Union match reports

Match report: Charlotte FC 2-2 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Ruairi Rossi

Philadelphia Union stole a point on the road Wednesday night, coming back from a two-goal deficit in the second half to draw 2-2 with Charlotte FC.

Justin Meram and Karol Swiderski scored second-half goals to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. But substitute Quinn Sullivan got the Union back in it with a quality finish before Daniel Gazdag buried a penalty kick in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Coupled with results elsewhere, the draw punched the Union’s ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

Jim Curtin heavily rotated his side from the group that drew 2-2 with FC Cincinnati on the weekend, changing five out of 11 players while switching back to the familiar 4-4-2 formation with Jack Elliott suspended. Up top, Tai Baribo made his first start for the Union, paired with Chris Donovan. Jesus Bueno and Alejandro Bedoya got the nod in midfield, while Olivier Mbaizo was preferred to Nathan Harriel at right back.

The game started fast on the turf of Bank of America Stadium, with Charlotte on the front foot and the Union eager to spring a counter. An early Philly corner nearly gave them the lead after an attempted clearance bonked off Chris Donovan’s head and seemed destined for goal, but the post intervened to save the hosts.

Not much else happened in the sloppy first half. The ball bounced weirdly on the turf over and over and over again. Each team bungled their few half-chances; Bedoya’s blast well over the bar matched by Justin Meram’s tame shot from eight yards out. Donovan and Baribo ran ferociously but couldn’t find a moment of quality.

Charlotte took the lead ten minutes into the second half. A poor touch from Baribo sprung the hosts, who worked the ball into the Union box. Damion Lowe did well to block a dangerous attempt from the center of the box, but the ball squiggled through Bedoya’s feet and fell to Justin Meram. The veteran attacker blasted his shot past a helpless Andre Blake, breaking the deadlock.

Curtin immediately threw Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre onto the pitch in search of an equalizer, but it would be Charlotte who got on the board next through Karol Swiderski. Brandt Bronico managed to get a good cross to the near post, and the Polish striker made an intelligent run to cut in front of Jakob Glesnes and flick past the stranded keeper.

Jose Martinez left injured for Jack McGlynn, but it was the fourth substitute — Quinn Sullivan for Alejandro Bedoya — who got the Union on the board in the 70th minute. The Homegrown combined to spring Carranza down the wing, then made a smart ghosting run to the top corner of the box. Carranza spotted him, and Sullivan produced a sweet first-time finish into the far corner.

Blake made his best save of the night with about 15 minutes to go, coming out of his net to stone Enzo Copetti at point-blank range. Union alum Derrick Jones also had a chance to restore the two-goal lead, but he fired his wide-open shot just inches over the cross-bar.

Charlotte gifted the Union the draw in stoppage time. Inexplicably, Brecht Dejaegere made a rash, awkward challenge on Olivier Mbaizo in the box, a stone-cold penalty that sent Daniel Gazdag to the spot. Gazdag sent Kahlina the wrong way, converting his 11th penalty of the year.

The Union now sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with six games to play. They take the pitch again on Saturday night in a long-awaited MLS Cup rematch against LAFC. Kickoff from Subaru Park is at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

Three Points
  • Comeback kids. The Union atoned from blowing a two-goal lead on Saturday to erase their own two-goal deficit tonight. Sure, Charlotte’s own stupidity helped, but Philly — sparked by Quinn Sullivan off the bench — didn’t stop fighting.
  • Goals against. Last year’s lockdown defense is a thing of the past. The Union haven’t kept a clean sheet in six straight league matches, and they’re averaging two goals against over the last four. That needs to tighten up.
  • Keep going. In this flurry of matches, the Boys in Blue need to find ways to steal points. Curtin’s heavily rotated side underwhelmed at first, but the flurry of subs got them the point they wanted. Grab three at home on Saturday, and it’s not a bad week at all.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Damion Lowe, Olivier Mbaizo, Jose Martinez (Jack McGlynn 67′), Alejandro Bedoya (Quinn Sullivan 67′), Jesus Bueno, Daniel Gazdag, Tai Baribo (Mikael Uhre 56′), Chris Donovan (Julian Carranza 56′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Matt Real, Nathan Harriel, Joaquin Torres, Jeremy Rafanello

Charlotte FC

Kristijan Kahlina, Nathan Byrne, Adilson Malanda, Andrew Privett, Jere Uronen, Karol Swiderski (Scott Arfield 86′), Ashley Westwood, Brandt Bronico (Derrick Jones 77′), Ben Bender (Kamil Jozwiak 77′), Enzo Copetti (Patrick Agyemang 86′), Justin Meram (Brecht Dejaegere 67′)

Unused subs: George Marks, Harrison Afful, Jaylin Lindsey, Kerwin Vargas

Scoring Summary

CHA: Justin Meram — 55′
CHA: Karol Swiderski — 61′ (Brandt Bronico)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 69′ (Quinn Sullivan)
PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 90+7′ (PK)

Discipline Summary

PHI: Jose Martinez — 52′ (foul)
CHA: Kamil Jozwiak — 89′ (foul)
CHA: Ashley Westwood — 90+1′ (time wasting)
CHA: Patrick Agyemang — 90+10′ (foul)

CHA Statistic PHI CHA Statistic PHI


Possession % 42.3 42 Duels Won 43
12 Shots 12 11 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 5 3 Saves 4
2 Blocked Shots 8 11 Clearances



Total Passes 350 17 Fouls 12
81.4 Pass Accuracy % 73.7 3 Yellow Cards



Corners 2 0 Red Cards 0
16 Crosses 7 1.9 xG







  1. Love him but maybe Bedoya is just a bench player at this point. Much better energy in the last quarter of the game.

    The defending on that second goal was some of the worst effort I may have ever seen in a professional match.

  2. Well… so here goes. I’ll tip my hat for salvaging a point tonight. The effort & result deserves that much.
    I did however hear through the grapevine tonight someone say, “watching the Union is like watching turtles fuck…” and for 70+ some minutes I couldnt agree more… I’m fatigued by so many of these players right now: Uhre, Gazdag, Lowe… chief among them.
    The manager sends out Chris Donovan and Tai Haribo Gummy Bear and neither one of those guys can play a lick from what I’ve seen … then subs on Quinn & Jack in some life preserver rescue throw….
    …Quinn, who can’t find an iota of space on the field is literally in the 40 day 40 night desert and he sure as shit rescues Jim Curtin (again) from his at times uncanny incompetence. Quinn (Anthony Fontana) Sullivan. The best player on the field… and tends to be so when afforded his precious metal —rare opportunity.
    Man for those who pay attention and care about my presence here all these years…that “Leagues Cup Cowardice Disaster Class” took all the wind out of my sail.

    …barely visit the site. Filled with old school acrimony. Hardly comment anymore…. Jim’s lost my faith a bit. Whatever. SHRUG. If you’re still in I’m happy for you. I’m offended the way someone who’s owed an apology is offended.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      We miss you around here Pachy, but as usual, you’re spot on. The “watching turtles fuck” comment was some of your best work. Stick around.

    • My son cannot fathom how Donovan sees the field at all. I personally would rather Sullivan. I think he has more raw talent and energy and creativity.
      Mid-season signings rarely impress. They need that first years to settle in. Only recency bias confuses that fact. Tai Baribo is eager, fast and trying really hard. But there’s no chemistry yet. Give it time. I could point to a hundred players before him that struggled their first season.

    • Dr.luciferwoo says:

      We will never win anything of importance under curtain. Time for him to go. But who replaces him is the only problem.
      I was a curtain must go guy a few years back. I’m glad he has proven me wrong. But he has had his chances.i highly doubt we win the cup this year. After we get knocked out first or second round, he must be let go.

    • On PPG, the Union are still the 3rd best team in a 29-team league. They’ve already played more matches than they did all of last season.

      I was at the Miami match, and I was as brutally disappointed —- nay, disgusted— as anyone. But the fact that you can be this angry with the 3rd best team in the league shows just how spoiled you’ve become by the achievements of the very coach you are slagging. Who, BTW, made excellent and timely subs on this evening (for a change).

      • Excellent point. As frustrating as it’s been supporting the club since the beginning, it’s important to keep things in context. I have friends who support other MLS clubs and they can’t believe that I get frustrated with the Union given the plight of their clubs. Just take a scan around the league and see how many terrible sides there are in the league. In that context, we’re doing pretty well.

    • Fans need to remember that the Union have played 42 games already this season in all competitions…… that’s more than they played all of last season. They clinched their 7th straight playoff appearance tonight. They will play a minimum of 50 games this season.
      Last season spoiled everyone. Enjoy the ride.
      It was nice that Quinn Sullivan actually produced some end product for once. Granted he’s still only 19. For all of the talent and promise though…. 4G and 2A thus far. And an underwhelming U20 WC too. It’s possible the Union and their style of play doesn’t suit his skill set. It’s very disappointing that Donovan is chosen over him a lot of the time.
      Still 6 games to go this regular season, plus the playoffs. Still time for the Union to get their moko back and make a run. There aren’t any truly great teams in the league this season. Miami making the playoffs….. would change the outlook though.

      • I think the comment on Sullivan’s production could use some context:
        Quinn Sullivan (MLS regular season career): 4g/2a in 1212 minutes/9 starts.
        Jack McGlynn (MLS regular season career): 3g/6a in 2742 minutes/25 starts.
        That’s not overwhelming production, but it’s not bad for someone who’s 19 and is regularly called upon to play out of position and/or as a last-gasp sub.

      • Some more context: Sullivan and McGlynn have completely different roles within the Union. McGlynn is a deeper lying playmaker/connector of passes. Sullivan is now playing the Bedoya role on the right side of the diamond due to the Union having 4 strikers and a lack of numbers in midfield.
        Sullivan is an attacking player. He’s out there to create goals and attack. That’s not McGlynn’s role. Comparing his goals and assists numbers to a more defensive minded player is not the correct context.

      • Okay, let’s compare him to Brenden Aaronson (MLS regular season): 7g/9a in 3635 minutes/48 starts.
        That’s almost exactly three times as many minutes as Sullivan. So Sullivan is on pace for 12g/6a over that same time frame.
        My point remains that Sullivan has pretty good production for a young player who rarely starts, rarely gets extended runs in the team, and is typically played out of position when he does play.

    • I don’t know what to say. I think terrapin porn has been the program for a while. I guess sometimes even turtle sex can produce some good results sometime? This direct, narrow football has to be precise. It also needs to be reactive, relying on pressing and turnovers. I’ll always favor a style that emphasizes possession. I’ve never been a fan of this diamond business.

      It is a crime that we’re not using Sullivan more. His finish last night was among the best, most professional strikes I’ve seen from a Union forward. And worked traditionally — to the wing, cut back to an open attacker, nice open foot strike. Perfect.

      Formations are not really important. Philosophy is. BUt I’d love to see this club scrap this underdog style and identity, get on the front foot, play our best young players, stop relying on a 10 who really isn’t one, and play better, more attractive, non-turtle fucking style.

      • I’m going to vehemently disagree with you on Gazdag. He is a phenomenal player. Our best #10 ever. He can make things happen and he is full of creativity. But he’s tired like everyone else. First half last night he barely saw the ball. Once our dps came on and changed the game with their gravity, he got it more and played well.

      • I think he’s a great player, too. And should be the first guy penciled into the starting 11 after Blake. I just wonder sometimes if he’s genuinely a #10, play-maker type. I think he’s more a natural 8, but that’s up for debate.

      • Sullivan was playing in midfield last night, and not up front. He’s been moved to the MF due to the Union’s lack of numbers there for the rest of the season.

    • As long as the Union are under Sugarman’s grip nothing is going to change. I don’t see the Union honestly competing for major trophies with their financial limitations! They are a good team. They aren’t a championship team.

  3. It’s Not the Same Game says:

    I hate artificial turf.

  4. Possibly the worst performance from a significant player since 2010. Jose Martinez was hideous tonight.
    Was a turnover machine for the first 15 minutes. Made one positive play in the 33rd minute. Made half a positive play at the 40th minute and then jogged around until he literally laid down in the 66th minute. Unbelievable. Nice come back for a 2-2 tie after the lay down. Go back and watch the replay if you don’t believe me. Hideous!

    • First he’s playing injured. On turf. Second what he buys you on defense makes up for his bad turnovers. Always has.

      • Made one defensive play in the 49th minute. Other than that, ZERO. Go back and watch. Zero!

      • I’m sorry. In the 33rd minute.

      • Defense is not just specific actions. It’s position and press and moving the game out of danger areas. But if you’re wondering, Jose had 2 clearances, 2 headed clearances, 5 recoveries and a shot (blocked). He won 3 of 4 duels. He completed 71% of passes and completed one of the (only) two successful dribbles. If you’re judging a poor game — and I happen to agree — remember that is compared to how lights out he usually is.

    • He can’t pass for shit. His takeaways are completely nullified by his giveaways. So frustrating..

  5. I, like many, wanted to turn it off after goal 2. That was some awful play. Turf argument aside, this starting lineup was barely a dying AA battery. Glad I stuck around to justify my entertainment choice for the evening.

  6. It was clear that we would have trouble scoring when the XI was announced. But I don’t see what else Jim can do given the brutal schedule we have for several weeks.

    Unfortunate slip by Bedoya on the first goal. Impressive run & flick by Swiderski for the second. Sullivan was impressive off the bench. Donovan has effort but insufficient skill. Baribo is going to take time to settle in, as is true for the large majority of MLS transfers. I give Jim credit for making exactly the right subs at the right times, for a change.

    The team is clearly not playing their best because they’re tired. Huge number of matches, and no relief in sight. I fear this last stretch could be ugly, through the fault of no one but the MLS schedule makers. For this match, on this day, in this context, I’ll take the point.

  7. Way go go getting a point on the road.

    BEAT L.A. !!! DOOP!

  8. 10 years and nothing. I never said he was a bad coach. But if being 3rd is good enough for you after 10yrs, you may want to raise your standards. Ive been with this team since day 1. Ive watch them eat shit for many a years.
    Im not angry. This is simply how i feel after 10 years. Curtian was given a long time to grow. But at some point, you cut you have to cut him off. I wont be loosing sleep over this or any lost cuz this is sports and not real life.
    I hope once again curtain proves me wrong.

  9. Thanks to another pk.

  10. Sure weve played alot of games. But what about all the chances over the last 6 years? Year after year of coming so close isn’t good enough. If this was any other important league in the world cutain would have been gone years ago. Trust me. Im a chelsea fan. I know..

    Also donavan has no right being on this team. Clearly just a depth siging cuz we wont spend money.

    • MLS is a salary budget league….. EVERY team has low cost players for depth. If the Union spent more on a depth option at forward, they wouldn’t be able to have a quality depth player in Midfield or defense. It’s trade offs. The Union are betting that they can develop centerbacks, and outside backs, and midfielders for depth, and the occasional starter. They have yet to develop a forward from YSC. They have developed a forward in Corey Burke, and are now developing one in Donovan.
      Donovan is a younger, lower cost version of Burke. An agent of chaos. He’s there to make defenders jobs miserable, and create chaos. If he gets a goal, great (that’s a bonus at this point). If not, at the least he’s going to wear out defenders having to constantly chase and battle with him. Then Philly brings in Uhre/Carranza…against worn out defenders. That’s the idea.

  11. I share the frustration of having a box full of silver and bronze but not gold. I don’t put the lack of gold on Curtin.
    . . .
    A good coach can make a bad team average, an average team decent, and a decent team great. With the hands he’s been dealt over the years, he’s produced that.
    . . .
    He also got sabotaged by the COVID rules and MLS refusal to reschedule in the 2021 Eastern Conference Final. That was the year we were most likely to win the MLS Cup given LAFC had already been eliminated in the playoffs.
    . .
    What he hasn’t been given like LAFC or Miami are purchased key players. Building the team has gone a long way, but crucially buying it remains relevant. Instead, ownership is more likely to sell prospective top tier homegrown players before golds are won.
    . . .
    Sugarman masters the art of cheap cost high value player developments and acquisitions just like in real estate. Buying the team when he did at the price he did has also turned into a wonderful return on investment. To get championships though, it requires spending on at least one or more key players who are reasonably certain to produce championships.

    • Totally agree. Curtin plays his best XI and everyone complains he doesn’t bring in enough subs when the subs are a downgrade from the starters. Last night he rotates the squad for the turf and 7 games in 21 nights and he’s at fault that they don’t win…even though they haven’t won on turf since they beat Atlanta in CCL at the start of 2021.
      These people who think everything is his fault deserve to see the team struggle to make the playoffs if Curtin leaves and someone else comes in.

      • I’m not one of those so I hope you aren’t lumping me in there. I’ve defended the guy.
        That said I cannot move past him nutsacking in that match… and going against everything the team stands for because of a 36 year old player no-one in world football has ever stopped. The hubris to think his team would be the first and in so doing abdicate the very fabric of what got him within a man bun of MLS Cup…. is one straw too much for me currently.
        Just is. I like Jim. I pull for him. I think he has done an outstanding job with what he’s been given.
        He lost me a bit over the summer though.

      • Minor quibble…. they beat Montreal in 2022 in the Big O, and they won at Portland last season too….
        Moving on, the rest is spot on. The Union are a model of consistency for the past 7 seasons. Earning 47 points or more in every one. If not for Covid it would be 50pts or more in 7 straight.
        Depth hurts all teams in MLS. LAFC and Philly are clearly the best constructed teams in the league. They are both in the top 4 of their conferences despite playing far more games then their competitors.

      • Thanks, Jay. I was working off of memory rather than looking things up like I usually do and I forgot that one of Montreal’s stadiums has turf (or that they played in Portland last year).

    • Agree fully on this larger perspective. And we do at least have one trophy to show for this era. And came within 60 seconds and a man bun of a second one…

      • And within MLS having their own tiebreaker from winning the one that would have put last year’s MLS Cup game in Chester.

  12. How is it that Apple’s coverage has still not improved after a full season. Why are they showing replays of the Union’s first goal 5 minutes later when the Union are bringing the ball up the field for another attack?

  13. santo bevacqua says:

    I dont post much because i dont like soccer but i love football, just to add some flavor to the Union they are a reflection of the coach. He gets the moneys worth out of the team. As for Donovan he may not have the skill set yet but i trust Curtin on his decision to play him. He is a hustler and he does have speed which cannot be coached.

  14. … did anyone else feel that despite being down 2-0 at half, the Union came out flat, again… and even after the proper subs at the proper time, they still appeared to be flat, low motivation.

    And after the penalty kick, seemed that only Sullivan had some urgency getting the ball to line up quickly, maybe get another quick goal with maybe 2 minutes left in referee added stoppage time…. but the goal celebration continued, and obviously NO urgency except to celebrate an away tie to an obviously inferior squad?

    In my mind Curtin IS fully responsible for motivation… and again, we come up short.

    PS: Defense looks ‘shoddy’ again…. and Martinez, despite his energy, continues to disappoint. Bedoya is only a replacement player now… Baribo will take awhile to integrate and please use Sullivan more often on offense. While he doesn’t out hustle Donovan, he sure has better skills and a nose for the goal.

    Beat LAFC!

  15. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Minnesota was up 3-1 on some lucky goals and the Galaxy came back on a hat trick scored by a 37 year old free agent that has six goals in six MLS games. Last year the team lost the Cup to a player with some pedigree who came on in the 97th minute. Maybe signing a seasoned player on a team with some pedigree would be something that might help. I get developing players is this teams heart and soul but it was an old seasoned vet that helped this team win its first playoff game and another in Ilsinho who changed more than a few games with a late substitution.

  16. As a fan of the Israeli national team I really like baribo and I’m gonna be constantly biased towards him. I think he looked decent tonight. A lot of running and good positioning. I’m gonna blame the turf for his lack to connect with the ball tonight. Hopefully he settles in

  17. Union played last night?

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