Union match reports

Playoff match report: FC Cincinnati 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

A controversial goal by FC Cincinnati’s Yerson Mosquera in second-half stoppage time knocked Philadelphia Union out of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, a 1-0 loss at TQL Stadium on Saturday night.

The loss ends the Union’s 2023 campaign with no trophies to show for it; it’s the third time this season has been eliminated from a tournament in either the quarterfinal or semifinal round.

After the long break in the playoffs, Jim Curtin made one change to the group that won in New England on Nov. 8, restoring Mikael Uhre to the starting lineup for Quinn Sullivan. Nathan Harriel again started at left back for the suspended Kai Wagner, while Jakob Glesnes made the bench in his return from sports hernia surgery.

There is little to say about the ninety minutes of regulation time. Despite the defensive absences, the Union did well to marginalize the danger from the visitors, taking advantage of their experience in playoff games in recent years. As the game stayed scoreless, the pressure mounted, as it became increasingly obvious that one moment could make all the difference.

Cincy finally found that winner in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time. Off a free kick, Alvaro Barreal’s service into the box found Ian Murphy, who skied over Carranza and cushioned his header to the unmarked Yerson Mosquera, right at the center of the box. Mosquera controlled and fired past a helpless Andre Blake, sending the crowd into hysterics.

But was Murphy onside? Seemingly yes — but VAR took a look, and ultimately chose not to send the referee to the monitor or to call off the goal. After the game, the officials told the pool reporter that Murphy was “judged to be even with the second-to-last defender.”

With just seconds left to play, Curtin tossed Quinn Sullivan and Chris Donovan into the fray. But the final whistle blew, and the exhausted Union sank to the turf in defeat, coming up short in their quest to avenge last year’s MLS Cup defeat.

A brief, pivotal offseason awaits for the Union before Round One of the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup gets started in early February.

Three Points (plus one)
  • Pain. The Union keep finding new ways to crash out of the MLS Cup Playoffs. “Critical late goal for the opponent” is similar to last year, sure — but the added angle of “likely uncalled offside” is a new layer of frustration.
  • Quiet attack. Philly did well to marginalize Cincinnati’s attack, but it’s tough to win if you don’t score any goals. Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, and Daniel Gazdag came up small in the biggest moment.
  • What comes next? Change is en route for the Union this offseason, with Kai Wagner almost certainly departing and decisions to be made about stalwarts like Alejandro Bedoya, Julian Carranza, Olivier Mbaizo, and Jack McGlynn. Can Ernst Tanner freshen a formula that felt rather stale for much of this season.
  • Thank you. From all of us at PSP, thank you for reading and along with us across this very long season. We’ll have more to come this week.

Philadelphia Union 

Andre Blake, Olivier Mbaizo, Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, Nathan Harriel, Jose Martinez (Jesus Bueno 80′), Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn (Chris Donovan 90+8′), Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre (Quinn Sullivan 90+8′)

Unused subs: Matthew Real, Joaquín Torres, Jeremy Rafanello, Tai Baribo, Jakob Glesnes, Joe Bendik.

FC Cincinnati

Jacob Jackson, Roman Celentano; Ian Murphy, Yerson Mosquera, Raymon Gaddis, Álvaro Barreal, Junior Moreno, Yuya Kubo (Marco Angulo 90+8’), Alvas Powell, Luciano Acosta, Aaron Boupendza (Dominique Badji 88’), Brandon Vazquez.

Unused subs: Bret Halsey, Gerardo Valenzuela, Malik Pinto, Santiago Arias, Sergio Santos, London Aghedo, Alec Kann

Scoring Summary

CIN: Yerson Mosquera — 90+4′ (Alvaro Barreal, Ian Murphy)

Discipline Summary

PHI: Damion Lowe — 11′ (foul)
CIN: Ray Gaddis — 30′ (foul)
PHI: Julian Carranza — 51′ (foul)
CIN: Aaron Boupendza — 76′ (foul)

CIN Statistic PHI CIN Statistic PHI


Possession % 44.6 56 Duels Won 37
11 Shots 16 9 Tackles Won



Shots on Goal 4 4 Saves 5
4 Blocked Shots 6 10 Clearances



Total Passes 388 14 Fouls 17
81.7 Pass Accuracy % 82 2 Yellow Cards



Corners 5 0 Red Cards 0
12 Crosses 14 .8 xG







  1. MLS engineered Columbus vs. Cincy. It was obvious.

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      Why? Nobody outside of Ohio cares about this conference final. As long as Jay Sugarman, Ernst Tanner and Jim Curtin run the show, we’re royally doomed.

      • Because it’s a rivalry with a name to it and their marketing team is too stupid to try and sell us something that they haven’t prefabbed.

    • The Carranza uhre magic is gone and has been since early on on the season. Our simple minded head coach kept giving it a go though, even with a kid on the bench who had proven himself towards the end of the season. There’s no way union take anymore cups with a bland, boring, [] coach like Curtin. Real coaches start their players who are in form (Sullivan)!!!!!!! Not the ones that have shit the bed all year (Uhre, Carranza)

      This comment has been edited after publication by PSP staff.

    • Ah yes the crown Jewel of the MLS … Ohio.
      Featuring at team they literally tried to move to Austin a couple of years ago.

      • They did move and MLS gave the new owners a team in Columbus. Austin FC is the former Crew.

      • @J Fav – incorrect. Precourt sold the Crew to the Haslems, and MLS then granted Precourt the ownership rights to Austin.

  2. .
    What’s the point of the technology if you’re not going to use it in the moments that are in question?
    I was in a bar with 300 people, literally sitting next to two dudes grating on my soul singing Bush covers throughout the game— at a table of 15 people and saw enough of the moment—- to question that guy being offsides.
    I’m disgusted by the technology (hate it because it’s ruining professional sport) that’s apparently being used arbitrarily.
    Fuck off.
    Gotta say— I think it is all fixed. I think professional sport is under siege. I don’t trust any of it any longer.
    Other then it ending the season ended this way… I’m fine with it being over. The whole season has been a drag.

    • Gonna emphasize that last line, Pachy. That’s how I sum it up: a drag. Some fun moments, certainly. Just never fulfilling. The slide into the postseason, the drag of this postseason format…
      Just glad it’s over.

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      We’re just not good enough. No tinfoil hat needed. Nickel and dime-ing your way to a title doesn’t work. Never will.

    • I just said that to my son this morning… that this season dragged on and on and on. So much so I really did not have a reaction to our loss last night, just shut down the tablet and went to sleep.

      A DRAG… from that freezing night in February, till the money grab of Leagues Cup… to the new playoff format… all for the same reasons we ended up in 4th place… no motivation to WIN.


      See y’all next season (in 3 freakin’ months!)
      Happy Holidays!

    • I fear you are correct. The Bale header in MLS Cup last year reeked of script. Wait till next year when heaven and earth is moved for a Messi championship.

  3. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Uhre with the best chance in the game and there was never a chance. They played okay but this game seemed like so many others with no real creativity around goal unlike last year.
    Thanks to the captain and one day your name should be on the ring of honor but it’s time to move on. This team looks like it has hit its ceiling. They need to add some quality and depth for next season.

  4. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Screw you, Union. Blow it all up; clean house from Sugarman on down. Disgraceful, despicable and the door to winning an MLS Cup is slammed shut, forever. Winless in last 9; scoreless draw v. LAFC. The Miami Massacre. The end of this movie was scripted long ago. Great teams overcome. The Union UNDER-come.
    The real LMAO is that we expected a team that fields Nathan Harriel, Jack McGlynn, Julián Carranza, Mikael Uhre and Chris freaking Donovan to actually win a game that mattered. Curtin should be made to walk home.
    It’s all about the Benjamins. $$$ Maybe if Sugarman gave a fuck, we’d have a star on the jersey.

    • I assume you mean that the Union are too cheap to pay off VAR like Cincy must have. But if you don’t like the money they spend, go buy the team or go root for another team that spends what you want them to.

      • +1… compared to the Nick S years, we are free spending like the Phillies.

      • PaulContinuum22 says:

        The U are not only cheap, they lack a true commitment to winning. And why is Ernst Tanner skating here? He’s as much to blame as Curtin and Sugarman are for the regression of the team. Wake the fuck up, guys. $$ wins championships.

      • PaulContinuum22 says:

        Another thing…like Leon Flach, Jesus Bueno, Joaquín Torres, Tai Baribo, Jeremy Rafanello or Quinn Sullivan are gonna send waves of fear to ANY team, MLS or USL. This is what we have. A bunch of no-names.

    • We just have to get rid of the [] coach we have. I’ll be boo ing Curtin all season next year. He will never bring silverware to this town.

      This comment has been edited after publication by PSP staff.

      • I guess you think that sexist comments are OK. Are you a racist too?
        It’s already obvious you don’t understand the fact that other teams have more talent and that Curtin gets the most out of his team and is NOT to blame for a blown offsides call.
        But then again, sexism and stupidity tend to go together.

      • PSP does not tolerate misogynistic comments. Do not do that again.

  5. The officiating in this league FUCKING SUCKS. It never improves. We don’t know what the FUCKING “PRO” does. We don’t know what their evaluation process is. We don’t know how many shitbirds they fire each year (if any). We know absolutely nothing about the administration of the fucking shitty officiating in this league, BUT WE PAY THE FUCKING BILLS. DOGSHIT, JUST FUCKING DOGSHIT.

  6. PaulContinuum22 says:

    2022 was the moment. It was ours. 3 minutes away. And now it’s as distant as the distance from Earth to Neptune. I wish we had an owner that broke the bank to get Messi here.

    • I don’t…. did you see what Miami did to their season ticket holders? Or what NYRB is doing to any game Messi plays?

      I wish we’d drop down to Championship and focus on soccer again. Curtin could win the Cup for us there! LOL!

  7. PaulContinuum22 says:


  8. Game went as good as I could’ve hoped. Uhre seemed the lacking spark.Harriel and mbazio stepped up and we were all ready for extra time ….but no lines were drawn up? On something that to the naked eye was a step offside???

  9. PaulContinuum22 says:

    One more thing: if the Union are relying on VAR to save them, they have MASSIVE ISSUES.

  10. PaulContinuum22 says:

    If the Union are relying on VAR to save them, they’ve got MASSIVE ISSUES.

  11. I didn’t expect a win given key players were out. Martinez going out made it worse. Besides that, we’re not good enough to be the bride, just the bridesmaid or in the wedding party. We need to purchase talent beyond developing them and looking for bargains with undervalued talent. Cincy invests more money in player purchases, and teams with silverware do so.
    . . .
    The goal looked valid to me. The team shouldn’t need refs and VAR to do their job.
    . . .
    Uhre sucks, thr risk of bargain shopping

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      Next year, we can spend Carranza’s transfer $$ on somebody from the Faroe Islands or some other stiff/non entity.

      • Or maybe San Marino, The Union could probably find a new star there

      • Or maybe San Marino, The Union could probably find a new star there

        For some reason it’s saying duplicated comment detected so I have to add this at the bottom now

  12. Thanks to PSP crew.

  13. Murphthesurf says:

    Thank you for the excellent reports all season .
    See you next year !

  14. Once again we’re reminded that MLS Cup should NOT be considered the major trophy since it’s decided on random calls and refs wanting to get out of the cold as quickly as possible. Supporters shield is a much better indicator of the best team (although not even that is really true given the number of teams and the fact that are so many team who don’t play each other).
    At this point, it probably makes sense to keep season tickets until we find out if we can get a presale for 2026 and then forget about MLS.

  15. Thanks to Bedoya for being a solid leader for the past several years. Thanks to Wagner for all your efforts and being the best Left Back Philly will ever have. Good Luck with your next team…… Next Year expect the full unabreviated
    Apple Garber Messi 3 Ring Circus The Greatest Show on Earth. I am already sickened by the thought.

  16. The old understudy of Curtin is a better coach. They season was not a drag (compared to ours) and their stadium is nicer than ours as well. The area around the stadium is also a lot better and nicer than ours. Yesterday the game could have gone either way. We should have created more and should have scored and not relied on VAR. I am happy for those folks who have a team that does not try to do everything on the cheap.

    Thank you PSP for another great year with solid reporting!

  17. So the magic is gone, and has been. Last year was our shot at winning the mls cup, next year it will be Miami winning. The low budget Union with the coach, who can’t seem to get his team up for big games, will fall further behind. Keep Wagner. Lose Uhre, Torres, Bendik and Curtin. Sell Sullivan, Real, and any other up and comer that will never see the field. Honor Bedoya’s departure with a Ring of Honor spot. SPEND money, buy real talent and bring a MLS Cup trophy to the loyal fans that have been waiting so long. Yes, there is a tie between spending money and winning!

    • See above about the Nick S years… we are free spending now compared to the first 10 years!

      • PaulContinuum22 says:

        Nick S?
        Same damn result. Sugarman is the Connie Mack of MLS; paying pennies on the dollar. And he’s probably pissed that he even has to pay THAT.

  18. Couldn’t help but feel like we watched not just the Union, but this whole league jump a shark on its jet ski last night. A playoff game after Thanksgiving, with both teams on ice for two weeks prior, and we get that match. It was terrible. In the end, the Union didn’t do enough to deserve a win, but neither did Cincinnati. For them to advance on what was clearly a blown offside call is just perfect for MLS. One staggering act of incompetence after another.

    This playoff format is a disaster. And just one year removed from a final that everyone agrees was the best MLS match ever played. Why? The league has no respect whatsoever for its competition. And Apple TV+ is planning to hike its price by 30%. When I ask myself why I’m paying watching this league, I don’t have any good answers.

    • CBS has the Championship League on TV next season… and plenty of other leagues to watch without Apple’s shitty performance or price hikes.

      Don “Grabmoremoney” has destroyed this league just like others in the past… USFL, WHA, NASL.

      Pathetic and ridiculous… POOP!

    • Murphthesurf says:


  19. +1. The answer to your question (why you are watching) is that it is the highest level soccer you can see live in North America. LIGA MX is no better and the Canadian Premier League is more of a joke than MLS.

  20. Mediocre expectations from a mediocre leader typified in the following post match comment. If I played on his team, why would I care to be the best when the coach will hand out participation trophies to all (“can’t ever be upset with how my players performed “). No mention of winning, just positioning with an excuse when they lose (“punching above our weight”, “ underdogs in the majority of our big games”.).

    “So look, our group punches above their weight. We give everything, my players absolutely give everything for the badge, give everything for the fans. And yeah, we’re underdogs in the majority of our big games. I know when we’re favorites, I know when we’re underdogs and I can’t ever be upset with how my players performed. ”

    • Agreed CB…you said it perfectly what I’ve been thinking for years. Why would any player give their all or even care to when they know their spot is always secure regardless of how they play. From what I see, Jim is a player pleaser. Doesn’t wanna step on anyone’s toes and make anyone upset. Uhre can continue to be trash all year, but guess what… his spot is secure so who cares, right? MLS is a joke league. Have some balls to make changes when things aren’t working. Seems like these guys got too big egos from last year and That worked against them this year. From the pics the union post of pregame entrance, these guys only care about their gaudy designer brand clothes and making sure their Vuitton toilettetre bag is in the photo. They were a gritty team last year and were cohesive as a unit. This year, no heart or care to even try. When you get some players in here that actually wanna win and a coach who actually holds players accountable, I’ll be back… until then, Blanco out!

  21. 1-0 loss away at the one seed on a call that maybe goes either way at the death… is 100% a downer. But it doesn’t indict a whole approach or a whole season. I thought:

    1) Defense played reasonably well down 2 starters. Harriel played very well out of position. But they missed Wagner on some of the attacking, and that was completely avoidable/a total stupid SIW?

    2) Why not sub Sullivan in for Uhre in the 70th? He earned it against NE… and… FCC seemed to have the right idea in subbing on attack to put the pressure back on the Union. A less pronounced version of how they handled being down 2-0 to us in Chester. Maybe that went out the window once they had to drop Bueno in after the cheap foul on Martinez… but to me that was the moment where Curtin had a choice and the results would say he got it wrong? Usually he’d have made an attacking sub by then and… maybe a better outcome? But see above, that’s a coin flip too…

  22. I will not engage in the Typical Negadelphian Handwringing that most everyone above seems committed to. I assume that’s mainly a function of who wants to comment on this site after a season-ending loss.

    The truth is that the team is quite similar to the one that dominated last year, with 2 big differences:
    1. Uhre’s hugely disappointing season;
    2. A crazy amount of games in too many competitions that simply wore them down.

    These are the reasons they finished 4th, which in turn led to us losing this match (since we were at home). Don’t forget that most teams that play in CCL/CCC have disappointed that season. Add to that Open Cup and Leagues Cup, and… it’s a whole lot.

    MLS is going to have to do something about the number of matches for next season. Also, the playoff format and scheduling.

    • True about amount of matches, but the amount of matches is the new reality. And all teams had open cup and leagues cup, just not champions league. Plus the Union knew they had the potential of that many games before Tanner made the roster moves he made last year. So they tried to “beef up” on the cheap, missed on all but Lowe, got rid of Burke and Freeze (both who would have helped us win a couple more matches), and kept playing Uhre (our modern day Wenger).

      • I doubt either would have helped much. Freese barely played for NYCFC this season and was beat out by an unknown keeper they brought in from abroad.
        Burke barely played for RBNY this season, and was out injured much of the year. He scored two goals all season.
        What hurt the Union was the players they did bring in, only Lowe made an impact. Torres was a disappointment, and Perera couldn’t get on the field until he was loaned to NYCFC.

    • I could not agree with you more- this type of season is ignoring the physical toll that the players pay. By adding tournament after tournament, with an already established season, we’re going to hear more and more NBA-style “load management” decisions affecting player appearances. Add in the MLS-wide need to pay for the Messi-ah’s arrival, and it won’t ease. We won’t see the high quality play that we deserve from the teams until stupid, unnecessary additions like an extra game in the first round are removed. Stop-and-start regular seasons including international windows are bad enough; adding the other tourneys makes it impossible for even a dedicated fan to keep up with the attention to detail and personnel.

    • In other leagues around the world the big teams deal with fixture congestion by playing the backup squad. The league starters don’t typically take the field in those competitions until they get close enough to the cup. Up to and including the goalkeeper.

      • Atomic Spartan says:

        Right on. This is the way. Could show Curtin the true value and depth of his bench since he trusts only his first string. 2024 will see more of the same if the coach/club doesn’t wise up.

      • CCL started at the same stage (round of 16) where the UEFA teams start bringing on those top players. Next year there will be one more round, but it will be before MLS season starts so a good way to get the starters into game shape.
        Leagues Cup doesn’t have regular season games mixed in so players aren’t going back and forth with regular season.
        And the Open Cup had Donovan, Torres, Perea, McGlynn, Bueno, Lowe, and Real all starting (before McGlynn and Lowe were regular starters).

      • Andy, for me it’s a volume question. You have to choose what you’re going for. You can’t have it all. Even in league’s cup, play the backups first and foremost then a starter here and there to keep fresh.

      • The players have good win bonuses on the line for Leagues Cup. It’s also outside of the regular season. What hurt them was the knockout rounds that played every 3 days. Also keep in mind Philly played EVERY leagues cup match in Chester too…..
        IMO, they just didn’t have enough time between games all season to get a good rhythm going like in 2022.
        MLS also needs to allow teams to more evenly spends their roster budgets. The Union have a good even spread over about 12-15 players. They have one of the highest “TAM” expenditures in terms of salaries in the league. Which is players making ABOVE then league Max budget charge and just below the DP threshold. So that $650K-$1.1M mark.
        THe Union are spending $13M on salaries for this year. If they gave Tanner $15M to spend, how he wanted…. they’d be a legit contender every season.
        It’ll be interesting to see how Tanner reshapes this team for next season.

    • Third difference was that players like Glesnes and Flach played injured most of the season. Looking back, it probably would have been better if they had surgery in June and could have been healthy for the stretch run.

      • +1
        Or maybe rested them in league play and only used them in CCL? It’s also difficult for players like Glesnes in their prime to sit out games. Guy is a competitive warrior like Bedoya.

  23. Thank you PSP for always being there, win or lose!

    Tough way to end the season. Am I the only one that is happy to see the season end? Too many meaningless games. An absurd playoff schedule. Way too many injuries. I will think twice before buying into CCL (whatever they call it now) and the ridiculous Leagues Cup next year.

    Hopefully Curtin can convince management to keep Bedoya and then play him thoughtfully next year. And let’s use the Carranza money to bring in some real talent. Have a happy holiday and off-season everyone. See you in February (brrr).

  24. My wish list for next season signings.
    1. New left back hopefully most expensive signing of off-season. In prime of his career and proven in decent Europe leagues like championship or Eridivisie.
    2. New proven young striker for 1-1.5 million dollars who can start as backup and work his way into the team
    3. New center-mid for 1-2 million. Solid 28 years old or older experienced player who is known for creating well and getting assists
    4. New backup keeper for any amount of money. Blake is getting old and having a good young keeper will be good for when he is injured/out on international break.

    This is horribly unrealistic but who knows? Maybe this season is the wake up call that Tanner, Sugarman and the entire Union need

  25. I think I — like many — couldn’t shake the feeling this game would be a loss. It made the goal and the frustration of the clear offside feel like a confirmation of expectations rather than a game stolen.
    For the most part I enjoyed the season. In particular I want to thank this site and this community for making it even better. We dealt with some difficult issues recently and I was impressed and moved by the overall great people participating here.
    I look forward to next season with a refreshed outlook!

  26. “Not good enough.” That describes the Union’s season, the franchise, and MLS itself.
    1) Lack of depth. Before this season started, because the Union had won the MLS East, we knew they would play in the Concacaf Champions League. The entire MLS would play added games in the Leagues Cup. Some of the Union’s players would have international duties added to their schedules. Given that the Union were expected to succeed in these competitions, it was easy to envision that to win the MLS Cup, the Union might have to play as many as 50 games from early March through December. It was imperative for the Union to have enough quality to rotate the field players to preserve fitness. After the first game, it appeared that Torres would be Ilsinho with speed, but those hopes were quickly dashed. Other than Damian Lowe, who had a very fine season, Ernst Tanner whiffed on the other additions. “Not good enough.”
    2) Backup goalkeeper. Andre Blake is a world-class goalkeeper, and his being in the lineup gives the Union a chance to win every game, even if they play relatively poorly. As he ages, however, it is inevitable that he will be more subject to injury, especially when he has international duty for Jamaica. It was important to have quality backup, but Joe Bendik did not fit the bill. In the 7 games Bendik played, the Union won 2 (including Bendik’s clean sheet against Nashville in which he did not register a save), drew one and lost 4. Those points arguably cost the Union an opportunity to host an MLS Cup semifinal match. “Not good enough.”
    3) Stars diminished. I have often said that in order for a franchise in any sport to win a championship, its stars have to perform at a high level and one of them has to have a career year. On the plus side, Nathan Harriel had a career year, but he is not one of their stars; Jose Martinez scored on three of his rockets from outside the box. The “Big 3” (Gazdag, Carranza and Uhre) underperformed—particularly Uhre. Martinez was hampered by injuries (“The best ability is availability.”). We now know why Glesnes underperformed his Defender of the Year season in 2022—he played with a sports hernia. Who among the stars had a career year? No one. “Not good enough.”
    4) Coaching. Jim Curtin is a good coach—not the best, but by no means is he the worst in MLS. For sure, the Union could do worse. Heck, after Gregg Berhalter gets sacked as the USMNT coach, he will be available cheaply. Yes, we can fault Jim for “sticking to the plan” as far as formations go, failing to make substitutions early enough, and failing to rotate players properly. And the Miami debacle was truly embarrassing. But I am not sure that a different coach would have made a difference because the players, especially the “stars,” did not change (and did not come up big). Sorry, you Curtin-haters, I have to give Jim a pass this year.
    5) Bad luck, suspensions and Injuries. Every championship team has to have a bit of luck go their way during the season, including the timing of injuries and suspensions to key players. For weeks during the season, the Union were missing Kai Wagner, Andre Blake, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach and Jakob Glesnes. Last night the Union were missing Wagner (mouth) and Glesnes (sports hernia) for the Cincinnati match, and Martinez’ in-game injury in the 75th minute was a serious blow. The Union’s luck was “not good enough.”
    6) Poor officiating. There is a maxim that a team that relies upon good officiating is not a very good team. That said, the officiating in MLS has not kept pace with the improvement in the quality of play league-wide (compared with 5 years ago). It seemed to me in the matches that I watched that there were times when referees failed in their No. 1 job—protect the players. I saw referees let studs up tackles and elbows to the head go, sometimes without a foul being called. Though I am not unbiased, it seemed to me that the Union were most often on the receiving end of those fouls. I thought that Referee Ismail Elfath had a pretty good night last night keeping relative control of a chippy, disjointed game. But by and large, MLS officiating is “not good enough.”
    7) VAR. I have saved the worst for last. FIFA has decreed that offsides goals are not to be tolerated. In every other important league in the world (such as EPL) which employs VAR, the decision about whether a goal is disallowed for offsides is made by the VAR official who has the technology at his/her fingertips to make such a determination. The decision is then communicated to the match referee, who often is not in a position to make that determination in real time. Likewise, the ARs are instructed to keep the flag down in every close situation because of VAR. It is inexcusable for that protocol not to be followed in MLS. Murphy was quite clearly offside on the Mosquera goal and it should have been disallowed. “Not good enough.”

  27. Close the Curtin says:

    Pivotal? That moment came when you didn’t let Curtsy walk.

    Don’t see the need for Harriel to switch sides with M’baizo leaving. Flach may be the better bet.

    Sully takes over for Ale. If they were smart they’d move Gazza back left, and find a true diamond dynamo. They’re not smart…..

    Don’t worry though; that 19 year old Norwegian they wasted an international spot on will fix it …..

    Didn’t mind Burke moving on. When they NEVER replaced him it told me this was always gonna be how it ends.

    Run Julian. Don’t look back. Uhre the sewer will take over in style.

    Back to Zolo you go low.

  28. I am glad the season is over if the u would have gone deeper they would have disappointed for sure. The team just does not have the quality, their philosophy is one of frugality and the academy player mine….So in that regard look forward to developments and new faces to renew our hope for
    a new season……Wish everyone to come back to this forum of good and critical football reportage. Enjoyed reading all the messages.

  29. Thank you to all at PSP. Your contributions for the sake of your fellow Union followers are appreciated… always an interesting read.
    And thank you to the players, coaches, trainers, staff… imagining that no one feels it all more than you. Though it wasn’t the desired outcome, I hope everyone can decompress, breathe, re-ground, reflect, and reenergize in the days and weeks ahead.
    Speaking of decompressing… that was a long road. The volume of it was simply too much for me. You could see the toll it took on the team–quality of play decreased injuries/wear and tear seemed to increase. And it took a toll on many fans, some who have made comments on this site from time to time. I found myself reevaluating the time commitment and energy. It just became less important to me… hope that honesty is okay here.
    All the best to everyone here for a peaceful off-season.

  30. What a long, slog of a season. I love Curtin, but his time has come. The best you can say is that the team played tough, and still no subs until an injury forced one in the 80th minute. The adjustments and substitutions will forever be his Achilles heel. That being said, ownership is a joke. All the new money coming to the league with the tv deal and expansion fees, plus a reasonably full stadium and extra matches the last few years, and still no spending, GTFO.

  31. Honestly, the biggest disappointment this year for me, was by far, Gazdag. 11 of his 15 goals were penalties. He was a turnover machine. Zero creativity compared to ‘22. Just not the same player.

  32. Don’t really have a lot to say about this. I felt like the season was a marathon of games. It was a lot. If we the fans were wore out, its very reasonable to believe the players were as well! I’m hoping the new players work out. Also that the guys who had substandard season performance bounce back. I’m thankful to all of the PSP staff and my fellow commenters. May all of today’s anger and disappointment melt away in the coming weeks and we can come back refreshed and ready for a new season! I will remain optimistic about this team because that’s who I am. See you all on the next article. Doop on!!

  33. I’m sure there will be posts this week to open these topics, but I see a smattering above of what needs to change — players, coach, ownership, investment strategy, etc. What I really want to see gone is this regressive, counter attacking 4-4-2 that relies on constant overexertion and conceding possession. I want us to develop players who can play not just run a lot. We’ve seen moments of that ability with this season’s team, but too often that quality is just not there. I don’t know if that means changing managers — I think Curtin has been flexible. I also don’t see him leaving yet. Not unless he gets a really good offer… There are a lot of openings out there….

  34. PaulContinuum22 says:

    It’s 11:08AM and Jim Curtin has not yet been fired by the Union for their Saturday flameout…

    • Jim Curtin is here to stay. If you don’t like it, go root for another team. Otherwise deal with it.

      • This is a pretty dismissive and crappy reply to an (admittedly dumb) comment that is shared by a lot of people, especially in the moment. When was it decided that people can’t discuss coaching issues and changes at the end of a season? To just say “like it or leave” is not great, and not typical of this page.

      • He’s welcome to have his opinion (although it seems like 99% of his comments are negative and how bad they are). But to expect Curtin to be fired before noon today is just unrealistic. And given the criticism he has given regarding the level of talent on the team logic would say he should be praising what Curtin has done with this talent over the last 5 years with overall finishes of 5th, 1st, T-6th, T-1st, and T-5th (the only team to be in the top 10 each of the last 3 seasons, much less the last 5).

      • +1 w/ Andy. Many of his comments have been over the top ridiculous.

      • PaulContinuum22 says:

        It doesn’t matter, Andy if you don’t win the last game of the season. Stop defending a guy whose clock management with substitutions is Andy Reid with the Eagles-esque.
        There are coaches that can take you to a certain level, but can’t take the final step and actually win it all. The Union need someone else to kick the door down. And now they get to stew and gnash their teeth while Albright and Noonan are 90 minutes away from the MLS Cup final. Why were both let go, anyway?
        Fire Curtin, have a global search for a coach that is a proven winner, pick him and then rebuild. He has taken this team as far as they can go. And he failed. What other coaches are out there who can replace Curtin? Hell is real is also the slogan for the Union’s past 3 post-seasons.

      • Paul, do you remember writing this comment two days ago?
        “ Another thing…like Leon Flach, Jesus Bueno, Joaquín Torres, Tai Baribo, Jeremy Rafanello or Quinn Sullivan are gonna send waves of fear to ANY team, MLS or USL. This is what we have. A bunch of no-names.”
        Kind of ironic to say that Jim has poor substitution management while crapping all over the quality of the available substitutes. You do realize that if Jim makes a sub, it’s one of those guys who are going in, right?

  35. Echoing what others have written. Thanks to all at PSP who have made this much more than a gripe page, but one with intelligent exchanges of ideas. I hope that those in charge recognize that the Union will need to utilize a full squad next year to compete in CCL, Leagues Cup, Open Cup and the full slate of MLS games, which will be interrupted in part (one hopes, at least) by the Copa America competition. Roberto DeZerbi at Brighton has proved that a lower budget team can be competitive, but there needs to be more creative thought applied to strategies and tactics. The old formula has not worked: Good enough is no longer good enough for this fan base.

  36. I’ve mostly stayed away from this site for the past 2-3 years because of the toxic and unhinged comments to the posts, which unfortunately detracted from the great writing from the PSP staff. Coming back in the past month, especially with this article, reminded me why I have been away. While some of you are of sound mind, there is a river of nonsense throughout most of these comments. I appreciate the passion and emotion, but an ounce of logic wouldn’t hurt.
    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…we’ve been completely spoiled by the past couple of seasons. We all know that we have an owner that doesn’t completely break open his checkbook to the same extent as other teams, and yet we have a supporters shield and three champions league/cup appearances in the past 4 seasons. How anyone can fault Ernst or Jim, or the desire of the players for all they’ve accomplished on one of the league’s lowest budgets is mind boggling. No, it didn’t all come together this year, and the supporting pieces didn’t mesh except Lowe. But with 51 freaking games played and a super low budget (yes, I keep repeating this for a reason), we were still a top 5 team. There is absolutely no reason that this group of players should be as good as they are, and yet they’ve excelled year in and year out. I’m sorry that some of you were bored or disappointed or whatever, but this was actually a damn good season. Firing Jim for getting them to this position would be utterly ludicrous.
    Two teams to think about for the “fire Jim” brigade – Montreal got rid of Wilfried Nancy and plummeted from 2nd in the East last year to 10th this year. It went so well for them that they needed to fire Losada after 1 whole season. Unless Sugarman opens his wallet, this is our future if Jim leaves. The second team is Orlando. Pareja has had a proven track record of success with Dallas and now Orlando, culminating in Orlando’s best ever season this year. Rumor has it that he may not be back next year. Watch them shoot down the table if he in fact doesn’t return.

    • Well said (although I think all of us were disappointed with the way the game ended Saturday night…as we have every right to be when either VAR can’t get a simple offsides call right or apple can’t show us a different view that at least gives us a question as to whether it was offsides or not).
      I 100% agree regarding Curtin and think that firing him will likely lead us back to 2012-2017 for the next 6 years and possibly see the team move out of the area due to plummeting attendance if that happens.

    • PaulContinuum22 says:

      “How anyone can fault Ernst or Jim, or the desire of the players for all they’ve accomplished on one of the league’s lowest budgets is mind boggling.”
      But in the very next sentence, “No, it didn’t all come together this year, and the supporting pieces didn’t mesh except Lowe.”
      That’s on Ernst and his misfires on personnel decisions. And his alleged 15-second dismissal of Bedoya in saying he’s gone in a training session? 2024, if things stay the same, is gonna be an epic dumpster fire.

    • I think most of the posts and a greater percentage of the posters here are reasonable. I’m more likely to read thoughtful takes on the Union on this site than any other I can think of. I think it’s always useful to allow for emotion after a match report. Particularly given how on the short end of fortune the team has been the last three seasons.

  37. Ugh I’m a little confused here ….. Are ppl saying my comment were sexist or racist? All I agreed with was that Curtin should be fired bc I don’t feel he will ever win silverware. Someone please enlighten me on this situation. I don’t tolerate sexism or racism either.

  38. Ugh, hope LAFC don’t win it again…

  39. LAFC lost MLS cup 🙂

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