Union match reports

Match report: Los Angeles FC 3-0 (4-1 aggregate) Philadelphia Union

Photo: Stephen Speer

For the second time in three years, Philadelphia Union’s dream of continental glory died in the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League, as MLS rival Los Angeles FC engineered a 3-0 win on Tuesday night in California, knocking the Union out by an aggregate score of 4-1.

Timothy Tillman scored an early opener for the hosts, while the Union went down to ten men when Olivier Mbaizo picked up a second yellow 15 minutes into the second half. Substitute Kwadwo Opoku finished things off with a goal in the final 10 minutes.

An injury to midfielder Jose Martinez forced Jim Curtin into the sole change from the group that drew at home in the first leg last week. Leon Flach came in for Martinez, starting in the No. 6 role behind Jack McGlynn and Alejandro Bedoya.

Less than two minutes into the game, Bedoya went into the referee’s book for a crunching tackle on Diego Palacios. He may have been fortunate to escape an early ejection, as replays showed his studs crashing into the LA defender’s ankle. That began a brutal start to the game, as Aaron Long, Mikael Uhre, and Andre Blake each suffered fouls within the first eight minutes.

Timothy Tillman gave the hosts the lead with a goal in the 13th minute. Carlos Vela’s corner found an unmarked Ilie Sanchez right on the six-yard line, and he fired a dangerous header toward Andre Blake’s feet. Blake procured a spectacular save, somehow getting a hand down to push the ball off the line. But Tillman made a sharp back-post run, shaking off McGlynn, and fired the rebound over Jack Elliott into the roof of the net.

The Union responded quickly. Philly nearly found a quick equalizer off of a clever set piece play, as Jakob Glesnes dummied Kai Wagner’s service to create a dangerous opportunity in the box. The ball bobbled around for a moment, with Daniel Gazdag sniffing around, but John McCarthy managed to smother. Moments later, another long ball from Wagner found Gazdag at the edge of the six-yard box, but McCarthy rushed out and blocked the powerful shot wide.

Gazdag came inches away from a 35th minute goal, working an excellent combination with Julian Carranza to find space at the top of the box. His shot looked likely to fit into the bottom corner, but McCarthy again got just enough of a touch to force a corner.

The game stayed chippy, fitting for two teams who have history. Denis Bouanga, Uhre, Jesus Murillo, and Olivier Mbaizo went into the book. But neither side could get onto the scoresheet, and LAFC went into the half in the lead in both the leg and the tie.

The hosts introduced Denil Maldonado for Murillo at halftime, tweaking their defense after the Colombian seemed to pick up a first-half knock. Glesnes launched an early free kick into the stratosphere, unable to replicate his thunderstrike from the March 2020 match between these teams. LA responded at the other end with a dangerous chance for Bouanga in the box, but Mbaizo did well to block off his shot.

That would be Mbaizo’s last quality moment of the match, as he picked up his second yellow card in the 59th minute. With the pacy Bouanga chugging downfield, Mbaizo attempted a tackle and whiffed, taking out the attacker in the process. It was a foolish challenge and earned Mbaizo a trip to the showers.

Suddenly, the Union’s quest to reach the final would have to be done with just 10 men.

Curtin responded by swapping the ineffective Uhre for substitute Nathan Harriel, restoring a four-man back line at the cost of a refresh to the attacking group. LAFC, for their part, were content to grind the game to a halt. But they still had the better of the chances; substitute Kwadwo Opoku flashed one just wide of Blake’s goal from a dangerous area.

Finally, Curtin introduced an attacker, bringing Quinn Sullivan for the quiet McGlynn with just 14 minutes to go. A free kick moments later caused the home hearts to beat a little faster, as Carranza almost latched on in the box, but LAFC managed to clear their lines. The hosts used their man advantage and the Union’s passivity to play much of the game in the visitor’s half.

The death blow came in the 82nd minute. LAFC increased the pressure, with Jose Cifuentes shrugging off a challenge from Harriel and finding Vela. The former league MVP delivered a perfect ball to spring Opoku into the box, who loaded up and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of Blake’s net.

Bouanga added insult to injury with a goal in the 90th minute, flashing in front of Glesnes, collecting the pass from Cifuentes, and cooly finishing past the helpless Blake.

For the second time in six months, the Union’s championship dreams died on the turf of BMO Stadium.

The Union return to MLS play this weekend, traveling up the Turnpike to Harrison, New Jersey for a match against New York Red Bulls. Kickoff from Red Bull Arena on Saturday is at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points (Plus One)
  • Heartbreak. There was every reason to think the Union could win the tie, even after conceding a late equalizer in the first leg. But it was not to be, a cruel echo of MLS Cup.
  • Early goals change games. With Jose Martinez out, Philly would have hoped to keep things under control through the first chunk of the game. Timothy Tillman’s opener changed all that, putting the Union behind the eight-ball from the start.
  • Where’s the aggression? Even after Olivier Mbaizo’s foolish second yellow, the Union only needed one goal to force penalties. But Jim Curtin chose to be strangely passive, even as the attack clearly was failing to click. That passivity cost the Union, as LAFC killed the game — first with possession, then the crucial second goal.
  • What’s next? The Union have spent this first part of the season focused on the CCL campaign. It ended in failure, and now the Boys in Blue must figure out their form in the league. It’s still early, of course, but there’s work to do after just three wins through the first nine MLS games.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Kai Wagner, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn, Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza (Joaquin Torres 88′), Mikael Uhre (Nathan Harriel 61′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Holden Trent, Matt Real, Damion Lowe, Jesus Bueno, Andres Perea, Quinn Sullivan, Chris Donovan

Los Angeles FC

John McCarthy, Ryan Hollingshead, Jesus Murillo (Denil Maldonado HT), Aaron Long, Diego Palacios, Ilie Sanchez, Kellyn Acosta, Mateusz Bogusz (Kwadwo Opoku 66′), Timothy Tillman (Jose Cifuentes 66′), Carlos Vela (Stipe Biuk 87′), Denis Bouanga

Unused subs: Abraham Romero, Sergi Palencia, Danny Crisostomo, Erik Dueñas

Scoring Summary

LA: Timothy Tillman — 13′
LA: Kwadwo Opoku — 82′ (Carlos Vela)
LA: Denis Bouanga — 90′ (Jose Cifuentes)

Discipline Summary

PHI: Alejandro Bedoya — 2′ (foul)
LA: Denis Bouanga — 17′ (foul)
PHI: Mikael Uhre — 37′ (foul)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 41′ (argument)
LA: Jesus Murillo — 43′ (foul)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 59′ (foul) (red – second yellow)

LAFC Statistic PHI LAFC Statistic PHI


Possession % 49.4 49 Duels Won 39
19 Shots 7 3 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 2 2 Saves 5
8 Blocked Shots 1 17 Clearances



Total Passes 406 14 Fouls 16
82.1 Pass Accuracy % 77.6 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 4 0 Red Cards 1
9 Crosses 13






  1. John P O'Donnell says:

    Perea and Torres play a combined three minutes down a man and a goal in the teams biggest game this year. Uhre wouldn’t even come off the bench for LAFC. They need something more and I don’t think that happens unless they sell someone this summer. Curtin got out coached in this game and Mbazio needs to see the bench for a few games. Needs to understand what the situation is and check the emotion for the bigger prize.

    • Torres and Perea weren’t going to make a difference with the Union playing down a man. If anything that would have just sped up the inevitable second goal for LAFC. We all remember the Orlando game right???
      How did Curtin get “out coached” tonight exactly? What does everyone expect him to do?? Bring in worse players for the guys already on the field?

      • HopkinsMD says:

        Why were Torres and Perea brought here then?
        Are their fresh legs and skill set worth trying instead of running Bedoya a full 90 and while down to 10 players for most of the second half?
        By your logic, why bring any sub (worse player) on ever? Why bring Torres on at all with three minutes left?

      • One sub before 85th minute?


        Fresh legs would have helped, but again Curtin chooses to run his players into the ground for no reason but his own.

        Just ridiculous…

    • Great one says:

      Curtin was a problem in these two games and this whole year so far

  2. HopkinsMD says:

    Yes, Martinez’s injury changed the game. Yes, Mbaizo’s second yellow changed the game.
    But there are some things in the manager’s control. Subs and tactics.
    Torres on 6 minutes *after* it’s 0-2 and with only 3 minutes left? Yikes.
    When stakes are high and goals are required, this is not what you want to see. Can you think of any other tier 1 squad with this pattern of sub hesitancy?

    • Matt Custer says:

      Why are we surprised? Andy Reid couldn’t manage a clock or timeouts in Philly, but he has learned since moving to KC. Curtin can’t manage subs – he must have missed that part of the licensing course and he’s had plenty of OTJ training since then.
      Does he listen to anyone during the game? Does anyone with offensive acumen whisper in his ear? If Harriel was the defensive answer late in the game, why was he not the answer at halftime, especially after Mbaizo’s boneheaded yellow in the first half?

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        Great point. You had three windows and five players you could have used and subbing at the half wouldn’t hurt you later in the game.

  3. The first goal didn’t change anything. The Union had to score tonight to have any shot of advancing.
    M’Baizo’s first yellow was a dumb play by him. His second, wasn’t even a foul, and was Charmin Soft. Though to be fair Bedoya should have seen red for his challenge in the early moments of the game.
    The absence of Martinez was painfully obvious tonight. Sure, he gives the ball away at times, but that’s because he actually tries to pass the ball forward and is aggressive. Without him, we saw what happened tonight. There was NO outlet in the middle, and when the Union tried to play through the middle, it was usually a backpass to one of the centerbacks.
    I’m worried about the next couple of games, and then in a week or two Sullivan and McGlynn leave for the U20 World Cup. The Union really need their Defense to get back to being solid again.

    • I don’t think I articulated my thought clearly about the opening goal. Yes, the Union always needed to score a goal to win the game. But with Martinez out, I think their hope was that they could take the first 20 or so minutes to settle in, get some defensive stability, and use that platform to frustrate LA and nick a goal on the counter. LA scoring blew a hole through that plan, even though it didn’t change the need for the Union to score a goal.

      • John P O'Donnell says:

        The problem is with ten minutes to go, down one goal, and players clearly out of gas, Curtin didn’t sub two players. LAFC used the window at the 66 minute and brought on fresh legs. They needed to take off Bedoya and Flach and push for the tie. Sullivan being the only sub at the 77th minute for McGlynn was where Curtin got out coached. He should have used that window for two players. Why did we even sign them if not for big games?

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      100% on Martinez. He defends like a beast AND he also attacks. He splits lines and drives forward. Last night, the gap between the back line and the front was massive. That the space Martinez usually works in. Flach was more comfortable staying back.

      • Bingo, which allowed LAFC to press and harass the UNion until their defense was in place. Contrast last night with the first leg….Martinez plays those splitting passes, and also dribbled through the middle which put pressure on LA’s midfield to make decisions, opening space for the Union to attack into.
        That wasn’t there last night. The same thing happens when Bedoya isn’t in the lineup making his “dirty runs” to pull defenders out of position.
        “Flach had tired legs, he should have been subbed.” Fans need to stop with this. Leon is limited, yes. However taking him out of this game….who exactly is going to prevent the counterattack?

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        I think Leon’s had a tough year. He gets a lot of crap. His best abilities are to win the ball and chase people down relentlessly. That’s really helpful in the press at the top of the formation, but it has limitations elsewhere. I really thought Bueno or Odada were supposed to be Jose’s backup. Like for like. Maybe we still don’t have that.

  4. Gruncle Bob says:

    Same shitty mistakes. same shitty losses.
    Do we really want 16 starting? Fucking set piece, loses his man. On a fucking set piece? His offensive upside is nice but his downside is FATAL.
    But let us not forget Jack E’s crap clearance last week. Turned a win to a loss, changed everything. What was a tight defense is no longer.
    I have criticized Olivier many times in the past, but this one is NOT on him.
    Drew Fisher still sucks. Never forget that as var guy he didn’t think olivier losing his tooth to a CA player’s elbow was worth a review. He NEVER should have worked this game.

    • I completely forgot about that happening at Azteca!!! Let’s be honest then, Bedoya should have seen red in the early moments then. Of course since he didn’t how in the world was what Olivier did a yellow card, let alone a foul?
      That call changed the tie, and it was inevitable that LA was going through. IF Curtin goes aggressive with his subs after that, LAFC cranks up their pressure to 11 and they certainly get that second goal much earlier.

  5. John P O'Donnell says:

    65 minutes and you have to score. You bring on offensive players. Who cares if we give up three goals early or late if we score zero?

    • HopkinsMD says:

      Yes. 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, etc. means Union advance. 1-1 would have gone to penalties, and that was not an appealing option.

    • Here’s the thing….IF the Union managed to score a goal would it have changed the result? NOPE. Going aggressive with 30 minutes left, down a man……
      That plays into LAFC’s hands. Anyone who thinks that Jim bringing on Torres and Sullivan in the 60′ changes the game in the Union’s favor, is delusional. Taking Flach out for Perea? If LA had scored their second goal in the 65′ it’s over. They didn’t kill off the series until minute 82. Playing down a man, Jim had to go conservative to give them a chance to get it to PK’s.
      Say Jim went aggressive when the fans and some of the pundits say he should have. IF the Union got their goal in minute 70…..does anyone honestly believe that LA wasn’t going to score a second? The Union would have been under siege with players who aren’t known for defending….
      There was no Extra Time last night, had it ended 1-1 it was straight to PK’s. Curtin has to plan for that as well, and leave guys on who can actually take PK’s….

  6. Murphthesurf says:

    Long drive up to LA for heartbreaking disappointment. That ref was horrendously bad, all the LAFC people around me agreed on that, whoa !

    El Bruho can’t come back fast enough.
    Forget all the rest of these tournaments, just focus on the league games, and maybe fight to get to play LAFC again in the MLS Cup.

  7. Ugh. Here was our chance again for a shot at a major trophy and…squadoosh.
    . . .
    Mbaizo picking up a flagrantly stupid yellow followed by a second finished us. We got caught ball watching on the first goal that put us in the hole before going down a man. Chasing the game with a man down against a team like LAFC due to self inflicted wounds is a recipe for a rout, and we looked ridiculous in the end as LAFC capitalized.
    . . .
    Curtin criticism tonight is fair, but the athletes have to play smart.
    . . .
    Curtin also needs consistent scoring pieces. Sugarman and Curtin deserve credit for building a team whilst LAFC buys it. The local development is one key and it also produces profit from sales to Europe and an affordable strong team in a secondary market.
    . . .
    To win trophies though, we need some key pieces who can consistently deliver goals directly and indirectly. It’s going to be hard to win trophies until Sugarman gets us those pieces and/or keeps local promising prospects long enough before pocketing sales to win something. He’s not running a soup kitchen, but fans also fill his till and as customers we deserve an occasional trophy for our benefit of the bargain.

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      Ernst Tanner; why is he getting off scot free? He brings the players here. He shares the blame. This is on him, too. We deserve better than this dumpster fire of a manager and management.

      • Shut Up. Just….stop. Seriously. It’s like people have forgotten just how poorly the organization was run prior to October 2, 2015.

    • Lot’s of blame to go around, but somehow I feel like more criticism should be going to our two forwards and attacking mids. They are supposed to be one of the best attacking trio in MLS, yet they scored zero goals in open play during these two games. And it wasn’t for lack of opportunity, it was because of terrible finishing. Near misses and hitting the GK don’t cut it…..finish when you have the opportunities in the box. I feel they are the real fault in for our elimination. Should have easily has another goal or two in the first leg, but wasted our chances and it comes back to bite us.

      • Agreed, and that’s why we need to invest in key pieces that do that on a consistent basis, even after other teams figure them out with tape reviews and experience playing them.

  8. Murphthesurf says:

    Too early for the “Union Cliff of Despair ” ?

  9. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Despicable. Vile. Shameful. And yes, unacceptable.
    There are coaches that can coax their teams to a certain point. But they can’t take that final step. And Philly seems to get every coach that can only get to a certain level, but can’t seal the deal.
    #MoneyballDoesntWork. Benjamins do. Jim Curtin owns this, Ernst Tanner owns this, and Cheapskate Jay Sugarman owns this.

  10. Tony Wesolowsky says:

    Is it only me, or does the first graph have the wrong score?

    as MLS rival Los Angeles FC engineered a 2-0 win on Tuesday night in California, knocking the Union out by an aggregate score of 3-1.

  11. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Here’s another reality check; LAFC is the franchise that all MLS teams should emulate. They are the gold standard.

  12. This result should put to rest any notion we had that this squad is at last season’s level. It might be able to reach it for moments here and there, but it can’t sustain it. It is several steps behind and needs a refresh. McGlynn is not enough.

    I find myself agreeing with John’s first comment here. Curtin’s reluctance to use subs – to make changes in approach when a change is needed- is a big part of the problem. It means one of two things is true. Either Curtin can’t effectively manage the game or the squad genuinely doesn’t have the quality to affect the outcome. It means the team is flat and ultimately toothless. Its best days are in the past.

    I don’t know how you fix it. Maybe Curtin needs to move on. Unlikely, but I think he may be too loyal to his starting side. I love Bedoya, but he shouldn’t have even started that second half. Lowe deserved a start, if not tonight last week. The approach needs a major change. Or we’re in for a disappointing season.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Agree about the level. But we have something this season that we never had last season: INJURIES. When we field the full squad we look good, but honestly how often has that been? Blake, Wagner, Martinez… all missing multiple games. And we’re only 9 games in.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        We were told that the new additions to the roster (Perea, Torres, Lowe) were brought in because of the increased schedule demands.
        That implies the intent to actually play them. Rotate. Keep people fresher and mitigate against injuries. And they were played early on… but then… hardly at all of late.
        From memory, Jim recently shared a comment about Perea still needing to learn the defensive expectations, implying that this is why he’s not seen the field.
        But any way you slice it, goals were needed for most of the match… Perea has scored from range. And Torres has some magic on the ball.
        Why not bring on Lowe to shore up the defensive concerns and bring on fresh offensive minded legs with Torres and Perea to supplement Sullivan?
        Jim sees them in training each day, so it’s easy for us to wonder and opine. He obviously sees/saw it differently.

      • Agree with Dr. Hopkins (or is that MD the postal abbreviation for Maryland?). When you’re in competitions like this, you need to rotate. If not for leg 1 at home, in the regular season. You can’t run these midfielders out game after game and not expect an injury. When you’re a ‘thrifty’ club, you can’t afford to sign guys who are just going to take up space on a bench. You have to have contributors. It’s either Jim’s fault for failing to use them or Ernst’s for signing them.

    • You are looking at this from too simple of a lens. The Union are a team that is greater than the sum of its’ parts. When one or more of those pieces is missing and/or having a subpar game the Union struggle. We saw the difference last with Martinez out compared to the first leg. Once they went down a man, the chances of the Union scoring TWO goals was very slim. At that point they have to play for a 1-1 draw and PK’s.
      So, job one is to prevent LAFC from scoring a second. Job two, see job 1. Job 3 is getting that equalizer, while also keeping the best PK takers on the field for the shootout seeing as there was no extra time period.
      For those calling for Bedoya to be subbed, or not to start….have you not been watching the Union the past….oh gee 7 seasons now when they don’t have Bedoya in the lineup???? There is literally NO offense from his usual side of the field.
      When the Union have their best 11 on the field they can beat anyone in MLS, and go toe toe with the best teams in the region. When they don’;t have their best 11….they’re going to struggle.

      • This team this season has struggled offensively with a Bedoya on and off the pitch. Look, this is a team loss. Not Bedoya’s fault. But the man isn’t an age defying demi-god like Luca Modric. He’s 36. How often in a game does he start to fade in minute 60 and start sliding into reckless challenges? Maybe you get more out of him if he doesn’t play very minute of every game.

        The team needs a refresh. It needs some rotation and a better plan B or we’re going to spend the rest of 2023 very disappointed.

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        Carlos Vela was subbed off in the first game and walked to the bench with the face of are you kidding me? Down in the game 1-0, yet they tied it, and he was much fresher for this game at home. Second year coach of a team….

  13. This series was lost in PHILADELPHIA. ……

    The late goal by LA in game 1 should have never happened. Martinez injury forced Flach into his spot. At least we know 1 thing for sure. If Martinez ever leaves, Tanner must have a plan to replace him with an equal player. The Mbaizo 2nd foul was not a foul at all. What a shite call. Game over at that point. just concentrate on playing better for the rest of the season. tournaments are just a distraction and drain on the team. keep your eye on the real prize.

    • It was lost in Philly, but NOT because of Acosta’s late goal. It was because of the Union’s inability to convert the chances they created and score 2-3 goals. Couple that with Martinez’ injury, and Leg 2 was always going to be a tall ask.
      Let’s be honest had last night’s game ended 2-1, or 3-1 in favor of LA the Union would still be out. Not scoring more than 1 at home hurt their chances far more than Acosta’s late goal did.

  14. That was so Union. Curtin team chokes…again. Maybe the coach is standing in the way of them taking the next step up?

  15. BBfromUD says:

    Just spent some time re-reading the Union Cliff of Despair unwritten rule book. Of note, (a) it is not permitted to make any tactical changes at halftime; (b) under no circumstances should Bedoya leave the field.

    Flach for Martinez is not like for like. The whole midfield is changed by this replacement. Gazdag is taken out of the mixture and both Bedoya and McGlynn become more defensive. It has repeatedly been shown not to work.

    Again, Curtin was outcoached. Is he the problem, no. Is he the solution, NO!

    And finally Cherundolo said it best in his honesty “Liga MX, MLS and Concacaf got their wish.” Nothing could be more true.

    Thus, the torture will continue until the negativity ends.

  16. I have thought from the start that chasing CCL was a waste of time and energy. Why? Because the Union are an excellent home team; away, not so much. A two-legged tie in the semis almost guarantees elimination against a really good team; I assume (but don’t know) that the final is a single game, and I’m thinking it would be at a neutral site.

    This tournament is a waste of time for the Union. Concentrate on the league, win the Shield, play the MLS Cup at Subaru Park. (That’s why all those poor draws last season were so dispiriting.) Better yet, figure out how to win away, which we can’t seem to do.

    • It’s never a waste of time to chase a legit trophy. CCL is a big deal. It’s a continental title that — in its current form — has been won by an MLS club only once. It brings prize money, extra gate receipts and prestige. When you pair that with the fact that winning MLS cup is never a guarantee, you do the best you can and go for it.

      Curtin should be better managing these ties. He’s been a part of so many, and although has not sealed the deal, has come so much closer than many. When he leaves Philly, and I think it will be sooner rather than later, it will be the blemish on his otherwise good career with the Union — he just can’t close.

    • The final is two legs as well, home and away. This tournament is not a waste of time either. You play to win the game, to quote Herm Edwards. In soccer you play to win all trophies on offer. Opportunities to play in CCL are not a given, especially in a 29 team league.

  17. el Pachyderm says:

    Can’t say I am surprised. The sad fact is, this franchise, at least at the first team level is not a Closer. It is an ongoing challenge.
    We can point and highlight any number of occurrences since Amobi Okugo got benched and Obafemi Martins was the level of player off the bench in the first US Open Cup final to a late heartbreaking gol last November by a long past world class guy stealing a paycheck awaiting his tee time in retirement to this most recent stretch where he one thing this team did exceedingly well last season is now its most glaring weakness…
    … Defending.
    Thie style of play remains shit and while it is successful and has been successful to a degree, I am remiss to point out yet again, if the franchise is going to be saddled with heartbreaking defeat after heartbreaking defeat.. Play the Beautiful Game. Commit to the aesthetic because at least it is enjoyable to watch.
    This version of it is anything but that.
    Good try… again. We are the “Try Hards.”
    Just the truth. Again.

    • HopkinsMD says:

      I appreciate this… “if the franchise is going to be saddled with heartbreaking defeat after heartbreaking defeat.. Play the Beautiful Game. Commit to the aesthetic because at least it is enjoyable to watch.”

    • Can we stop harping on Amobi Okugo…..seriously. Curtin was not the only coach to bench him, and also not play him in midfield. Dude literally went to Orlando (Heath)….got benched. Went to SKC (Vermes), didn’t play…Before Curtin, Hackworth played him at CB because the Union had no one else to play there that was capable, and Amobi wasn’t a better #6 than Brian Carroll.
      Just the truth

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Amobi played every minute as a 6 up to that ultimate game then lost his spot in the most important game of the franchise’s history.
        It may in fact be – he struggled to find his way once moved to a CB, but like watching this version of the team last night without it’s HDM and how it affected the team, it is more then safe to say sitting him in that game was a significant error of judgment.
        And yes, if you’ve been here since the beginning, you know well– I loved the player. So no I’m not going to stop harping on it. Have a lovely day.

  18. narbrich says:

    Reality Check, Not Sour Grapes

    1) The Union cannot win a big game without Jose Martinez in the middle. He is the pivot point and there is no one on this team who can replace him. In fact, there may not be anyone in the league who could replace him in the Union’s system.
    2) So if the success of your system depends upon Jose Martinez and he cannot play, what is the solution? CHANGE the system–go to Plan B. You cannot expect Flach to play like Martinez. Flach did not play badly–he played defensively and covered well until they went down a man. The best coaches adapt their strategy to their personnel. Let’s compare and contrast Doc Rivers without Embiid to Jim Curtin without Martinez. Let me suggest what a Plan B might have looked like: As but one suggestion, instead of playing long ball in the middle, which was clogged, take the ball down the side channels and play for corners where your height is advantageous (See the replay of Jack Elliott in the 2022 MLS Cup.). The Union seemed dangerous on their set pieces, but there were too few of them.
    3) Though I truly appreciate what El Capitan has brought to this club over the years, he had a terrible night, starting with the “pink” card foul from behind early on. If that same foul was committed after the half hour mark, he would have been sent off. He was exposed as being slow and inaccurate. I am willing to live with a learning curve for younger players to get minutes at Bedoya’s expense. I think that it makes sense for the Union to bring him on as a sub if and when the Union get ahead because at this stage of his career, he is not much of an offensive threat.
    4) I have been very critical of officiating in MLS. Though Drew Fischer has had some truly poor nights as an official [Mbaizo’s lost tooth that Fischer did not review by VAR at MLS Cup as highlight No. 1], last night was not one of them. The cards that both teams got were deserved. Though I thought that LAFC deserved a yellow card for one challenge from behind that was not given, I thought that he was fairly consistent in his calls. The second yellow on Mbaizo looked worse than it was, but it was from behind and got no ball. Mbaizo needed to know that he was on a yellow and not make that challenge, especially 30 yards from goal.
    5) At full strength with their first team healthy, the Union can go toe to toe with LAFC, but not with significant missing pieces and not down a man.

    Enough said. In 5.67 games over 3 years at full strength, LAFC have scored one more goal than the Union. The rest of MLS is not nearly as good as LAFC. That said, Curtin needs to develop a Plan B if Martnez is going to be out for any significant period of time.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Mbaizo’s second yellow is a card every day. It’s not so much for the dangerousness of the tackle as it is a clear foul that stops the breakaway. Like Uhre’s for pulling the player to prevent a counter attack. Always getting a card for that. What I don’t understand is why Mbaizo gets the first one. There didn’t seem to be enough malice in the foul for him to react like that, so maybe something was said? We can also wonder why Jim didn’t take him off at the half of it was clear he’d lost his mental game.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Point 2 and 5 are spot on.

  19. Jurgen K. says:

    First time caller, long time listener. . . .

    Trying not to be a Negadelphian, but that was a steaming pile of crap. I turned to a book and bed after the first half, and didn’t regret the decision.

    I’m left with the same question asked by many on this page – what the heck is wrong with this team?

    On paper, Tanner built a squad capable of the rotation needed for our league and cup matches so far. Then why such a feeble league effort and such a crash and burn last night?

    Martinez not playing hurt a lot, but should one missing player make such a difference?

    Is it the manager? Have teams figured us out? Are we relying too much on the same players? Have the journos been asking the hard questions of Jim as to why Torres is an 88th minute sub and Perea and Lowe are nowhere to be seen? Jim, please explain why Flatch and Elliott that much better options? Why are they not seeing more game action? It would be oh so European of us to put the Coach of the Year on the hot seat, but maybe it’s warranted?

    Are players simply regressing to the mean? Gazdag has had a huge dropoff, Uhre’s multigoal games are aberrations, and – it pains me to say out loud – Bedoya is crocked. Watching Liverpool this season makes it painfully evident when players have lost their legs, and that’s Ale. There’s no one else that can go in that spot?

    Do we not have the players or made bad signings (Tanner’s fault) or are the wrong players being used for the wrong reasons (Jim’s fault?). Or, will this magically be all forgiven come October when we’re making another deep playoff run?

    I’d like the latter of the three, but I’m not so sure.

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      Spend the goddamn money so we can get world class players on the field.

      • This was absolutely true historically.
        According to transfermarkt now though, the total value of the 2023 Union roster is 4th in MLS at $48.4M with #2 LAFC at $55.1 or about 12% higher.

      • santo bevacqua says:

        Messi is not available

    • Kip Leitner says:

      The challenge of this team is that they don’t have the budget for top flight designated players. It you don’t have players like Carlos Vela, you’re not going to win against teams that have a Carlos Vela playing for them.

      Everything else is peanuts. About the peanuts:

      Jim was a defender and doesn’t know how to coach offensive soccer.

      Jim has some sort of deep psychological resistance to replacing players who are hurt, for instance, Andre Blake who who tweaked his groin a half dozen games back, looked to sidelines for a replacement, and seeing none, smashed into the next goal kick and really tore up his groin — good for 4 weeks+ DL.

      Jim has some sort of deep psychological resistance to substituting players on the 60 minute mark. Easiest explanation goes with the prior — he’s a “tough guy” coach and thinks it shames his players to take them off, when in fact it’s just an ordinary strategic decision to (a) adjust for the game at hand and (b) fresh legs.

      The crazy fouling is a self-discipline thing about players making wrong decisions on the field. All the pushing, shoving, “posturing up” to players on the other team makes our guys look childish. We didn’t see much of this 15 years ago when the players, if they were lucky, were making $40,000 a seasons. Now that they’ve got nice salaries, they’re starting to act like the Prima-Donnas that all sports league tend to look like over time — more or less.

  20. OneManWolfpack says:

    We are a good team. I believe that. LAFC is a better one. I believe that as well. Winning the CCL is hard. We did well. We scored twice on the road in Mexico to advance. Let’s not forget that. Had we gotten a few more in Philly last week, this game might have been different. Not having Martinez was killer, but injuries happen. Mbaizo might need to take a seat for a few weeks to get it together… like last year. He came back strong when he earned back the starters role. His first yellow was just inexcusable. You have the Open Cup and the league to look forward to now. Leagues Cup is fine, but I don’t care too much about that. Let’s get it going in MLS now. Starts this weekend.

  21. A very pertinent comment…..

    “Even with Olivier Mbaizo’s second yellow – a deserving question is why he was still on in the second half after picking up the dumb first yellow for pushing a player over – bringing on fresher legs sooner might have made a difference in finding the equalizer and hoping for the best in another penalty shootout.”

    Curtin lost this game, PERIOD.

  22. The Andy Reid / Jim Curtin analogy is an apt one. Reid never learned to make in-game tactical adjustments while in Philly. It appears Curtin won’t either.
    Personally I thought that game begged for a 3-5-2 from the outset with Martinez out because Flach has proven several times already that he can’t yet play the single holding midfielder’s offensive and defensive responsibilities.
    BUT after Mbaizo was sent off was a perfect time to bring in Lowe, change formation and move Bedoya to right wingback. McGlynn and Gazdag could have focused on pinging balls to the forwards, confident in a back 5.
    As Peter said, LA focused on Gazdag, but they were able to do that because the Union couldn’t move the ball through Flach. It got even worse when Ale’s legs gave out and they lost all the right-side offense.
    It is interesting that when you watch the premier league, you regularly see head coaches discussing and debating on the sidelines with their assistant coaches. I don’t recall seeing much with Curtin.
    Maybe who Tanner needs to sign is an offensive-minded assistant coach with enough stature that Jim will listen, discuss and debate with him on the sidelines to counterbalance Curtin’s rigid, defense-at-all-costs & late-subs tendencies.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      Totally on point. We lost that offensive minded assistant to FC Cincinnati.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      That guy ain’t Ryan Richter. Snake.
      “Trust us,” he said.

    • Bedoya at right wingback??? So if a lot of fans felt that he was “gassed” at the 60′ mark, how is putting him at wingback going to help?
      I agree, Bringing Harriel on half in hindsight would have been the correct call. By this logic, any Union player on a yellow should be subbed off…..Coaches have to trust their players to play smart. Also, has anyone thought of the idea that maybe M’Baizo is a better Penalty taker than Harriel? That has to be factored into substitution decisions in knockout games.
      That’s why Torres wasn’t brought on earlier, and also who is he replacing?

  23. One more important point. You can call me a sore loser, but Vamos Tigres! I really want to see LA get upended. Sick and absolutely tired of them.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      Absolutely! No Hollywood endings for LA!

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Personally, I would like it to be embarrassing. Like 7-0. In each leg.

    • I always prefer US teams to hold the trophies. Right now, if rival Mexico wants to see silverware, it needs to do so at the supper table. US teams currently hold the Gold Cup, Nations League, CCL, and Campeones Cup.

      I also want to see MLS teams at the FIFA Club World Cup. It’s good for the league and all MLS teams get a derivative benefit from that.

      • I’m going to counter this. LAFC winning CCL, as well as other competitions this season does NOT help MLS. It would only convince the owners that teams don’t need expanded rosters to compete in all competitions and weather injuries.

    • Absolutely! I hope whichever LigaMX team they face kicks the holy heck out of them!

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      What? The best team in MLS wins the second CCL championship is what you’re rooting against? I’m sick and tired of Liga MX teams winning CCL.
      They’ve done everything right and teams in MLS should raise their level to catch LAFC. I believe the Union are close but they need a few more games changers in the lineup. Cory Burke played a huge roll last year but they need someone that’s better than him and I hate to say a coach as well. Ever since Curtin started talking about the USMNT job, I’m starting to think maybe this is the best he’ll be here and it’s time to move on.

      • Yes. Give me the schadenfreude. I don’t feel any loyalty to MLS as a league. I’ve rooted for the MLS team regularly in the past, but I don’t like LA. I don’t disagree that they’ve been well run. Still hope they lose.

        I think I agree with your second paragraph.

  24. Mbaizo deserves a ton of blame for this one. Both fouls were stupid and inexcusable. He needs to be benched for that. And I rarely say that about anybody.

    Meanwhile Curtin simply did not make sufficient in-game adjustment, to tactics or personnel, to even give us a chance. I hope all the foolish talk about him going to Europe to coach will now stop. He wouldn’t last 6 months in a European league.

  25. The X factor…..as much as I dont like when Martinez gets carried away and gets multiple yellow cards for his borderline lunacy, he is the only player capable of playing the back of the diamond effectively on the team. He is skilled and an intimidator . He keeps the oppositions head on a swivel. Kai has the same personality and the Union play worse when he is not on the field also. I love Mc Glyns vision long accurate passes etc. but he is not much help in any defensive role. He has very slow reaction time especially when he has to pivot and change directions defensively. He does not mark well on corner kicks and sometimes looks lost.

    • +1. Also Martinez’ passing range often gets overlooked. Too often he gets chastised for turning the ball over. He plays the ball forward, and also dribbles through out of trouble putting midfields under pressure, and forcing them to make a decision.
      It’s not that Flach is bad per se. He just plays the #6 role completely differently than Jose does. That hurts the Union against teams like LAFC. The lesser teams of MLS, he’s fine there. Against the elite teams in the league…..it makes the Union more one dimensional on attack.

  26. FCdelcofella says:

    Geez I hate being right.

    • Saw your prediction. I also had the overpowering feeling they’d lose and didn’t watch. As hard as it was, I put a movie on instead. I’ll go back to watching this weekend and the rest of the season. If they make it to any more meaningful big games, I’ll probably save myself from more disappointment.

  27. FCdelcofella says:

    The team is stale. No new decent acquisitions in the off-season and curtains tactics and motivational messages aren’t working. They’ll be lucky to make the playoffs and if they do they’ll be knocked out early. That’s footy. Look at Liverpool, they’re probably gonna miss champions league even though they have the same lineup as last year. Which is why what SAF did at ManU was so amazing. The Guy just knew when to dump players and cash in and when to bring in fresh legs. Let Jim go to the usmnt where he’ll be mediocre there too…. Another team to coach with minimal expectations.

  28. PaulContinuum22 says:

    There is a realization every single U fab better embrace, as stomach-churning as it is. LAFC is the model franchise of MLS. How its run, its player decisions, how they have a mint to spend. And unless the rest of the league, including us, come to that conclusion, we will always be looking up at LAFC. A bitter pill, yes, but this is the new normal. And this team in its current iteration, is just not ready to topple them.

    • Wrong again as usual. The model franchise in MLS will be NYCFC once their stadium opens. They do everything that LAFC does but better. Plus, they also actually have an academy that produces professional level players.
      The rest of MLS, including LAFC, will be looking up at and unsuccessfully chasing NYCFC in the not so distant future.

  29. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Maybe it’s time to #CloseTheCurtin, and maybe before the season is over.

  30. All of this commentary, angst and just simple disappointment…. but ya’know what?

    Those new Union SoCal Surfer kits are causing all these problems!

    Never wear them again!

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Boo to the new kit!

    • Surfers don’t wear camo…..and judging by how many of these shirts are seen at the Sub, they are quite popular. IMO, they’re the third best kit the team has produced behind only the For You kit and the Bethlehem Steel Kit. The “sunburst” kit was nice too.

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