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Match Report: Philadelphia Union 2 -3 Orlando City SC

Photo by Ruairi Rossi

Philadelphia Union returned to Subaru Park to host Orlando City SC, with both teams sitting at 1-2-2 over the last 5 games. While both sides were desperate for a win to turn their recent luck around, the Orlando side entered the game worse for wear, with 9 points through 10 games. Despite having only 10 goals on the season, and just one player with multiple goals, Orlando City caused problems for a Union defense playing uncharacteristically shaky.

A quick start for the Union in the first minutes of the game set the pace—ultimately resulting in the opening goal of the match by Mikael Uhre, who played off a forward pass by Nathan Harriel (12’). Orlando City responded in the 21’ with a header by Duncan McGuire, and again in the 41’ with a Luis Muriel left footed shot to the top left corner.

Despite multiple attempts by both sides, the Union headed to the locker room at the half down 2-1.

Orlando started the second half with a vicious attack, as Luis Muriel found the back of the net in just 24 seconds on a quick and easy breakaway. Despite numerous appeals for offsides, play continued.

Both sides continued to play gritty soccer, as attempts sailed on both ends of the pitch. In the 63’, VAR review was called for a possible Orlando handball. After review, Tim Ford confirmed a Nicolás Lodeiro handball, marking the first VAR decision announced over the public address system in Subaru Park history. Gazdag added another tally to his record-setting overall goal count, making it 3-2 from the spot.

Officials returned to the monitor to review a pile up just outside the 18-yard box between Damion Lowe and Duncan McGuire in the 75’. Despite originally receiving a red card, the decision was overturned as Tim Ford declared Lowe had reached the ball first.

As time dwindled down, Gazdag had another chance to score from the penalty spot, but was denied by Pedro Gallese before lofting the rebound over the bar. The 88’ attempt signaled the first time Gazdag failed to score from the spot during a game (not shootouts) in his Union career.

Tai Baribo made a brief appearance, subbing on at the 98’, but ultimately, despite a last corner attempt, the Union fell 3-2 to Orlando at home.

The Boys in Blue are back at Subaru Park on Wednesday night to take on New York City FC.

Three points

  • Come from behind results: Jim Curtin said it himself: fighting back to win games could become exhausting…and it seems like this team has reached for their pillows.
  • The end of an era? You hate to even think it, but remember when the defense was the one thing you could rely on?
  • We want subs (and not the hoagie kind): Tonight’s game went over 105 minutes and our fearless leader Ale Bedoya played every second of it. Tai Baribo only made it onto the field for 7 minutes. With each game, it becomes more and more enraging to try and figure out Jim’s strategy for the Union’s depth situation.


Philadelphia: Oliver Semmle, Nathan Harriel, Damion Lowe (Tai Baribo — 90’ + 9’), Jakob Glesnes, Kai Wagner, José Martínez (Chris Donovan — 80’), Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn, Dániel Gazdag, Quinn Sullivan, Mikael Uhre

Unused subs: Andrew Rick, Olwethu Makhanya, Jack Elliott, Leon Flach, Jesús Bueno, Sanders Ngabo, Jeremy Rafanello 

Orlando City SC: Pedro Gallese, David Brekalo, Robin Jansson (Kyle Smith —65’) Iván Angulo, César Araujo, Wilder Cartagena, Nicolás Lodeiro, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel (Felipe — 85’) Duncan McGuire, Martín Ojeda (Dagur Dan Thórhallsson — 61’)

Unused subs: Mason Stajduhar, Alexander Freeman, Jeorgio Kocevski, Jack Lynn, Abdi Salim, Yutaro Tsukada

Scoring summary

PHI – Mikael Uhre — 12’

ORL – Duncan McGuire — 21’

ORL — Luis Muriel — 41′

ORL — Luis Muriel — 46’

PHI — Dániel Gazdag — 66’ (Penalty)

Misconduct summary

ORL — Iván Angulo (foul) — 45+6’

PHI — Damion Lowe (foul) — 81’

ORL — César Araujo (foul) — 87’

ORL — Duncan McGuire — 90’


  1. Guys, I think we have a defense problem.

  2. Eric Boyle says:

    Nice analysis. I might add that at least one Orlando goal possibly two were started from a Martinez turn over.

    Maybe someone who watched the game on TV can tell me how the Sullivan goal was offside? On the replay he looked on, unless someone else involved was off.

    I also think Orlando sent their players to drama school in the offseason – smh.

    • Jose Martinez has my attention right now. I’ll allow you to read as into depth about that comment as you chose to read.

      • Martinez played and looked like he really didn’t give a shit. Something is up with that man for sure

    • Gazdag, who headed the cross back to Sullivan, is who was ruled off. Sullivan was fine.

      From the crappy angle Apple provides, it looks like the correct call by a hair, but maybe MLS can invest a small amount of that Apple money to give us a better look in the box.

      • Eric Boyle says:


        EPL style line tech would be it. I’d rather have that then refs on a stadium mike.

  3. Think once again the xG says it all. 4.52 to 1.37. We’re leaking goals we shouldn’t and not converting when we should.

  4. Rant incoming.
    I’m a pretty positive human with a positive worldview— > despite some legendary rants here. This was an absolutely FUCK ALL game of soccer. The worst two hours I’ve had since food poisoning about 6 months ago. Totally unenjoyable. NFL football without using your hands. Might as well stop play for commercials next… brutal. Shit show.
    The play – terrible. The VAR – terrible. The fake injuries – terrible. Calleses – terrible. The referee who now makes his calls with a headset like the NFL – terrible — “after further review offsetting penalties by all 22 players for deciding to play professional soccer…Reoeat 2nd down.” Terrible.
    I feel bad tonight after that. Foul mood. Football NEVER fouls my mood. Bummed yes. Disappointed sometimes yes. Soccer like this? FOUL Mooded. NOTHING beautiful about it. Not even worth commenting on anything about the actual game which was an embarrassment.
    Awful. So bad.
    Well in fact I will say two things.
    Daniel Gazdag missed the most important penalty in Union history. For the 100th time I’ve had to hear it he was not PERFECT from the spot in MLS and in a weird way I’m now thankful the guy —missed —- so I no longer have to hear the people say how perfect Daniel Gazdag is from the spot when in point of fact he missed the most important penalty in Union history. Yes… it bared repeating.
    15 min of stoppage time tells us everything we need to know about how reprehensible that excuse of a game was. 15 min. In due time MLS will be the first league in the world to go to a stopped clock. It is coming. Just like when VAR happens— they will soon enough be injecting micro commercials into the stoppage. It will happen because everything about this league and its mandate screams… more NFL needed.
    98th minute — Jim Curtin sends out Tai Baribo. If I was Tai Baribo I’d tell Jim to eat shit.
    Hey Jim. You need to go back to the zip ups and hoodies. At the moment — you remind me of Carson Wentz and his image consultant as his career fell apart around him. I’m sick with how god awful that game was. It is supposed to have aesthetic. It is supposed to be beautiful. Fuck off.
    Okay… happy Saturday night everyone. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms here.

    • First, and most important, Happy Mother’s Day to the Moms.

      The roster Orlando was forced to field tonight is one the 2021-22 version of Union would have chewed up and spit out, especially after scoring first early. Instead we were treated to ball watching and passing out of the back that would get you benched on a U-12 team. And yet, no changes at HT. Elliott should have been on for Lowe and Flach or Bueno for Martinez, but nope.

      Blow it up in the summer window. Identify the 4-5 players you want to keep, sell and trade the names who have value, play the kids and write off the year. If it’s a fire sale and you don’t get ‘value’, so be it. This group had its run, but it’s over.

      • Eddie Would Go says:

        Happy Mothers Day, indeed!

        I did not watch the game but just looked at the highlights. Glad I missed it.

        Totally agree that a reboot is in order, and here are the three I would keep, for sure:

        Sullivan – Sullivan – McGlynn

        The Sullivan goal should have stood, but a loss is a loss.

        Blake is the best Union keeper ever, but I am sorry I have him on my fantasy team right now.

        Can’t wait for Copa America!

        Great game analysis. “reached for their pillows.” Love it!

        Bon dimanche a tous…

    • How was the amount of stoppage time an issue exactly? 8-10 minutes of that time was from the Orlando player being stretchered off with a non-contact injury.
      The Ref explaining the VAR decision is now an issue? Where in the past they didn’t have to explain what happened and why a particular decision was upheld/changed after review.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I said to my wife it was going to be 15 minutes towards the end of the second half.

    • Gazdag has only missed once from the spot previously…..and it was in the MLS cup final, no Saturdays miss was not his “most important penalty.”
      I wasn’t upset at this miss because he converted what the previous 30? But the rebound was a tap in and instead he blasts it with his left.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        He also missed last year during a League’s Cup shootout.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        John. I made a declarative statement, he missed the most important penalty in Union history –> which was a direct reference to MLS Cup not an early season ho-hum game in May. 🙂

  5. Losing against a very beatable team… check….

    Shit refereeing losing control of the game… check check….

    Free food giveaway as you left the stadium… checkity check check

    what the fuck was that??? Did we go back in time to 2014?

  6. This team needs new centerbacks. Also, Leon Flach needs to start in MF…. the D has been shit since the start of LAST season…..when Leon picked up an injury…
    This team needs better depth options. I find it difficult to believe that Donovan is the option off of the bench when the team needs a goal. They need to get Vazquez up to MLS speed fast.

    • Delco Roots says:

      I agree, JayKoz. I kept looking at the subs from 60’ on and thinking “Jim must not trust ANY of those guys.”

    • Carlos Spicywiener says:

      Chris Donovan is a workhorse, given the chance he makes great opportunities. You need to find a middle that Gazdag isn’t. Can not get the ball off his feet and constant back passing… He will show his true colors the rest of the season.

  7. Atomic Spartan says:

    Nostalgia night at the Soob: Incomprehensible personnel choices, poor sub management, hideous officiating, the reliance on aerial crosses in a volume not seen in these parts since the days of the Sun Rocket and CONCACAF level mayhem at the end to top it all off. And why was our defense dicking with the ball as time ran out? Surrender maybe?

    The very fact that Captain America had to play 105 minutes is damning in the extreme. Just about everyone but the coach knows that Ale’s most productive place on this team is that of a second half savior – the spark, the energizer, the inspiration. So much mileage wasted. We don’t have anyone else who can start in that position so Ale can come in to rally the boys when he’s most needed?

    And what is going on in the central defense? Is Glesnes fit? Does Lowe understand his role? Is it a lack of chemistry or a lack of communication between them? Blake would bark at his troops to keep them in line. Can Semmle?

    Something’s wrong.

    • I can’t wait for the interview article next winter where Curtin says “we figured out this last year that rotation is important”. That said, Flach was rusty last game and Bueno appeared to regress in his several appearances, so maybe the options really are limited.

  8. Everything is a mess right now. It’s hard to picture how they get out this funk. The issues are numerous as noted in other posts. This may not be a playoff caliber team, which was unthinkable at the beginning of the season. They are losing in creative ways reminiscent of bygone years. It certainly will be interesting to see what the organization does for the rest of the season.

  9. paulcontinuum22 says:

    Maybe Jim and Ernst should focus on the now instead of Freddy Adu 2.0. Ridiculous.
    Sell the team, Sugarman.

  10. This team appears to have gone past its sell-by date. Putrid performance. I think you look to overhaul as much as possible in the summer. Sell anyone who fetches a decent offer. Pull the trigger on targets you’ve IDed. Play the kids and refresh the team. There’s no point in keeping this up for a whole season thinking it’ll get better.

    These players have given a lot for the team. So I don’t say that lightly. They just look cooked. Change of scenery and pace might do everyone a little good.

  11. Andy Muenz says:

    After a grand total of 4 regular season home losses from 2020-2023, the Union are staring at 4 straight come Wednesday.

    • I have full confidence (?) that they’ll muster a hard fought come from behind draw. That seems to be their ceiling now.

  12. Well that was pretty awesome! Haven’t seen that kind of game for a while! Cold, windy, nonexistent urgency from a group of players that look lost and disconnected!! Refereeing and VAR that are slow and inconsistent! Also something new! As the Great Elephant pointed out, ref on a mike, a-la NFL!! Garber is throwing full franchise bullshit at the league!

    As the wife and I decided to roll out due to the rain and already having under dressed for the temperatures she turned to me and said “ what the hell was that !!”

    Perfectly sums it up!

  13. I am as disgusted by that match as anyone, but the unhinged Negadelphia ranting talking about rebooting the whole team is missing the point and obscuring the problem. And it is defense.

    The Union are 4th in the league in goals scored. The offense is not the problem. The defense is, very clearly, the problem.

    Last night I count Glesnes, Lowe, Harriel, Martinez, and McGlynn among the guilty parties for allowing goals. Against Seattle it was Martinez again, and Semmle. (And I’m probably forgetting a few for each match.)

    Our defenders, and our DM, were among the top in the league at their positions. There’s been a huge regression, and it isn’t clear why (to me at least). Blake probably stops a couple of the goals in the last few games but, aside from the one howler, it isn’t mostly goalkeeping.

    If there’s anything on a soccer pitch that Jim Curtin should be able to fix, it’s this. My best guess is that we’ve disrupted the balance between offense and defense in the midfield. Maybe we should play Flach or Bueno on one wing. Or maybe try a 4-2-3-1 so Martinez can cover less ground and make fewer foolish giveaways.

    Also, I have no idea why people are ranting about the ref. I thought he did a really good job, got all the big calls right, and the 15 minutes of stoppage time was absolutely appropriate. Would you rather we go down a man incorrectly?? Put the blame on the team where it belongs, please.

    • He had a bad game but in his defense could you imagine playing d mid with McGlynn on one side and Bedoya on the other? That’s a lot of ground for Bruno to try to cover.

      • Wracked Opinion says:

        I tend to agree that this is a contributing factor.

        The lack of speed and athleticism from those two contributes to the now glaring upset in defensive capability.

        Unfortunately the Union have gotten far away from being a hounding, high pressing team.

        They routinely yield too much time and space on the ball.

        A ton of ballwatching.

        Unfortunately at this point the Union clearly lack discipline, communication and commitment such to play consistently effective defense.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I agree with you on Ford. I think he got most of the calls correct and used VAR for the big ones he didn’t. Given how close the play was when he gave Lowe the red, it’s easy to understand how he might get it wrong live, and once he calls the foul, he has to call DOGSO. The only major one I thought he did get wrong was when Lowe eventually go a yellow, I thought it was a dive, although Lowe probably deserved a card anyway for his antics.
      Regarding the defense, obviously losing Blake hurts but there are always going to be limited options regarding his backup. The change I think they need to make is to get Elliott on the field more than Lowe. While not perfect, I think Elliott is the more consistent of the two.
      I’m guessing that given Bedoya going the distance last night that we’ll see Flach get the start on Wednesday, not that Bedoya is one of the ones you mentioned as a guilty party.

      • I own a Jack Elliott jersey so that should tell you my feelings on the matter. I thought Lowe made some very good plays last night and some quite lousy ones.

        Bedoya plays defense well and is one of the smartest guys in this league. I honestly don’t know whether he’s part of the problem. It probably takes a savvier soccer mind than mine to really know. I thought having Quinn & McGlynn on the wings was the problem — both excellent young talents, neither terrifically defense-minded — but starting Ale doesn’t seem to have helped the defensive issues.

      • Also, I assume Lowe got the yellow for, as you put it, his antics (which were utterly hilarious!). And I also assume that Orlando player is gonna get a fine for simulation from the DisCo when they review that.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Harriel is not a starter in this league.
      No idea what’s going on with the CBs. Wagner looked like he cared (perhaps in comparison).

  14. Nothing to see there. says:

    Stale, dried up roster and Cracker Jack Corch reverting to the mean.

    Move on.

  15. Ok so a big Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies who read and contribute to this great site! Meant to say that in my other post but we were on our way to Mother’s Day lunch with my wife and mother in law. With all that’s been posted here I truly hope Jim can turn the defense around! Been struggling to figure out the problem but I’m stuck between players and formations. Orlando is not a great team and we should have got 3 points out of that one!!

  16. Hmmm..what were we doing in 2014? Watching shit like this….taking home just 1 point out of 12 in the past 4 matches with just 3 wins so far.
    . . .
    Winning never gets old. Losing does. I agree with Scottso that defense is more the problem than offense, but deep analysis when it’s this bad gets besides the point.

    It’s like the three diehard Indians fans in Major League in the empty stands who end the ‘too high/too hard’ home run debate with: “Who gives a shit…it’s gone.” They either find their mojo or it’s gonna be a miserable season going nowhere.

  17. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Well time to start a conspiracy theory. Blake is unhappy about something and I don’t think he’s the only one. What could pull a team of mostly above average MLS veteran player’s apart?
    Is there a chance that it could be a 14 year old academy player who just signed a record contact and it took the maximum effort of the coach, sporting director and principal owner to get across the line?
    Do any of the core players believe the kid will help this team win a championship? Blake basically questioned at the start of the season will they spend too complete the process and achieve what they’ve been close to before but not quite there.
    Cavan might be the next great one but I doubt it will happen here and I think these core players are starting to think the same thing. Not to mention their best striker hasn’t extended his contract and might be gone by the summer.

    • Wracked Opinion says:

      This is a reasonable point and not far-fetched, John.

      As a Union fan, I was always a bit frustrated by the operandi of ‘selling our prime young talent to the world’.

      But given the change in league competive dynamics created by Inter Miami… bringing in wringers… the Union’s operandi furthermore creates a competitive disadvantage: that takes us clearly away from Championship level ascension.

  18. This team is in a tailspin so hold tight. It is my belief that we will have to baby sit young players, will Curtin stick around?????????any thoughts

    • Regression is the term that comes to my mind. Terms like Cliff of Union Despair and That’s so Union come to mind, and those that have been watching the U for all these years know that sinking feeling we all used to have, simply hoping they could connect two passes, maybe score a goal and if all stars align maybe win a match. Hope it doesn’t get back to that horror show, but Sugarman is not showing the team or fan base that leadership is serious about winning hardware by refreshing with some class talent.

  19. John@127 says:

    The malaise starts in the owners suite. We celebrate the development pipeline and the success in turning young players in to cash. How do we spend it?

    We seem to lack ambition from the top. Content to be celebrated for the academy and fielding a competitive team on a low payroll.

    We don’t spend top dollar. We don’t have game changers on the bench.

    We may have the best 14 yr old in the world. If he’s allowed to develop with getting crushed. We will all root for his European team.

    Are the players all tired of exceeding expectations based on payroll and wondering when ownership will work/spend as hard as they do?

    Talking about expanding the seating in the stadium is wonderful. But making sure they have a team worth watching should not be overlooked.

    That’s what I thought about as I watched an uninspired performance from the Union. Sloppy starts at the top.

    • Eric Boyle says:

      Yes, we get to develop the best 14 year old, but will never see his best years. No, I won’t be rooting for Man City. That’s like rooting for NYCFC, at least he won’t be heading to the pigeons

      Instead, I will be rooting for my European teams’ archrivals to beat Man City on Tuesday so we can win the league -= Go Gunners.

      Otherwise all good points!

  20. Kip Leitner says:

    Jim Curtin always seemed to me an average coach.

    He has a bit of an aggressive habit in him about “roughing up” the opposition and is on record about that. The MLS approves of a lot of this rough play for some reason, even though a fair amount of it would be whistled in most other leagues around the world. The unstated subtext to encouraging your team to pay rough — and hiring the people to do so — is that he doesn’t think his team is very talented and can win on the merits. This rubs off on the players.

    The players don’t seem happy on the field — even when they score. Much of this is attributable to coaching staff, starting with Curtin, who sets the mood for the team.

    Curtin has never put in subs early enough, which is simply a strategic mistake. It’s hard to imagine what’s going on here, but it fits with the “tough guy” image that the starting 11 is simply supposed to “grit it out” to the end and that being subbed out is a matter of masculine dishonor, when in fact using subs is a strategic part of the modern game.

    During the last 5 years MLS has become a much more sophisticated league in terms of game strategy and tactics. The Union doesn’t have the payroll to compete, so in some ways leaning into the “brute forcing” of games and playing for counterattacks was a reasonable strategy, particularly when our strikers were young, fresh and hungry, but when players age, having soccer skills and soccer sense becomes primary.

    As was pointed out in another comment the expected goals (xG) of the Union is very good, so there is some influence here of payroll in not having strikers who can finish. In this sense, Jim is in a tough spot. The Union has no pure strikers, and as defenses have gotten better, scoring is more difficult.

    When you watch Inter Miami play, what you see on the field is a bunch of old guys who are slow, but are skilled, scoring on teams whose players are much faster. How can this be? It’s because MLS is a league where defenses watch the ball and not Suarez and Messi. It’s actually easy to score in MLS, if you’ve been trained properly on how to play attacking soccer. The Union’s attacking players were simply never trained early on in their careers on how to score goals, and it is very difficult to teach this stuff later on. It has to be drilled in at a very early age.

    The attacking strategy of the modern game, when you have a team like the Union who are “out-payrolled”, is to play mostly defense, but when you get a chance, run your offense and stream forward with players, playing ordinary attacking soccer with a man advantage. For this to work though, the team has to be trained in how to attack, and the Union aren’t showing this — mostly they score on speed and “garbage goals,” the ball kicking around the box.

    (Former coach, U23, u18, u16, U14, U12, U10, U6. Former college player. Retired referee with 200 games experience.)

  21. Great comments from everyone and similar feelings on my part. Here is how I am dissecting this:

    Goalie – Too many years of counting on Blake heroics and Bendik. Unfortunately, that young Blake is not here anymore. Young Blake occasionally shows up but generally not anymore. Semmle is a good but not great keeper. Very good at one on one. Not so good in run of play.

    Defense – I mentioned this last week. Our defense was good when other teams didn’t have playmakers or skilled players. Now, every team has players who can penetrate, make great through ball passes, and shoot golazos. Jacob and Jack are too slow either from age or natural ability and Damian needs to be a 6. He totally blew up the US offense when he played that role for Jamaica. Problem is who else do we have to play defense?

    Midfield – Totally agree with Ale comments and Martinez. Brujo was great because he knew his role. Now, similar to Damian he wants to be a scorer and facilitator. Not his strength and thus the turnovers. Ale should not play more than 60 minutes period. He is truly needed on this team but we will burn him out by July and will miss him rest of the season. Remember, we lost the Cup Final and who didn’t play because he was injured? If Ale plays, we win. Period. Youngsters have improved significantly on D but they aren’t Leon (though how will the new Leon be?). If we want the youngsters to be aggressive then Martinez needs to stay back. That’s been a huge issue. He moves up turns the ball over and we are left scrambling because the younguns aren’t defensively minded. personally, I would put Ale as the 6 and bring Martinez at the 60th minute mark.

    Gazdag – Bummed he missed the penalty. It does happen and yes, he has missed other big ones, but generally he comes through.

    Strikers – Uhre’s best game in two years by far. I have been his biggest critic on this site. His goal was awesome. If he does a typical Uhre, it gets blocked. Instead he fakes the shot and when keeper commits, then moves and shoots. Never seen that from him before. His hold up play and headers (do you remember when he started, he couldn’t head the ball???) was excellent. However, and I am included Carranza in this, because he is not consistent, we do not have strikers that put the fear in anyone. No Hani, or Cucho, or you name it. Time to put Tai in there and find out once and for all can he be Alan Iverson and play great after practicing poorly? Also, good to sit Gazdag for part of the game and let another playmaker (i.e. Vasquez) play.

  22. Is no one gonna mention the absence of carranza? He is the best presser and it sets the whole tone for the defense

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