Match Report

Match report: Toronto FC 3-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union were undone by a confident and revitalized Toronto FC Wednesday night 3-1.

The Boys in Beige started on the front foot. Their pressure was high and they won a series of free kicks and corners as a result, but failed to put any shots on frame in the process. The defensive posture itself made the hosts all but abandon their build out after only five minutes of match play. The Union were the early aggressors, but Toronto were better in possession.

By the quarter hour, the cool wind of Canadian north put a chill on the match’s tempo – the chaos became a chess match. The opening was a deflection that Jose Martinez blasted into the seats. The middle game was mostly a swapping of pawns. A double attack sullied the Union’s clean sheet however when a risky clearance on the left was mishit by Jakob Glesnes and fell to the Toronto attack – a few simple passes later, the ball was in the net by the foot of Lorzeno Insinge and the team at the top of the table was looking up at the team from the bottom, 1-0.

The Union’s press was still forcing turnovers, but their possession was simply disjointed – particularly in the final third. Toronto’s block was solid and the visitor’s touch was loose and movement was incomplete. A turn and shot by Mikael Uhre minutes before the half deflected wide off of a Toronto defender’s arm, but after a pause in play VAR declined to review the carom for a potential penalty.

The Union’s pressure did finally pay off moments before the half. Off of a throw in on the right, Uhre posted his man and turned, lofting a ball to the spot. Alejandro Bedoya flicked the pass behind him and Julian Carranza gathered the ball into the net with his first touch. It wasn’t more than the team deserved, but was against the run of play in that moment.

After three testy minutes of stoppage time, including a stinging shot from Federico Bernadeschi, the halftime whistle blew.

The second half started brightly, carrying over the first half’s closing energy. The Union especially missed several chances to run free, still working out the particulars of the Canadian turf while also giving away possession far too easily. After another maddening giveaway by Philadelphia, Toronto went the other way. First switching fields, the ball was then cut back from the right to Kerr who turned at the spot and rifled home past a shambolic mass of scrambling defenders.

It was 2-1 to the bad.

Just a few moments later, a Jonathan Osorio diving header in front of a trailing Olivier Mbaizo put the hosts up 3-1. Toronto broke down the Union’s block cleanly in a way the Union simply could not, while Mbaizo had himself another bout of weak-sided ball-watching on the way to a goal. Nothing about the scoreline or the match suggested the leaders were bottom-dwellers, and it was nearly a fourth a minute later when Bernadeschi put his near post pirouette just wide and a fifth after that when Kerr blasted the post himself on a 4v3.

Much like the Miami match from the Leagues Cup, facing the precipice seemed to pep the Union up. After fifteen minutes of that though, Philadelphia still had nothing to show for their reawakening.

Then, off a corner kick, Jack Elliott finally put one of his headers on frame – literally, and the carom off the crossbar was scissored back toward the goal mouth by Jesús Bueno. It was nothing doing despite a leaping save from Tomas Romero, the ball going out harmlessly. It was in fact the last useful moment for the visitors.

In six minutes of stoppage time, the most notable moments were those of Philadelphia frustration – an old song Union fans will know well. Bueno was sent off for a foolish challenge after a VAR review and his countryman Jose Martinez was given a yellow for his extracurriculars in the scuffle, enough to get him suspended for the weekend’s match.

Jim Curtin could only stand and watch.

Three Points

  • What’s old is new – Philadelphia rolled out the same starting lineup they used in their opener at the beginning of this year. That’s no small feat considering how much soccer they’ve played with at least a dozen more matches ahead.
  • Blame Canada – The Union lost an ugly match to Montreal early in the year. They lost another ugly one tonight in Toronto. Those things have nothing to do with each other but are resoundingly Canada’s fault. To the country’s credit however, Toronto’s home crowd was admirable given the franchise’s circumstances: loud and engaged from the first minute to the last.
  • Walk the line – The back four, Philadelphia’s core group, were not good. Without the litany, there just weren’t many moments when they looked competent and were punished for it.

Toronto FC

Romero, Petretta, Bradley, Rosted, Franklin, Osorio (Mbongue, 90’+), Coello, Ibarra (Servania, 90′), Insigne, Kerr (Vazquez, 80′), Bernadeschi

Subs: Gavran, Antonoglou, Mabika, Blessing, Pearlman, Marshall-Rutty

Philadelphia Union

Blake, Wagner, Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Mbaizo, Flach (McGlynn, 33′), Martinez, Bedoya (Bueno, 70′), Gazdag (Torres, 82′), Carranza (Donovan, 82′), Uhre (Sullivan, 70′)

Subs: Lowe, Bendik, Real, Harriel

Scoring Summary

TFC – Insigne, 23′

PHI – Carranza, 45′

TFC – Kerr, 58′

TFC – Osorio, 63′

Disciplinary Summary

TFC – Ibarra, 76′

PHI – Glesnes, 90’+

PHI – Bueno, 90’+ RED

TFC – Insigne, 90’+

PHI – Martinez, 90’+

TFC – Vazquez, 90’+


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Martinez is a complete idiot and a moron. He’s a stupid player who should just stay in Venezuela after the break.
    I won’t even get into asking how this is the same defense that only gave up 27 goals last year? They looked completely lost.
    And maybe the team needs to learn how to put their shots on target.

  2. Glesnes has been bad the last few games, but it reached a crescendo tonight. He’s played too many minutes this year. On the third goal, which killed it, it was like he and Mbaizo had never met before. But it was a team loss, they were all crap.Disappointing for sure.

    • Allan Stevens says:

      Phil, Glesnes, a fine defender, was caught unawares several times. Hopefully his play will improve as it is not matching last year or anywhere close.

    • Glesnes was bad tonight, but third TFC was off of a perfect pass.

      More mad about the first and second Toronto goals.

    • Yes all three goals on glesnes being unaware of surroundings or lacking urgency to cut down

  3. BMO continues to be the Union’s House of Horrors. Also, the Union continue to play Slumpbuster FC for TFC,,,,,
    No Martinez or Bueno for Red Bulls will make that must win game all the more difficult.

  4. Well let’s hope that was our Charlotte game from last year…insanely stupid yellow from Martinez that’ll cost him the Red Bull game…and with no Bueno, Jim’s gonna have to get creative with the midfield…we have 6 of last 9 at home, so plenty of opportunities to grab 2nd by season’s end, despite playing tougher teams.

  5. That was shit.
    Kudos to Toronto giving a shit at home in front of their newly appointed manager, hoping to be a pick me player going forward. I’m not sure one player played well tonight. Maybe Bedoya… cause he kept having that WTF look like I was hs big from the sofa.
    Tonight is a night when the style of play disgusts me. Whatever. Bollox.

  6. Even good teams have bad games, but good Lord did we sh** the bed tonight. Wagner was bad, Gazdag was invisible, and Glesnes had possibly the worst game I’ve ever seen him play in a Union kit.

    Meanwhile with several minutes left in stoppage time I got disgusted and turned it off, only to find out that Bueno got himself red carded! With Martinez suspended, and Flach possibly injured, I don’t know WTF Jim is gonna do for a CDM this weekend. He might have no choice but to play Jack Elliott there…

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Bueno at least was trying to make a play on the ball during the run of play after giving the ball away. Martinez essentially started the ensuing fracas, something you have to know not to do when you are one card away from suspension.
      What you should have wrote was “only to find out Martinez picked up a suspension. With Bueno getting a red card and Flach possibly injured…”

      • At the time I turned the game off Martinez had gotten his yellow (and suspension), but Bueno hadn’t gotten his red.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        By then it was clear that Bueno was potentially going to receive red since the announcers were discussing VAR reviewing it.

      • LOL so I must’ve gotten disgusted right between the yellow and the VAR review.

  7. At this point it seems to be part of the Union’s DNA to gift a bottom of the table team in a death spiral their signature win of the year. What is it? 4th win of the year, first in 14 games? So Union. Doesn’t seem to matter what kind of year they’re otherwise having.

    • Why not us has once more become “WHY US”? Again. We know how this movie ends.. And 2024 season ticket renewals are due…today. Timing is everything.

      • Tired of throwing good money after bad.Same old same old since 2010 and went from a full season ticket holder to a five game plan cause that limits the frustration, but I think the Apple deal may be the deal breaker going forward.Not being able to watch some games on cable means the League is doomed if you can’t keep long term fans.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      At least this time it’s less likely to cause every other team in the league a chance at a championship like the loss at the beginning of the season in Miami did. (If Miami squeaks into the playoffs, that will be a major part of the reason.)

  8. I think the U looked slow and tired. Almost as if they had played 10 more matches than their opposition.

  9. Glesnes had a great game last game but not tonight. The subs didn’t add much either. Don’t have a good feeling for this weekend.
    Where’s the new guy?

  10. Well that was a fucking disaster. Lose to the worst team in the league. Glesnes followed up a superhuman night with one he was responsible for every goal against. And Bueno comes on and has a good game only to get shown red. Martinez finished a trash night with a weekend off. No one played well. And Jim Curtin failed to set the mentality.
    MLS road games are hard. But that was the worst.

  11. If you can’t beat Toronto Forking C, you don’t deserve to win anything. You didn’t improve in any area. Blake’s run as the league’s elite GK is in its third act. I’ve said it before; Miami gets Messi. What do we get? Jack s. Inexcusable.

  12. Many good coaches over the years have said about bad losses, “We’re just going to burn that tape and move onto the next one.” Jim Curtin doesn’t have that luxury with that debacle. It needs to be parsed, frame by frame, to see where the defense has gone so far off the rails. Wagner pulls Elliott to the left for help, leaving Glesnes wandering without a clue as to his defensive marks in front of the goal. Two candidates for Defensive Player of the Year in recent campaigns are playing like they just stepped onto the field for the first time, and the results show it. If this is just decompression from the Leagues’ Cup, it would frankly be better to crash out of that tournament early than play this way. Jim needs to get the defenders squared away and fast.

  13. This team has the look of a quality side in the middle of a bout of psychological exhaustion. Too many matches and too many near misses at the edge of winning silverware. They’re not too far off the pace for points this season than last, but they have not once really looked like they did last summer. While people have rightly criticized the defense for last night, I have really yet to see our attack really take hold of a match. They seem mostly disconnected. A flash of brilliance here or there, but more often than not, they look lost. Not at all clinical. I don’t know. Their best bet now is to fight for as good a record as they can get to have playoff matches at home and hope they rediscover a bit of coherent form. I’m not terribly confident.

  14. The Union defense is put under tremendous pressure by the failure of the midfield to keep the ball moving forward. So many times we get the ball in the midfield only to immediately turn it over, Martinez being a high volume offender. When the mid/offense part of their game is lacking like that, the defense gets put on their heels …and they look too tired to keep up. I am still convinced Curtin is part of the problem, failing to motivate and making serious tactical errors (Miami lineup). He is a good coach making us only a good team.

    • The midfield/turnover comment is a good point. Nothing like having Toronto come right back down your throat because you misplayed a ball (again). And when they’re not being petulant, Bernardeschi and Insigne are class players. They know how to pull strings on the counter.

  15. Well. The U started off the season in the hunt for five pieces of hardware. The’ve shit the bed on all but one of them. Seriously…between the CCL, the USOC, and the League’s Cup…have they lost on a good game? The supporters shield is out of reach. Only thing that’s left is the MLS Cup, right?
    We do get to do it all again next year. So, there’s that.

  16. Relax fellas, in 3-5 years, when the union are sitting out of the playoffs no one will notice because no one is watching. The same 15-20 people post on this site every game including me and because of the short sightedness of the mls this league will become irrelevant. Kinda like the mlb did during the strike season in the 90’s. How you can accept and pay for an Apple subscription so 1 team can buy a legend/ team who will dominate the league is hilarious. I’m sure apple has no vested interest into seeing their product win a title…. Absolutely no fixing of games will happen I’m sure. Mls and Disney have a lot in common. It’s dominated by Mickey Mouse and has a cult following.

  17. Well the game was crap! They were terrible all over the pitch.then cap it off with red card,suspensions and injoury!!’

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