Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 FC Dallas

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union produced a fourth consecutive draw on Wednesday night, as Quinn Sullivan’s opener was cancelled out by Alan Velasco’s strike for a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas at Subaru Park.

Jim Curtin made two changes to the group that played out a dire 0-0 draw against LAFC on Saturday night. Quinn Sullivan started at striker in place of Julian Carranza, who remains in the concussion protocol, while Olivier Mbaizo replaced Nate Harriel at right back. With Jose Martinez and Jakob Glesnes again absent through injury, Jesus Bueno and Damion Lowe kept their spots in the team.

Originally scheduled for August, this fixture arrived on a late September evening in midweek thanks to the Union’s deep run through the Leagues Cup. Those circumstances may explain the many empty seats around Subaru Park at the time of kickoff. The sides walked out of the locker rooms and onto a unusually battered pitch, courtesy of a lacrosse game on Sunday.

Everything early from the Union went long — long balls over the top, long passes down the wing, long shots from outside the box. That strategy led to the opener, delivered by Quinn Sullivan after 25 minutes. Andre Blake claimed a free kick and unleashed the counterattack, flinging the ball to Kai Wagner. The left back’s ball from near the midfield line split two defenders and found Sullivan, who capped his full-field run with a powerful finish that left Maarten Paes with no chance.

Blake earned a secondary assist on the play, making him the first keeper in Union history to record one.

Alan Velasco spent the early going getting into challenges with Union players, picking up a yellow for dissent for his trouble. He had his revenge on the crowd by equalizing for Dallas in the 36th minute. The visitors dispelled a stretch of Union pressure and exerted a few minutes of control of their own. Damion Lowe attempted to clear a cross by Paxton Pomykal, but it fell to the Argentine attacker just outside the box. Velasco hit a sumptuous volley with pace and power, curving away from Blake and nestling inside the far post. Boos rained down as Dallas celebrated their goal.

Philly came out firing in the second half. Alejandro Bedoya nearly reclaimed the lead, making a great back-post run and heading a tantalizing ball from Jack McGlynn on goal. It looked destined for the back of the net, but Paes made an excellent reaction save to keep the honors even. Paes stood on his head again not long after, just managing to palm aside a deflected shot from Mikael Uhre.

Dallas brought on Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira in search of a winner. With fifteen minutes to go, Curtin countered with Tai Baribo and Chris Donovan up top, pulling Sullivan into the midfield in place of Bedoya. Dallas’s substitutes combined to spring Ferreira in on goal, but Blake did well at his near post to parry the shot aside.

Arriola seemingly broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute, but VAR saved the Union. After Mbaizo committed a foul, Dallas put together a well-worked free kick routine, working it to Arriola. His first shot deflected off a Union player but rebounded right to him, and he fired past Blake from close range. But several minutes of video reviews revealed that the rebound appeared to deflect off Arriola’s arm, and referee Fotis Bazakos waved off the goal.

Neither side threatened in stoppage time, and the fans left home dissatisfied for the third straight home match.

The Union play their fifth game in fifteen days on Saturday night, traveling to Columbus to take on the Crew. Kickoff between the third- and fourth-place teams in the conference will be at 7:30 p.m. Eastern from Lower.com Field.

Three Points
  • Quinn Sullivan. Not the Union’s most heralded Homegrown, the energetic attacker has come on in recent weeks. His goal was an excellent piece of work, and his running — both offensive and defensive — impressed all night long.
  • Leaky backline. No clean sheet for the seventh time in eight league matches. With four games to play, the Boys in Blue have already allowed ten more goals than they did last season.
  • VAR again. This time, it helped the Union. But — at least from this vantage point — it was hard to see that the ball “clearly and obviously” deflected off Arriola’s arm, not least after taking four minutes to look at all the replays.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, Olivier Mbaizo (Nathan Harriel 86′), Alejandro Bedoya (Tai Baribo 75′), Jesus Bueno, Jack McGlynn, Daniel Gazdag, Quinn Sullivan, Mikael Uhre (Chris Donovan 75′)

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

FC Dallas

Maarten Paes, Sam Junqua, Nkosi Tafari, Sebastien Ibeagha, Ema Twumasi, Dante Sealy (Jose Martinez 79′), Liam Fraser, Paxton Pomykal (Eugene Ansah 90+1′), Jader Obrian (Paul Arriola 68′), Alan Velasco (Asier Illarramendi 79′), Jesus Jimenez (Jesus Ferreira 68′)

Unused subs: Jimmy Maurer, Amet Korca, Marco Farfan, Facundo Quignon, Eugene Ansah

Scoring Summary

PHI: Quinn Sullivan — 25′ (Kai Wagner, Andre Blake)
FCD: Alan Velasco — 36′

Discipline Summary

PHI: Olivier Mbaizo — 21′ (foul)
PHI: Jesus Bueno — 24′ (foul)
FCD: Alan Velasco — 28′ (dissent)
FCD: Ema Twumasi — 90+1′ (foul)

PHI Statistic FCD PHI Statistic FCD


Possession % 56.1 38 Duels Won 48
19 Shots 7 11 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 4 3 Saves 3
7 Blocked Shots 1 15 Clearances



Total Passes 512 12 Fouls 9
83.3 Pass Accuracy % 85.7 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 2 0 Red Cards 0
15 Crosses 14 1.5 xG







  1. Out of bodies, out of ideas. Don’t look for a deep playoff run unless something big changes.

  2. Whew.
    Well….at least they got a point ?

    Poor guys look worn out.

    Healing energy to all the Union

    players ~

    Rest up, you can still decide your

    own fate.


  3. First, on the tv feed it was 100% clear and obvious off the hand. Nothing Arriola did or could do about it, but thems the rules. Had his hand not been there it would likely not have fallen where he could bang it in. So.
    I thought the Union looked pretty dominant the first half. Several unlucky misses. Halftime stats bore that out with 1.2+ xG. Take nothing away from Velasco’s strike; it was special.
    In the second half we started strong again. But it just felt like the U ran out of gas. You can’t tell me they aren’t dead tired. Don’t forget we’ve played more games than most teams out there.
    The run in to the the playoffs is murder too. No easy games in this set. We’re going to be lucky if we stay top 4. But who knows. Maybe the others will slip up enough.

  4. Two moments of brilliance followed by 99 min of more of— the same.
    I remain uninspired. Your job is to inspire and entertain. I am neither inspired or entertained.
    Maybe my buddy is right, he tells me constantly it is over. We haggle and argue and I continue to defend the model… the way loyalists defend to confirm their biases… the defense grows weary at the moment.
    If this is the outcome of ‘success’ which demands so many games but personnel are not acquired to manage those extra games— I’m not for that success… in this model.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      I think this is the next MLS/international 5.0. 35 man roster coming to play 60 games a year and an expansion of the cap/budget. There was a good article on the ad revenue of Leagues Cup and it was well beyond expectations for the first year, with many more companies wanting in next year. Count in the new revenue with Messi for the league and three straight soccer tournaments the next three years in North America and yes, this is the evolution of MLS and the international game here with yet another tournament in the America’s Cup still to be finalized.

      • I appreciate the POV. Union will have to find a way to remain relevant against what is going to become more and more spending.
        I am concerned about it. I am concerned Jay Sugarman is not going to evolve… and truth be told the system of play and the deployment of players and the depth for the system has to continue evolving otherwise Union will be archaic.
        Even Pep Guardiola (extreme example) continues to evolve his playing style and suits it to the expertise of the players he has.
        We’ll see.

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        I agree whole heartily but he is the same owner who hired two competent Sporting Directors after he fired Sak. The Union have had a good run but much like the Red Bulls & Revs come up short in big games. Is that the coach, the talent, the system….. I’m not sure but it would be nice if we could buy some big time talent and see how that works.

  5. Dallas is the most Concacaf team in MLS. Lots of flopping for calls.
    That said, neither of these teams is going far in the playoffs based off of tonight. The U just don’t have that same spark that they had last season.

    • Alan Valasco was maddening last night. He has no professional dignity with all of his falling, flooping, and whining.

      • Highlight of the evening was the yellow card issued to that whining child.

        And assuming he’s back up to Ferriera, WOW… just an impressive display of PIA behavior all MLS refs now are aware.

      • He’s uber talented, but he needs to spend more time emulating his idol and countryman Messi instead of the flopping and crying about not getting calls.
        Hell of a strike by him to level things.

  6. The team is clearly spent after so many matches. The league is going to have to take a look at this for next season.

    Meanwhile, missing 3 of our best players, it took Paes making 2 magnificent saves to deny us a victory. Unfortunate, and a bit unlucky, and that’s how this game goes sometimes.

    People saying “don’t expect a deep playoff run” have perhaps not realized that there’s an international break before the last match, with a bunch of time for (most) players to recharge.

  7. Not much other than Wagner’s pass, Sullivan’s finish, and Lowe’s a beast. Not a cup contender with roster holes, but a solid season nevertheless. Not sure about next campaign.

  8. Scottso raised a good point. The international break will help rest them for the playoffs. That’s only helpful for the last match for the crucial seeding, though.
    . . .
    Top European teams go deep in tournaments and still perform well in league. Top teams want the tournaments for multiple opportunities for glory. I certainly do.
    . . .
    The draws are killing our playoff seeding chances. It takes three draws to equal just one win, and more wins is the first tiebreaker in MLS as we painfully know from last year. It’s a foolish and atypical rule but a reality for our purposes.
    . . .
    The point spread is so thin that we could either finish second or be on the road the whole time depending on threadbare stats.
    . . .
    This is where mental discipline is clutch. We have four matches left. I hope the drive is there to finish strong with home field matches and favorable opponents.
    . . .
    This is where mental discipline is crucial where either they find it within themselvew to finish strong or else backside into the playoffs. We’ve seen the latter before 2020. The team needs to believe amd commit like they did in recent years. The MLS Cup is there to be had again. They need to always go for it.

    • “favorable opponents”??

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      We won’t be on the road the whole time this year as they changed the format for the first round with three games and first to five points winning. Every team in the first round is guaranteed one home game.

      • Thanks for the update. Just looked at that. Frankly, I’d rather the old way. That’s 1-2 additional matches with possibly two back and forth on the road between the first and possible third.

      • First to 5 points isn’t 100% correct. You could win the first game and draw the other two but lose both in PK’s. Then you have 5 points and your opponents have 2 or 4, depending on how you count the win in PK’s, but in either case your opponent advances despite the fact that you beat them and they didn’t beat you.
        Once again, MLS does its best to demonstrate that it is a joke.

      • It’s more correct to say the playoff round 1 games are win or lose, not points based. So really it is first to two wins, no matter whether they are penalties or regulation wins.

      • John P. O'Donnell says:

        I stand corrected. Win two games is correct.

  9. This is horsesh1t. Giving away 2-fers like Reese’s Pieces on Halloween. UNACCEPTABLE. Imagine if we had a Messi-like offensive scoring machine. This is not going to end well. Get a coach and an owner committed to winning

    • Yeah, that’s intelligent. Blame the coach because they don’t have Messi-like players, especially when their top offensive threat is out with a concussion.

      • Motivated to win?
        Seems that is lacking this season… no ruthless finishing, especially Urhe… and yes, everyone knew how many matches we could play this year, and whining about or the ‘tired’ play we are enduring… does not seem correct.

        The goaltender situation this season was a microcosm of the overall roster… so to expect anything in the playoffs this year is foolish.

        What will be, has been.


      • Motivation, yes, that is on the coach. Not having a Messi like player? That’s 0% on Curtin.

  10. The owner and the coach knew how many games this team would have to play. But were unwilling to prioritize one competition over others. (Well, except de-prioritizing the Open Cup, where historically the team has had the most success: 3 finals – all lost, but then this team has lost every final its ever been in, all with Curtin as coach.) And didn’t bring in quality players to play more minutes, or have been unwilling to play second stringers. Why loan out Brandan Craig when he’s not going to get any playing time on his loan and you only have 3 center backs, and frequently play a formation with 3 center backs? That’s poor roster construction and management. And I’m tired of hearing how the salary cap restricts our signings or the quality of our signings. Didn’t seem to impact the quality of Miami’s signings.

    • Right…? I’m just amazed how Miami could sign 3 elite players within a few weeks… I thought the apple deal, which will not benefit the mls, just garber and the owners in the short term, was supposed to bring a windfall of money to all the clubs. The team needs a rebuild unfortunately. It happens. Just have to wonder with no eyes on the team beside STH is will anyone show up when they’re at the bottom half….

      • Just maybe the league caught up with Curtin’s strategy this season compared to last season… Jim too stubborn to change… and that our ruthless finishing took us to the MLS Cup last season and this year is missing.

        I feel like a Mets fan this season.
        LOL! Poop.

    • Craig was expected to get playing time in Austin. The Union obviously weren’t privy to the fact that Austin was planning on signing a more veteran player for the spot.

    • Sounded like Craig asked for it because he thought he’d get playing time there

  11. So 4 matches left, all against teams trying to surplant our table position… Columbus, Atlanta, Nashville, New England… and we’re too tired to WIN?

    Seriously? Boo hoo… I’d bet there are probably 200,000 other soccer players globally who would NOT be tired, right?

    Give me a break, please. This team knew the potential games this season… so any excuse is just that.

  12. I can’t really work up any righteous indignation about the state of this team. They’re coasting right now. Lateral drift. I’d like more, but I can understand. It’s clearly an off year across the league. There are, what, 4 games left? And the Golden Boot leader is Lucho Acosta with 15 goals. It took 23 to win last season.

    I think the Leagues Cup is largely responsible. That, and for a team like the Union that relies on intensity, those extra matches catch up. I think Tanner knew he was going to need to do more to refresh the team, and his signings — Perrea and Torres — missed the mark.

    This team is going to need to do some serious retooling after the playoffs. Just gotta hope that we get good money for Carranza and McGlynn, if they are indeed sold. This squad’s odometer is really high. It’s time for a refresh.

  13. Totally off topic, but it looked like Curtin was wearing a Nike jacket on the sideline. I can’t imagine the suits in the league office and at Adidas will be particularly happy about that.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      I thought something looked off. That’s it.

    • Curtin has a Nike contract… that’s why he is allowed to wear Nike gear. Same as players who have Nike/Puma contracts are allowed to wear those cleats. Only players without any contract with those organizations must wear adidas.

  14. We need at least three quality strikers in the off-season to compete next year. We really missed Cory Burke this year, Carranza is probably moving on and Uhre is just another friendly ghost (should probably see if Chicago will go for him). Add to that a left wing back (Tanner won’t pay Wagner) a right mid (Bedoya is done), a defender and a backup goalie with some skill. My Christmas wish list…..I feel like this year is not the year we win a trophy (really hope I’m wrong) and next year will be tougher to beat Miami..

  15. I was at the game last night and am equally frustrated by their performance lately. And I agree that they look tired.
    But they did bring in a bunch of players to prepare for this larger schedule. The players they brought in just didn’t pan out. Perhaps the talent spotting genius of Herr Tanner has regressed to the mean?
    They brought in Damion Lowe, Joaquin Torres, Andres Perea and promoted Brandan Craig. Jesus Bueno was in his second year and expected to improve. Quinn and Jack were both looking for more playing time.
    When they only played 4-4-2 they loaned Craig out to Austin for playing time, then Austin hired a veteran center back. (One would have thought there would have be a clause in the loan about x amount of playing time or the loan self-terminates).
    Then they switched to playing 3 in the back regularly, unfortunate with the loan already complete.
    After the union’s record-setting goals explosion last year, who could have foreseen that Uhre would lose his mojo and Gazdag would have only one non-penalty goal?
    We have seen this group perform at a very high level before.
    As has been said above, I hope a little rest during the international break helps them to get their mojo back.

    • I wish I could remember where I read it… Tanner talked about how the club’s ‘moneyball’ approach meant that transfers were high risk. He needs to find a lot of quality per dollar spent. I think he tends to score more than miss. Agree that loaning Craig out seems ill-advised, but also read (somewhere) that Craig pushed for the loan. Wanted more playing time.

      • He 100% ‘wanted out.’ Tim Jones highlights this in his most recent article.
        For whatever reason Jim and Ernst deem him not ready yet the player feels Union 2 will not teach him more.
        I’d argue for a move to USL personally but whatever… I’m not a GM.

      • Apologies to Tim for forgetting I’d read that in his good piece from yesterday.

        Agree on USL. I’d think anywhere the kid could get minutes would be good. I’m surprised it’s not part of the loan deal.

      • Its not just anywhere he can get minutes. If it was just minutes, he could be playing for U-II. Its minutes in a place that pushes him and allows him to grow. That is the challenge, especially if other GMs agree that he is not quite MLS ready.

  16. How many player-games did the Union lose to injury over the 2021 and 2022 seasons. I believe it is dwarfed by the number we have lost this season. Part of that is the number of games and less time for recovery. Part of that is also reverting to the mean. Those injuries shorten the bench, and stress the rest of the squad, causing more injuries.

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