Match Report

Match report: Columbus Crew 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A heavily rotated Philadelphia Union stole a point from a fairly dominant Columbus Crew on Saturday night in Ohio.

Just three minutes in, a well-worked bit of possession by the hosts nearly bit the Union. A first-time shot by Diego Rossi was just wide, though Columbus were active and throughly dominated the first ten minutes. Shortly thereafter, the Union were nearly awarded a penalty against the run of play after what might have been a handball by the Crew in the box, but it wasn’t to be – nor was it a handball, irrespective of what the video official might have said.

The video assistant was called upon again in the twentieth minute after Alejandro Bedoya was scythed down in transition. No foul was called at the time, and no foul was called upon review. The Union hadn’t earned their penalties and none had been given, but they had grown into the game.

The Crew were working hard while in possession to break down the Union’s compacted defense. Going the other direction, outlets Quinn Sullivan and Chris Donovan had the pace to test their marks but their movement wasn’t good enough. As a result, Columbus was banging on the door, hitting the side netting several times and stinging Andre Blake’s goalkeeper gloves several more.

The Crew kept coming though and it led to a chaotic end to the first half, with a seemingly injured Blake (not taking goal kicks and “grabbing his left knee,” according to Taylor Twellman) having to play Superman just to keep the Boys in Blue in it. Columbus was poised and suffocating, the Union organized and both lucky on defense and unlucky in attack.

The Union made a triple change at halftime, bringing in the entire tip of their starting spear but keeping their 3-5-2 formation. Within five minutes, the visitors had the lead when a corner kick from Kai Wagner found a leaping Nathan Harriel’s head. He smashed the ball down and to the near post and it was 1-0 to the Union, well against the run of play.

A moment later, Daniel Gazdag was through 2v1 with Mikael Uhre heading toward the far post unmarked. Only a diving Crew defender saved the scoreline from blossoming to 2-0. The hosts were reawakened by the goal and the near two-goal hole and began pushing numbers forward. That choice meant there was space in behind – space the Union exploited to a text book second goal on the counter. One that was unfortunately but correctly ruled offside.

Then, a mere moment later, Julian Carranza was pulled down on his way to goal again – a clear denial of a goal-scoring opportunity – but Uhre picked up the loose ball and ran on, clanging his 1v1 chance off the crossbar. As a result, the Crew weren’t awarded a red card and the Union weren’t awarded the goal. The application of the law was the opposite of the game’s attempt at avoiding double jeopardy in those situations.

Columbus earned their chance for an equalizer after a dangerous free kick rang off the Union’s wall, but hit Jack Elliott’s arm in the process. His extension wasn’t necessary, as Kai Wagner had taken his place at the near post where the ball was headed, but it was the right call. The Crew converted and it was all level, but with the hosts on the front foot heading into the final quarter of an hour.

That final stanza was full of open spaces, end to end attacks, and a bevy of half- or quarter-chances. Neither team’s offensive chemistry was enough to break down the other’s defensive line and the Union got out of town with a point.

Three Points
  • Change: The only constant is change, except with Jim Curtin’s Union – who usually play the same starting group match after match. The Union are tired though and some important players needed a rest, and got it. Then he made three substations at halftime, also all but unheard of. “Match congestion is a heck of a drug,” as the saying goes.
  • A moral hazard: The Union could’ve stopped play, complained to the official, and earned themselves a man advantage in the second half. Instead, they played on, took a shot on frame, and were left without a goal and without the extra man. Soccer’s rules are odd sometimes, but they shouldn’t reward anything other than playing on – in this case they did, and the Union paid the price.
  • Drawings: The Union continue to share points with their foes and, in doing so, barely keeping their Top 4 place in the Conference. With just a handful of games left, they’ll have to be better if they want to keep their home field advantage.

Columbus Crew

Shulte, Amundsen, Camacho, Moreira, Yeboah, Morris (Ramirez, 60′), Naobe, Gressel (Farsi, 80′), Cucho, Matan (Molino, 85′), Rossi

Unused subs: Bush, Russell-Rowe, Vallecilla, Arfsten, Cheberko, Medranda

Philadelphia Union 

Blake, Lowe, Elliott, Harriel, Wagner (Real, 77′), McGlynn, Bueno, Bedoya (Gazdag, 45′), Mbaizo, Donovan (Uhre, 45′), Sullivan (Carranza, 45′)

Unused subs: Bendik, Makhanya, Rafanello, Torres, Baribo

Scoring Summary

PHI – Harriel, 50′

CLB – Cucho, 73′

Discipline Summary

PHI – Lowe, 52′

CLB – Amundsen, 67′

PHI – Elliot, 72′

PHI – Wagner, 72′

PHI – Bueno, 72′

CLB – Cucho, 84″


  1. If that’s not supposed to be a red, the DOGSO rule needs to be changed. And then no second yellow when the same player fouls Carranza again? No wonder Columbus only has 1 loss at home when they get calls like that.
    Unfortunately, another blown lead (3 in the last 5 matches) for the Union’s 5th straight draw.
    Now the Union have to face a well rested Atlanta team who will have had 10 days off by the time Wednesday rolls around. (Fuck you MLS for having an odd number of teams.)
    I hope Wagner’s injury isn’t serious and that he is able to go Wednesday.

    • Wagner suspended for accumulating 5 yellows. He could use a rest.

      • Didn’t realize he had picked up a yellow. Obviously the announcers had no clue what was going on. 3rd suspension for the Union this season for a yellow during a dead ball situation.

    • I take your point on the rule, but I don’t feel bad about it.
      . . .
      The problem is that Uhre is DOGSHITSO. He ultimately wasn’t denied the chance. He flushed it, so why reward him.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I could understand not giving DOGSO if it was Carranza who got up and got the ball and took the shot. But when your defense is so inept that they can’t stop someone else from getting it? The initial player was still denied.

    • Should have been a red, for sure. Union got hosed in this one, but a point on the road against a good team is not a bad thing. Hope the Boys in Blue can hang on to 4th spot in the Eastern Conference.

  2. Look… that’s a good hard earned point… but if anything sums up Michael Uhre’s season better than that moment I dare you to challenge.
    The last three games are tall orders… I’d take 6 points gladly- finish where they finish and see if they can get healthy and organized for a playoff run.
    Michael Uhre… come on man.

    • Not sure where 6 points are coming from. They’ll have tired legs against Atlanta and will be lucky to get a point. They might get 3 against Nashville, but then they have to go to New England who hasn’t lost at home all season. My expectation is 3 points.

    • John P. O'Donnell says:

      Michael Uhre is not a DP quality player. I’ve said it…. Prove me wrong.

  3. Uhre has to do better when he is 1-1 with a goalie. He had to finish that!!!

  4. Phil Friedman says:

    With Wagner suspended Wednesday, they’ll need to go to a back 3 (Glesnes better be ready).

  5. Haven’t seen the game. Spent the day with family. But I’ve been seeing Uhre have a tough time in front of goal for a hans full of games. He seems to have lost the plot of his season! I know the rotation is amazing! Jim is catching on to try and rest his guys! I’m good!

  6. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Grrrr…arrrgh. ($1 to the closing credits of Buffy the vampire slayer). 0-0-5 in its last 5. And the U’s fire sale on points keeps going…

  7. Can’t blame Jim for the lineup this time given how tired the team is, plus the injuries. We are fortunate to get a point.

    And I can’t figure out what happened to Uhre this season. Last year he was an absolute assassin. I thought he’d be competing for a Golden Boot this season. What the hell happened?

    • Sorry Scottso but have to disagree with you. Why can’t you blame Jim for the lineup? Perhaps you can blame Ernst but to me the lineup is totally on Jim. Rotation needs to be about more than just one game. At times he has left Bedoya in all game with a two or more goal lead. Sullivan has shown to be a worthy replacement as is McGlynn. Gazdag and Wagner could have been rested once along the way. Did Glesnes injury come from overwork when Lowe could have played? Perea has shown to be a worthy player for NYCFC, yet he never saw the field here. Who besides Jim do you blame for that?

      • I agree with some of what you said — Perea looked fairly good in his limited action with us. He got beaten out by Bueno, effectively. Which is fine, except that now we could’ve used him too.

        As for the rest, we got a couple guys on the squad who are essentially irreplaceable: Gazdag and Wagner. Going without them will just hurt a lot. Guys gotta get rested sometime. I don’t really know what you expect him to do.

        Your speculation in Glesnes’ injury is entirely that. You could just as easily say that, having gone so many matches healthy, he was due for an injury some time.

      • Jose blanco says:

        Totally agree with you. There have been many games where we were up 3-0 and all the starters stayed in. Those are good opportunities to bring the bench in and rest some guys. Wagner has been playing full 90’s 3 games a week for almost the entire season minus his time out with injury which was an overuse injury. Then when he comes back, he’s right back to playing full 90’s every game and he again pulls him hamstring last night. I also believe Flach’s injury was also an overuse injury. Not sure about Glesnes. I haven’t read much anywhere what his injury is. That all falls on Jim because of his inability to understand the concept of rest. No way should Bedoya or anyone for that matter still be playing full 90’s when we are up 3-0. It’s coaching 101…come on Jim!

  8. Dammit. Let’s talk calls…
    First the not handball after var early. I prefer not handball. I know his hands are out, but I don’t know how he gets out of the way from that close.
    But… there’s an argument to be made that the one called against the U actually hits Elliot’s shirt sleeve which by IFAB laws is not a handball. On first view I thought definitely penalty on Jack’s chicken wing. But on replay I thought it actually hit higher up towards the shoulder. I’m not saying either call is wrong (nor if the opposite had occurred could you say that) but I wish they’d equal out.
    I also think it’s arguable that Bedoya earned a PK on that foul on the line. But there’s no angle that makes it 100%.
    For me, DOGSO. I’m not sure why you can play advantage on some fouls and then bring it back a minute later, but you can’t do the same here. The rule is that the goal scoring opportunity wasn’t lost,….. until it was, right?? Bring it back and give the red. Carranza’s chance was better to begin with.
    Julian was definitely offside on the goal.
    Weirdly this is not a game where I thought the ref was bad. It’s just that choices were made and you could argue the opposite and still both points are valid.
    At least this game was fun to watch. End to end.
    Some solid defense from the U and a man of the match performance from Andre Blake. I’ll disagree with the write up in that while Columbus was absolutely in control the first half, I don’t agree that they had control for any length of time in the second half. And that was clearly by design. I think the Union clearly had the better chances and control. Decent coaching from Curtin here trying to keep folks rested and healthy for the playoffs.
    I also can’t sign off without props to Harriel who had an excellent game. And Bueno had a really good game too.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      The U conceded 2/3s the possession, 20 shots (10 of which were on goal – to only 2 of their own on frame), and 3x the number of passes. I know that’s the plan for Philly, but still…

      • It is the plan and it’s also — in the way I assess it — a bit of a guy feel about which side seems more dangerous in what they are doing.
        Thank you for taking the time to read my novella about the last match! Lol. TL;dr would be fair

    • Bueno got caught in possession a couple times (as he did in the prior game). It’s like he’s modeling from El Brujo so closely that he’s even emulating his faults. But overall, I agree he had a strong match.

    • Vince Devine says:

      RE DOGSO. If Uhre scored would you have been ok with the goal being disallowed in order to award the DOGSO penalty? Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        If you can let play continue to see whether there is an actual advantage before you recall play to an earlier foul — which is done all the time — why can’t you do the same here? It was seconds, not minutes.

      • Why can’t they let play continue and award the red card at the next stoppage?

  9. Just disappointing… again.


  10. And I am just sick and tired of excuses like ‘too tired’… ‘too many games’… or having to rely on MLS refs to call PKs… or Blake having to make superhuman saves… to even tie lately.

    Curtin (& Tanner) made it our mission to win, stated that goal at beginning of the year… and now to blame ‘too many games’ or MLS scheduling for uninspired or unmotivated play at the worst time of year?


    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’m going to blame MLS scheduling in part for this coming Wednesday. Atlanta hasn’t played since last weekend. The Union has had to play twice since then. Yes, one of those was because the Union did well in Leagues Cup, but the other is because the league has an odd number of teams. That’s part of the reason why they have to play through international breaks and have uneven time off between games. What other league that claims it wants to be taken seriously does those types of things?

  11. santo bevacqua says:

    The best statement in all the comments was Deez’s when he says (at least this game was fun to watch end to end). The lineup was very creative, definitely strategic in mind to have two halves hold them until to unleash firepower in the second half. It worked to perfection until the bonehead wall posturing of Elliot in the wall, its basic to tuck your arm in the penalty area….he did not think to do it, little things are important, it cost Blake a clean sheet. two points,,,,,,, Kudos to Curtin !!!!!!

    • Take the penalty goal out of it because those are near enough guarantees, and I was really happy with the defending. Reminiscent of last season. It would get scary at times, but Blake and team pulled out a near clean sheet against one of the best attacks in the league. If we’re back to defending like that, this team is going to make a run in the playoffs.

  12. As opposed to the previous four games, this draw was a point earned against a quality team on the road with Martinez on the bench. Andre Blake came up with his best game of the season thus far and was clearly the Man of the Match. Deez is spot on about the penalty call–the problem is that Elliot did make a chicken wing and without question extended both his shoulder and arm. The ball hit him on the shoulder joint, which by definition includes part of the arm. In receiving an aerial pass, the receiving player arches the shoulder inward in a similar manner, and it is not a handball. By my count, Columbus benefited from 4 very close calls (including the DOGSO that wasn’t) and the Union none.

    Perhaps it is because both Carranza and Gazdag had such amazing years last year that I overlooked Uhre’s lack of pace, which is painfully obvious this year and in my judgment, is the biggest reason why he has had problems finishing at the MLS level–a step up from his previous club’s league. I think it is time to move on. Though Quinn Sullivan is not really a striker, he does have pace and with enough minutes, I think can score at this level. It’s time for a change up front.

    The upcoming Atlanta game is problematic if the Union are without Martinez, Wagner and Glesnes and while it is important to at least draw, it is more important to have that trio available and healthy for the playoffs even if it means that the Union will have to go on the road.

    • Vince Devine says:

      Uhre is much faster than Sullivan. Sullivan can run all day, but he’s not very fast.

    • Some of it is that most teams sit back when playing Philly. This negates Uhre’s speed. He was giving Red Bulls fits all game because they play a high line. In Leagues Cup, Uhre’s speed was evident against the Liga MX teams. Where as FC Dallas’ defenders are all fast, they did sit back a bit as well too.
      This game against Atlanta will be interesting, as they don’t have a great defense. Will Philly’s strikers be able to take advantage?
      It sure doesn’t seem like it, however, The Union are top 5 in goals scored this season in the league. They haven’t hit the heights of 2022, yet they are still scoring at a decent clip.

  13. Vince Devine says:

    Uhre is much faster than Sullivan. Sullivan can run all day, but he’s not very fast.

    • This is 100% true and I forget the match earlier this year but the Apple TV analyst called it out — Sullivan could not beat the back 4 either over the top or with the ball on the dribble.

      I love Sullivan, but he’s Fafa Picault 2.0 in Union’s current system. They need to move him to a team that plays a 4-3-3 and he will have a long career as a RW.

    • Donovan is the one with speed when he and Sullivan are together up top.

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