Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 (4-3) New York Red Bulls

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union survived a poor first half and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup after defeating New York Red Bulls in a penalty shootout.

Elias Manoel scored an early opener for the visitors, while Nathan Harriel notched the Union’s second-half equalizer. Jesus Bueno scored the winning penalty for Philadelphia.

Jim Curtin made three changes to the side that advanced from the Round of 32. Jack McGlynn and Leon Flach started in midfield, pushing Jesus Bueno and (interestingly) Mikael Uhre to the bench. Daniel Gazdag slid up top next to Julian Carranza in the 3-5-2 to replace Uhre. On the right, Nathan Harriel got the start over shootout hero Olivier Mbaizo.

New York took the lead after just four minutes. A misplayed touch by Julian Carranza at midfield fell right to the Red Bulls, who attacked quickly. Luquinhas played a tasty through ball to Omir Fernandez that cut out multiple Union defenders. Fernandez squared to the unmarked Elias Manoel, who tapped into a wide-open net.

Red Bulls were in the ascendancy, and Dante Vanzeir should have made it 2-0 after 15 minutes. Another bad Union turnover set up Vanzeir for a one-on-one chance right at the top of the box. Andre Blake was quick off his line and cut down the angle, forcing Vanzeir to slice his shot wide of the post.

After the shaky first 25 minutes, the Union settled down and dominated possession, keeping play in New York’s half. But they weren’t able to work the ball into dangerous areas, settling for half-chances and long-distance attempts. They entered the halftime locker room searching for an equalizer.

Philadelphia suffered a potentially significant setback early in the second half when Daniel Gazdag, trying to get on the end of a cross, got his cleat stuck in the turf, wrenching his leg back in an unnatural position. After some attention from the trainers, he was withdrawn for substitute Mikael Uhre.

The Union upped the pressure. Jakob Glesnes nearly had the equalizer off a corner, but his strike blazed just over the bar. Uhre looked to run free down the left, but just missed connecting with Carranza at the crucial moments.

The equalizer came through an unlikely option: Nathan Harriel. Off a corner kick, Kai Wagner’s service found the unmarked right back near the penalty spot. Harriel drove his header low and away from the keeper, leaving Carlos Coronel beaten.

Things got increasingly feisty after Harriel’s goal, with the two teams crashing into each other all over the pitch. Wagner, Jose Martinez, and Frankie Amaya all went into the referee’s book. Frustrations boiled over at the referee, too, with Olivier Mbaizo managing to pick up a yellow card while warming up for screaming at the official.

Harriel, feeling himself, nearly found a winner with a long-range shot in the 86th minute. His rifled hit looked destined for the far corner, but Coronel got down low to parry the shot aside.

With no winner to be found, the teams turned to a penalty shootout. Things went badly for the visitors at first. Lewis Morgan, subbed into the match just for this purpose, took a rather tame attempt, and Blake parried his shot aside. After Amaya converted, Daniel Edelman clanged his shot off the crossbar.

On the Union side, after Jack Elliott and Uhre converted their attempts, McGlynn’s weak effort was parried aside by Coronel. But Julian Carranza and Jesus Bueno both scored, giving Philadelphia the 4-3 win and advancing the Boys in Blue to the quarterfinal.

In the next round, the Union host Queretaro for the second time in the tournament, after thumping the Liga MX foes 5-1 in the group stage. That match will be on Friday, August 11 at a time to be announced at Subaru Park. Should the Union win, they’ll host either Charlotte FC or Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF in the semifinals.

Three Points
  • Daniel Gazdag. The Union’s star midfielder had to leave early after a non-contact injury to his knee. Hopefully it isn’t anything serious; Jim Curtin can ill afford to lose Gazdag for a lengthy stretch.
  • Just keep winning. Neither of the Union’s two knockout-round performances have been entirely convincing, but, if the goal is to keep playing, all that matters is getting the win. It helps to have a keeper like Andre Blake in shootout situations.
  • The magic of the Leagues Cup? This tournament hasn’t had a lot of juice, and a second matchup with Queretaro isn’t too exciting. But a possible semifinal against Messi or a trip to a cup final could make this all worthwhile for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Damion Lowe, Nathan Harriel, Leon Flach (Jesus Bueno 55′), Jack McGlynn, Jose Martinez, Daniel Gazdag (Mikael Uhre 55′), Julian Carranza

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Holden Trent, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo, Quinn Sullivan, Joaquin Torres, Jeremy Rafanello, Chris Donovan

New York Red Bulls

Carlos Coronel, John Tolkin, Sean Nealis, Andres Reyes, Cameron Harper (Lewis Morgan 90+5′), Luquinhas (Dru Yearwood 70′), Frankie Amaya, Daniel Edelman, Omir Fernandez (Kyle Duncan 57′), Dante Vanzeir (Peter Stroud 70′), Elias Manoel (Tom Barlow 57′)

Unused subs: AJ Marcucci, Ryan Meara, Matt Nocita, Hassan Ndam, Jayden Reid, Wikelman Carmona, Ronald Donkor

Scoring Summary

NYRB: Elias Manoel — 4′ (Omir Fernandez, Luquinhas)
PHI: Nathan Harriel — 68′ (Kai Wagner)

Penalty Shootout

NYRB: Lewis Morgan — miss
PHI: Jack Elliott — goal
NYRB: Frankie Amaya — goal
PHI: Mikael Uhre — goal
NYRB: Daniel Edelman — miss
PHI: Jack McGlynn — miss
NYRB: Sean Nealis — goal
PHI: Julian Carranza — goal
NYRB: John Tolkin — goal
PHI: Jesus Bueno — goal

Discipline Summary

PHI: Kai Wagner — 75′ (foul)
PHI: Jose Martinez — 79′ (other reason)
NYRB: Frankie Amaya — 79′ (other reason)
PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 82′ (dissent)
PHI: Jesus Bueno — 90+4′ (foul)


  1. The first 30 minutes of the game were the worst the Union have looked technically in a long time. Just everyone on the field totally incapable of passing balls at the appropriate speed or even in the appropriate direction. And it’s not like it was just the press. We’ve played against the press before. Straight up uncontested passes hit out of bounds or rifled at people’s groins. It was baffling.

    • The same thing happened all game vs DC

    • We are an older team at the end of long season playing a tournament with 3 or 4 days between games.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        The problem with that theory is that they did not play well against DC with 8 days between games and last night was 5 days since the DC game.
        Now they have to go 3 nights later and then potentially twice on 4 nights.

      • Deez Nuggs says:


      • The average age of the starting field players was 25. We didn’t roll out a team of geriatrics. And after the awful start the Union then controlled the rest of the game and looked like they actual knew what a soccer ball was. So I don’t buy the idea that we’re old and tired and that caused us to forget how to kick a ball

      • Nope. The problem was the lineup that Jim rolled out, with Flach asked to be more involved on offense, Gazdag as a forward, and the midfield not coordinating with the defenders or the forwards. Took 25 minutes for them to get their #$&* together, and then it took the introduction of Uhre and Bueno to make the offense work. Under no circumstances should Jim try that lineup again.

  2. Just hoping Gazdag is not seriously injured. Tournament is of minor concern to teams future regular season.

  3. And here I thought MLS refs were bad…

    • Gruncle Bob says:

      Yes, it must be said. That guy was AWFUL.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Agreed. No one had any idea what was a foul and what wasn’t…especially the guy in yellow. And how is it that New Jersey had 20 fouls to the Union’s 10 and yet the Union had 4 of the 5 yellow cards? Isn’t persistent fouling supposed to be a yellow?

  4. Aggravating that we played down to the competition yet again. Miami will destroy us on the 15th if we make it to the semis but keep playing like this. Had to explain to the younguns that Messi will not be walking around signing things lol…

  5. santo bevacqua says:

    So many games decided by penalty shootout, this maybe an indication of the leagues being equal in quality of play.
    Will the leagues cup be repeated next year?

    • the tournament is now set up as the annual qualification vehicle for clubs from Mexico, the USA and Canada for the successor to the Concacaf Champions League which may be called the Concacaf Champions Cup, although I don’t remember the new name for sure.
      So I suspect it is here to stay.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Until they realize how much money it’s probably losing with half empty stadiums…and worse next year when people realize they can opt out of tickets ahead of time.

  6. Zizouisgod says:

    It was evident that the tactics and personnel that Curtin rolled out did not work as RB overcrowded midfield and stifled the Union. The Union were in the odd spot of having too many defensive minded players on the pitch and little ability to stretch RB’s back line.

    Rather then burn a sub, he reshuffled things back into a 4-4-2 diamond with Glesnes becoming a de facto right back. It worked better when he brought on Bueno and Uhre for Flach and an injured Gazdag.

    Great to see Andre Blake getting back to his gamesmanship during the shootout, it made a huge difference.

    • McMohansky says:

      The substitutions changed the match. Horrible setup with no understanding to start. And everyone was beaten to second balls. I hoped he’d ditch it at halftime and pull Lowe who was off. Three cbs behind 3 dcms is weird. But taking Flach off was the key. Bueno plays hard on both sides of the ball and with so few creators on offense his ball winning abilities is needed. Our Venezuelan midfield is here to dominate.

      • I agree, Flach was and is horrible offensively. It looked to me his teammates (Wagner) refused to pass the ball to him. And when he did get the ball, he had no idea what to do with it. Bueno a much better option.

    • It was the same shape. 3-5-2. Uhre went in for Gazdag. Bueno went in for Flach.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Not if you observed the actual positions that the players took up. It was more of a diamond with Glesnes playing wider & higher while Harriel pinched inside.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Survive and advance. Not a good first 25 mins for sure but much better after that. Refereeing was just comically bad. At this point though, I expect nothing less. Really hope Gazdag is ok. See you Friday!?! Damn can’t even make the game Saturday… 2 days rest is brutal.

  8. How did Harriel sneak a springboard onto the field?
    I haven’t seen the replay yet but in real time it looked like he was two heads higher than everyone else

  9. New York scum. Should ease through the next round and hopefully go on to give Inter Miami a run for there money and defeat them once again, surely one ageing Argentine won’t stop us. No Surrender .

  10. PhilliBear1872 says:

    Making the quarters is huge for us, and drawing Querétaro next puts us in a perfect position to glide into the semis.
    After that I’m confident we can make the final and bring the trophy home, I don’t fear Messi and his Barca friends. They will fall eventually.
    I do have some fears coming up against Charlotte FC in the final though, they’ve had a great window especially signing an experienced midfielder from Scotland, Scott Arfield. He’s gonna be dangerous.

    Over and out fellow Phili boys.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      They won’t play Charlotte in the final, Charlotte plays Messi in the quarterfinals. Most likely, if they make the finals, the game will be at LAFC. (If it’s against anyone else it will be at Subaru Park.)

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        I cannot take another knockout game away at LA. SERIOUSLY

      • PhilliBear1872 says:

        Yeah.. I can see Charlotte FC and Inter Miami facing off before we meet either of those sides. My point is one man can’t make an entire team, Scott Arfield probably best player in America right now and can’t win them the cup.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Messi is an attacking artist. Nearly unplayable even at his age, and capable of making magic when he needs to. But as Dallas proved, Miami’s defense is still the same and totally open. The challenge is keeping enough goals going into their net to equal or best Messi in your own.

      • PhilliBear1872 says:

        Messi and Arfield are the top two attacking players in America right now, let them face off against eachother in the semis and we can pick off what’s left in the final (if we can beat Queretaro and pass semi final)

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Winner of Union-Queretaro plays the winner of Messi-Charlotte in the semis. Finals opponent can only be LAFC, Monterrey, Minnesota, or Nashville.

    • Don’t be overconfident about Queretaro. Yes, we destroyed them earlier but they looked a different team against the Revs the other night, played really well. Not sure why, it was essentially the same players.

      IMO, if we play Miami the difference maker will be Busquets, not Messi. He can’t be given time on the ball to create for Messi.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        Queretaro is a trap game. Too easy to go in overconfident and f it up.

      • Honestly they may have just taken inspiration from being beaten so bad… they are professionals and competitors after all. I respect the comeback mindset but their story ends in Subaru Park.

        I hope we can get back on against them though, we’ll need to be a cohesive unit again if we’re facing this version of Miami.

    • soccerdad720 says:

      look past quertaro at our peril– yeah a 5-1 result here before….but NE isn’t a bad team, and you can be sure NE wanted to win…but they couldn’t. Why not? Because Quartero can play. Obviously.

      • New England was missing three of their best players. Gil, Bou and Jones did not play.

      • PhilliBear1872 says:

        Not expecting Quetero to be as easy as last time, but surely they can’t push us out to ET and penalties.

  11. Andy Muenz says:

    Bringing on Uhre definitely made a difference with speed up top so someone could chase down the long balls.
    The defense was having major problems with their passing accuracy, even when they weren’t being heavily pressed. And the time it took to get the passes under control allowed New Jersey to ramp up the pressure even more.
    As said elsewhere, the ref was horrible. I guess it’s nice to know that League MX officiating is just as bad as MLS.
    Still on a potential collision course with LAFC who has won their two games by a combined 11-1 while watching much of their potential competition (FC Cincinnati, Club America, Leon) falling by the wayside.

  12. Anyone hear Curtin’s post game presser last night?

    We’re driving over the bridge listening to a very excitable Dave Leno… 97.5… and Curtin comes on and just faces the Pink Cows with comments about “an 11 game win streak… and the Cows talking smack down on the field”.

    Typical Cow game, typical Cow fans… Ref just horrible, but a gritty win.


    • Andy Muenz says:

      Go back to New Jersey (sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂 )

      • LMAO

        Curtin’s post game interview, a classic.

      • Way to go Jimmy boy! Doop.

        “But for a team and a group to be in 21st place [in the league], to talk and run their mouths as much as they do on the field, to be beat here 11 times in a row by us, is something where, yeah, I’m giving bulletin-board material. But I’ve kind of had enough of it.”

  13. Deez Nuggs says:

    Jim got the tactics completely wrong to start this game. He knew he was playing against a high press, but he still chose to pack the midfield and try to clog the lanes. He does that at the expense of an outlet. There are only two ways to beat a press (which he should know since that is exactly what we play): big switches or over the top. By removing Uhre from the lineup we had no direct option.
    Misplaced passes are a byproduct of the press — and the point of it is for the pressing team to grab the ball in the lane and break. I always think this team is good enough to play better through the press but it is harsh to knock on them when they can’t. Especially when we give RB the advantage by packing the midfield so close together.
    Carranza’s touch was off all night. It happens. But he had a couple chances he would normally score. Still great positioning.

  14. In Tanner We Trust says:

    McGlynn was the guy that saved this game in my opinion. He looked the entire first 55 mins like he was begging for someone to go overtop. As soon as Uhre comes in, he lofts 3 perfect and dangerous balls down the left. I believe it lead to 2 corners and that Carranza gaffe in front of net

  15. The second uhre came in the attack looked great. I realize some people get frustrated with his lack of goals and overall form but combined with his decent playmaking abilities and the amount of penalty’s or fouls he draws I still think he’s vital to the team

  16. Whenever the Union’s possession numbers approach the 60% mark, we tend to run into trouble. The team really has a hard time cutting through a defense happy to hang back. Thought we still created opportunities, but that final shot is too often not there. I honestly don’t care one way or the other what happens in this tournament, but I hope the U get it together for the back half (third?) of the regular season and MLS Cup.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Tournament is important in that right now it is their best spot at Champions Cup next year (top 3 qualify).

    • It’s a game against the Red Bulls… I don’t really think it’s a gods indication of how the seasons been going

  17. santo bevacqua says:

    Waiting patiently for barcelona geriatric to show up. The play of Harriel is encouraging he plays like an hungry dont messi with me style. Mbaizo is also good ,,,,,,Curtin is playing it diligently.

  18. The start was terrible!! It’s part the high press and part just too many players in the midfield. No real connection with each other. Its a running theme with the Union. The slow start just kills them. Nice to get back into the game with a great goal by Nate! Uhre was a clear difference off the bench. Really hope Gazdag is not a serious injury. Just a great player. Gotta love the noise last night! Wasn’t even a full house and the place was very loud! Hate the pace now. Games to close together! Ok…onward!!

  19. Jim’s lineup/formation choice was truly terrible. The team is having trouble scoring goals, so… you bench Uhre, effectively for Flach?? Who the heck is getting in the box when Carranza or Gazdag have the ball?

    After the subs, Uhre’s playing off the back shoulder was clearly huge, but the other thing was Bueno, getting into the offense, and into the box, repeatedly. If you’re playing the 3-5-2, you need 3 aggressive offensive guys. Flach, McGlynn, Wagner, and Harriel are not getting into the box. That lineup doesn’t work at all and I sure as hell hope Jim will retire it. Obviously, what to do instead depends on Gazdag’s condition…

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