and competitions they will be in, he’d get plenty of starts, and they could move him next winter.
    I would have liked to have seen Bueno in the Martinez role, and just keep Flach and Bedoya on the wings to start. Bring Perea in for Flach later on or Bueno if protecting a lead.
    At the end of the day, there’s a ton of season/games left to play. They were missing 8 players, and handed Orlando two great chances that they took well. There’s plenty of time to get things back on track.
    It sucks losing at home. And can we get a decent weather game? I realize we were spoiled last season, but we’re 4/4 for crap weather games thus far.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      They couldn’t bench Elliott tonight. They had no other center backs. Likewise, even if Blake was healthy, he wouldn’t have been available, he would have been playing for Jamaica. No sensible reason why there was a game tonight.

    • Elliot does not play that poorly any night. Every once in a while a great player has a stinker. Elliot tried to get a goal back, he was somewhat at fault on both goals, but he had way more underhit intercepted passes than he ever had before. Bad day for our string bean.

  7. 3 points.

    Chris Donovan showed up tonight. He has a future.
    My son was on his high school team for 2 years at Conestoga HS, Berwyn. Chris was on two State High School championship teams, which is saying a lot and was coached by PA high school legend, coach Z, David Zimmerman. Chris is one of the best coached rookies in the league. He is fast, he is strong, he is smart beyond, his hold Up play is great, I’m telling you he has a nose for goal.Keep your eye on him.

    I love Ale. He’s a legend. And I wish he would stop with the shoulder shrug and gesticulation.
    Around 57 he made a bad pass, it was just a bad pass, easily intercepted, yet he shrugged and gesticulated like it was not his fault.

    Torres is filthy.

  8. PaulContinuum22 says:

    AEW wrestler Maxwell Jacob Freeman has a word for the U…


    Middle of the road. This exposed the Union’s bench, or lack thereof.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      This didn’t expose anything about the Union except that when missing 8 players they lack depth. We already learned that during the COVID game.

      • Yeah I can’t get all bothered or upset that the Union lose a game like this when they’re missing such key components to their team. I agree this loss falls squarely on MLS. Absolutely no reason to be playing this weekend.

        It’s funny how we all forget about the bad draws in the first half of last year. I’m not saying they’ll turn it on this year to the degree they did last year, but it’s a long, long season. Very much looking forward to the Atlas game…to maybe get some mojo going again.

  9. I am cancelling my tickets for Tuesday. Hear me, Herr Tanner?

    This squad against Atlas?

    Good luck guys. Sick of sitting in bad weather in f*cking MARCH to support MLS & Don “Grabmoremoney”.

  10. Union desperately missed Carranza. That’s not MLS fault. But the real problem was Flach who was all over the place defensively and who the defenders won’t pass to. Has he regressed?

    • I thought Flach was caught out of position a bunch of times as well. It seemed like he wanted to sit in the middle and shield the back line but the rest of the midfield diamond couldn’t organize the pressure with him. It was so frustrating to see him out of position so often.
      The defenders don’t pass to el Brujo often as he wins many of his balls but you are right, I don’t remember Glesnes or Elliott passing to Flach at all in the attack.

      • Why would anyone pass to Flach? He’d just make a bad next pass and give the ball away. He needs to be benched until he gets some offensive skills. I’d prefer Perea to him any day.

      • Outside of a few passes from the center defenders or long crosses, not many Union passes were successful and I don’t think Flach was an outlier among the team.

  11. While I believe Flach didn’t cover himself in glory today, but I think he was missing something that Jose usually has. Namely someone like Flach doing a lot of dirty running defensively.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Interesting point.

    • Forme soccer dad is on the money.
      early in the first half Orlando was playing very easily through the space Flach normally guards because Perea was too wide and too high.
      They missed the defense provided by Carranza and Gazdag.
      And, we all need to remember that Perea has been learning to play the narrow diamond only since March.
      It takes considerably longer than that to make the reads instinctive instantaneous and automoatic.
      Finally, everyone is pointing for the Union and has come out smoking hot off the opening tap. They have all seemed faster and quicker than the Union, at least for the first 20 minutes.

    • Yeah, there are a lot of comments about Jack or Ale making bad passes, but I think what we saw was the lack of chemistry. They were rolling passes in to Perea and Torres that would normally see Flach or Gazdag checking back to them, and instead these guys were trying to let the ball roll through and take it forward, leading to easy interceptions in the middle of the park. Looked like bad passes from people who are normally sound; the receivers weren’t acting like they expected.

    • I need to rewatch the game but it did feel like the midfielders were not as connected as they should have been on the night. It would be interesting to see how they play with Martinez there instead.
      I expect you would be right and it would look similar to last night.

  12. el Pachyderm says:

    Safe to say Bendik has cost us 4 points. And maybe the spine takes Andre for granted. Maybe we all do.
    I knew and argued we’d be missing him more then we ever thought and so far that has been prescient. Ernst hasn’t taken many missteps but this is an egregious miscalculation. Joe Bendik just isn’t the backup guy in a team looking to win a trophy or 3 or 4.
    In other news I’ve never seen a midfield with less scanning then that Union midfield tonight. Jeezus what a joke.
    Lastly… I love the way Orlando play. They okay the way I wish Union played. Circular and cycling valuing the ball as the plaything it is.
    Tough days in Unionland. Not worried persay but yea…. It’s all meh.

  13. Deez Nuggs says:

    A few quick thoughts on a trash game…
    This shows how important Brujo is to this team. Flach is a very good defender but he doesn’t know the position. By the time he half figured out where to be, we were down 2-0. And I don’t think this is the first time we’ve seen this… I think Jim’s tried him there before with similar results.
    Our backup keeper is a big level below Orlando’s. I appreciate the couple decent saves he did make, but goodness. Oof. Orlando’s keeper made some tough ones. On another night we might score those.
    Donovan gets marks for a good showing. Excellent work rate right until the end. It would have been nice if his goal stood. He deserved it. But it is not at all clear he and Uhre should be on the field together. Mikael’s frustration was obvious at points.
    What was the ref DOING? No idea what he would call or not call. Very inconsistent.

    • For me, Flach’s problem was that he did not have Flach covering the left shuttling midfield spot.
      Two novices in the diamond defensively are too many. One can be covered by the other three. Not two.
      There are reasons why Orlando and Montreal were willing to part with Perea and Torres. Orlando exposed them.

      • Disagree that Flach’s problems were because of Perea. Leon looked fine at the position with Jack there last season and Jack’s no defensive specialist. Leon tried to do too much last night – was all over the place. The other problem is that none of the back 4 trusts his ability with the ball and won’t play him except in desperate situations. This is a liability at the 8 but a disaster at the 6.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Perea’s lack of off ball awareness was jaw dropping to be honest. Torres was blind a few times but Parea was….wow.
        I can’t remember if it was Cangiolosi or Higgenbotham who said, and this is why he no longer plays on the team he used to play on.

  14. No good deed goes unpunished. Letting Freeze go was miscalculation.
    No reason to panic, but clearly top priorities now are #2 keeper and #3 striker.
    Donovan may evolve, but not game changer yet.
    Ernst, pls get us someone teams fear coming off the bench in the 70th minute.

    • He’s not my favorite, but I don’t see anyone can put the blame for this hot mess on Bendik. Maybe Andre stops the two goals, but I doubt it. Blame the field players, where it belongs.

  15. The Union seemed incapable of getting ahold of the game last night. Usually, even without possession, the team works well to choke passing lanes and press teams into backwards passes. That didn’t happen last night.
    The midfield wasn’t connected. The forwards kept getting in each others way or didn’t make the timed runs the midfield needed. And Orlando did a great job attacking where they could.
    Orlando’s first goal was a well timed run to a well struck long ball and a well placed finish. Bendik could have closed the distance a bit more. Elliott should have been closer to the runner in the first place but Orlando out executed them.
    The second goal could have come from the Union’s playbook. Orlando turned over the ball deep in the Union side of the field, made three quick passes, and finished one-time to the far post. We saw something similar against the Crew and that time we loved it.
    Learn from this, Ernst, and bring in more quality depth or say “no” to these international windows. Learn from this, Curtin, and do more to make sure all of your players can execute on all of their responsibilities wherever they play for the team. Learn from this, Union, and play as a team in all games. As the American Revolutionaries said “we all hang together or we all hang separately.”

  16. DanielHaus says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but wasn’t Orlando missing 7 players as well, and they had a full bench? Can someone explain where the rest of our bench was or why we don’t have one?

    • They did… and that was our bench, ZERO call ups from Union 2…. or does Raffanello count as a ‘call up’.

      Sorry, make all the excuses…. We played down to and lost to a ‘sh*tty’ team, just like Miami and Montreal… and when you look at the schedule, those ‘sh*tty’ teams will be lots better the 2nd time around, not to mention playing the rest of the east.

      Thanks to MLS, we DON’T play SEA, StL, Austin, Minny, Portland, RSL now Van.

      Replacements or not, this was a team loss, just like Montreal & Miami.


    • So this past week was an international window where most confederations have games. In the past MLS would play though these windows with little consequence but as the league has grown over the years more and more teams have players called up.

      Because of this, and some untimely injuries plus Carranza’s suspension, us and Orlando were somewhat shorthanded over the weekend. Unfortunately a bunch of our depth players (Lowe, Sullivan, McGlynn) were called up, in addition to our starters. So that’s why we were thing on numbers.

      So basically Curtin filled it as much as he could but realistically even if he packed it with U2 players they wouldn’t have played anyway

  17. I wont reiterate what was already said. Had some nice chances towards the end that just didnt go in. Orlando goalie played well. Very lucky to not give up that 3rd goal on the point blank shot. Listened to the local broadcast on Apple TV, and thought the commentary was pretty tame/lame. However, part of that might be due to the game itself and I had not heard our local gal/guy before. At least the broadcast had far fewer missed plays compared to previously telecasts and I was not yelling at the TV for poor coverage. I know we were very shorthanded, but a piece of me feels this would have been a tie or win last year. They are having trouble recreating that magic but its all good and its early…

  18. We had players on the field that could win that game. The problem was the lack of possession and movement. When the U concentrate on their possession creativity going forward opens up. They get into a groove. This time, they were standing still, passing too late allowing the opposition to pounce quickly and cut off angles and they were back to the blind passes and kick and run game. They need to get back to basics and find possession again before they counter attack.

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