Union match reports

Match report: Minnesota United 3-3 (7-6) Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union lost on penalties to Minnesota United in the U.S. Open Cup 3-3 (7-6) on Tuesday in Saint Paul.

The match was played in front of fewer than 8,000 fans on YouTube and slightly more than dozens in the actual stands, between two sides starting few of their regulars. When Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said earlier this month that this Open Cup competition was a bad look for American soccer – this is what he meant.

The match was open but disjointed for the first quarter of an hour, with only a half chance for the hosts and slightly less than the same for the visitors.

The second quarter of an hour looked roughly the same as the first, with no noteworthy actions from either team aside from a yellow card issued to Robin Lod for breaking up a Union counterattack.

It was the 35th minute before the Union forced Minnesota United goalkeeper Clint Irwin into a save. Played into space by Joaquin Torres, Mikael Uhre’s shass from the right side nearly found the top shelf of the goal. On the ensuing corner, Damion Lowe put a head just wide of the near post.

Several minutes later, United’s Joseph Rosales forced a dive from Andre Blake to his far post, but not a save as the chance went wide.

The half ended without fanfare.

The second half began with the same trumpets, muted until a 53rd minute partial chance from Mikael Uhre. From a tough angle far away from goal, the Union striker smacker a shot into Irwin’s waiting mitts. Andrés Perea took his chance a moment later, but also directly at Irwin – the Torres did the same, same outcome.

Uhre won the visitors a free kick in the 62nd minute that was curled around the wall by Torres but parried wide – it was the Union’s best chance of the night to that point, and awoke the hosts high press. Both teams realized this game had importance around this moment and the tempo started to simmer.

In the 68th minute, an overlapping Minnesota run on the left side was clipped toward the penalty spot. That ball found the head of Bongokuhle Hlongwane and he flicked it past a helpless Blake. Hlongwane nearly had a second a minute or so later but his cutback chance was deflected by Lowe. The Loons were very much on the front foot and, despite bringing on Daniel Gazdag, the Union couldn’t get the ball out of their own end for a long stretch.

In the 74th, Hlongwane left the entire right side of the Union’s line in his wake, cutting back to an onrushing Rosales who curled his first time chance into the back corner of Blake’s net. It was 2-0 and the Union looked overrun.

Then, in the 78th minute, Chris Donovan chased down a caromed clearance and smashed it with his right foot into the bottom corner – his first goal in a Union shirt. Just as the commentators were writing the visiting conference champions off, suggesting they could finally focus on the league without the distractions of a cup competition, the game was on – and getting chippy.

A minute later, another messy possession ended with Nate Harriel ripping a low drive across the face of Irwin’s goal. It was wide, but not by much. A few minutes after that, Torres put a first time shot high in the stands. The match was opening up but only four minutes of stoppage time were added for the Union to find a tying tally.

Some lumpy passes, hard touches, and last ditch defending seemed to be all that was left for the Union until a run from Harriel and a cross from Torres on the right found Kai Wagner’s left foot on the far side of the box – and his half-volleyed shot bounced past a flailing Irwin for a last-minute goal. It was a draw and regular time’s final kick, tied 2-2.

The Union had come all the way back to force extra time. On a Tuesday. In Central Time.

Extra time started with the Boys in Beige putting the pressure on, attempting to capitalize on the game’s shifted momentum. Instead, temporarily down a man while the training staff tended to an injured Union player along the boards, Minnesota took advantage, whipping in a devastating cross off a quick throw in that was directed home. For a third time on the night, Blake was beaten without a chance.

United commenced to time wasting the entire second stanza, while the Union had few ideas, slippery feet, and heavy legs. Minnesota had the better of the chances and in the 116th minute earned a free kick at the top of the box courtesy of a tough foul by Matt Real. The curled ball by Dunbar forced Blake low to parry, but his gloves put the ball directly in front of his own net. Only luck prevented the rebound from being turned home.

The Union pushed forward, moving Jack Elliott to a third striker position and doing their best to find gaps in the packed Minnesota block.

Just like in regulation, Kai Wagner saved the Boys’ blushes. A free kick in the 120th minute outside the box, drawn by a wonderful turn by Nate Harriel, set Wagner up. His powerful curling free kick went through the wall and touched Irwin’s glove, but had too much on it to be stopped. It was the last kick of the game, sending the match to penalties.

Fragapane scored first and Gazdag answered.

Wil Trapp sent Blake the wrong way, while Jack Elliott didn’t but scored anyway.

Arriaga danced and doinked his chance into Blake’s hands, but so did Matt Real.

Rosales sent United back in front, Torres pulled the teams even again.

Dunbar paused and slipped the ball under Blake’s hand, but Julian Carranza sent the game into its 6th penalty round.

Kallman smashed his chance into the top corner, while Jeremy Rafanello did the same.

Boxall sent Blake the wrong way again, and Lowe again did the same – tied again.

Tapias curled his ball low and left, while Kai Wagner had his chance to the right stopped.

The match was officially called at 11:18 p.m. Eastern time.

Minnesota United

Irwin, Lawrence (Valentin, 77′), Tapias, Boxall, Kallman, Dotson (Dunbar, 100′), Lod (Trapp, 46′), Taylor (Arriaga, 77′), Jeong (Fragapane, 63′), Rosales, Garcia (Hlongwane, 63′)
Subs: St. Clair

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Matt Real, Damion Lowe, Jack Elliott, Nathan Harriel, Andrés Perea (Julian Carranza, 65′), Jack McGlynn (Leon Flach, 87′), Joaquin Torres, Jesus Bueno (Kai Wagner, 87′), Chris Donovan (Jeremy Rafanello, 101′), Mikael Uhre (Daniel Gazdag, 64′)
Subs: Joe Bendik, Richard Odada

Scoring Summary

MIN: Hlongwane, 68′

MIN: Rosales, 74′

PHI: Donovan, 78′

PHI: Wagner, 90+4′

MIN: Hlongwane, 103′

PHI: Wagner, 120′

Disciplinary Summary

MIN: Lod, 30′

PHI: Lowe, 34′

PHI: Wagner, 90′

MIN: Rosales, 90+2′

MIN: Arriaga, 101′

PHI: Torres, 105′

PHI: Elliott, 110′

PHI: Real, 115′


  1. Jeremy Lane says:

    This game was so boring for so long. Then it got more interesting for a while. Then it kept me up way too late. And the Union lost. WTF.

    • Union fan says:

      Tell me about it. The game was so boring I turned it off about the 75th minute at 2-0. Just checked in here this morning to confirm the U lost meekly. Boy did I get a shock! Must have missed some fun soccer.

      • I called it at 2-0 also. It so much reminded me of the way the U used to play (so badly) that I figured another crash and burn loss and was right – too little too late. I would have just been more frustrated if I had watched the almost comeback . Just not fun to watch right now. Go Sixers!!

  2. John P O'Donnell says:

    The pain continues….

  3. Justin Mapp's Right Foot says:

    Goddamn it

  4. Feeling more and more like Elliot’s 124 in the MLS Cup may have been our high water mark…

    They need to shake that hangover as they are a very talented team. The beauty of MLS cup is that you simply need to be hot, so there’s a lot left for which to play.

  5. el Pachyderm says:

    Oh …fuck off tonight.
    “It wears me out.
    It wears me out.
    And if I could be who you wanted
    If I could be who you wanted…”

  6. The late comeback goals were exciting, but that’s all. It was a pickup match in lack of quality. Blake also may be a VIP keeper in active play but he struggles on PKs. His dance routine is also too readable and commits too early as a telltale to shooters.
    . . .
    That’s our third one amd done in a row in the USOC. The upside is that it frees us for league play with more energy and less chance for injuries where we need obvious improvement. Still, elimination from a trophy opportunity with cash and CCL qualification as bonuses sucks. At least death came early to avoid lost investment.

  7. Separately, Don Garber has a point about the low attendance in these earlier rounds being a bad look for US soccer. It’s supposed to be our equivalent of the FA Cup and others like it. The problem is the new format in my view.
    . . .
    Until recently, MLS teams entered in the Fourth Round (now renamed Round of 32 to clutter and kill the marketing optics). That was the giant killer round. It was fun to see who could beat an MLS team. It allowed MLS teams the discretion to be experimental and give time to young prospects and substitutes. Tickets were usually free if you wished to attend them.
    . . .
    From there, it was only four mostly or all MLS opponents to win the USOC along with its trophy, cash prize, and CCL qualification spot. That was worth the investment gamble, especially if chances of winning awards in MLS were poor.
    . . .
    Now, unless you finish at or near the top of MLS in the previous season, MLS teams enter in Round Three. Odds are high that the renamed ‘Round of 32’ will be MLS team face-offs. With the new CCL expanded format, USOC retains its qualification spot, but at entry level without the bye.
    . . .
    The risk/reward analysis was harmed for MLS teams to take USOC seriously. It also led to less MLS team fan seriousness. Unless or until your team advances far enough, the earlier rounds are ho-hum and risk averse events.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      If all 26 US based MLS teams entered in the round of 32, that round still wouldn’t be a giant killer round since at least 10 games would be all MLS. That’s not the fault of US Soccer, it’s MLS greed from over expansion. In typical Don Moneygrabber fashion he’s taking a problem he created and blaming someone else for it.

      • He wants to own and operate US Open Cup, pure and simple.

        There’s nothing wrong with the tournament… just Don “Grabmoremoney” at his best.

        This league is a joke…. we need another NASL to start or Championship take on a more agressive stance at being a primary league in North America.

        US Soccer would be better off without MLS participating.

  8. Union are putting to the test Tennyson’s aphorism “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” It would have been better to have just lost 2-0 in regulation. I’m not sure how this team can survive repeated, self inflicted trauma, building hope with late game heroics only to snatch it all away. It’s cruel. And for the author of not one but two stoppage time goals to cling on to a result being responsible for failing to convert a pen that put his team out — brutal.

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    Union haven’t advanced in the U.S. Open Cup since they knocked out Chicago in the semifinals in 2018. In road games, they haven’t moved on since the infamous 4pm Tuesday afternoon game in the New Jersey heat in 2015 when Conor Casey got an early red card and John McCarthy had his best MLS game.
    That being said, it was nice to see Donovan get on the board and show us what he was doing all season last year with Union II. Hopefully that can translate into some MLS goals as well.

  10. Now we know why Curtin doesn’t rotate, his second team is shit offensively.

    Their biggest mistake was letting Burke go…nothing offensive off the bench.

    Torres as a 10 is supposed to set teammates up. He prefers to shoot every time, most often into Row Z. Donovan runs and runs, to little effect. Perea, when used, is invisible. Bueno looked decent, as does Lowe.

    Two tournament eliminations in one week. We’re watching this franchise circle the bowl. Something has to change.

  11. You all laugh…. but it’s those damm SoCal Surfer soccer kits!!!!

    NEVER wear them again!!!!


  12. PS: I’m kinda happy we’re out of US Open CUP.

    Now focus on what’s important… MLS Cup.


  13. Tim Jones says:

    Adrian Heath bringing on that South African striker whose name I cannot spell was the decisive action of the match.
    Give the coach and the young man credit.

    • Hlongwane is their usual starter at striker in MLS play…..
      Notice how when Jim brought Gazdag and carranza off the bench the Union’s offense suddenly looked more competent and dangerous?

  14. This team has the yips. There, I said it.
    Now, as for MLS cup…not going to win it absent some change.

  15. Deez Nuggs says:

    I expected to see a lot of comments today about how this confirms how terrible the Union are in big games. Let me counter with…. Bro. I don’t care at all about this tournament. But two stoppage time equalizers AND 7 rounds of penalties! Now that’s entertaining!
    Other thoughts:
    I saw why Perea and Torres weren’t given a chance against LAFC. Nearly anonymous. Torres had as many wrong decisions as he had good passes. Very hit and miss. I think they are diamonds to be polished, but right now not ready.
    I also saw evidence that Bueno should have played against LAFC at the base of the diamond instead of Flach. Dangerous all night and plays with intensity.
    AND I actually really loved Wagner and Real on the left together. Great idea. McGlynn should have come off earlier. He looked dead and his passing was trash.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Sorry. Eight rounds.

    • GREAT assessment…

      Bueno earned a start if Martinez continues ill. Flach has been disappointing recently.

      … and where has this Kai Wagner been all year, so far? My guess he really wasn’t quite ready to come back… but had too. We need him to be “offensive” in Colorado and beyond!

      Colorado will be a good test, again. Colorado is not a good team… but recently seems to ignite against lesser sides, maybe gained some confidence.

      Right now the Union are like my old ’74 Chevy Vega. Sometimes it started, other times not… ran rough… rust that can’t be shaken off… and when I turned the key off it would rumble and stumble till finally making an exhausting noise shutting down.

      Simple as that.

      • Don’t be shocked if Colorado beats the Union Saturday night. They’ve been playing well all season, and are very organized defensively. They also create a lot of chances. They’re unbeaten in their last 8 games.

    • Justin Mapp's Right Foot says:

      Flach is great at many physical aspects of the game, finding a passing lane under pressure like Martinez is not something he can do. Beuno on the other hand seems promising, I hope we see more of him.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        His untiring press is exemplary in the forward position. He just shouldn’t be in the back. It’s high risk high reward. Up front the risk goes down and the reward goes up. In the back, the risk is massive.

  16. Some thoughts about that squad rotation/performances.

    Torres looked a lot better out wide than in the middle. It was his lofted cross, if I’m not mistaken, that set up Wagner’s first equalizer.

    Perea, I didn’t notice much. Bueno I thought did well. Not an outright destroyer, but competent. Lowe was good, but rode a line that might have seen him sent off by another official.

    It’s hard to be too critical of a team that played a tough and ugly game in NY on Saturday only to immediately travel to Minnesota to play in front of 100 people three days later. However…

    The player I’m most concerned for is Uhre. Man seems utterly lost out there. Not sure if he doesn’t suit the system or the system doesn’t suit him or he’s just bereft of confidence. He’s hardly even a threat. It has to get better.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Disagree on Uhre. He seemed like the only person with a plan for good stretches of the game. Two excellent strikes from tight angles that required saving. Can’t blame him for the service he did not get.

  17. This team has come so far in the last decade….
    ..but I still look forward to reading the headline, “the Union win in a penalty kick shootout.”
    Really, has it ever happened? Trying to remember one is like trying to remember what color your tricycle was.

    • 2021 playoffs. Dispatched Nashville in pens.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      One of the years they went to the OC final they won a shootout against one of the NY teams, the Metro Stars I think?

      I only remember because I was there sitting behind the goal!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      In the 2015 Open Cup they won 2 shootouts before losing in a shootout in the finals. The bad part of that is that it took a shootout to beat Rochester in Chester. The other was in NJ. In 2014 they beat FC Dallas in a shootout in the semis in Dallas.
      Also note that since 2012 when the all the US based MLS cups played in the Open Cup proper (compared with a qualifying tournament prior to that), the team that knocked the Union out has made the finals in every year except 2019. So Minnesota is a good bet to go deep in the tournament.

  18. Chris Gibbons says:

    We’re not far away from teams simply playing their Union II teams in matches like these (the Union are basically there at this stage, given who they played last year too). No one has the depth to prioritize them, clearly no one outside of the organizations care (at most, 15,000 people saw the most watched moments of this match – that’s pathetically low), and they clutter any chance decent teams have of competing in their league – a much more important competition anyway.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      It doesn’t help that the only video coverage was on You Tube rather than real TV so was an effort to find.

      • True, however the Union’s website had a direct link to the youtube channel it was on. Plus with all of the smart TV’s, Apple TV’s, Roku’s, etc. it’s very easy to watch the game on a TV.
        Granted it;’s not as easy to find compared to the past couple of Open Cups when the games were on ESPN+. That was US Soccer’s decision to change broadcast partners though.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I know it was easy to be able to watch on TV since I was able to do it and I’m pretty much a troglodyte. However, there is still the effort to know where to look and a lot of people probably just didn’t bother.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        On that point, though, how is it that the YouTube feed had better announcers than we get half the time on Apple TV ?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        IMHO, announcers were so-so (which I guess is a step up from several apple ones). It was annoying that they both insisted on pronouncing Wagner’s name differently.

      • Was gonna say. Might be the only one taking my protest to Apple TV all the way. But I was refreshed by the ability to actually watch a game online. Even the typical bookie streams seem to have trouble patching through the apple monopoly.

  19. Am I seeing something that just isn’t there… or was it that Herr Tanner was in Asia or Europe scouting?

    So Curtin reverted to the same ole 4-1-2-1-2 Tanner put a stop to when he arrived… and that never worked before, EVER?

    And as much impact as Kai had on this match, again, waiting till the 87th minute to substitute ANY ONE IS JUST A BAD JOKE… unless you are wasting time, with a lead.

    Yeah it worked out this time, but if Kai was inserted at 65 minutes, how much more of an impact could Kai have had?

    Tanner must have been in the jungles of Asia last night, without an internet connection.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      It felt as though we were not playing to win, except late substitutions seems to be a bad habit with Curtin.

    • Think you’ve got a few things backward. Prior to Tanner, Jim’s preferred tactical setup was a 4-2-3-1. Tanner introduced the 4-4-2 diamond as the preferred setup for the style of football to suit the players he was going to bring to the team.

      • Interesting… Hackworth, I thought, used the diamond too… Curtin carried on.

        Not a fan of whatever it’s called… nor late game replacements, unless winning.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        Hackworth mostly used a 4-4-2 that was flat in the midfield, but occasionally had a 4-2-2-2, “empty bucket” formation. By the end, it actually looked like a 4-2-4 given where he positioned his wide midfielders.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Isn’t the 4-4-2 diamond essentially the same as a 4-1-2-1-2?
      The timing of the subs in a knockout game can be different than a regular game given that you’re also worried about 30 extra minutes and that you still have a game at altitude coming up over the weekend.

      • Com’mon Andy…. so you’re saying we’re out of shape for the rigors of this year’s schedule?

        SMILE… LOL

        Just WIN Sat night and things will be back on track.

    • The Union have been using a 4-4-2 Diamond since Tanner came on as Sporting Director. The Sub patterns for this game were due to two things:
      1.) Played Red Bull Saturday Night, and this game was 3 days later.
      2.) The team has a game at Altitude on Saturday, plus they were missing some players due to injury and U20 WC callups.
      You don’t want to bring on your likely starters for Saturday too early in this game, seeing s it could go to 120 minutes and PK’s.
      Keep in mind the Union have played more games than any MLS team to this point in the season. This was their 16th(?) game so far this season in all competitions.

  20. What game. Thrilling, Bongi and Rosales came in clutch and we had good penalties. Great win for the Loons after last years embarrassing exit.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Great win? Hard to categorize it as such when they twice gave up the tying goal in the dying minutes of the game against a team that played most of the game with only 4 regular starters. And technically it wasn’t a win, it was a draw where Minnesota advanced on kicks from the spot.

  21. santo bevacqua says:

    I like to suggest that everyone on this forum use the word FOOTBALL and ditch soccer………

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Santo, I appreciate your passion but you’re wrong about this point.

      Most of us commenting on this page grew up in a country where this sport was called soccer, in the same way that my wife’s family is from a country where the sport is called calcio. English people call it football and many other countries use a variation on that word – and you’re welcome to continue to do so as well on these pages.

      Please stop berating other commenters and contributors for not doing so.

      • santo bevacqua says:

        no berating here, it is wrong and needs correcting, this country is also free and one can make choices. Anyone feels comfort using soccer go for it, but the game is played with feet so its football. Appreciate your response and by the way calcio means kick so its use is synonimous with football

    • Santo, ‘soccer’ isn’t wrong. It’s shorthand for Association Football. It’s also English shorthand where the particualar code was founded, and ‘soccer’ was commonly used there until recent decades to differentiate from Rugby Football, “rugger”.
      . . .
      ‘Soccer’ is the norm in nations where more than one football code is commonly used, e.g., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US. ‘Football’ usually is used for the domestic code, e.g., Gaelic, Aussie Rules, American, or Canadian. That won’t change.
      . . .
      Likewise there’s nothing wrong with domestic competition formats, e.g., the playoff system, or domestic team naming habits, e.g., Philadelphia Union.
      . . .
      In fact, if we dumped ‘Philadelphia Union’ to reductively ape other cultural habits or to mimic other clubs, e.g., Sporting Philadelphia, Real Philadelphia, F.C. Philadelphia, Dynamo Philadelphia, etc., I’d suffocate on Philly cheesesteak puke. This is our team and our thing.

  22. santo bevacqua says:

    To everyone here including the editors this is not an argument i’m presenting but a rational suggestion that some like to use the word football and not soccer. MLS uses the word football many times to assimilate the sport with the rest of the globe.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      Thanks for clarifying that because previously you said soccer was wrong and needed to be corrected.

      If you look into the history of football or Association Football in England, you will find that the term soccer was used early on (19th century) to distinguish it from Rugby football. It actually came from the word “association”. The term fell into disfavor in England when the US adopted it in the 70s to distinguish the game from “gridiron football” or American football. So, it makes sense for countries that have other sports called football to distinguish the games. So, in the context of the origins of the game it is completely fair to call it soccer.

      • santo bevacqua says:

        absolutely, i did say that but not to infer that its wrong to use it- but wrong in its present description and thus why not adopt football. Gee sorry i brought it up and it was only done in sporty fun. I also heard that the sport was invented in England so hands would not be used to encourage young men not to masturbate

  23. Eric Boyle says:

    It is all good. In the US football is assumed to be the game where you use your hands to throw a ball shaped like an egg. Hence soccer is the adopted term as I noted. My football crazy friends do not like when I call it eggball. ; )

    • santo bevacqua says:

      Eric try to correct something like that its a laughable situation, i tell my eagles crazy sons did the eagles get socked today.
      they use a soccer player to kick tho.

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