Match Report / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 2-3 Seattle Sounders

Photo: Ron Soliman

Just three days after a disappointing home loss, the Philadelphia Union (3-4-1) ran back onto the pitch at Subaru Park on a Tuesday evening to finish a game against the Seattle Sounders (1-3-5) which had been abandoned on March 9 due to the field resembling a slip-n-slide.

While the lineup differed from Saturday night, the final result did not, as the Union suffered a second straight home defeat. The Union allowed three first-half goals for the first time since the Leagues Cup game against Miami last August. The Boys in Blue were much improved in the second half, as goals from Jack McGlynn and Dániel Gazdag at least made the match competitive. It was not enough, however, to salvage a point as Seattle hung on for a road victory.

The game started where it left off at the 6 minute mark featuring the same players that were on the pitch in early March, with a few exceptions because of injuries (and byzantine substitution rules). First, Oliver Semmle replaced an injured Andre Blake in goal, and Jakob Glesnes replaced an injured Damion Lowe and captained the team. Tai Baribo substituted for the injured Markus Anderson, but was immediately replaced by Julián Carranza, who had replaced Matt Real on the bench. This meant Baribo was not available off the bench for the remainder of the game. Added to the bench were Leon Flach, Sanders Ngabo, and back-up keeper Andrew Rick. For Seattle, Yeimar Gomez Andrade replaced Xavier Arreaga on the field, while Jaoa Paulo and Albert Rusnack were added to the Sounders’ bench. 

The Union’s standard formation

The Union stuck with the formation that it had lined up in on March 9 – its usual 4-4-2 narrow diamond formation. Semmle was between the goalposts, while Jack Elliott centered the back line with Glesnes. Nathan Harriel featured at left-back and Olivier Mbaizo at right-back. The midfield consisted of José Martínez as defensive midfielder, Jesus Bueno and Quinn Sullivan on the left and right sides of the diamond, respectively, and Gazdag as the 10 at the top of the diamond. Julián Carranza entered the match at striker, where he was partnered with Mikael Uhre. 

A ridiculously bad first half

The match restarted in the 6th minute with Union in possession, just on their side of the half way line. A few minutes into the restart, the Union were caught napping in the 13th minute when a back pass to Martínez was mishandled, and Raul Ruidiaz jumped on the ball and lobbed a long shot from more than 35 yards out over a stranded Semmle. The Union responded the same way on Tuesday as they had when scored upon on Saturday – disjointedly and out of sync.

It was Seattle’s counterattack that continued to look the more dangerous, and the Sounders were rewarded again in the 22nd minute when Obed Vargas took a pass from Leo Chu and stroked a shot to the far post that eluded the outstretched Semmle. Two shots on goal, two goals. A merely bad night turned worse when Mbaizo was called for a foul in the box and Seattle was awarded a penalty. Ruidiaz made no mistake from the spot and scored his second of the night in the 37th minute.

Seattle continued to have the better chances as the half wore to a painful end, as 9 minutes of injury time only prolonged the misery. The Union did look alive, for once, in the 48th minute, when they had some legitimate chances, but a Carranza shot from the top of the box was easily saved by Andrew Thomas and some nice passing to find an open Gazdag was wasted as the Sounders were able to direct his shot out for a corner. After that short burst of Union soccer, Seattle again spent most of the remaining half on the Union’s side of the field. Boos rang out from the stands as the half mercifully came to an end after 12 minutes of stoppage time. 

Second half comes up short again

The second half saw three changes to the Union’s lineup, as Kai Wagner, Alejandro Bedoya, and McGlynn replaced Mbaizo, Martínez, and Bueno respectively. That said, the second half started with Seattle on the forefoot again, forcing a nice save from Semmle in the 48th minute. But just as quickly as things turned sour in the first half, in the 56th minute Jack McGlynn breathed some life into the Union corpse with a great strike from 20 yards out. Seconds later, the Union rose from the dead with a second goal, as a Quinn Sullivan cross found Gazdag who headed into the goal. All of a sudden in the 57th minute, the Union (and the crowd) were back in the game. The Union continued dominating the chances, and a near goal was written off for offside.

The match settled into a back and forth, as both teams took turns in possession and trying to create chances. Jim Curtin used his last substitution in the 81st minute as Chris Donovan replaced Mikael Uhre to bring some fresh legs to the match. The Union had some chances, as Sullivan had a nice cross headed by Carranza off the top of the bar. The Boys in Blue threw everything forward in the four minutes of second-half injury time, but the third goal never came.

Three Points

Scoring First? – The Union haven’t scored first in what seems like ages, and while they chased a point (or three) with a great second half, one can’t help but wonder why they can’t get a lead to start a game.

Jack McGlynn – Besides his great strike for the first goal, his vision and cross-field passes continue to impress.

Grass vs. Turf – A firm believer that professional soccer should always be played on grass, I can’t help but wonder whether this game would not have been suspended if it was being played on a turf field. I thought I would take the rescheduled date and byzantine substitution rules over playing on turf, but perhaps playing the game in the March rain would have been better for the Union?


Philadelphia Union (4-4-2)
Oliver Semmle, Nathan Harriel, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbiazo (Kai Wagner 45′), José Martínez (Alejandro Bedoya 45′), Jesús Bueno (Jack McGlynn 45′), Quinn Sullivan, Dániel Gazdag, Mikael Uhre (Chris Donovan 81′), Julián Carranza

Unused Subs: Leon Flach, Jeremy Rafanello, Sanders Ngado, Andrew Rick

Seattle Sounders (4-2-3-1)
Andrew Thomas, Nouhou, Jackson Ragen, Yeimar Gomez Andrade, Cristian Roldan, Josh Atencio, Alex Roldan, Obed Vargas, Leo Chu, Raul Ruidiaz (Cody Baker 84′), Jordan Morris (Paul Rothrock 90+1′)

Unused subs: Jaoa Paulo, Jonathan Bell, Jacob Castro, , Danny Leyva, Dylan Teves Albert Rusnak

Referee –  Joe Dickerson

Scoring Summary

Raul Ruidiaz – STL – 13′

Obed Vargas – STL – 22′ 

Raul Ruidiaz – STL – 37′

Jack McGlynn – PHL – 56′

Dániel Gazdag – PHL – 57′

Discipline Summary

Jackson Ragen – STL – 27′

Julián Carranza – PHL – 38′

Mikael Uhre – PHL – 45+9′

Nouhou – STL – 58′ 


  1. Two really poor touches by Jose cost two gols. Union were buried by the 6.
    I like Jose. Tough night. Strange halftime Tweet too.
    Pleased to see them rebound. And hope they find that rhythm they were firing on and are able to clean things up defensively again.
    Time to respond. A huge window of games upcoming means it’s time to GO.
    Ok. Go.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      You are unexpectedly upbeat and forgiving. I am at least glad they made it interesting after what might be the worst half I have ever seen them play. (Yes, recency bias is a thing. Though I have been a fan since at least 2014.)
      My analysis is the first half is on Jim. They looked entirely unprepared, like they had never played the formation before. I think Harriel out of position, with Bueno in the midfield as well, threw off the entire thing.
      Case in point, the first goal doesn’t happen because Jose can’t take the backpass perfect. It happens because when he misses trapping the ball, he looks back, sees Jack and expects coverage. But Jack has no idea how to manage the space with Harriel instead of Wagner, so he IMMEDIATELY DROPS. Now Ruidiaz has acres of space and a free ball. And I was left shouting from the stands “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!”
      The entire half, the space was completely unbalanced. Too much distance between the back line and midfield. Too much between Harriel and Elliot. Clumps of bodies here and there, with giant lanes between them. THIS is why there were so many bad passes. These are low percentage attempts with plenty of opposition in position to jump the lanes, and you don’t have anything else you can do because the spacing is f’d.
      Wagner comes in, and now the back line is fixed (mostly). And Ale and McGlynn totally take over the midfield. Jack in particular was lights out. Just totally dominant. Great showing.
      I wish it had been enough to get something. But they lost it in the first half.

      • I stipulate to your position and argument regarding spacing. I was working so only had one eye on the game.
        All I’ve come to know is when Jose is off… he is tripping acid off.
        Something about either the guy’s preparation or his attention span but when he is not focused— Lord it’s a guess as good as any.
        In truth I am having a difficult time lately getting in to a rhythm with the team (MLS in general) so I can only imagine what it is like as a player.
        International break… bye weeks… rain outs. STRANGE.
        I have become softer in my criticisms… maybe because deep down I have resigned to the resignation- the window to this version of the story is closing, the opportunity to be Great was missed and the denouement is amidst.
        In typical Philly fashion, we gave it a shot and it just wasn’t quite good enough.
        Course maybe next week I excoriate them.

  2. The Fixx says:

    The moment the Seattle player got away with a deliberate elbow to the face and then scored their second II turned it off.

    League letting you know who matters.

  3. Zizouisgod says:

    Every time the Union have multiple matches in a week, we realize how thin our roster can be. Mbaizo and Bueno both had big opportunities to show that they should be playing more, but squandered them.

    McGlynn has become one of the most important players in our side. His ability to find space to receive the ball and then transition us forward is unique. I don’t think that anyone else on our roster has this ability to participate in the build-up and facilitate our attack into the final third like he can. Once Seattle realized this and started to mark him tighter, the Union’s comeback efforts slowed down appreciably.
    We’re gonna miss him when he goes to the Olympics.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      The good news is that he’ll probably only miss one regular season game due to the Olympics and the rest will be Leagues Cup.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I was impressed by no one in the first half… obviously. But McGlynn, Bedoya, and Wagner (to a lesser extent) provided incredible energy in the second half, and damn near willed the team to at least a draw.
      This team needs to remember you are allowed to actually score first. You don’t have to spot a team multiple goals before you can score.
      Playing half a game is not a recipe to win anything.

  4. Chris would you please get the formation correct, its not a narrow 4-4-2 its a formation of 4-3-3 composed of three attackers. I don’t know why constantly do that.

    • Say Goodnight Jim Bob says:

      Because the Union call it a 4-4-2?

    • Blake Zuschnitt says:

      Santo, it was a 4-4-2 diamond, as it’s been for years. If you wanna call it a 4-3-3, with Gazdag as the false 9, you have to consider who the wingers would be. Carranza and Uhre don’t play that role at this club. Chris is correct in my book in calling it a 4-4-2 diamond.

  5. Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Ale. Yes, he’s well past his prime, and frankly looks slow at times, but his leadership on the pitch in the 2nd half was exactly what was missing in the 1st half — he literally ran his arse off all over the dang pitch to retrieve every single ball he could and that sort of tirelessness is truly infectious (as demonstrated by the team kicking it up at least 3 gears for the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half before the inevitable burnout).

    Perhaps I’m hurting the persuasiveness of my point about Ale in bringing this up, but two players I’d like to single out as the opposite (i.e., whose attitude/spirit can really bring the team down by how they play/their demeanor on the pitch) are Gazdag & El Brujo — the former due to a sort of elitist petulance about his teammates even when he’s the one losing the ball/making bad decisions with it, and the latter with his rage attacks/lack of focus (which cost us for at least one, if not two, of the goals yesterday).

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Ale was much better playing Martinez’ position than Martinez was. One thing he’s learned that many others on the team haven’t is that you don’t need to dribble through multiple opponents or make a fancy pass when a simple one will work.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        Exactly. That fancy pass attempt gave them their first goal. Martinez, when on, is incredible. Martinez, when off, is absolutely brutal.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      After that turnaround, I don’t know how you take Ale off the field. We are a very different team without him. Also, as my son said, HOW IN GOD’S NAME DOES JIM WAIT UNTIL HALFTIME TO BRING ON THE SUBS?

  6. Here is the view from Section 105:

    1) It was a blunderful night for soccer. The Union XI of the first half apparently thought that it was “Throwback Thursday” because they reminded us of the the really bad Union teams from around 10 years ago. Poor touches, poor passing, out of shape. I asked after the first half whether the teams had changed uniforms. I know that I am guilty of recency bias, but this may have been the worst half of soccer the Union have played at home over the past 3 years.

    2) As most of you know, I am a huge Jose Martinez fan, but this was his worst performance in recent memory. He was not alone in his blunders, but his were costly.

    3) Likewise, the Mbaizo penalty, which took an inordinately long time to review. It did look like Harriel got kicked in the box, but no penalty was awarded after VAR review.

    4) In the first half, the Union played what I call “shingles offense.” Shingles (the disease, not the roof covering) only attacks one side of the body. Though the Union had plenty of possession in the first half, nearly all of it was on the left side, and it was ineffectual. The Union, like most teams, do much better with the ball in the middle of the attack zone. The only Union offense came off Jesus Bueno corner kicks, mostly outswingers, and they were ineffectual.

    5) This is exactly how Ale Bedoya should be used–45 minutes of all-out attack. Though the Union did not give up any second half goals, they gave up a number of good chances because they were pressing up, which the score dictated. Against better teams, I suspect that they would have given up a goal or two in the second half.

    6) The Union’s offense works best when it goes through McGlynn, second best when it goes through Wagner, and not very well when it has to go through someone else.

    If the Union play like this, they will be lucky to make the playoffs and they will win no hardware.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      Don’t forget Sullivan. I think he played much better in midfield on the side of the diamond than up top. it seemed to me he had some decent contributions last night and he hustles his butt off!

  7. Das Gaffer Jurgen says:

    So . . . Baribo was technically in the starting XI, but was not even dressed and immediately subbed for Julian.
    On nights where our lack of depth is painfully evident, I wondered: is Baribo that bad that he can’t play? That Chris Donovan (Chris Donovan!) is ahead of him in the depth chart?
    Then I read JT’s article in the Inquirer this morning, and it’s made clear that the coaching staff thinks little of him due to the ever vague “training habits.” Same thing happened with our depth transfers last year, e.g. Torres.
    Therefore, one can surmise that a) the FO (Tanner) is spending precious dollars on players who aren’t that good or b) are talented but have personal issues in form of bad work habits or c) “training habits” is code for some other issue with the coaching staff, and these players *should* be seeing the pitch more.
    Which is it? It really, really makes it hard to get excited about this side since they’ll run themselves into the ground by September.

    • Jose Blanco says:

      It’s none of them. We have hear year after year with Jim when asked about why players aren’t playing. It’s always be a training issue. Same stale answer just like he stale coaching. We have same starting 11 since going to cup. No one can break through? everyone who no see the field isn’t showing up at training? All these big signings supposed to have and none get a sniff of the pitch? Many others who be good contributions, where are they..gone. And Matt he gone to? He here for a lot of years..always did well when played. He never rotated or see pitch at all over 5-6 years? Now i no see him at all. 11 is not lasting all year, players tweeting hidden message. Do not seem good to me. I still be a season ticket holder as I am loyal to club.

  8. John P O'Donnell says:

    Andre Blake with a post on his Instagram this morning is very concerning.
    “When you are no longer happy it’s time…”

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Woah, isn’t his contract up at the end of this year with a one year team option to extend?

      • Eric Boyle says:

        It could be a reference to his nagging injuries this year. Reminds me of the Kelce documentary when he said it was hard for him to prep for a game because his body was stiff and sore.

    • It’s time to what ?

  9. SoccerDad says:

    Unable to make it to the game last night due to other commitments. Did allow me to watch part a home game on Apple. Hearing Danny as the analyst showed me what he brings that others do not. Actually its more of what he doesn’t bring : He doesn’t have the need to talk simply to fill space, unlike most of what I’ve heard during away games. I just hope we get him for some of the other east coast away games.

    Oh and Harriel did his foot kicked in the box. (A pen I’ve seen given numerous times in EPL games.)

    • That’s what it looked like in real time. Harriel is not a fake-artist, either. I thought that the foul was just as obvious as the one committed by Mbaizo.

  10. Vince Devine says:

    The abbreviation for Seattle is “SEA”, not “STL” (that’s for St. Louis).

  11. Glad I missed the first half. At 6pm I asked Alexa what time the game started. ?, She said the Union game was postponed. So I did not tune in until the second half. I guess she meant the Union will not really start to play until the second half. Very intuitive

  12. Is it me or is Wagner less aggressive with the ball at his feet this year? I’m used to him bombing down the side lines and peppering in crosses at volume. Maybe it’s a tactical change but I don’t see him playing the ball off and then sprinting down the side lines for a give and go nearly as often. Also don’t see him taking on his defender and marauding down the side line at all anymore.

    • Defenses are forcing the Union to play down the other side (Harriel/M’Baizo). Plus McGlynn plays higher up the field than Flach does. That forces Wagner to hang back more for defensive purposes.

      • This is what has been happening this season. The opposition are forcing play to the other flank but mostly McGlynn is more offensive minded than Flach . So I feel there is some tactical shift to keep Wagner more defensive. Also they keep giving up an early goal so is part of Wagner not getting up field due to that??

    • Think the Union are smart attacking from both sides

  13. paulcontinuum22 says:

    Also, all but scratch the U from next year’s Club World Cup. Monterey got throttled by Columbus last night in their house. If Monterey had won the tournament the NTI (next team in), would’ve been…the Union.

  14. I totally agree with the comments regarding El Brujo. However, Mbaizo was absolutely horrendous. He went back to the passive, give everyone 5-7 yards of space except when in the box. I am in section 107 and from my angle, not only did Mbaizo give up the space to allow the shot on goal, but he also blocked out Semmle from seeing the ball until it was too late. he played like this at the beginning of the year but then picked it up and is now back to the passive, reactive player that is so scared to get beat that he constantly gets beat. Is this because of his family situation? Don’t know but he is a shell of himself.
    We need some more backs.

    Uhre – I’m so tired of talking about him. He has feet of stone I think. Just no finesse in his game. I think he would have been a great DP 10 years ago in this league but with the skill at the defensive positions these days, he gets eaten alive. Or else he just misses or is too slow. McGlynn sent a shot into the box that the goalkeeper ended up catching, but if you look at his reaction it was apparent. Uhre why didn’t you move? Time to go.

    Sullivan – By far the best player on the pitch for the 75 minutes. I agree that Uhre should have subbed for Bedoya and not Quinn. I can’t count how many times he made runs and was dangerous in attack and his crossing skills have improved so much. Yes, sophomoric mistakes like trying to dribble between 3 defenders, but the kid has it going on!

    McGlynn – enuff said. He is a maestro at directing the offense when in the game and things flow so smoothly. First half, we only had Gazdag with any concept, because Quinn was stuck on Mbaizo’s side.

    I think it is time to rotate strikers and let some of the younger players play.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Sullivan went the whole 90 Tuesday night. He came off early on Saturday, but that was probably to give him some rest since he was in the starting line-up Tuesday when some of the other players were not.

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