Union match reports

Playoff match report: Philadelphia Union 3-1 New England Revolution

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union opened their 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs in style, with first-half goals from Daniel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre, and Nathan Harriel powering a 3-1 win over New England Revolution at Subaru Park on Saturday afternoon.

The win gives the Union a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series with the Revs, a series they can end with a win on the road in Game Two next Wednesday night.

Jim Curtin faced some unwelcome injury news prior to the match, as Jakob Glesnes’s sports hernia kept him out of action. (Curtin announced post-game that Glesnes would require surgery and will miss several weeks, and possibly the rest of the season.) That forced the Union to pair Damion Lowe and Jack Elliott at the back, with Jose Martinez returning from suspension to sit at the base of the diamond midfield. Jack McGlynn and Alejandro Bedoya were preferred in midfield to Jesus Bueno and Leon Flach, while Olivier Mbaizo made the bench after picking up a knee injury before the last game.

The playoffs began on an unseasonably warm and sunny October day, an unusual afternoon kickoff in front of something less than a sellout at Subaru Park. It was hard to see how the visitors didn’t take the lead after just eight minutes. Noel Buck smashed a shot past the stranded Andre Blake and off the bottom of the crossbar, but somehow the ball didn’t cross the line. After Blake accidentally cleaned out Kai Wagner, Damion Lowe cleared the follow-up shot off the line, and the Union breathed a sigh of relief.

Philly would take the lead just a few moments later through a penalty kick. Jack McGlynn did well to chase down a poor ball, forcing a rushed pass back to the Revs’ inexperienced keeper Jacob Jackson. Julian Carranza arrived on a dead sprint and just managed to get a touch on the ball, colliding with Jackson in the process. Although the referee originally declined to give a penalty, he changed his mind after a VAR review, and Daniel Gazdag buried the Union’s 18th penalty kick of the year across all competitions.

Things went from bad to worse for the Revolution as Carles Gil had to exit with an injury, which appeared to be caused by some heavy contact from Mikael Uhre early in the match. Bobby Wood came on in his stead.

And things went from worse to worst for the visitors when Union doubled their edge in the 26th minute, this time through Uhre. Kai Wagner’s cross from the left wing took a fortunate pair of bounces, as defender David Romney deflected the ball toward his own goal and Jackson had to parry it aside. Uhre was right there for the tap in, giving the Boys in Blue a two-goal lead.

Tempers flared moments later, as Wood picked up a yellow card for a very late, hard foul on Daniel Gazdag. The Union, undaunted, kept pushing, with a full-field counterattack ending with a great save by Jackson on a close-range header from Carranza.

The Union made it three after 37 minutes, seizing full control of the match. Nathan Harriel drew a yellow card on Tomas Chancalay, then finished a sumptuous free kick from Wagner with a powerful header at the back post. The Revs completely self-destructed after conceding the penalty, and the Union punished them thoroughly.

New England huffed and puffed through the early stages of the second half without threatening to blow the house down. The most notable moment for the Union came when a first-half knock suffered by Julian Carranza led to his replacement by Quinn Sullivan in the 62nd minute.

Gustavo Bou put the visitors on the board halfway through the second half, his third goal against the Union in two games. New England controlled a long ball and found Bou in a pocket of space on the Union’s right. The attacker still had a lot to do, and he wriggled his way through Harriel and Jack Elliott before blasting his shot into the roof of the net.

The Revs almost made it really interesting in the 75th minute, as substitutes Wood and Emmanuel Boateng nearly combined for a goal. But Wood just missed better contact at the end of Boateng’s ball, and Blake did very well to parry the ball off the bar and out of danger.

Curtin, having seen enough, threw out Leon Flach and Chris Donovan to kill off the game. That move worked, with the only remaining flashpoint a confrontation between Jose Martinez and Vrioni after the latter’s late foul on Harriel.

The Union will look to ride the momentum of this win into the second game of the series, which will arrive after a strange eleven-day layoff. That match, on the turf at Gillette Stadium, will be on Wednesday, November 8 at 7 p.m. If Philly can finish off the Revs, they’ll take on the winner of the FC Cincinnati-New York Red Bulls series in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Three Points (plus one)
  • Playoff experience. The Union looked like a team used to playing playoff games at home, riding an early spell of pressure from the Revs and then pouncing on an inexperienced keeper.
  • Kai Wagner. If this was the left back’s final home match for the Union, he reminded the crowd why he’s been the best left back in the league. Two of the three goals resulted from his service.
  • It’s time for some game theory. It’s a long break before Game Two, which should give the Union a chance to heal from their nicks and knocks. With a potential Game Three coming just three days later, how will Philly approach their road trip?
  • Jakob Glesnes. The star center back’s season looks over, with surgery on his sports hernia scheduled for Tuesday. It seems like it’ll be Damion Lowe and Jack Elliott in the games that remain.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Nathan Harriel, Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, Kai Wagner, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn (Leon Flach 77′), Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza (Quinn Sullivan 62′), Mikael Uhre (Chris Donovan 77′)

Unused subs: Joe Bendik, Olivier Mbaizo, Matt Real, Jesus Bueno,  Jeremy Rafanello, Joaquin Torres

New England Revolution

Jacob Jackson, DeJuan Jones, Andrew Farrell, David Romney, Ryan Spaulding (Christian Makoun 83′), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Giacomo Vrioni HT), Matt Polster, Noel Buck (Emmanuel Boateng 75′), Carles Gil (Bobby Wood 23′), Tomas Chancalay (Nacho Gil 75′), Gustavo Bou

Unused subs: Earl Edwards Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Henry Kessler, Tommy McNamara

Scoring Summary

PHI: Daniel Gazdag — 19′ (PK)
PHI: Mikael Uhre — 26′
PHI: Nathan Harriel — 37′ (Kai Wagner)
NE: Gustavo Bou — 68′ (Giacomo Vrioni)

Discipline Summary

NE: Bobby Wood — 29′ (foul)
NE: Andrew Farrell — 35′ (foul)
NE: Tomas Chancalay — 36′ (foul)
NE: Giacomo Vrioni — 87′ (foul)
PHI: Jose Martinez — 87′ (other reason)

PHI Statistic NE PHI Statistic NE


Possession % 54.7 31 Duels Won 37
18 Shots 14 6 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 6 5 Saves 2
4 Blocked Shots 4 18 Clearances



Total Passes 501 15 Fouls 11
87 Pass Accuracy % 91.4 1 Yellow Cards



Corners 4 0 Red Cards 0
12 Crosses 14 2.5 xG







  1. Look I’ll say it straightaway because it’s not the players’ fault and it’s important to honor their work.
    Well done tonight.
    You got Gil off the field and it changed everything. Took the chances and buried them. Win.
    Then a school yard brawl & scrimmage broke out to bore me senselessly— until Harriel does what he does defensively which is defend terribly. Bou with a magical finish shook me from the Doldrums.
    Otherwise… fuck MLS for making us suffer this. I am slack jawed over this format and have to use a word I do not believe in.
    I hate it.
    It’s so dumb.
    Literally jammed half a season in to multiple games a week for months and now we wait 10 days for these two teams to play each other again only to play each other again potentially after having played each other 3 times straight. Union scoring 3 means nothing, NE scoring 1 means nothing.
    Way to go MLS. Way to pander to the casual NBA fan. Dumbasses. These people are serious too which is hard to grasp.

  2. Murphthesurf says:

    Great first half !

    Bring that energy to New England in a week and we advance- DOOP!!!

  3. I volunteer to conduct the halftime pep talk in the future… it’s unbelievable how freakin’ flat this team was, again, after dominating as they did in the first half, again.

    And will someone please tell McGlynn to play his position and team with Kai while he’s still here.

    When Kai brought the ball up his side, we saw what happens… but when McGlynn is clear on the other side (always)… NO HELP.

    BIG WIN…. now slam the door shut on NE in 11 days. How ridiculous is that? 11 days…

    • You do realize that McGlynn is lined up on Kai’s side right? Ale is lined up on Harriel’s side….

      • That is what J Fav is whining about – he is claiming that McGlynn is “(always)” on the other side – away from Wagner. Which is just ridiculous – go back and watch the game and you’ll see McGlynn is rarely out of position.

    • Pretty sure it was Mcglynn who worked a give & go with Wagner to set up the Uhre tap in

      • It was. But according to J Fav that is because he yelled “McGlynn play your GD position!” Hah! McGlynn was on the far side of half line from Sec. 114, but he heard J. Fav! OK.

        If you go back and watch the entire first half, there are two instances when McGlynn is on the far right of the field, behind Bedoya and/or Harriel. In both instances MArtinez slid over to the left.

        McGlynn was rarely out of position.

  4. “It’s a long break before Game Two, which should give the Union a chance to heal from their nicks and knocks. With a potential Game Three coming just three days later, how will Philly approach their road trip?”

    Spoiler alert – Curtin will play the same XI and honestly, I can’t fault him as it’s such a long layoff from Game 1 that he needs to keep his core group sharp.

    We dodged a bit of a bullet tonight as the Revs definitely had chances.

    • In the playoffs the other team is always going to have chances. They key is to snuff those out but take your own. Which the boys did.

  5. The line up may be the same…but I expect Glesnes to be back. So that said they will need to put the first goal in the net and keep the pressure on the Revs! The 11 day layoff is just silly. As Pachy said you had the crush of games in regular season…then this??? Effin silly!

  6. Tonight we saw the difference between last year’s team and this year’s. Last year, they would have obliterated New England in the second half. This year they almost let New England make a game of it despite the 3-0 lead.
    It was a little worrying to go into the game with 0 backups at center back and then seeing Lowe go down a couple of times.
    I would have liked to see the Union attack Andrew Farrell more once he picked up the card to see if they could draw a second on him to keep him out of game 2.
    Hopefully Harriel will be able to take his defensive mistake as a learning experience.
    It would not surprise me if Curtin decides to start a lineup with Donovan and Sullivan up top and Bueno for Ale if Jesus is healthy in order to get some rest for the starters for a potential game 3.
    I do want to complement the ref on being night and day better than last week’s. Except for not giving the New England keeper a card, I thought he handled the PK perfectly. Since the Union got the ball, don’t call the penalty but let them essentially have the advantage. If he blows the whistle, awards the PK, and then VAR convinces him to change his call and not award one, then the Union get nothing. Here the team who gets fouled but keeps the ball gets two chances.

    • Rest the starters? They don’t play again for 10 days!!! There’s no need to rest anyone unless they aren’t 100%.

      • If they don’t win (or draw and win on PKs), they play again in 4 days after that. Wouldn’t you rather have a fresher Union team against a tired New England for the must win game?

    • Starting Donovan and Sullivan in game 2 so that Carranza and Uhre are rested for game 3 is idiotic. That should be a firing offense. As bad as starting Donovan in the LC semi.

      • Completely disagree. There are potentially two games 4 days apart. You only need to win one. One is at home and the other is on the road and on turf. The other team NEEDS to win both. So why not take a chance and try something different in the game you are the underdog and increase your odds of winning the other one.

      • @Andy – that is just foolish. Why play for a game 3 if you can win game 2? Put your best starting 11 out for game 2. If you are down 3-0 at half, like NE was, then sub your starters off. Trying something “different” by starting your subs is just plain foolish. Again – look how that turned out versus Miami. Donovan is not an MLS starting caliber player, at least not now.

      • In game 2 the Union are a decided underdog. They lost in that stadium last week playing their first team. There is no bonus for winning the series in 2 games rather than 3, the main goal is to advance which means giving yourself the best odds of winning either of the last two, it doesn’t matter which one (especially with the international break afterwards).
        If one option gives you a 45% chance of winning (or drawing and winning on PK’s in) game 2 and a 55% chance of winning game 3 if you don’t do it in game 2 while another gives you only 35% chance of keeping the series to 2 games but a 65% chance of then winning game 3, the latter gives you the best chance of winning the series and has to be what to play for.

      • @Andy – I guess we’ll just have to see.

        First, there is a “bonus” for winning in 2 – more rest before the next round.

        Second, as you pointed out, they lost in NE last week. So why would you think the subs would have a better chance of winning than the starters? Your best 11 gives you the best chance of winning.

        Again, we’ll just have to see what Curtin does. I’d be shocked if he started his subs. And you are just making up percentages there – you are guessing.

        Listen, I’ll apologize for saying for saying it is foolish and idiotic if Jim actually starts Donovan – will you do the same if he starts the best 11?

      • The rest for winning in 2 is pretty much irrelevant since there is an international break before the next round. So it’s either about 13 days or 17 days.
        I don’t think starting the strongest lineup in New England would be foolish or idiotic, I just think it gives the team a slightly worse chance to win the series given the short rest between games 2 and 3 and the fact that game 2 is on turf which increases the chance of injury.

      • Fair point on rest – forgot about the international break.

        But there is not a coach in the playoffs who is going to play subs instead of starters so they can be well rested for game 3.

        The reality is we are arguing about Donovan – starting Sullivan or Bueno is not much of a step down from Bedoya – who should not be going 90 minutes anyway.

        Other than Donovan – who else would you start? And with respect to Donovan – he is not MLS starter quality and starting instead of Uhre or Carranza is foolish. And dude, you’ve gotta let the turf thing go.

        MLS should not allow turf fields – but they do. And to start subs in game 2 because of turf is foolish. Put your best 11 on the field for the first half or 60 minutes.

  7. I hate this format for many reasons, but a big one is that it encourages negative play, which one would think the league would want to discourage. Once it became clear to New England that they weren’t going to win game one, and because aggregate goals don’t matter like in the champions league, their primary motivation was to bait one of the Union’s primary players into a silly red card. You saw this for the last 10 minutes of the game, and they almost got Martinez to bite on their antics.

  8. It was a fun game to go to and great to see a win.
    But am I the only one who thought the game could have been a lot closer
    The defense looked really bad at points during the game and with a couple breaks the other way the game could have been completely different

  9. Saw something that I seemed to have seen hints of earlier in the season. But last night Quinn Sullivan and Gazdag seemed to really be on the same page. Whereas Corranza and Uhre are reading the same book but different chapter than Gazdag. Want to see more.

  10. Here is the view from Section 105:
    1) It is hard to imagine a more beautiful evening for soccer in late October and the Union faithful made their presence known.
    2) The Union will in all likelihood be without Jakob Glesnes for the rest of the season because as Peter reported, he is scheduled to have surgery for his sports hernia. Damian Lowe had a strong game as his replacement last night, but when Glesnes is in form, he IS one of the best defenders in MLS.
    3) How different a game would this have been if New England had scored the first goal when the Union were scrambling defensively in the 8th minute?
    4) I will grant you that Nathan Harriel is not the best defender on this club, but there is no one on this team who can get into the air the way that he does on set pieces. From our vantage point, we could see Harriel put himself in position to run onto the ball from the left side, where New England inexplicably lost track of him. He lifted himself perfectly to put a powerful header into the net.
    5) Once again, the Union had to endure their own halftime swoon during which they nearly let New England back into the game. But New England without Carles Gil were pretty limited offensively, and the Union were able to put it in cruise control to see out the match.
    6) I know that the next game is 10 days away, but up 3 goals at the 60th minute, El Capitan needed to come out as well as Jose Martinez (to prevent the yellow card that he eventually got for “negative engagement”).
    7) The Union are a very good team, and they have spells during which they can dominate a game, but they also have spells during which they seemingly get confused about their defensive responsibilities, particularly when they are missing Glesnes. They should be able to take care of New England, hopefully in the next game on the road. They have the ability to beat any team in MLS, but they also have vulnerabilities during which they can concede goals to even the worst teams in MLS. Assuming Cincinnati is the next round opponent, the Union played them two very close matches, and they have the ability to win. Let’s hope for the best.

  11. And now surgery for Glesnes. Boom. Significant.

  12. Pretty funny….if I had read Pete’s article first, I would have seen the Glesnes surgery worry, but I just went and started reading the comments section and jumped in with my own.

    A few thoughts in general. Lowe is pretty good. And I like that he has some speed. Nate is a bit shaky on defense but can most likely clean that up. He is a good target for set pieces. The guy can get up in the air! The boys are not as good in the 2nd half as they were last season. The drop is noticeable. Kai put in a good assist on the Uhre goal just in time to start the “Pay Kai Wagner” chant.

    I would love to see more intensity from the team in the 2nd half of games like we saw last season. On to win in NE! In like 3 months…

  13. Martinez made a big difference in this game, and I hope that translates well in the away match. Anyone know what happened to Baribo? He was not on the bench? Something to do with the war maybe?

    Great night at the Park. Shorts in at the end of October! Crowd filled in after the game started because you know all the kids have to get their crab fries! We did drown out the away supporters chants pretty quickly.

    From section 130 I saw the squandered chances in the second half but fortunately that didn’t matter.

    Oh and yes this format sucks. Just play a traditional tie if you need multiple games.

  14. So now am I to understand we don’t have a third center back? With so many games played, we couldn’t find meaningful minutes for Brandon Craig? I think Glesnes has been the Union’s best player for the last two seasons, perhaps three. His absence for the rest of these playoffs is massive. Elliott and Lowe are both more than capable, probably still better than most center half pairings in the league, but I’d feel a lot better about our chances with Glesnes and at least a backup in case of injury.

  15. A friend reminded me….

    Sat night, as I mentioned in another post here, Jack McGlynn was playing out of position constantly, clogging up the right side, leaving the left side (Kai Wagner) alone, doing nothing.
    Got fed up and yelled really loud “McGlynn play your GD position!” as loud as I could during a lull… we sit 8 rows from the corner, in Sec 114… and within literally seconds McGlynn was in position, passed the ball to Wagner who lifted a cross, for a goal! Watch the replay… someone needed to tell McGlynn what’s what. Curtin obviously can’t.

    I’m still volunteering to conduct the halftime pep talk. Obviously they need motivation for 2nd halves… lately.

    • Yes, your yelling must have doing the trick. Whatever.

      Curtin has consistently – starting with Rosenberry – shown a willingness to bench players who don’t play the way he wants them to play. But somehow McGlynn gets starts although he is always out of position?

      I did watch the game after being there – McGlynn is not always out of position as you claim.

    • Just went back and watched the first 25 minutes – up until the goal you reference. Granted, it is not a full-field view – but McGlynn was never clogging up the right side. He was consistently on the left. If he was in the middle of the field, it was because the ball was on the right side. There was one sequence when McGlynn was on the right side, behind Bedoya and Harriel, and Martinez slid over to the left. That was 5 minutes in. Other than that, he was in position. As Jeremy said in his rankings – rarely gets caught out of position.

  16. Kudos to Lowe on a great game, the early sequence where he blocked two powerful shots in front of goal was massive.
    With the rest, I expect Gil and Carranza to be back at full strength for game 2.
    Even though we could roll out the same XI, I think Bueno and Mbaizo should get starts to keep them in rhythm.
    The attack looked beautiful, gives me hope that they have their mojo back. If this is a last dance for Ale and Kai, they have been playing like there’s no tomorrow, another great sign.
    NE’s GK problems are not going away, that will be their downfall again in game 2.
    Go Union!

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