Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 Los Angeles FC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Last year’s MLS Cup between Philadelphia Union and Los Angeles FC was a barnburner, a legendary 3-3 match that some consider the greatest game in MLS history.

This season’s much-anticipated rematch in Chester was anything but, as the two sides played out a toothless 0-0 draw at Subaru Park on Saturday evening, the Union’s third consecutive draw.

The match set a league record for fewest shots in a single match, with six between the two sides.

For the second match in a row, Jim Curtin made five changes to his starting lineup. Two were due to injury: Jakob Glesnes — snapping his ironman streak at 101 consecutive league starts — and Jose Martinez. Jack Elliott and Jack McGlynn came in to replace them. Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre returned up top, while Nate Harriel took Olivier Mbaizo’s place at right back.

The long-awaited rematch of last year’s MLS Cup arrived with a surprising lack of juice. The daylong rain abated for kickoff, but wind whipping off the Delaware River made for a chilly night, and the relatively sparse crowd reflected it. LAFC’s poor form — just three wins in their last twelve matches — didn’t help either.

Within 90 seconds, Aaron Long picked up a yellow card, catching Carranza in the face with a trailing elbow. After several minutes of treatment and a bloody nose, the striker was able to continue.

The early stages of the match were sloppy and physical, with the heavy wind blowing toward the River End wreaking havoc on balls in the air. The Union had more possession than their usual game — 70% through the first twenty minutes — but couldn’t turn that dominance into scoring chances. Rain began to sprinkle down. Halftime arrived with a minimum of fuss.

Both teams made halftime changes. Tai Baribo replaced Carranza, who may have been feeling the aftereffects of the early collision with Long, while Denis Bouanga replaced the ineffective Stipe Biuk.

Daniel Gazdag appeared to give the Union the lead in the 49th minute, heading home a smash off the crossbar from Baribo. But the referee went to the monitor and spotted Uhre coming back from an offside position to touch the ball to Baribo, and correctly chalked off the goal.

Philly continued to have the match under control, but quality in the final third was lacking. A tasty ball through the box by McGlynn ended with Harriel scything the ball into the stands.

Very little happened the rest of the way. LAFC sent on the likes of Carlos Vela and Ilie Sanchez, to little effect. Curtin countered with Quinn Sullivan and Chris Donovan.

Sheets of rain came in waves, ebbing and flowing, but never breaking into a full on storm. Relatedly, the game finished 0-0.

The Union play another midweek match on Wednesday night, this time hosting FC Dallas before traveling to Columbus next weekend. Kickoff at Subaru Park will be at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points
  • Injuries mounting. The Union played a regular season game without Jakob Glesnes for the first time since 2020. With Jose Martinez and Leon Flach also out, the defensive unit was makeshift, though Jesus Bueno put in a good shift as the No. 6. And Julian Carranza could manage only a half.
  • Early yellow? Speaking of, should Aaron Long have seen red in the second minute for his elbow on Carranza? Maybe it wasn’t a clear and obvious error, but that might be given if it isn’t literally the first challenge of the match.
  • Draws for everybody. It’s a third straight draw for the Union — not bad given the quality of the opposition, but not great for a team trying to stack points and firm up a top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, Nathan Harriel, Alejandro Bedoya, Jesus Bueno, Jack McGlynn (Quinn Sullivan 79′), Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza (Tai Baribo HT), Mikael Uhre (Chris Donovan 80′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo, Olwethu Makhanya, Joaquin Torres, Jeremy Rafanello

Los Angeles FC

Maxime Crepeau, Diego Palacios, Denil Maldonado, Aaron Long, Jose Murillo, Ryan Hollingshead (Sergi Palencia 76′), Timothy Tillman (Filip Krastev 85′), Mateusz Bogusz (Nathan Ordaz 90′), Kellyn Acosta (Ilie Sanchez 71′), Stipe Biuk (Denis Bouanga HT), Cristian Olivera (Carlos Vela 71′)

Unused subs: John McCarthy, Erik Duenas

Scoring Summary


Discipline Summary

LAFC: Aaron Long — 2′ (foul)
LAFC: Sergi Palencia — 79′ (foul)

PHI Statistic LAFC PHI Statistic LAFC


Possession % 38.1 56 Duels Won 56
4 Shots 2 20 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 10 0 Saves 0
1 Blocked Shots 1 14 Clearances



Total Passes 332 11 Fouls 13
73.3 Pass Accuracy % 65.4 0 Yellow Cards



Corners 5 0 Red Cards 0
8 Crosses 9 0.3 xG







  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Taylor Twellman – just STFU and tell me who has the ball !

    What an asshole.

    Giving Alexi a run for his money.

    Rant off.

  2. For me, Damien Lowe was man of the match. Excellent 90 from him.
    Yeah that’s a red in the second minute. Long raises his elbow to the face and even makes a shove with it. He should have been off.
    This game — and the end result— went exactly as I predicted. Both teams play each other tight, but the weather was enough to strip the goals from it.

  3. Were they playing that terrible on purpose?

  4. What was going on with the LAFC subs? Since when do they get 6 in a game? Was the 4th official that bad at counting?

    • One was a concussion sub maybe…
      Didn’t matter the switched half the team and played just as bad.

      • If it was a concussion, I would have thought that whoever it was would have been checked by a doctor before coming out. I don’t recall that happening.

    • Union used the concussion sub at HT, Baribo for Carrannza. If one team subs for concussion or head injury, the other team is given a sixth substitute. He must have cleared the protocol test on the field, but Curtin said after the match Carranza was complaining of dizziness at HT, so the change was made using the rule.

      • So basically if a team is out of subs they should go headhunting against the other team to try and cause a concussion? That’s a great idea.

  5. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Zero shots!

  6. Nathan Harriel is where counterattacks went to die tonight. There was no chemistry between Bedoya and him. Just ugly from both sides. Both teams totaled zero shots on goal. Ugh.

  7. So much for Dynamic. Course weather and all. .
    Funny Union get beat up by commentators at half time with 68% possession and almost 200 passes complete and I’m thrilled. A couple sloppy layoffs to sideline nowhere ‘ghost runner on third’ misunderstandings but I thought they controlled the game pretty nicely and had a couple moments in final third where the timing was just off but the ideas were good and of course Jack on the ball in that area tends to wake me up from the usual Union Doldrums this test match —cause you know his Third Eye always spies a crack.
    And apparently I’m in the minority. Whatever.
    Let me tell you a story about Nathaniel Harriel. I don’t think he’s very good. He typifies the no talent player so valued in American soccer. All Bull.
    Can we discuss Michael Uhre’s feet now? Man had he fallen off for me. I don’t think he’s a lick good anymore. Buns me out. I was high on him but yea— he’s got ZERO ideas.
    Whatever squared… then cubed.
    I sit and watch and listen listen listen to ramble ramble ramble MLS Final rematch and draw draw draw and suck the lemon from the throat like Radiohead’s, Everything in its right place—LAFC are champs and I am still so fucking depressed they lost that game… that was it friends- that was the validation to this whole thing and they had it in their hands with 70 seconds to go… and some 9 handicap set to retire stole it.
    I’ll NEVER get over it. Let alone that jag off game against Miami two months ago which is still just salt in the gapping wound… of solemnness that is my Union heart.

    • I don’t post much, but I have commented something to the effect that Uhre has pace but certainly not the touch that Carranza and Gozdag display. Taribo seems to have better touch. I’d even offer that Sullivan sparks the offense during his cameos. We don’t get to see everything that happens during the week other than the tip of the iceberg on game day. I trust there are valid reasons for player selection.

      • Baribo arrived in preseason shape for a fall-winter spring league.
        He’s getting his conditioning worked up.

    • My comment leaving the stadium was that was a much more entertaining game the the 2-2 rock fest against Cincinnati.

      I thought Bedoya was invisible for large parts of that game.

      • Conditions and LA’s personnel put premium on speed.
        to my eyes it was one touch racehorse soccer.
        Bedoya does not do well with that combination. One touch, sure, he does that well. But the pace is now beyond him.

    • +1

      Last year was our opportunity. Budget teams don’t get many. Imagine having the depth (read $$$) to sub in your expensive DP at the last minute for one last leap on fresh legs before the farewell golf tour. Grrr.

      Now any attempt at parity rules are out the window with the InterMessi fiasco. smh

  8. The “barnburner” was suppressed by the rain, and there was nothing but dreariness shown tonight: dreary weather, dreary offense and a dreary lack of completion of passes that could, in better conditions, have permitted a successful attack. Too many dummies, too many backheels, too much attempted finesse in wet and poor conditions that do not permit such fine work to succeed. The only positive was that LAFC’s effort was even less organized. The stat that I don’t see yet is giveaways; is it possible that this game is a season high for total giveaways and for the Union by itself? Let’s hope for better on Wednesday.

    • Don’t forget our Simmons problem…lack of shooting in favor of the layoff.

      Yeah, that concludes the shit list. We needed the points at home today. Once again, we draw LAFC, a team we’ve yet to beat, regardless of conditions.

      • I was saying to my brother during the game that this game was a flashback a few years to the days when the Union attack would pass the ball around the box, with nobody confident enough to take a shot. Last night, it was more like they wanted the finish to be too fine, instead of just hitting the damned thing. With all due respect to Simmons, The Bust From the Land of Dust, the Union had that problem first.

  9. Can someone explain to me how Jack Elliott could play this game after getting two yellows and sent off in the last one? Isn’t that a suspension? The same thing happened with Bueno earlier this season.

  10. Does anyone know why Apple thinks we like watching a coach standing there or pacing rather than the game? Or why they think we like looking at a close-up of a player watching the action that we’re not watching?

  11. I chose not to attend last night… ’cause sitting in 60 degree, rainy, gross weather to watch that hyped mess? NAH.

    And like past recent matches (Messi, FCC, CLT, TOR) no motivation at all to WIN. NONE…

    And 4 remaining matches against Eastern playoff squads who ALL could finish above us in the table… Columbus, Atlanta, Nashville & NER.

    Total POOP
    … at the worst time of the season!

    • To make a play on your favorite word from your comment, perhaps because the workload mens the players are pooped, meaning exhausted?

  12. Once again, no one watched so no one cares. . How’s that stadium expansion idea sounding? Because more empty seats is what works up buzz….

    • Floyd, get back to the barbershop. Last night’s crowd was essentially the same as the Sixers drew for years with the exception of the weather that knocked attendance down. There’s nothing wrong with those numbers, except when soccer hating knuckleheads decide that their opinions are worth more than the air that they consume In voicing them.

      • Just advocating for the middle/working class consumer. I think all people should be able to enjoy and be able to WATCH the game. Not just the trust fund kids and main liners in our area. 10 year STH and played college ball( not very well) . Union aren’t interested in titles, they’ve admitted it which is why I stopped going. I still like to check in but I’m done giving big tech more of my money. Good call btw, I could use a trim. Cheer up buddy.

      • @Floyd: “10 year STH”

        If you are a current STH you can watch for free. Up to 5 different accounts can. If you are not a STH, well, that’s on you – but for $80 you can watch every game. $80.

        I am hardly a trust fund kid; neither are my kids. Your hyperbole is ridiculous.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      Advocating for the middle class? Cable isn’t free and $99 dollars for ten months of the season is very middle class.

  13. Not much to say after last night. Brutal conditions and two sides with too many matches in their legs. LAFC was content to defend deep while swarming the key Union playmakers in central areas (Carranza, Gazdag and McGlynn) and hoping to get chances on the counter. Union defending was excellent (Lowe, Elliott and Bueno especially).

    With two more weeks of midweek matches, that international break between the Nashville (10/7) and New England (10/22) matches is going to be crucial to getting this core group fit and healthy for the playoffs. Just one win during this stretch is gonna be crucial for seeding.

  14. The foul to Caranza was a straight Red. Curtain should have pitched a fit. Instead of just folding his arms . At least that would have inspired the team. The game weather conditions were horrible. NO surprise nobody scored. Messi and Apple have ruined the MLS. The leagues parity will be totally gone in a few years. There will only be 3 or 4 wealthy teams at the top sperated by several points by the others who will never reach the finals. This is Cincinatis season. They go to the finals the. Lose to St Louis or LA FC. Next year Cincinati will drop off the top when Velaquez leaves and they are vmbeat up after playing meaningless tournament games. Unless the Union get new ownership they will never be able to compete for the top DPs from Europe. They have done the best they can with there limited resources. I respect them for that. I will never have respect for LAFC,Miami or any team that just buys there way to the top. Apple TV Garber and the Messi hype make me sick

    • An we agree by now the man has earned enough respect to have his name spelled properly? How invested is someone to spell the guys name wrong by now?
      It’s Curtin.

      • el Pachyderm…. I have been following the Union closely since the beginning bad old days of Nowak. ( hope I spelled his name correctly ) I think Curtin is a nice guy and and an ok coach. He seems to get along with his players and he is level headed. However, when someone clobbers my best goal scorer with a deliberate hard elbow to the nose and I dont outwardly react with outrage to the ref and demand to the referee to have the video looked at for a red I am not doing my job. He needed to send a message to the team at that moment and not wait until his half time talk to the team. Sometimes you need to go out of character to get a different result even if you are thrown off the field.

      • Joe. I appreciate the sentiment and frustration. Duly noted.
        You did spell No Wack correctly BTW. 🙂

        Catch you later.

  15. I’m not sure what frustrates me more – Bedoya not coming off when he’s looking exhausted and there’s another game coming on Wednesday; or, the fact that there is nobody on the bench that you really want to see replace him.

    Have to question Curtin’s coaching to use a concussion sub to give LAFC an extra sub, then only use three of his five subs. And use two of the sub periods within a minute.

    Definitely a red card by Long to start the game. MLS likes to talk about a point of emphasis to protect players’ heads, but not when it causes a player to leave the game… Makes no sense.

    • Agree with you and Joe B – Long’s elbow to Carranza’s head should have been a straight red. Did VAR review this? A second look would have shown Long was laughing after it happened. It appeared that Long’s hit was intentional to get Carranza off his game (or off the field).

      Also, after watching the replay a couple of times, I did not see anyone on the Union was offsides on that goal.

      Can Curtain file a complaint with the league? It’s too late to change the outcome of the game, but Long should be fined and suspended.

    • In re the Union’s use of a mission sub at halftime.
      Yes, it gave LA FC an extra substitution.
      But it’s a rainy night that heightens injury risk and it also gave the union an extra sub opportunity.
      Being able to react to a late injury with a body is better than having to play a man down.
      Hindsight is what tells us that he did not need the extra sub.
      A principle of lineup management in any sport: Keep your roster’s ability to be flexible as long as you possibly can. Why do backup catchers in baseball not get used to pinch hit in the middle innings?

  16. To look on the bright side, Lowe played probably his best game yet for the club, the entire defense did a great job stopping lafc from getting a single shot on goal, and perea scored a goal for nycfc on loan

    • Agreed, shame the offense couldn’t produce. Uhre is starting to remind me of Andrew Wenger, totally ineffective and probably little confidence left. The only thing left for him to do to complete the comparison is for him to dribble the ball over the end line..

    • Josh H, +1.

  17. Sharing the sentiment re: LAFC. The irritating part is the Union have clawed so many impressive road draws at their place. For them to come here twice this year and not hand them an L is just maddening. I would love one more crack at them in MLS Cup, at the Soob this time. Cincy will draw Messi and get bounced early.
    Then we get revenge on Messi and LAFC in back to back weeks in blustery November weather at home. Soccer gods do your thing.
    Union have put themselves in a hole with Bedoya. Yes he’s your team leader, yes he’s good enough to be on the pitch for small windows of time, but I don’t want him gassed at the end or playing 65 mins. Yes squad rotation etc right now, but what are we supposed to do in a playoff game?
    Uhre. Time to move on. Give his minutes to Sullivan and Baribo please. I’d rather use his DP spot on Wagner.
    Most minutes for Baribo so far this year. Props for willingness to shoot. Not yet on the same page with teammates but that’s okay. He has a lively burst that Curtin and Tanner love in this system as a pressing ST.
    Props to Lowe for having a bounceback game, but Glesnes’ absence was noticeable on the offensive side of things. We take for granted all of the diagonal balls, dribbles into space, comfort on the ball, and forward passes. Lowe just doesn’t have that kind of talent. In a 0-0 clunker it could have helped in the build up.

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