Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 (5-4) D.C. United

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union advanced to the Round of 16 of the Leagues Cup on Wednesday night, winning in a shootout over D.C. United after a scoreless draw in regulation.

Jim Curtin made just one change to the group that thrashed Queretaro in the last game of the Leagues Cup group stage. Olivier Mbaizo started over Nathan Harriel at right wing back, while Jesus Bueno kept his place alongside Jose Martinez in midfield.

The two familiar foes played out a scoreless first half on a drizzly night by the Commodore Barry Bridge. The soccer wasn’t particularly attractive. Andre Blake came up big to stone Christian Benteke one-on-one as the half wrapped up, probably the best chance of the half for either side.

The match sparked into life when a possible Union goal was chalked off in the 64th minute. Julian Carranza latched onto a ball over the top and flicked it over the onrushing keeper. The ball trickled into the net as Carranza grappled Donovan Hines-Ike, preventing him from clearing off the line. Referee Rosendo Mendoza correctly called a foul on Carranza, much to the frustration of the Subaru Park crowd.

Seconds later, Chris Durkin committed a hard foul on Daniel Gazdag, who responded by getting up and pushing Durkin, picking up a yellow card for his trouble.

With ten minutes to go, Curtin threw on Jack McGlynn for Damion Lowe, looking to find a winner before a penalty shootout. But the game stayed choppy and physical. The closest chance came in stoppage time off a corner, when substitute Chris Donovan scooped a rebound well over the bar and into the River End.

In the end, neither side found a winner, and the match turned to penalties: Union star Andre Blake vs. United backup Alex Bono.

Bono made the first stop of the shootout, denying the Union’s first shooter — Daniel Gazdag — as he dove to his left and parried the shot away. After D.C. converted their first three attempts, Chris Durkin fired his shot just over the bar, and McGlynn equalized the contest at three goals each by sending Bono the wrong way.

In the sixth round, Pedro Santos smacked his shot off the post, giving the Union the chance to win. Olivier Mbaizo stepped to the spot to win it; Bono got a touch on the penalty, but there was too much power, and the ball nestled into the back of the net.

The Union now turn to the Round of 16, where they’ll host yet another familiar foe: New York Red Bulls, who defeated NYC FC on Thursday night. The match will take place at Subaru Park on Monday night at a time to be announced.


Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Damion Lowe (Jack McGlynn 81′), Olivier Mbaizo, Jesus Bueno, Jose Martinez, Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza (Chris Donovan 73′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Holden Trent, Matt Real, Nathan Harriel, Jack McGlynn, Leon Flach, Quinn Sullivan, Joaquin Torres, Jeremy Rafanello

D.C. United

Alex Bono, Donovan Pines (Kristian Fletcher 90+3′), Derrick Williams, Brendan Hines-Ike, Pedro Santos, Mateusz Klich, Chris Durkin, Cristian Dajome, Yamil Asad (Ruan 49′), Jackson Hopkins (Eric Davis 69′), Christian Benteke

Unused subs: Tyler Miller, Luis Zamudio, Erik Hurtado, Steve Birnbaum, Jacob Greene, Gaussou Samake

Scoring Summary


Penalty Shootout

DC: Christian Benteke — goal
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — miss
DC: Mateusz Klich — goal
PHI: Julian Carranza — goal
DC: Derrick Williams — goal
PHI: Jack Elliott — goal
DC: Chris Durkin — miss
PHI: Jack McGlynn — goal
DC: Eric Davis — goal
PHI: Jesus Bueno — goal
DC: Pedro Santos — miss
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — goal

Discipline Summary

PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 67′ (other reason)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 73′ (dissent)
PHI: Jack Elliott — 88′ (foul)


  1. Good on the remaining Union penalty takers for working to maintain their composure after Daniel’s attempt in order to get the job done.
    At the risk of stating the obvious, they will need to be sharper in open play to keep progressing.

  2. Uninspired and toothless. It was like watching DC play DC.

  3. So all’s well that ends well, but when one kick can seal the game, how is it Mbaizo over Wagner?
    There will not be an inquiry because they won, but really?
    BTW, the rest of the game wasn’t worth the keystrokes to comment on.
    Hope they’re better against the cows or pigeons.
    Go U!

    • Wagner has missed both penalties that he’s taken for the Union (cup final vs LAFC and Open Cup vs Minnesota) so I’m fine with him not taking one

  4. Eric Boyle says:

    The crowd was pretty sparse, and it looked down from the last match. During the pens a lot of the crowd ran over to the scoreboard end to watch the shootout, so for a brief moment the stands looked full!

  5. Was stunned, just stunned, to see Oliver walking up to take that penalty. Would have bet a large amount of money on Kai getting the opportunity. At least it worked out.
    Otherwise, a really dreadful and dreary 90 minutes. From my spot in 136, we seemed really narrow and unable to unlock what DC was trying to do. Bringing in McGlynn – about ten minutes too late – was a step in the right direction, but that final ball just isn’t there.

  6. Uhre had a 1 on 1 with the goalie in the first 5 minutes he should have finished. Quite a terrible game; similar to the last one against DC. You would think Curtin would come up with a different tactic.

  7. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Hopeless crosses, letting the ref take us out of rhythm, incredibly lazy intermediate passes leading to counterattacks… I felt like I took a time machine to 2017. Just thrilled to somehow advance – that was brutal to watch

  8. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Little crowd… Little inspiration from the team. I believe this is the one millionth time Uhre has gone on a break away and shot it right at the goalie. One of them scored coming off the keeper and the other 999,999 were saved. I don’t know maybe a deek or a chip next time…. Just saying.

  9. Zizouisgod says:

    DC’s style of play with a sweeper keeper and three CBs matches up perfectly vs the Union’s direct/long ball philosophy. While I can understand Curtin’s desire to have three CBs on the pitch to deal with DC’s set piece prowess, it did feel like he stuck with this too long especially when it became obvious 10-15 min in the 2nd half that DC was trying to get to PKs.

    I feel like Blake’s most impressive shoot-out performance was vs Nashville in the playoffs. In that one, he made a point to squat down while the taker was getting prepared and stared at him. Whether the outcome was a coincidence or not, I’d like to see him get back to doing that again as it seemed to his preparation and also build tension with the taker.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      If you watched the Charlotte game, their keeper Kahlina(?) would stand more or less still and hold his hand out to the left, daring them to shoot there. And the other team took the bait. He saved three in a row there.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    A lethargic effort by the Union.
    I believe that had Blake not obtained US citizenship on Monday there would have been 0 American starters for the Union. Seems silly to play the Star-Spangled Banner before the game, especially a recorded version.
    I’m thinking that going forward in this tournament Curtin should consider starting Donovan or Sullivan for Uhre and bring Uhre in at halftime so he’ll be available to take penalty kicks.
    People are surprised that Kai didn’t attempt the winning PK. I was actually expecting Glesnes or Matinez. If he made it, the successful kickers for the Union would be Julian, Jack, Jack, Jesus, and Jacob or Jose. (Too bad Joaquin Torres didn’t get into the game.)

  11. The entirety of this event has been a BORE. In my opinion thus far the only thing accomplished is any momentum from the season has been completely halted. Truly— it’s been a bore. Whatever.
    If they are in it I guess they might as well advance but I for one am over it.

    • Just a moneygrab… and perfect MLS marketing opportunity for Messi and his posse to dominate because no one cares.

      A snooze, overall.

      Was actually hoping we’d lose last night, didn’t even watch 2nd half.

      • 100%. And from what I’ve observed on Twitter the calls, ghost calls and other various sundry ways MLS will seek to aid the Messi Merry Pranksters to be successful is fully under way.

    • I’m still struggling to understand the need for this competition. There’s now a single Mexican side on our half of the bracket, the one we already played and beat 5-1. I don’t see how this is an improvement over US Open Cup or CCL. It seems designed more to drive Liga MX exposure in the states and give Apple more games to feature on their season pass.

      I’d say a Union v Miami matchup in the semi seems likely, but after last night, I can’t say I can guarantee the Union will beat Red Bull and NE/QUE to make it that far. Id love to see the effort put into improving the things we already have rather than invent new ones.

      • US Soccer would not sell Us Open Cup to Don “Grabmoremoney”… so he started a new one… trying to detail the Open Cup in the future.

        I’m watching what happens with the Championship League, League 1 & 2… and promotion relegation, plus gaining #1 status in the US, competing head to head with MLS.

        Hoping MoneyBall Clubs like the Union defect to the Level 1 Championship and leave Don “Grabmoremoney” to kiss Messi’s *ss more. 😉

      • @J Fav – your repeatedly complaints about Garber grow old. I can’t stand the man, but your “Grabmoremoney” is just childish and nonsensical. It would at least make sense if his name was Graber, but it is not.

        Your desire that Union “defect” from MLS is frankly asinine, both from the club’s business perspective and from a fan’s perspective.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I’m fine with Grabmoremoney (the nickname, not the commissioner himself). It’s an apt description of someone who is ruining MLS. He allows the league to have an odd number of teams which creates havoc with scheduling including forcing teams to play through international breaks (and not discounting ticket prices for an inferior product). He thinks bringing in aging players for a year or so is a good way to grow the league. He’s changed the playoff system so a team that when one team has a win and two draws they can be eliminated by the team they beat who has a loss and two draws. He’s basically has as much use as the turd I pooped this morning.

      • @Andy – I can’t stand the man… one can despise the man for allowing teams to play on turf, in baseball stadiums, etc., but there is no denying he has grown the league.

        Would you rather that the Union “defect” from MLS? Garber has been good for the owners. Would you prefer we go back to the days when Sugarman did not have the resources to invest in the team? (As he does now – at least more than he did before.)

        J Fav’s whining grows old. Apple, Garber, blah blah blah.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Do I want the Union to leave MLS? No. Do I want MLS to at least pretend that it is run by professionals who know what they are doing? Yes. And complaining about things is the only way that people will know I’m dissatisfied (I’ll also mention many of these things when I get surveys from the Union after games or when I communicate with my rep).
        And don’t get me started on Apple. Not even considering its availability (which contradicts the point about growing the game), the camera work is just horrid and there is no reason to continually force games to be played at 7:30pm in harsh weather conditions rather than in the afternoon when the weather is at least a little milder…plus it would allow them to spread games out so fans can watch more…imagine if there are games at noon, 2:30pm, 5pm, 7:30pm, and 10pm. Wouldn’t work during the summer, but in March and April weekends? That would be a boon for Apple and a convenience for the fans.

      • @Andy – all those are valid pints. J Fav loses credibility in my opinion because of his juvenile posts. I want Garber out as well – but there is no denying that he has done well for the owners, and in some ways, the league. No doubt Apple’s coverage pales in comparison to what the Union provided to 17/ABC. But Apple’s money allows the Union and every other team to invest more in payroll. And I too would prefer something other than 7:30 pm games in March. But again, there is some benefit to what the Apple deal brings.

        I agree that MLS (and US Soccer) could do with an overhaul. The playoff format is ridiculous. And eventually MLS will have to learn to grow without adding a new team every year or two. There will be a point when there will be too many. And I’m not thrilled with this cup breaking up the MLS season (or MLS playing through international breaks). But wanting the Union to leave MLS as J Fav does is utterly ridiculous and stupid.

    • I dunno, man, I’ve been digging this tourney. They just need to make it so the Mexican squads aren’t playing all their games on the road for fairness’ sake.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Forgot to ask, does anyone else who was at the game think that the backup PA announcer is a major step down? He seems to get too excited at naming players from the other team and announcing Union yellow cards.

    • Dave Leno syndrome? Dave gets way too excited for opponents goals on radio… and his partner talks over live play with her opinion. No one cares, let Dave call the game. 😉

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Yes, I think so. I chalked it up to trying to remain balanced so it appeared to be more of a neutral setting which was probably dictated by Leagues Cup.

  13. So I fell asleep for the 2nd half and I guess didn’t miss much but Gazdag’s PK miss (first one this year?)

    Curious… do not see any comments about pairing Bueno and Martinez in midfield.

    I personally think it’s brilliant, and will pay dividends as we move forward, especially if Baribo and Gazdag can play similarly together.

    Exciting stuff, I think. And Herr Tanner again showing brilliance in management of this MoneyBall club. DOOP!

    • Like the pairing. Bueno does not seem to offer much on the offensive side, but he’s been filling in for Ale really well. Seems like he’s getting better with each game. Funny how that works.

  14. The first half actually had a lot of very nice build-up play from both teams. Just nothing in the final third. Also, the Union had a lot of sloppy passes (especially from Martinez).

    I thought that the Bueno-Martinez partnership did not look great last night. They seemed not to always be in sync with each other. I still like Bueno a lot but it wasn’t his best match, and we might be better going back to the diamond.

    I was shocked that Jim brought in Donovan for Uhre and do not think that was very wise. Also agree with others that I was shocked Olivier took that last PK, but apparently he asked for it.

    Too many long balls & crosses in our offense. At some point in the match it should become obvious that it isn’t going to work and that something else should be tried.

  15. I thought the Union got out worked last night. The DC press was much more effective (for the most part) than the Union’s was. Thought Jim needed to sub (or does he Hoagie since this is Philly) earlier since there really was no Union press for most of the second half. I have to give credit to Rooney, DC came in with a game plan and they executed it, he has them playing defense.

    • THAT’S IT… Jim is so used to hoagies he forgets subs!

      Oh man…
      Thank You SoccerDad. You’ve cleared up the sub at 80th minute issues completely!

      Call them ‘HOAGIES’ and Jim will bring them in at 60! DOOP!

      Now “Hoagieing” for Urhe, Chris Donovan!

      THAT’S IT!!

  16. Our midfield progression completely disappears in the 3-5-2 and we really waaaay to heavily on trying to chip the back line for Uhre to run on to
    We also lose the cross field ball that Glesnes and Elliott usually provide to Kai and Mbaizo – for whatever reason they don’t do this with three in the back
    I think there are instances when we want to trot out this formation, but Jim needs to find that balance and he hasn’t quite figured that out yet. We still need to see the 4-4-2 more often than the 3-5-2.

    • Chris Gibbons says:


      Seemed like a useful strategy given United’s midfield to not get overrun, but made the slog of getting the ball into the final third tiresome.

  17. It was a shame that the crowd was light. This tournament is all about the money! And possibly the fans are onto it. I think its safe to say the Mexican crowd showed up for their teams. I’ll go as long as the U win. Just another chance to see them live.

  18. Deez Nuggs says:

    I may be in the minority but I am enjoying the tournament precisely because of how CONCACAF it has been. Messi has been ridiculous, obviously. But for the most part the players seem engaged in winning it. Some of the other matches have been wild too.
    Last night though… wow that ref was bad. Completely inconsistent. Carranza absolutely fouled Pines by pulling him back, but it’s also true that Pines pulled him back to get the positioning in the first place. For me, that cancels out and the goal stands. 50/50 ball basically.
    The camera didn’t have a good angle but Gazdag absolutely got kicked on purpose. But the ref — who can call a foul he’s not even looking at! — should have booked the other player too.

  19. I’m curious… which juvenile comment?


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