Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 0-0 CF Pachuca

Philadelphia met CF Pachuca at home on Tuesday night for the first leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup quarter-final. Aside from a few moments, this scoreless match keeps Philadelphia looking ahead to the away leg in Mexico next Tuesday. 

Following  bookings in the round of 16 against Saprissa, center backs Damion Lowe and Jack Elliott were suspended for this match. Philadelphia was forced to field a weaker-than-ideal backline against Pachuca’s recently powerful attack. Additionally, Andre Blake was fit to start after the injury he picked up in the first leg against Saprissa. Julian Carranza was a “game-time decision” and ultimately did not make the Union’s 18. 

Due to the suspensions, Nate Harriel was moved to the center-back position alongside Jakob Glesnes, and Olivier Mbaizo was left to fill in his shoes at right back. 

First Half

Pachuca’s front three held a high press on Philadelphia for most of the night, forcing the home team to create most of their changes with long, aerial balls into the wings. Lacking confidence in a less-than-ideal back line, the Union sat back when not in possession. 

Jose Martinez, later named the player of the match, put on a masterclass at the defensive midfield. He made several recoveries and drew a few fouls on offense. 

Glesnes made some deciding tackles and clearances in the box, keeping Pachuca’s well-performing offense at bay. 

In the thirty-third minute, a bit of chaos outside of the 18 caught the defense out of position, and Andre Blake had to come well off of his line. He was beaten by the attacker, but Glesnes recovered in time to clear the ball. 

In the dying minutes of the half, Pachuca was awarded a penalty for a potential handball on Nate Harriel. After the video review, both the penalty and subsequent yellow card were revoked as VAR discovered that a Pachuca hand ball created the chance in the first place.. 

Right before the halftime whistle the Union earned a free kick just outside the box, but the referee cut the Union’s free kick off by signaling that time had run out.

Philadelphia made it to halftime with a lucky 0-0. 

Second Half

The second half saw a couple of decent chances for both teams, but neither managed to hit the back of the net. A  majority of Pachuca’s shots failed to hit the target and the Union couldn’t seem to get an attack together. 

Daniel Gazdag missed a wide-open net in the 76th minute as he tried to chip over Pachuca’s keeper, costing Philadelphia the advantage as they travel to the second leg next week. 

Philadelphia avoided conceding an away goal in this leg with a scoreless match.

Three Points
  • Depth at Defense: Glesnes held everyone together and Harriel did what needed to be done at CB.  Mbaizo was lackluster, looking slow of thought and slower of foot covering the RB position, which should push Harriel up the depth chart on the defensive line. 
  • Andre Blake’s Return: He transitioned back into the lineup and held a clean sheet for his first match back from his knock in the first round. He was not challenged by a ton of shots on target from Pachuca but had a good number of saves regardless. 
  • Looking Ahead to the Second Leg: With Lowe and Elliott back from their suspensions, the Union have the opportunity to claim their spot in the CCC quarterfinals away at Pachuca next Tuesday. Any win-or-draw scenario would push them through, thanks to the clean sheet held tonight. Pachuca has consistently conceded multiple goals at home in Liga MX. 

Philadelphia Union (4-4-2)
Andre Blake, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo, Nathan Harriel, Kai Wagner, José Martínez, Alejandro Bedoya (Jesus Bueno 74’), Jack McGlynn, Dániel Gazdag, Quinn Sullivan (Markus Anderson 87’), Mikael Uhre 57’

Unused Subs: Sanders Ngabo, Matt Real, Tai Baribo, Jeremy Rafanello, Nick Pariano, Chris Donovan, Olwethu Makhanya, Oliver Semmle

C.F. Pachuca (4-5-1)

Moreno, Rodriquez (Lopez 79’), Cabral, Barreto, Gonzalez, Pedraza Reyna, Deossa, Rodriguez (Dominguez 69’), Sanchez (Montiel 79’), Idrissi, Rondon

Unused subs: Patiño, Lopez, Bautista, Micolta, de la Rosa, Luna, Eulogio, Hernandez, Gonzalez

Scoring Summary


Discipline Summary
PAC- Cabral (Yellow Card, 48’– Foul)

PHI- Mbaizo (Yellow Card, 48’– Foul)

Ismael Cornejo- Referee 



  1. Other than the Harriel overturned call, this was uninteresting. Mercifully, I was about 30 mins behind kickoff on my recording and scrubbed through most of the pain. I did laugh at the predicted scoreline in the previous article. Josh H captured the sentiment in his comment. This is more like it. On to next Tuesday

  2. Mbiazo and gazy where brutal tonight…the final 3rd was lava for gazdag and apparently just run at mbiazo and things will completely work for you…..at least Sullivan looks like the best player on the team at the moment…o and suited jimmy back to suites and no subs…..do slacks, jacket and a tie really tin foil your mind from using depth (at least perceived or not)

  3. No away goals in a scoreless draw with a patchwork back line seems like a win. If Curtin plays a similar starting 11 to the SKC game and Carranza can start next week I like our chances. Pachuca rested many of their starters prior to this game and threw everything at us. Some bad finishing from both sides (what was the xG for each team?) means the second leg will be all out from both teams who both look like they want to play quick transition, attacking soccer.

  4. “Jose Martinez, later named the player of the match, put on a masterclass at the defensive midfield.” Couldn’t agree more!

    On the bright side, the Union went toe-to-toe with one of the strongest teams on the continent, and didn’t allow an away goal.

    But man, if Uhre had been able to convert one of those chances, I’d feel much better about coming out of the second leg with an overall win.

  5. Hard not to see a 0-0 as good result. Especially, with that backline and Mbaizo playing like he did. Also what on earth is going on with Glesnes? He’s not as together as previous years.

    I feel like if we rotate during the Seattle game and come at them with our strongest 11 on Tuesday night that we can get a goal or two. I believe someone on X stated they give up at least 2.5 goals at home.

  6. Feel like I’m just repeating what previous comments have said here but, The 0-0 draw was a fine result. Sure, chances were missed but good thing they were. A 0-0 is much better then a 1-1 or a 2-2 (away goals) A first clean sheat is great, and quite surprising that came with 1 CB and against the highest scoring team in Mexico. Attack was obviously lackluster but I do have one question. Why was Gazdag playing striker? Most of the lineups I saw showed Gazdag playing striker and Sullivan playing CAM. Why? Sullivan has more experience at striker and it seems to me like Gazdag is a much, much better player when he plays in his natural role. Anyway, the 0-0 draw is a good result and means that if the Union can hold pachuca to a 1-1 draw at their place then it’s a win for the Union. DOOP!

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Any lineup cards that said Sullivan was CAM would be completely wrong. Sullivan was introduced as a forward during player introductions and was playing primarily as a wing. Definitely not a CAM.

    • Vince Devine says:

      In Jim’s post game, he said they were playing a 4-3-2-1, with two 10’s (Gazdag and Sullivan).

  7. Evenly played match… great night for soccer in Chester… BUT Union finishing is purtred… and why oh why will Jim NOT use his subs when you see Bedoya gassed at 60, Gasbag struggling all night, McGlynn and Sullivan outmatched several times by ‘experienced’ OOO-CA players… and as usual, Uhre being Uhre.
    No confidence in your bench, Jim?… Or are you just refusing to utilize the entire squad?

    At this point, I feel he just does not want to win. Ties are good enough… that makes me puke to think about.


    • Vince Devine says:

      We were down three starters to begin with, who would like to see come in? Available (unused) subs were Real, Makhanya, Ngabo, Pariano, Rafanello, Donovan, Baribo. the starters were doing well. There’s 5 days until the next match.

      • +1

      • Ignore J Fav…. S/he complains endlessly.
        Ignores the fact that Curtin used all 5 subs in the KC game.
        Ngabo and Pariano just made the bench b/c Lowe and Elliott were suspended. Rafanello looked outclassed in the game he started. Donovan has not looked better than Uhre.
        If Curtin played all the youngsters, J Fav would then complain they aren’t experienced enough.
        S/he is an adult who just likes writing “poop” in their texts… not very original or creative.

  8. Chris Gibbons says:

    Uhre – has to be better in front of goal. Movement is good, interplay is fine, but finish.

    Mbaizo – played well overall, but Idrissi was a beast all night and Olivier could barely keep up.

    Minutes 45-65, Pachuca hit a second gear the U couldn’t match. Then they could, and frankly should’ve won the match.

    Martinez was fantastic. Perfectly balanced on the knife’s edge.

    Kudos to the match official. Got most of it right and kept the lid on.

    Seattle will be missing players over the weekend. So will the U. 0-0 draw incoming, all to play for next week.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Completely disagree with the thought that Mbaizo played well. He was not handling the pressure well and even had a couple of bad giveaways in the first half that were unforced, most notably on the play that almost led to the PK.
      Other than that, I’m fine with those assessments, except Gazdag needs to be added to Uhre regards finishing.

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        You’re probably right. Idrissi was just so good, maybe I’m giving Mbaizo a pass.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I continue to be impressed with Uhre’s off-ball work this season. Especially getting back on defense, hold up and making runs, and getting into crossing positions. I don’t think finishing is really a problem. I give credit to Pachuca’s defense closing up shop quickly on a turnover. I’m most proud that their keeper had to work harder than Andre. Maybe one of the Pachuca attacks really worried me. Their shots were all from distance.

  9. I think people are being a bit too harsh on Mbaizo. He did leave too much space on the wing often in the first half, but then again, when a powerful scoring team has not that many chances, and Blake doesn’t even have to make any spectacular saves, you have to credit the whole defense.

    Speaking of which, I thought Harriel did an excellent job playing outside of his natural position. Solid with few mistakes.

    Agree with everyone that a 0-0 draw against this club is not a bad result. Damn this competition makes it tough for the MOS regular season though…

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Definitely fewer Pachuca fans last night than Saprissa fans last week.
    The right side of the defense had some difficulty in dealing with the press and had some bad giveaways which could have been converted.
    For me, Harriel was man of the match. He wasn’t as dominant as Martinez but playing out of position he really helped shut down Pachuca. He cut down the angle to help prevent Pachuca scoring on their best opportunity after Glesnes had another poor back pass and the interceptor got around Blake.
    The offense was not up to the task. For me, the biggest issue was that there were several times when Sullivan (and occasionally Mbaizo) beat a triple team in the corner and completed a pass towards the center of the field around the top of the box. Rather than take advantage of the fact that 3 Pachuca players were now out of position in the corner and pressing towards goal, the Union would just play around with the ball, eventually recycling it to the centerbacks. They need to be more aware and shoot the ball more frequently.

  11. Daniel Hayden says:

    My daughter bailed me out last night. I was down and out with a sinus infection. Alexandra Hayden wrote this

  12. Deez Nuggs says:

    Jose! Jose! Jose! (sung to the tune of ‘Ole! Ole! Ole!’)
    That is the tightest our defense has been this season. And, btw, the passing. For most of the team, I would not be surprised to see better completion scores. Offense could have finished better, but the chances were there. Ultimately, defense will wins games.
    Mbaizo was slow and sloppy to start. Felt he tightened it up in the second half. I expect this is mostly because he has played less minutes this season so far.
    Harriel did really well as a CB. Glad to see him not taking chances, for the most part.
    I largely felt we had Pachuca under control. Given our suspension situation, this is outstanding. I fully expected to get solidly beat.
    The tie-breaker is now 100% ours. That’s a decent job done. On we go!

  13. Zizouisgod says:

    Was there in person and for me, this was not a dull nil-nil. End to end play from both sides.

    Martinez was imperious in how he bossed the game on both sides of the ball. His ability to win and retain possession in tight spaces was impressive to watch

    McGlynn passing and movement ran rings around Pachuca. Some of his passes were incredible, especially the longer ones. It was a masterclass.

    Harriel was amazing in how he handled playing center back vs Rondon who started to get frustrated by the end of the match.

  14. Where did the good version of daniel gazdag go? He better go back to being good or else people are going to start to notice his baffling decision making more and more.

  15. Andy Muenz says:

    BTW, Expect Mbaizo to start Saturday against Seattle so Harriel can rest for Tuesday since Mbaizo will serve his second Champions Cup suspension.

  16. Gruncle Bob says:

    It was a solid overall effort. Keeping a clean sheet was the goal and they achieved it, despite being 3 starters down.
    Glesnes had his usual moment of madness – a nice slow through ball placed perfectly for the Pachuca attacker. Fortunately that guy is so painfully right-footed he couldn’t convert.
    On defense, if Pachuca continues to give our guys that much time and space they will eventually score. I hope they play that way next week.

  17. “Any win-or-draw scenario would push them through, thanks to the clean sheet held tonight.” Don’t the Union at least have to score a goal? A nil-nil draw would send them into penalties because neither team would have any away goals.

    • Wouldn’t it go to extra time first? I know Wikipedia says straight to PKs about the Cup, but we went to extra time against Saprissa.

    • George Diamond says:

      You are correct Harry. 0-0 after 90 minutes would lead to extra time which, of course, would go to a PK shootout if that score holds.

  18. In context, the defense played great. We got lucky on a few open shots but pace of the game was good. Hats off to Harriel for his performance, Uhre for his work rate, and Quinn, Jack, and Kai for providing opportunities. I totally agree about the subs. Jesus and Marcus should have come in much earlier. I do think Gazdag played a good game and was always distributing and hustling. Not sure what you want from him without Julian in front. Mbaizo was absolutely terrible and timid. He personally gave up the ball early at least 3 times in dangerous positions. Blake actually talked to him about it. Then, he gets beat on the inside at least 5 times and doesn’t adjust. It will be SOOOO good to have Harriel there on Tuesday.

    • I’m afraid the lack of touch on the ball and possession is going to hurt them the rest of the year. The ball control has been very bad. It also should be a priority to start Anderson. He looks like he has the awareness infront of goal. Its bad when your considered top strikers can only score inside the 6 yard box and when bedoya is considered your top striker infront of the goal!

  19. Sullivan Continues to look much improved and will help the attack on the right side We still have not seen the entire starting lineup since the season started. Caranzas return will boost goals. I think the Union are going to surprise the experts around the league and finish 1st 2nd or third in MLS if they can keep the core healthy. I also think that Messi will only play a half a season and Suarez less than half a season due to chronic injuries. I till can’t understand how Miami is able to sign all the DPs on the roster. Every other team must have the game vs Mami circled on their calendar. I think the Union will not be intimidated by them this year if we have our starters onthe field this year. The Messi mystique should be gone

    • I really hope Nashville are able to kick Miami out of the CCC. I really just want someone to prove those “Mls is the worst league in the world!!! Messi scored 2 goals!!!”and show them how teams play Miami when it actually matters.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Union will probably not have all their starters for the game against Inter Messi at Subaru Park. Hungary has their opening game in Euro 2024 the same day so Gazdag probably won’t be there. Hopefully the Jamaicans and Venezuelans won’t be gone for COPA America yet since their first games are still a week away.

  20. So far , I am very optimistic about the season. Sullivan and McGlynn both looking improved. We actually have a good back up goalie Caranza, Wagner, and Bedoya all resigned. IF Union stay healthy they finish 1 2 or 3 in East. Miami will fall apart by August. Messi and Suarez will be injured and hobbling and telling manager to rest them. Feel bad for all the fools who are buying tickets at ridiculous prices to see them. They will be in the trainer’s room at least half of the season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *