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Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-0 Charlotte FC

Photo: Ruairi Rossi

An own goal off of Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina via Daniel Gazdag’s header was the only goal of the game as Philadelphia Union edged Charlotte FC 1-0 on Wednesday night at Subaru Park.

Jim Curtin named an unchanged team from the group that defeated NYCFC on the weekend, keeping with the 3-5-2 that has been in favor in recent weeks.

The Union almost opened the scoring in the first minute of the match. Leon Flach got in behind the Charlotte backline and rolled a pass back across the goal that Julian Carranza smashed off the crossbar from 12 yards out.

Mikkel Uhre would have the ball in the back of the net on 34 minutes. Flach found the striker over the top with a lovely looping ball, and Uhre took one touch and then finished into the far corner, but the flag was up and video review upheld the very close call.

Philadelphia would take the lead in the 70th minute through Gazdag. Jose Martinez shot from the top of the box was blocked and the rebound came out on the left side for Wagner to cross. The left wing back hit a lovely ball first time that found Gazdag on the back post, and the midfielder’s header hit the post and came back off Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina and into the visitor’s goal.

Charlotte would push for an equalizer without threatening Andre Blake’s goal too much. The Union are now undefeated in their last eight matches with six wins in that time. Philadelphia moves up to 3rd in the Eastern Conference with the win.

Philadelphia Union are next in action when they host CF Montreal on Saturday night (7:30 p.m.).

Three Points

  • Grind. Charlotte presented a decent test for the Union at home and the game featured few clear cut scoring chances, but the home side grinded out the result with a good header from Gazdag that deflected into the Charlotte goal.
  • Rolling. Undefeated in eight, up to third in the Eastern Conference. The Union have found their form and are pushing toward the top of the East.
  • Good lord Ted Unkel. I can’t stand the guy, he’s the worst ref in MLS and makes the league worse with every game he referees.

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake, Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, Jakob Glesnes, Leon Flach, José Martínez, Dániel Gazdag (Nate Harriel 90+6′), Kai Wagner, Olivier Mbaizo, Julián Carranza (Jesus Bueno 83′), Mikkel Uhre (Chris Donovan 76′)
Subs: Andrés Perea, Matthew Real, Joaquín Torres, Richard Odada, Jeremy Rafanello, Joe Bendik

Charlotte FC

Kristijan Kahlina, Bill Tuiloma (Jan Sobocinski 78′), Adilson Malanda, Harrison Afful (Joseph Mora 72′), Nathan Byrne, Derrick Jones, Brandt Bronico (Brandon Cambridge 78′), Ashley Westwood, Karol Swiderski, Justin Meram (Guzman Corujo 60′), Kerwin Vargas (Patrick Agyemang 60′)
Subs: Jaylin Lindsey, Nicholas Scardina, Christopher Hegardt, Pablo Sisniega

Scoring Summary

PHI: Kristijan Kahlina – 70′ (own goal)

Disciplinary Summary

CLT: Ashley Westwood – 12′ (delaying the restart)
PHI: Damion Lowe – 58′ (foul)


  1. Deserved win for the Union. As disjointed as the match was, thought they were clearly the better side. Unfortunate not to convert several good chances from long periods of dominating the ball in their attacking third.

    It really looked like Uhre was onside for what should have been the opener. And Donovan looks better every time he gets a run.

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Clear view behind us —- now that we’ve moved beyond the wreckage… turns out Jose Martinez & Andre Blake are 100% irreplaceable. And with due respect —cause as Mark Twain once said, ‘we all owe a death,’ turns out Alejandro is replaceable…FIGURATIVELY of course for all those New Ages Babies who can’t take a tease. Just the truth.
    Onward. Upward. Carry on.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Flach had an excellent game as well.

      • I’ve been a big critic of Flach’s play (offensively), but he has somehow found some offensive skill in the last 2-3 games. Good for him (and us).

    • Actually I disagree on Bedoya. The real reason Curtin went to the 3-5-2 lately? They don’t have a like for like replacement for Bedoya in their preferred 4-4-2 Diamond formation.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Part of that is McGlynn down in Argentina.

      • You are correct — the 4-4-2 diamond puts a lot of pressure on the wide midfielders, and Ale is an ideal guy for that formation.

        However, he is clearly (somewhat) replaceable via a shift to this formation, which overall has been looking good for them.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Union actually have 1 more point after 15 games than they did last season. 8-4-3 vs. 6-1-8. It really shows how important it is to push for the win rather than accepting a draw.

    • Wow… that’s remarkable. I did not realize that.

      I guess the big difference is that Union West (aka Cincinnati) is tearing up the league this season.

  4. “Good lord Ted Unkel. I can’t stand the guy, he’s the worst ref in MLS and makes the league worse with every game he referees.”

    I had to cut and paste this, just because it needed to be broadcast everywhere.

    Unkel IS THE WORST… has been for years, zebras do not change their stripes.

    … and like the SoCal Surfer kit observation, yelling at the top of my lungs tonight…. Unkel you suck!… horse for tomorrow… and MLS does NOTHING to improve their refs!

    He does suck at his profession… just terrible… has nothing to do with being a ‘homer’.

    My guess is MLS puts him in a hotel IN CHESTER!

    The funniest thing is MLS continues to put up with guys like Unkel. Clown League led by the head clown himself.

    3 points…. F UNKEL.

    10 points from hosting MLS Cup 2023.

    … playing Noonan and crew 9/16 for Supporter Shield and home field throughout.


    • Once again…..any and all fury about officiating needs to be aimed directly at PRO, and NOT MLS. MLS doesn’t provide the officials for their games. With the rapid expansion of the professional game in the US and Canada there simply are not enough quality referees for the increased number of games every week. Between USL Champ, USL L1 & L2, MLS NeXT Pro, MLS, NWSL, and CPL….that’s a lot of games every week.
      Yes, Ted Unkel is terrible. I believe he wasn’t an official in ANY capacity for this past weekend’s games too.

      • I thought he was supposedly retiring last season. He should have. He’s awful.

      • Gruncle Bob says:

        It’s hard to find any info on the PRO/MLS
        relationship. Any light you could shed toward that would be appreciated. I find it difficult to believe that any sports league would not have involvement or influence over such a huge part of its product.

    • An Ode to Ted Unkel says:

      Ted Unkel is a curious case
      Just take a look at his neanderthal face
      He clearly knows not where he is
      “Oh how did I get here, what green stuff is this?”

      Ted Unkel’s been around a long time now
      Just mention his name and it causes a frown
      He leaves us befuddled, aghast, perplexed
      He calls a slight push but ne’er a suplex

      Ted Unkel’s case is a strange one indeed
      He fixes a match to meet Garber’s need
      Offside? Onsides? Who really could know
      Ted Unkel’s games he’s surely to blow

      Ted Unkel is a stickler for sure
      Makes sure that thrown ins are utterly pure
      He doesn’t like to speak with hum-ans
      It’s why he blows his whistle whenever he can

      Slide Tackles! Slight Shoves!
      No one makes sense of whatev’r he does
      The players all smile with wry derision
      Whenever Ted Unkel makes a decision

      Ted Unkel struggles with whats whats foul & what’s just
      Thats why his next few calls will surely go bust
      A player gets kneed squarely up their ass?
      Ted Unkel just shrugs and looks down at the grass

      Don’t make him angry he’s always this way
      He’s Ted Fucking Unkel and he’ll never go away.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    Should’ve probably had, at minimum, a second. In a perfect world, 3 or 4. No complaints though. Thought they played well enough to earn the win and Charlotte didn’t really threaten, save for maybe one chance – save by Blake that I think he had the whole way. Keep it rolling gentleman. See ya Saturday!
    PS – Also just wanted to say how brutally bad Unkel is… guy sucks 🙂

  6. I hate to complain about the ref after any game but…Unkel was in love with sound of his whistle tonight! And predictably inconsistent! The game was pretty choppy over all I thought. Maybe because of so many whistles. But the Union seemed to be the better team in attack and the win and 3 points back that up. Good crowd for a mid-week game! And Jason Kelsey on the drum with a pre game beer chugging was a thing of beauty!! LFG!!

  7. Charlotte is a bad team, and we again did the minimum to win.

    Heard our only goal an own goal? Exactly.

    LAFC losing to Leon.

    Johnny Mac needs his helmet.

    • Wrong!
      So what? Was really Gazdag’s goal.
      Pathetic post.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Charlotte isn’t that bad. They were 6th coming in, now in 7th.
      Own goal was ball off the post, then off the keeper, and in. Probably should have had two as Uhre was probably onside when he scored but linesman raised the flag and it was close enough as to not be clear and obviously onsides.

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      GK did not actively score an own goal on himself. Forced by a well taken header, it bounced off his back. Don’t see how that counts as owngoal. Gazdag wiz robbed of a goal by whoever the official scorer was.

      • Not really. That’s always an OG. It still doesn’t negate the nice play that forced it, not does it negate the fact that Fav will post how weak each U win is.

  8. Well, that was a beautiful night for an ugly game and an ugly win. Lots of boom ball, precious little possession of consequence for either side (except for 2 excellent offensive spells by the Union in the second half), and a foul seemingly called every time a player went down under pressure by the opposition. But the Union found a way to win over Charlotte, a decidedly mediocre team who played hard. Here are the observations from Section 105:
    1) El Pachy is right–Andre Blake and Jose Martinez are irreplaceable and they have not missed El Capitan. Earlier in the year when Andre was sidelined, this game could easily have been lost or drawn.
    2) The man of the match for me was Kai Wagner, who had his best game of the season tonight. His cross set up the winning goal, and he consistently delivered dangerous balls tonight. Most of all, he was a beast on defense, consistently shutting down Vargas, who seemed to me to be Charlotte’s most dangerous player.
    3) Jose Martinez is getting closer with his strikes from distance (meaning outside the penalty box). His rocket was only about 18 inches over the bar. Eventually he is going to score on one of those shots–and I hope that I am there to witness it.
    4) The entire Union backline consistently missed long passes in the first 20 minutes. The game plan seemed to be to put the ball on Wagner’s and Mbaizo’s feet in the final third, and after the long passes started connecting, those two did create some good chances.
    5) I watched the replay of the Uhre goal that was called back for offsides in the first half. It was extremely tight and the angle of the replay was not that good. From the replay angle, it looked like the officials (unfortunately for the Union) got it right. Likewise, Gazdag was offsides when the ball deflected off Carranza in the 83rd minute.
    6) With regard to Ted Unkel’s officiating, I have to remind all of you of one of my life maxims: Never use the superlative to describe a bad thing because you will have tempted fate for something worse. Ted Unkel seems compelled to whistle a foul whenever someone falls down, and that does lead to some disjointed play. He does not issue a lot of yellow cards nor does he award many penalties. As those of you who consistently comment on this page know, I am pretty critical of MLS officiating. My major complaints on this night were two alleged fouls flagged by the linesman on our side in the second half which Unkel whistled. Earlier in the 2nd half, the crowd got on him for stopping play after the Union won an aerial duel and the Charlotte player went to ground holding his head. I think that most of crowd thought that the Union player was being called for a foul, which he was not. After the player got up and was checked, Unkel correctly awarded a drop ball to the Union. Admittedly, the MLS officiating bar is low, but I have seen much worse performances by referees than we saw tonight.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Unkel was a bad official when he did Philadelphia Independence games in the old WPS. Was not happy to see him go to MLS when that league folded in 2012.
      On the play you mention, he correctly dropped the ball for the Union, but about 25 yards further back than the ball was when he blew the whistle.
      There was another play a little later where it looked like he called the foul in the Union’s favor when Lowe went down at about the same part of the field as the head injury. Then he switched it to against Lowe. The problem in either case was that his back was to the play and it wasn’t close enough to the sidelines for a linesman to have a good view. So I don’t know how he decided the way he did.

      • narbrich says:

        Yes. He did not blow the play dead for the head injury right away and the ball was 25 yards upfield. He brought the ball back to the site of the injury, which as you point out, was incorrect. On the play involving Lowe, that may have been the play in which Lowe was given a yellow card, which curiously, was not announced to the crowd. I did have a pretty clear sight line on that play and Lowe definitely was the offender, but there was no persistent fouling and no danger to the opponent to warrant a yellow card. While I am not a fan of Unkel’s officiating, I have seen far worse. The standard by which I judge is whether the referee’s poor calls determined the outcome of the game. T
        he better team won, though the game was ugly.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The one I’m thinking of was much later than the yellow (which was before the head injury). I think it was either near the end of the regular 90 or early in stoppage time. The yellow was announced after the Charlotte subs about 2 minutes later.

      • narbrich says:

        I didn’t see a yellow card after the 58th minute in the disciplinary summary. Did I miss something?

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The play I’m thinking of (where Unkel first called it for the Union and then switched it against Lowe/the Union) while having his back to the play wasn’t a yellow card. It was just an example of Unkel not knowing what he was doing.

  9. As slow a start as its been, Union now 3rd in Supporters Shield, only one point behind Nashville. Not bad for a team that played a lot of CCL games early in the season.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Only 3rd because LAFC has 3 or 4 games in hand on everyone else. Hopefully those will be when they are tired and their opponents are rested, but somehow that doesn’t seem to happen.

  10. Still too many missed chances. High point was Jason Kielce. Otherwise a mediocre soccer game with the typically inconsistent officiating I’ve come to accept. No surprise there.

    But let’s mention the real travesty. As a Lot B refugee let me be the first on this blog to call out the Union for their callous disregard for their paying customers/Season Ticket ‘Members’. First, their failure to communicate the closing of certain parking lots only days before it happened was a serious communication failure by management and totally unforgivable. Trying to move past that disappointment, my new parking digs in the unpaved, dirty, dusty wasteland (sooo glad I didn’t wash the car!) that they call Lot G is disgusting! Instead of upbeat fans tailgating either before or after the game we were treated to a post-apocalyptic diorama straight out of The Walking Dead. I should be looking forward to another home game on Saturday, but sadly, I’m not. How much is Uber from South Jersey?

    Shame on Union Mgt.!!!

    • I think this is an underreported problem. I’ve been going to matches for more than a decade. Parking and leaving began to get really difficult in 2021. I thought it might have partly been that I was no longer able to park in Lot A, where I always had before. Now it appears getting traffic out of the lots after a game ends has become a complete farce, with traffic just jammed up on 291. I’ve actually been reluctant to go to matches this year because of parking. And that’s saying nothing of the rising fee to park on what are at best charitably described as unkept lots.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Even getting out of Lot A last night took a bit longer than usual (but still less than 10 minutes to 291 including having to back up on Front Street when a truck decided he was going to park in the middle of the road and block it.

      • Does anyone know if there are plans to remove all the trucks that have parked in west half of Lot A since 2020, or will they be there indefinitely?

    • Ummm….The team has been warning of the impending closure of Lot B since the season began. They made that very clear when the WPS Complex was announced. It was actually supposed to happen at the beginning of May, and was delayed.

  11. Jay,
    I knew Lot B was largely in the construction zone. I could see that by looking at the map accompanying the announcement of the new complex. Yes, several months ago.But I didn’t know the timing until I received an email on May 22, the Monday after the last home game before the change took effect last night. In effect, ‘Hi season ticket holder since the beginning, exciting news, your prepaid parking lot is closed effective immediately.’

    I’m curious to know if and how you knew prior to last week? Maybe the fault is with my Ticket Manager, no longer with us, and if so I’ll apologize, in part, to management.


    • Andy Muenz says:

      I didn’t find out from the team (I’m in Lot A so it doesn’t directly affect me for Union games). I found out Sunday evening when I went to park there for the Union 2 game and discovered I couldn’t.

    • SoccerDad says:

      I’m in lot J and I was really disappointed to have what I consider a Lot B experience getting out last night. Got to my car while the game was still going on (its a school night) and it still took 15 min or more to get out to 291 / W 2nd St.

      And don’t get me started on how long it took to get off of 322 and into the lot.

    • The Union send out emails weekly about the games, and parking, etc. Prior to the LAFC CCL Semifinal the email mentioned that it was going to be the last game that Lot B was going to be in use. The change was delayed, and Lot B remained open for the DC and New England games. Before the season started it was communicated that Lot B would be closing part into the season. I’m in Lot A and got this communication.

  12. FWIW the first goal/offside was directly in front of us and we all thought it was ok. Biased, but trying to be objective. I think this run of good play is enough to convince JimJim that Bedoya is allowed of the field in the second half. We’ll need him for the Cup run and no sense in beating him into the ground before that.

    Since we’re complaining about parking, I haven’t seen anybody yet mention that Lot A forced the exit to turn right at the main road. Hmm, this was supposedly a lot for PA folks to get onto 95 easily. That is much simpler with a left. Traffic was bad on 95, but some warning as to a redirection would have been helpful. Dusty, yes lot A is still a disaster.

    But a beautiful night to watch the Boys win. Whatever it takes.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      For the first several years of the Union’s existence, Lot A was forced to turn right on 291 so this is really a reversion to the original.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      It appeared that decision was because of an accident on northbound I95. I think they were trying to force people to enter further up and not make the problem worse. FWIW, I found getting on I95 south was nearly as easy as turning left.

  13. Andy Muenz says:

    Looks like Martinez was signed to a new contract through 2025 with an option for 2026.

  14. I live in NJ and have always parked at one of the church lots on the other side of 291. About a 5 minute walk to/from the stadium. Have never felt unsafe even with walking with my kids when they were little. Started at the Baptist church but more recently moved to the Methodist lot as the baptist lot fills up earlier and they bumped their charge. Methodist church even tells you that you can use their bathroom if needed. Parking there also has the benefit of knowing at least some of my money is going to the local community.

    I’m sure some of the traffic issues are due to more people going to games now that the team doesn’t suck as bad as they did the first 10 years.

  15. Folks are talking about this being an ugly game, but I thought our defense was quite impressive on the night. Whenever Charlotte got even a sniff of a chance, our backline and defensive midfielders just snuffed it out. Their only good chance came off a single shanked clearance by Elliott. That’s a mighty good performance.

    Also, the ball movement through the midfield was often amazing to behold. Guys were pinging it around like we were playing in Spain (though, granted, usually missing the final pass). I really thought Uhre was onside for his goal, but I guess it wasn’t enough of a clear & obvious error for VAR to overrule it.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      My son and I screenshot the YouTube replay. Wish I could share it. Not only is Uhre onside but so is Gazdag.

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