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Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Nashville SC

Photo by Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union traveled to Music City on Saturday night, eager to keep their streak alive as one of the remaining undefeated teams in the MLS. Despite the absences of Andre Blake and Mikael Uhre, Philadelphia orchestrated a series of electric chances in the second half to secure a 2-1 win.

The match started with Nashville on the attack and a seemingly flat Union offense. Capitalizing in the final minutes of the first half, Sam Surridge beat his defender in the box to give Nashville the 1-0 lead.

A series of close chances in the 59′ minute signaled the run up to a José Martinez diagonal ball that found Quinn Sullivan. Sullivan offered the assist to an ever-patient Julián Carranza, who found the back of the net to level the match.

Dániel Gazdag secured three points for the Union in the dying seconds of regular time off a set piece.  Unmanned and waiting, Gazdag scored his fourth goal of the season with a header off the crossbar near the back post.

A frantic last chance attempt by Hany Mukhtar in the last minute of injury time was cut short by Oliver Semmle as the Union held on to their lead.

Three points

  • Trust the process: Even without Blake and Uhre, the Union stuck to their system, adapting and, ultimately, overcoming. Any worries of a stagnating season seem to be dissapating.
  • Brick Wall Jr: At the risk of sounding like a broken record…Oliver Semmle continues to prove he can step up when it matters.
  • Last team standing: By the end of Saturday night, the Union are officially the last undefeated team in MLS play.


Philadelphia: Oliver Semmle, Damion Lowe, Jack Elliott (Alejandro Bedoya — 59′), Jakob Glesnes, Kai Wagner (Olivier Mbaizo — 59′), Jack McGlynn, José Martínez, Nathan Harriel, Dániel Gazdag, Quinn Sullivan (Chris Donovan — 87′) , Julián Carranza

Unused subs: Matt Real, Markus Anderson, Tai Baribo, Andrew Rick, Olivier Mbaizo, Jeremy Rafenello, Jesús Bueno

Nashville: Elliot Panicco, Lukas MacNaughton, Daniel Lovitz, Josh Bauer, Brian Anunga (Amar Sejdic — 86′), Aníbal Godoy, Dru Yearwood (Sean Davis –72′), Jacob Shaffelburg, Alex Muyl, Sam Surridge, Hany Mukhtar

Unused subs: Jack Maher, Joe Willis, Taylor Washington, McKinze Gaines, Brent Kallman, Teal Bunbury

Scoring summary

NSH– Sam Surridge — 42′

PHI– Julián Carranza — 62′

PHI– Dániel Gazdag — 90′

Misconduct summary

NSH– Aníbal Godoy (foul) — 84’



  1. Played their way into that game…
    ….and earned a hell of win. Three weeks running with no post game complaining. Always room to improve but I thought they defended well and had real moments of quality.
    The law firm of Martinez, Quinn & Carranza combined for a fantastic gol if not a twinge lucky too.
    Undefeated on the season. Three wins in a row. Second in the conference with a game in hand.
    Actually I do have a small bone to pick- what’s up with The Man in Black?
    Carry on boys.

    • Sullivan’s presence to deliver a well weighted ball to Carranza and Carranza’s outside of the foot finish were class.

      I very much enjoyed that second half. Sullivan nearly had an epic team goal that he sailed into the stands. Impressive away win.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Quinn getting an assist on his knees. I mean. Come on. That’s good shit.

      • Mark Zolandz says:

        I appreciate him continuing to play and not flopping and throwing both hands up to look for a foul (*cough* Uhre *cough*)…

      • That assist. Man, that’s what I was saying too. So good.

    • Yeah, what is with the new look for Jim? Is he up for promotion or is this a superstition thing? I think PSP reporter on the beat needs to ask some questions.

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Defense was excellent. Subs were excellent. Semmle was excellent. Absolutely awesome road win. Last unbeaten. LFG

  3. Picking up a quality backup keeper is paying dividends. Semmle has earned them several points already in this young season. I hope they backup a dumptruck of money into Carranza’s driveway and then go find another one or two depth pieces for the midfield.

  4. Curtin’s rope-a-dope strategy has been working! It’s tough to watch while they’re absorbing pressure, but it’s great when it succeeds.

  5. Deez Nuggs says:

    What the hell were we doing in a 3-5-2? Maybe as Yo-Joe suggests it is a strategy. On purpose. But soon as we switch back to 4-4-2, we take over. Bedoya is still making case for being indispensable.
    Carranza is magnificent.
    And a big, fat BIRD to the people who can’t get behind Gazdag. Again, he is showing his worth.

  6. Ever since that Pachuca game the teams looked different. All of a sudden the players are working harder, the defending has been better, and Jim Curtin has started to be more flexible with the lineups and subs. I’m proud of the win today. Going on the road to Nashville is never an easy task and the Union got it done to make it 3 Ws in a row.

    (Also 2nd in the east and only undefeated team left in MLS )

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Pachuca’s in a different league than the Union (both literally and figuratively). They won the first half of the next leg 5-0…and they come home for the second.

      • I just mean even before that game the Union looked off, not just the pachuca game. Then ever since the embarrassment they seem to have woken up

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    Mukhtar seemed to go down very easily, over and over and over again…and seemed to get most of the calls outside the box, unlike Gazdag.
    While it was Elliott who was beaten for the goal (with the help of a little tug), I would lay most of the blame on the Union midfield for allowing an uncontested buildup leading to a perfect pass which was much tougher to defend than the earlier sequence would have been.
    And hopefully the adjustments Curtin made midgame will remind people that he is a pretty damn good coach.

  8. Bringing Mbaizo in to bomb forward and dropping Quinn deeper at the side of the midfield so he had more room made the difference. Mbaizo’s fresh legs and Quinn’s other worldly conditioning did hurt either in the last 30 minutes.

  9. McGlynn should take all corner kicks.

  10. Here are a few observations from last night’s match on Crapple:

    1) Referee Rivas did a good job of allowing physical play without letting the game get out of hand: A single (well-deserved) yellow card issued to Nashville’s Godoy and none to El Brujo. He also deserves credit for making Mukhtar stand up in the box. I have been critical of Rivas in the past, but if this is Rivas 2.0, I like it. His refereeing allowed both teams to develop flow.

    2) Our Viking captain (Glesnes) last night had an excellent game–his best since returning from injury/surgery IMHO. His play kept the game close in the first half. Mbaizo also had an excellent game coming in as a 2nd half sub–his pace makes the Union dangerous on the right.

    3) Since El Pachy seems to have abandoned his role to nitpick, let me take over, at least for one match: Yes, Oliver Semmle played well in goal last night and he is an important upgrade from Bendik. But there were times in which he sat back in goal when he needed to come out and command the ball, particularly when the ball was settling at the front edge of the 6 yard box in the middle of the penalty area. It is that veteran positioning and decision-making that sets Andre Blake apart from Semmle as the No. 1 goalkeeper.

    4) I am repeating myself from last year, but Jack McGlynn needs to be taking the set pieces, not Kai Wagner. I am also of the opinion that for corner kicks, inswingers are more dangerous than outswingers (Apparently Mikel Arteta of Arsenal believes the same since this is his practice.) and I would like to see the Union develop someone to take right-footed inswingers from the left corner.

    5) The second half subs and formation change were welcome, and the Union were really dangerous throughout the second half. Yes, Bedoya is capable of going all out for 45 minutes, and he should play no more than 60 minutes in any game–the season is long and there will come a time when the Union will need his veteran leadership.

    6) Without Walker Zimmerman, Nashville had a lot of trouble defending set pieces and corners. Without him, they cannot make the playoffs.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      +1 on corner kicks. Arsenal has Nicolas Jover an excellent set piece coach. They have the most set piece goals in the Prem this year.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      On point 2, I thought all 3 central defenders played well, even though they were under a lot of pressure most of the first half. The goal was a picture perfect pass threaded between two defenders that will happen sometimes when the crosser has space. The bigger issue was how Nashville was able to set it up so easily rather than the fact that they were able to finish…and the setup was on the midfield/outside backs.

      • You are correct (as usual). I think that the issue was the mids lack of familiarity with the 3-back setup. Though the Union defend pretty well, especially on set pieces, they are a much better team when they press up as they did in the second half.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      TBF, it’s fairly well known that an inswinging corner is much more dangerous than an outswinger. The primary reason is that the trajectory of the inswinger continues to progress towards goal while the outswinger hits a point of optimal danger, but then degrades the longer that it’s in the air and moving away from goal.

      That said, a good outswinger taker is more effective than a subpar inswinger.

  11. No Uhre part in the game, i believe the open letter hurt his feelings that he got injured, i hope he comes back soon and finds form.

  12. As I stated several weeks ago Semmle was the most important signing of the year. Combining with Blake will result in at least 10 to 12 additional standings points this year. in the MLS standings. Sullivan adds a new dimension to the team. Was not his best game but who cares. This would have been a loss with Bendik in Goal.

  13. A very satisfying victory, with impressive play in the last 35 minutes. Mbaizo was a real spark off the bench. Quinn’s assist on the first goal was a fantastic combination of grit & skill. And the defense looked pretty stout all night.

    I’m trying to decide whether to praise Jim for switching things up after 60 minutes, or critique him for starting us in that stupid 3-5-2 in the first place. I hope we stop using it (unless we have a major raft of midfield injuries) because it puts everyone out of sync and does not provide enough going forward.

  14. Having issues with the Apple TV app. Fine on my phone but not the tv. Watched on the phone this morning. Thought the game was a tale of 2 halves yet again. The tactical shift and fresh legs were pivotal for the game. Almost immediately put the U on the front foot!!
    Stout defensively
    Offensively better 2nd half
    Early subs change the game
    Bedoya is good for 45… maybe great!
    Apple is giving me fits!
    The U are looking pretty good
    Jim looks bad ass in black.

  15. Andy Muenz says:

    On a separate note, the U-17’s won the Generation Adidas Cup for the second straight year. The Union took the lead just before the half on a goal from Diego Rocio. Then after giving up two goals early in the second half, Cavan Sullivan tied it in the 44th minute (30 minute halves). Then Neil Pierre scored in the 6th round of PK’s followed by a Galaxy miss to bring the championship back to Philly.

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