Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 1 – 2 New York City FC

Photo by: Ron Soliman

The Philadelphia Union failed to rebound against NYCFC on Wednesday night, continuing their poor form at home, and tallying their franchise-first 4th straight home loss.

NYCFC were fresh off a heated 3-2 victory against an in-form Toronto side, that also featured a scuffle between the NYCFC and Toronto bench bosses Nick Cushing and John Herdman. Former Union net-minder Matt Freese was the hero in that one, saving 10 of 12 shots on target, 8 of which were from inside the box.

He was also the difference in this one, as he denied his former club multiple times at point blank range.

As is the trend, this match started with the Union digging themselves a hole early. A miscommunication between Leon Flach and Jack McGlynn led to a turnover, with NYCFC breaking out the other way. One through ball and a beautiful low cross by Santiago Rodriguez to Alonso Martinez led to Semmle picking the ball out of his own net just two minutes into the contest.

NYCFC had much of the momentum in the first 20 minutes until the newest Union homegrown signing entered the pitch for the Union.

No, not David Vazquez. And no, not Cavan Sullivan.

Somehow, someway, a raccoon found its way onto the pitch. It evaded capture for around five minutes before being skillfully caught with a couple trash cans and escorted off the pitch by the grounds crew.

As play resumed, the Union slowly found their way into the game. They had their fair share of opportunities moments later, peppering balls into the box, eventually leading to a low Wagner shot that was barely kept out by an outstretched Matt Freese leg.

Toward the end of the first half, NYCFC doubled their advantage in spectacular style off a set piece near the corner flag. Semmle seemed to misjudge the effort, but it was a good strike and found the top far corner.

The slow starts and first half woes continue.

The Union did respond promptly in the second half, netting a golazo of their own off a set piece. Carranza earned a free kick in the 47th minute just outside the box. A similar set play to the one vs. DC United saw Jack McGlynn rolling a ball for Carranza to curl to the far post left Matt Freese frozen like Han Solo in carbonite.

Minutes later, it was Carranza again getting in behind off a Glesnes ball just moments later that he curled just beyond the far post. Again, this one had Freese beat, but unfortunately just missed the frame.

Carranza missed the mark again just minutes later where a Wagner cross to his head was sent just wide of Freese’s goal. And yet again, Freese was a statue.

The Union remained dangerous throughout the second half, creating chances that they just weren’t able to capialize on any of these opportunities.

It took until the 90th minute for the Union to see the ball find the back of the net, but it was called back for offiside in the build up. Luck has just not been on their side with the borderline offside calls.

2-1 NYCFC is how the game ended. The Union will look, again, to jolt some life into their downward spiral as they travel up to face the New England Revolution this weekend.

Three Points
  • Digging holes – Another poor first half from the Union. The team come out flat on a regular basis and there is no sign that is changing. You can point fingers at the coach, you can critique Curtin’s team selections, but these are professionals not getting “up” for their job. Unacceptable.
  • 4 straight home losses – For the first time in franchise history, the Union have lost four straight at home. The castle has been raided and ransacked. Subaru Park is no longer a fortress.
  • Will the bleeding stop? — At this point, your guess is as good as mine. The Union will look to stop the bleeding against New England as they travel up to Foxborough for Saturday evening’s matchup.

Philadelphia Union 

Oliver Semmle, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Nathan Harriel (Olivier Mbaizo — 84′), Quinn Sullivan (Alejandro Bedoya — 71′), Leon Flach ( Jose Martinez — 84′), Jack McGlynn, Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza , Mikael Uhre, Raccoon (Trash Can — 23′)

Unused subs: Andrew Rick, Olwethu Makhanya, Jesus Bueno, Jeremy Rafanello, Tai Baribo, Chris Donovan

New York City FC

Birk Risa, Andres Perea, Santiago Rodriguez (Justin Haak — 76′), Thiago Martins, Alonso Martinez (Mounsef Bakrar — 67′), Hannes Wolf (Tayvon Gray — 88′), Kevin O’Toole, Agustin Ojeda (Malachi Jones — 67′), Mitja Ilenic, Matt Freese, Keaton Parks

Unused subs: Luis Barraza, Jovan Mijatovic, Julian Fernandez, Andres Jasson, Talles Magno

Scoring Summary

NYC: Alonso Martinez — 2′

NYC: Hannes Wolf — 45′

PHI: Julian Carranza — 47′

Discipline Summary

PHI: Kai Wagner — Yellow card (45′ — foul)

NYC: Santiago Rodriguez — Yellow card (51′ — dissent)

NYC: Agustin Ojeda — Yellow card (62′ — foul)

PHI: Jack Elliott — Yellow card (71′ — foul)

NYC: Andres Perea — Yellow card (78′ — foul)

NYC Mounsef Bakrar — Yellow card (87′ — foul)

NYC: Malachi Jones — Yellow card (90′ — simulation)


  1. I think we should sign the raccoon to play center back.

  2. OK, guys, I have a confession to make: this is all my fault.

    I’ve been a die-hard Union fan since attending their first-ever home game in 2010. I’ve always gone to 4-5 matches per year. But I never bought a ticket package because I was always too busy with work, kids, and the rest of life. This season, they were bringing the whole gang back, I finally had a little more time, and I decided it was finally time for me to at least get a partial season ticket plan. So what happened? The Union have 1 win in 6 home games, and have lost 4 straight at home for the first time in club history.

    This is so inexplicable that the only reasonable conclusion anyone can come to is that it’s my fault. Clearly I have angered the Soccer Gods and jinxed the club.

    So I am here to apologize to you all. I never meant any harm. I just wanted to sit in the stands and cheer on our team. But this was selfish of me, to not think about the likelihood that this would hex the season and immiserate us all. I know better now, and I hope you all can forgive me for what I’ve done. The only thing I can do at this point is to promise not to renew my ticket package for next season, jettisoning myself from Subaru Park and hoping that, like Jonah’s departure from the storm-tossed ship, it will lift the deity’s curse.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      I’ve been a fan since 2014. I’ve had a partial plan for much of that time. This year I upgraded to a full season plan.

      • Matt Custer says:

        FSTH with Darth Harvey ZOLO for c. 10 yrs. Then retrenched to partials till this yr when we committed to STH again. Hubris.

    • thanks for being accountable, Scott. big of you!

      i considered getting a partial plan this season, having long abandoned a season plan. like you i thought i’d get down to more since the dropoff after covid. not regretting the hesitation.

  3. Whens the last time our press actually unsettled a team? Whens the last time our transition game led to multiple goals and wins? The sooner Jim realizes 2022 is gone the sooner we can get started fixing this.

    • Great One says:

      The main problem is that he doesn’t really have any other ideas or tactics. This is it. Always has been.

  4. Here is the soggy view from Section 105:
    1) My friend Don convinced me to go because there was only a 6% chance of rain after 6:00 p.m. The first half was a soggy mess.
    2) I walked in just in time to see NYCFC’s first goal on the counter. On this play and on others, both Wagner and Harriel seemed a step slow. In Wagner’s case, I think that it is a step he has lost. In Harriel’s case, he gets deked out of position, but he seemed out of position a lot. Mbaizo seems better to me defensively.
    3) I thought that the Union might do better since they attacked the River End in the second half, and Carranza’s strike buoyed hope, but . . . we have seen this replay before: Many chances, few goals.
    4) Although the Wolf free kick was accurate, it was not especially hard. Semmle whiffed when he tried to hit it one-handed and totally missed the ball. I don’t profess to be a goalkeeping expert, but that did not look like proper technique to me. This was a really bad goal to give up, especially in stoppage time.
    5) The raccoon on the field was truly the first half highlight, though it appeared to be a bit mangy (and given that it was still mostly daylight, its potentially being rabid had to be considered). Despite its appearance, the raccoon showed great mobility, covering the field end to end. It chased both teams from the field. It took the grounds crew some 3-4 minutes to corral the beast with trash cans. It was a moment of hilarity in an otherwise dismal and rainy first half.
    5) Without a healthy Andre Blake in goal to erase some of the Union’s defensive gaffes, the Union have given up multiple goals in 5 straight matches–not good.
    6) I hate to say this because it is depressing, but I think that the Union’s winning window is shut. We will know better when we see Blake in goal. If the Union still give up multiple goals, then it is time to rebuild. Assuming that is the case, the Union needs to be starting its U-23 roster to determine who can play and who can’t.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      On 5) it is 4 straight games that they have trailed by multiple goals. In 3 of those they have scored 1 or more goals that have turned out to be completely meaningless beyond the fact that an extra 25 trees have been planted.

    • Great One says:

      I actually thought Glesnes looked a step slow multiple times last night, and several times this season. On the first goal, his mean very easily peeled back a few feet and he wasn’t even close to keeping up.

    • 6) diminishing returns. i just came back from LA. i saw Angel City playing at LAFC stadium. last time i was there 2 weeks before MLS Final, LAFC vs Galaxy playoff. returning to it made me realize how different it would’ve been to hoist the cup at home if Galaxy could’ve held their lead. since that final, we’ve lost something the further we get away from it. 4 losses at home might seem like bottom, but i assure you, the ghosts of 2012–15 are ready for us

      • What still galls me is MLS “differentiating itself” by having the first tie breaker being wins vs. GD that every other league in the world uses. By the latter metric Union would have been home in that final.
        Between these silly differences and the arcane roster building rules that more and more don’t apply to marquee markets/teams (not to mention teams playing on baseball fields!), I’m rapidly losing interest in this league.
        Let me leave no doubt, I love football, I’ve followed US soccer since NASL and the Atoms (attended the all-stars vs. England squad at JFK in ’76 and still remember Chinalgia’s bicycle) and international before even that. I want and the US needs a real, solid, top flight league. This MLS ain’t it and it doesn’t seem to me to be going in the right direction.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        You and I are such different people, Rick. I was at the Yale Bowl watching Brazil beat Italy the same day you were at JFK and I used to go to Cosmos games (although to be fair I started rooting against them when I realized they were just trying to buy championships).

  5. As I stated in last post, creative ways to lose reminiscent of bygone years. Wagner with unnecessary foul, followed by well taken wind swept free kick, aided by tentative goal keeping. Hard to dream up that combination. The hard to grasp difference from bygone years is that this team is better than those early teams. They really need to reset and find their zone. They’re pushing too hard and taking turns making errors.

  6. John P. O'Donnell says:

    This reminds me of the Phillies run when they had three stud pitchers and went to the World Series and lost. Every year they fell back a little more until they were a losing team. Now one game under, home field is not a fortress and players are starting to look like their best years are behind them.
    Also this team will be losing players to intentional duty. I don’t see Tanner making any moves this summer and I also don’t see Carranza being sold. Parity might be in the house for this team now.

  7. Unlike my previous game rant I’m back to baseline.

    Absent minded start to game. Then Wagner comes in for a brilliant hard ass ‘let’s go!’ foul — turns to implore the team in the fiery way he does and Semmle misjudged ball and buried.
    Pretty pleased with the response from the team. Just a poor run of form right now centered around some lapses which I think are fixable. In the Great Evening Out of All Things they are in a rough patch and maybe had it coming. Some I know think it this is doomsday. I’m unconvinced as of yet. There’s a great deal of fight inside them… as evidenced by the surges once their ‘dick’s are in the dirt.’
    I think as the season wears on they find some form like Union of old and start chugging along again… provided there is not rot from inside which could be. This could be a very dangerous team in the playoffs with wellness and a good pathway—> considering 28 of 30 teams make the playoffs & the regular season really is not that all that important.
    An MLS team on a 5 game win steak or 8 of 10 win steak will shoot up the table…How’s your form in late September through November. That’s the question.
    What is imminently more concerning this season is the apathetic crowd sizes. Seems the lethargy is across the board. Which is all very interesting…. could be multi factorial. Phillies. Costs. Inflation. Artificial price gouging. Or people are fatigued.
    Whatever it is… I see the spark and it is still there.
    Time soon, to get moving.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      If you’re going to commit a hard ass foul (but one that’s not necessary to stop a legitimate attack) to get your team going, do it at midfield and not deep in your own territory.

      • Agree with Andy. I thought that foul was foolish and needless. He was pissed because he got hit in the face just before with no call. But he & Semmle bear responsibility for that goal.

      • Deez Nuggs says:

        The foul was stupid. It was clearly payback for the hit to the face that didn’t get a call. But still stupid.

    • Deez Nuggs says:

      Appreciate the perspective. Too many crosses, for me. They pass up shooting in order to play wide for the cross. Smacks of trying too hard and thinking it not feeling it.

  8. Andy Muenz says:

    Given the number of goals that have been called back this season, it’s not just bad luck on the close offsides calls, it’s bad timing.

  9. Deez Nuggs says:

    MVP: raccoon

    • I had to listen to the first half on the radio and the clear highlight was Dave Leno’s play by play of the coon. His announcing style is sometimes a bit much for soccer but it was great for the coon escapade.

  10. John P. O'Donnell says:

    Emanuel Reynoso is back in Minnesota and they might have had enough of his act. I would love to see Tanner make an offer and make a trade for him. He needs a change of scenery and the Union need something to shake up this team. You went to the Cup and you need just a little more talent. He’s not a long term plan but he might be a short term shot in the arm this team needs.

    • Great player, nice idea, the Union are the wrong team for him. Curtin would never trust him enough to put him on the field. He plays less defense than Torres did.
      I still don’t understand why the Union didn’t make plays for Brian White and/or Omir Fernandez the past two off seasons. They don’t need “name” players, they just need better and more solid bench options. Each of those two players are proven in the way that the Union play as well.
      They also desperately need to get younger at Centerback. Elliot hasn’t been the same since Bale dunked on him in the final. Glesnes’ hernia injury and subsequent surgery have clearly taken a step/part of step out of his game. Craig clearly wasn’t ready yet, and Lowe is too inconsistent to be relied upon game in and game out.
      Hindsight is always 20/20….. maybe they should have kept Freese and traded/transferred Blake? Especially after the injuries Blake had last season.
      The physical demands of the Union’s playing style/system really dictate that the team skews on the young side. Bedoya aside (he’s a physical freak) once players get north of 28 they tend to fall off rapidly in this style of system. There’s examples all over the world of this being the case.
      IMO, they’ll make the playoffs this season. June/July are going to be rough though. They don’t have anyone on the roster to fill in for Gazdag. So that’s going to be interesting to see how they fill that spot.
      2025….. they’ll be one of the “surprise” teams in the league, though they do have to figure out what to do at central defense.

  11. 1 point out of the last possible 15 with 12 dropped at home for a new Hall of Shame record.
    . . .
    Hope they keep fielding Raquinho. He’s the only excitement in the house outside the visitors section.

  12. Kieran M says:

    Union cliff of despair ?

    Not Yet.

    How long till Andre is back ?

  13. Carlos Spicywiener says:

    I don’t get it anymore – The 3 strikers Jim keeps putting on the pitch do not work good together at all. I am sick of Gazdag just standing in the way or being too far out of reach of a play. He is constantly offside. Uhure is too slow, and Caranza just waits. on top of that, just be selfish and take the shots!

    Try putting Donavan in instead of Gazdag. See what happens can’t be any worse that our dedicated PK taker. And this BS of not putting in subs until the 70 that’s over man.

    The ball watching is ridiculous. I know Flach just got back and is rusty – but that was embarrassing – 2 minutes.

    Lastly, they keep putting the younger guys in the game to gain experience, I get that. But until they put Ale in the game, nothing turned around. Just let the man play.

  14. Honestly thought they deserved at least a draw from last night. NY was wide open. Just couldn’t finish our chances.

    Also thought Uhre played well. Was everywhere in attack in the first half, collecting the ball wide on both sides… what are you going to do?

    Last thought: I think we’re really missing Blake. Conditions were poor, but I think Blake handles that free kick. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but Semmelweis has flapped a few shots in his run that I think Blake keeps out.

  15. The defense is a disgrace. Where was Phang to protect our house? I swear that giant rat came right off the NY bench. Seriously? I missed the pregame (damn train). Was our dawg even in the house? Anyone see him? Didn’t want to get wet?

  16. Great One says:

    Obviously the biggest problem with the team is ownership and being cheap in regard to certain things. The new stands will be the next thing that consumes any money that might have been used on players.
    However, Curtin is bereft of ideas. Run of bad form and staleness…. I GOT IT, same formation, tactics, as always. That’ll do it. Then the team is down from 2 mins in, and there are no subs until min 69? And the subs we make are Bedoya, Martinez, and Mbaizo? Look I know that there aren’t world burners on the bench, but COME ON.

  17. Where is the new Ilshinio? He must be out there somewhere, Tanner needs to find him Stat.

  18. PHILLY SOCCER PAGE INTERVIEWER: Rickety, electric performance out there this evening. Tell us what was going through your head?

    RICKETY RACCOON: Ya know I saw my opportunity and I took it. I was behind the bench of those blue humans and there was an opening so I was able to accelerate into that space. I thought there may have been some crab fries out there on the field, but wouldn’t ya know, there was only grass. Why the hell were all those humans running around out there for anyway, there wasn’t even a hot dog on the field for them to eat. Anywho – Ratatatattricckkkkkk – sorry heh – just saying hi to one of my raccoon mates passing by there. Where was I? Oh yeah then some humans tried to put a trash can on me. Really? A Trash can?! Seems a bit like raccoon based profiling. But I stumped that chump with the ole Rickety Raccoon shuffle and left him in my dust.

    PSP: There was a moment out there where you had paused about 25 yards out from NYCFC’s box, what was your plan then?

    RR: Oh well- I was thinking about taking a dump on the field, would’ve been better than the Union’s performance so far in the game, but turns out… I’m a shy pooper even in front of only a half full stadium.

    PSP: They nearly caught you with the first trash can attempt. Any injuries there?

    RR: *scoffs* injure ole Rickety? Perish the thought, I mean they could’ve just thrown a pretzel in there and I would’ve gone right in, but since they were trying to play rough with me… Well ole Rickety’s not one to shy away from a scrap I can tell ya that much baby!

    PSP: What’s next for you Rickety?

    RR: Listen, I know when I’m not wanted. They usually try to put a trash can on you. So I’m thinking I gotta take my talents elsewhere, like 11th and Pattison.

  19. UPDATE. A homegrown talent with potential, Sugarman sold Rickety abroad today with incentives and sell on percentages. Good luck mate.

  20. I’ve always given the union a bit of leeway as the underdog moneyball team. However while the top spenders are still in the stratosphere (Miami at $41.68 million total compensation) we currently no longer stand out for punching above our weight as we are the 24th out of 29 teams in spending but are only ahead of 2 of those teams with RSL notably sitting in first in the west.
    24. Philadelphia Union – $14.82 million
    25. Charlotte FC – $14.53 million
    26. San Jose Earthquakes – $13.63 million
    27. Real Salt Lake – $13.6 million
    28. CF Montréal – $12.05 million
    29. St. Louis City – $11.79 million
    But I guess at least we aren’t Chicago or Nashville
    3. Chicago Fire – $25.13 million
    4. Nashville SC – $21.4 million

    • paulcontinuum22 says:

      That 24th place team salary rank is gods damming. You can have Xabi Alonso or Carlo Ancelotti as manager, but if your owner refuses to spend the money like inter messI, you’re SOL.

  21. The offense is just launching hopeful crosses forward, gazdag has no one to combine with through the midfield, and Harriel bizarrely seems the only player who wants to go forward. Carranza the main positive. What are we gonna do when gazdag is on euro duty? Abandon the midfield all together?

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