Match Report / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1-2 Real Salt Lake

Photo: Ron Soliman

Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Union returned home undefeated (3-4-0) after snatching a point with a 2-2 draw in Atlanta. After a weekend off, the Boys in Blue returned to action in Chester against Real Salt Lake (4-3-2). With an extra week’s rest, the Union came into the game hoping to use the friendly confines of Subaru Park to tally its second-ever win against RSL.

RSL came into Subaru Park — its second on the road in two weeks — after thumping Chicago 4-0 last Saturday and riding a five-game unbeaten streak, including two shutouts from former Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. 

Despite the extra rest, the Union failed to capitalize.

A chippy game, with seven yellow cards between the two teams, ended in a 2-1 loss for the Union, as MacMath and RSL felled the last unbeaten MLS team at home.

The Union’s diamond formation

The Union lined up in its favored 4-4-2 diamond formation to start the game, with only one change in the starting lineup from the match in Atlanta. Jack Elliott returned to the lineup and centered the back line with Jakob Glesnes. Kai Wagner lined up at left-back and Nathan Harriel at right-back.

The diamond midfield consisted of José Martínez as defensive midfielder, Jack McGlynn and captain Alejandro Bedoya on the left and right sides of the diamond, respectively, and Dániel Gazdag as the 10 at the top of the diamond. Quinn Sullivan started his second game in a row as striker and was partnered once again with Julián Carranza.  

Meanwhile, midfielder Leon Flach was on the bench in the game day lineup for the first time in 2024.

A lack of finishing in the first

The Union looked the better of the two teams as the 20-minute mark passed. They had an edge in possession and were winning the battle of the statistics: slightly more possession, accurate passes, and chances — but no goals.

The first 30 minutes of the match saw few good chances from either side. Then, slightly against the run of play, RSL struck in the 34th minute, as Andrés Gómez took a pass on the right side of the 18-yard box and rifled a shot at Andre Blake. The Union keeper deflected the ball up, but over his own head and into the goal.

The Union seemed even more out of sync after the goal, and the 43rd minute saw a near-own-goal as Elliott deflected a cross past both Blake and (barely) the post. The Union made a habit of stalling their own attacks — with passes made to empty spaces, attackers failing to make runs, and the team generally appearing out of sync.

The Union didn’t look bad but they couldn’t take advantage of fresh legs and seemed rusty and disjointed. Despite having eight shots to RSL’s three, the half ended with RSL up by a goal. 

Second half comes up short

The second half started with the Union looking better and sustaining some pressure. A Bedoya cutback to Sullivan in the 49th minute was wasted as he blasted over the bar.

But it didn’t take long for the Union to tie the match, as the 50th minute found Gazdag unmarked in front of goal. Gazdag was hit by a Sullivan shot that bounced in front of him, and the midfielder made no mistake as he deftly played the ball into the net to tie the match at one. 

Gazdag had the opportunity to give the Union the lead in the 61st minute when Wagner cut a ball back to him, unmarked again in front of the RSL goal, but he shot wide. The Union kept the pressure on, and the 63rd minute saw Carranza fouled about 25 yards out, but MacMath easily saved the resulting Wagner free kick.

RSL continued to persistently foul, and as the game passed 80 minutes it seemed as if they would take the one point as a victory. The Union kept at it though, but MacMath easily saved a Martínez rocket from 35 yards out. The night turned around quickly, however, as RSL scored a stunner in the 89th minute. A rocket by Alexandros Katranis eluded a leaping Blake and found the back of the net.

The remaining minutes of the game saw the Union throw everything they had at the RSL side of the field, but to no avail. A dejected Union left the field on the losing end of a 2-1 score.

Three Points

Undefeated no longer – The only remaining undefeated MLS side lost its first game of the season at its home stadium. 

Curtin(s) Again – Coach Jim Curtin seemed content to let his starters play out the game. While Mikael Uhre came on in the 72nd minute, it wasn’t until Martínez rolled on the ground in the 88th minute that Jesús Bueno came on. After going down a goal, Curtin threw Chris Donovan on for Nate Harriel in a last-ditch effort to salvage a tie. There was no coaching magic this week.

MacMath vs. Blake – Zac MacMath returned to his first team and came out the victor.


Philadelphia Union (4-4-2)
Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel (Chris Donovan 90+3), José Martínez (Jesús Bueno 88′), Jack McGlynn, Alejandro Bedoya, Dániel Gazdag, Julián Carranza, Quinn Sullivan (Mikael Uhre 72′)

Unused Subs: Oliver Semmle, Olivier Mbaizo, Jeremy Rafanello, Tai Baribo, Leon Flach

Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1)
Zac MacMath, Brayan Vera, Justen Glad, Bode Hildago, Alexandros Katranis, Braian Ojeda, Andrés Gómez (Andrew Brody 90+2′), Emeka Eneli, Fidel Barajas (Anderson Julio 59′), Matt Crooks (Maikel Chang 80′), Cristian Arango

Unused subs: Bryan Oviedo, Nelson Palacio, Philip Quinton, Bertin Jacquesson, Gavin Beavers

Referee –  Malik Badawi

Scoring Summary

Andres Gomez – 34′

Dániel Gazdag – 50′

Alexandros Katranis – 89′

Discipline Summary

Cristian Arango – yellow card – 39′

Alexandros Katranis – yellow card – 48′

Brayan Vera- yellow card – 57′

Jakob Glesnes – yellow card – 57′

Matt Crooks – yellow card – 59′

Andres Gomez – yellow card – 75′

Julián Carranza – yellow card – 78′

Alejandro Bedoya – yellow card – 90+7′


  1. Are we allowed to be done with Uhre? I’m done with Uhre. It’s time for an upgrade there. Doubly so if Carranza is gone this summer.

    Also I am of the mind Sullivan needs to go back to the 8. He started the season off great there.

    • Uhre as the first striker option is a scary thought. Seems a nice enough fellow, but he can’t hit the ground with a turd.


      I hope they plan on adding another striker and some midfield depth this summer. I think this core can make one more run at the cup but they need some help.

    • So done with Uhre. Since not much was spent on upgrades and the leadership isn’t looking like they want to win a cup by spending any of their gains on the first team, we should absolutely launch Uhre and at least save a million or so to invest in another striker with real ball skills, not just one that is sometimes good on a fast break.

  2. Union xG 2.01
    RSL xG 0.46

    Sums it up nicely

    • Totally sums it up. This was a lucky win by RSL. I mean we didn’t outplay them enough to win it, but it should’ve been a draw. I’ll consider this the payback for the KC game, when we totally deserved the loss and stole a point. Move on.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    8 shots on goal. 7 of them very easy saves. Team needs to remember how to finish.
    First home full strength home loss in an MLS game in almost 3 years. Last one was against NYCFC in May 2021 when Martinez took an early red card. Every home loss in the league since has either been during an international break or when the Union were rotating while preparing for a Champions League game. (The NYCFC game was during Champions League, but I don’t think they rotated due to coming home with a 3-0 lead after the first leg in Atlanta. Last full strength MLS home loss with no hint of Champions League or international break was also against NYCFC, last game of the 2019 regular season.)

  4. Gotta put the sitters into the net.

    Really well played second half, excepting that one shot…

    Get some rest and Beat Seattle Tuesday !!!

  5. I got home from what should have been a truly unforgettable night at the Park, which even a draw would have salvaged, but this was a nasty loss. The best part was having 4 of my 5 grandchildren in the park, all of whom got to hold one of the banners before the game. All 4 have attended games in the past, and they are not used to the Union losing at home. Three of the four of them have April birthdays (There is a set of twins.) and they got to see their names in lights at halftime. My eldest grandson got to play in the game at halftime, and he did score the leveler in his scrimmage. But then they, their parents and I had to watch the second half. Ouch!

    Here are the views from Section 105:

    1) The Union were physically fresh from a 2-week layoff, but as Chris Turk accurately recounted above, they were mentally out of sync, particularly in the final third. There were multiple occasions when passes were made in anticipation of a run that never happened. Clearly games are different than training, and the positive part of multiple games in a short period of time should mean that the Union’s mental focus will improve.

    2) In the first half, Wagner was beaten three times by Gomez. The first two times, Wagner slide-tackled the ball away. The third time resulted in Gomez being able to get off the shot that beat Andre Blake.

    3) Andre Blake did not play like the Andre Blake whom we have come to know and revere. Personally, I cannot remember the last time that Andre was beaten by a shot right at him. Gomez had a very tight angle and his shot was right above Andre’s head. Though Gomez got off an excellent hard strike, Andre usually routinely tips such over the bar, but not tonight.

    4) The second goal was definitely against the run of play. From where we sat, it did not look like Katranis hit the shot with great velocity and it was a long way from goal. But Andre was flat-footed and the left-footed shot tailed away from him into the far top right corner of the goal. That the shot went in was shocking to us.

    5) I think that the referee would have been best-served if he had issued a few yellow cards before the 39th minute. I am particularly troubled by failed tackles from behind as well as jersey tugs, both of which in my book merit yellow cards whenever they occur. I know that referees are reluctant to card players in the first half-hour, but had this referee done so, I think that the game would have developed a better flow.

    6) Some of the Union buildups were truly beautiful, particularly the backward flick by Sullivan that sent McGlynn in.

    7) At the risk of repeating myself, the Union need to shoot more, even from distance, and see if they can cause trouble in the box–which is how they scored their “ugly” goal.

    I hope that this game was an anomaly. We will see soon enough. Seattle have defended poorly thus far in the season, and hopefully they will not have fixed things by Tuesday night.

    • Point 3: Wagner had to cover Arango and Gomez after Elliot got beat. Who would you shade to given the choice?
      Wondering if the groin injury of Blake is not allowing him to push off that leg which would account for not forcing the first goal over the bar and not getting to the winning goal?

  6. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Tough loss as they looked rusty to start the game. They had plenty of chances to get the lead and in the end it came back to haunt them. I want to jump on Uhre but in reality the big three all had some chances that could have made this a blowout if they converted.

  7. A bummer the team that was finding its form had to sit for two weeks and now need to find a rhythm again. The are not The Invincibles so a loss was coming sooner or later. Remarkable thanks to Seattle game there are now teams that have played 3 more games… we’re only 8 games in to this thing. I really struggle with the stop start nature of league… seems much more prevalent than it used to be. Maybe I’m just getting to be a crotchety-er elephant.
    In other news…. what’s up with the crowd?
    Kentucky Derby anyone?

  8. Evenly Matched Teams and Oscar Awards …… Could have been easily 2-1 Union. Katranis Goal was a perfect strike. The Gomez goal was a blast at fairly close range and Blake nearly stopped it. . Agree Union should do everything possible to keep Caranza. MVP on offense. Too much hate for Uhre Philly . Came in cold and nearly put us even. His work rate has improved. Gazdag made a great back heal and missed one I could have put in. Just Unlucky. Mc Glynns blast heading for Goal hit Bedoya. Sullivan continues to grow into a better versatile player…… And the Oscar goes to… Chritian Arrango for his performance in Real vs Union. He clearly had the best performance for faking agonizing injuries after a foul . Bravo Sir !!! (Martinez was a close runner up.) Could have also won award for best make up or costume, That beard, hair cut ,eyebrow combo is amazing. Could have easily been a character in Dune.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I would not be surprised if he gets fined for simulation. Especially diving on the ground after taking a NOTHING from Elliot.

      • Eric Boyle says:

        That dive happened right in front of me. All of section 130 was in shock. He plays like a petulant child. Sadly, he is right behind the Barca retirement home in the golden boot race.

        Serves him right if he gets fined!

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    Dumb question (as someone who doesn’t watch MLS games that don’t involve the Union). Weren’t the new rules about injuries supposed to go into effect last week? If so, why were the “injured” RSL players allowed to come back on almost immediately after receiving treatment rather than waiting for 2 minutes after play resumed? There were at least 2 occasions where players received medical treatment but came back on after less than a minute.

    • Gruncle Bob says:

      I don’t know the answer but yes their players were allowed back on far sooner than 2 minutes.

    • I’m pretty sure that if a foul is called on the play, then the two minute rule doesn’t apply. Otherwise, teams could just injure players to be up a man for 2 minutes, might be worth the yellow card in some cases.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        On one of the occasions, the player being treated was the one who received the yellow card. On the other one I remember, there was also a foul, but it was against the RSL player who was being treated.
        I believe that if there is a card given on the play and the card is given to the player causing the injury, there is an exception to the rule, but not in cases where the player committing the foul is injured.

  10. Deez Nuggs says:

    About halfway through the second half, I thought to myself “Oh my god. They’re CONCACAFing us. And it just may work.” They figured out that they could foul us to break our rhythm. And so that’s what they did.
    Overall I thought the Union played well. Just not clinical enough in the final third. Sometimes a bye week doesn’t actually help.
    I do think Blake won’t be happy with either goal. The first hits him right in the hands. The second was well taken, but we’ve seen him save those.

  11. Gruncle Bob says:

    Not a great game from Andre. Is he healthy?

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Looking ahead to Tuesday night the Union’s lineup from the start of the game was: Andre Blake, Nathan Harriel, Jack Elliott, Damion Lowe, Olivier Mbaizo, Quinn Sullivan, Jose Martinez, Jesus Bueno, Daniel Gazdag, Markus Anderson, Mikael Uhre
    The subs were Oliver Semmle, Kai Wagner, Matt Real, Jakob Glesnes, Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn, Jeremy Rafanello, Chris Donovan, Tai Baribo
    Assuming that Lowe and Anderson are still out injured, they can both be replaced by players on the bench without using a sub window or counting against their allotment. I would guess those would be Glesnes and McGlynn. I think those subs can then be replaced on the bench which would at least make Carranza available to come off the bench.

    • Appreciate the update and the insight. Still a little pissed they even tried to play that game. What a mess.

      Good work Andy.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        That was so much fun sitting in the rain watching them squeegee the field. We didn’t even leave our seats until it was officially called.
        I don’t know if you saw warmups, but the field was fine then but got really bad, really fast which caught everyone off guard.

  13. Frustrating match, beaten by a wonder strike, and from an unlikely source. Stuff like that happens in this game. Move on and don’t worry about it.

    Also, I have to say that I have been overall underwhelmed with McGlynn’s play this season. He hasn’t been bad, but neither has he taken a developmental step up. I thought Uhre should have been substituted for him, with Quinn moving into the midfield (where he belongs).

  14. Can we please stop trashing Mikael Uhre? He may not score as much as the masses want, but he works hard, he presses, and he makes countless runs that his teammates don’t see or reward. The constant nagging at him is disheartening. Yes, I would like to see him score a couple more goals. I would like to see a couple more of the sitters hit the net, but as we saw last night, he is not the only player capable of missing an easy goal.

    • (oops. didn’t mean to send that unfinished)

      By Union standards, Uhre cost a lot of money and makes a lot of money. That is not his fault. And in that light, anyone expecting a big money signing this summer to prepare for Carranza’s eventual departure has not been paying attention.

      Stop the bitching. He has scored 28 goals for the Union from open play. His durability and availability are improving. His partnership with Sullivan on the right side is encouraging. With a little more love and a lot less whining, who can tell where he will take us.

      We need him focused and enjoying his football. Let’s start by showing some respect for his effort and his improvement.

      My mother told me, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Of course, that would severely limit the discourse on this site. But, give it a try.

      C’Mon U

      • Uhre is overpaid for his contribution to the club, he is a part time player, falls down at the slightest contact, but I’m with you if can turn it around and find form.

      • Uhre hasn’t met initial expectations when we signed him. Not his fault. I think he has value as third option off the bench and spot starter during the 3-match a week schedule, but his finishing aren’t going to get the Union a trophy.

    • +1 his work rate has improved.

  15. Wracked Opinion says:

    Anyone else totally frustrated with the incidents of the Union players being offsides?

    It seems like the Union are called off far more than our opponents: more frequently vs rarely.

    Almost every match this occurs.


    For crying out loud.

    At this level, the circumstance was… and many of these incidents are… inexcusable, unprofessional, plus nonsensical and need to stop.

    There are definitely times where the Union habitually displays a lack of disciplined, thoughtful, trained play that costs them precious opportunities.

    Whether these are offsides and / or needless yellow cards.

    Which are also galling.

    Union needs a more judicious approach to fouling: especially from Martinez and the backliners.

    Our defenders need to make fouls count: and only when necessary.

    Folly for players (esp. defenders) to take fouls mouthing off: so to create the risk of a subsequent red, for needing to make a legitimate, necessary defensive foul later in the match.

    Or needing to avoid a “professional” goal-saving foul… for playing on a senseless card… so to avoid a red.

    Play more disciplined, thoughtful, professional soccer, please!

    • The Union were called offside 3 times, and RDL was called offside 2 times…… hardly something to get all worked up about.

  16. paulcontinuum22 says:

    ESPN power rankings comment: “Andre Blake… yikes. Traditionally a rock-solid option in the back, the Jamaican’s howler put Philly in a hole against RSL. The Union looked a step slow for nearly the entire match Saturday and picked up their first league loss of the season as a result.”

    • Espns description of Blake’s Howler is way off base. That shot was a blast at close range that he nearly stopped. HEY ESPN MORON Please look up the soccer definition of a Howler. You are way off base.

      • Agree that is way off base. And so is the description of “a step slow the entire match”. Run of play was quite even, and we had the better chances. We just got beat by a wonder-strike. Replay that match 10 times and it’s a draw 7 of them, and the Union win twice.

Leave a Reply

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