Union / Union match reports

Match Report: Charlotte FC 0-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia met Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night. The Union looked to and succeeded in extending their unbeaten away streak against a Charlotte team unbeaten in their last four. The match finished scoreless, allowing both teams to hold onto these impressive streaks. 

Philadelphia sported a familiar lineup, with Leon Flach in over Jose Martinez at the base of the midfield diamond. Martinez notably exited their previous match in the first half due to a chest injury. Andre Blake has yet to return to the lineup due to a knee injury, giving Oliver Semmle his fifth consecutive start. Alejandro Bedoya started on the bench out of precaution, given this match was Philadelphia’s second straight on artificial turf.

Philadelphia Holds it Down in the First Half

Tensions escalated early in the first half between Julian Carranza and Charlotte’s Ashley Westwood. In the thirteenth minute, the Argentinian got involved in a slight altercation with him in front of the Philadelphia bench. No cards were issued. 

That near flank of the pitch later saw Jack McGlynn earn a yellow for a challenge. It seems like Philly has started to grow back into their trademark physical play following the win and shutout in New England. 

Play in the early minutes of the half was very back-and-forth. It ended with a clean sheet for both sides, no stoppage time, and Charlotte holding onto most of the possession. 

Second Half

Flach made his case for challenging Martinez for the holding midfielder position. He shut down multiple attacks and avoided giving up any fouls. He made a great impact in the Union’s defensive half.

Nate Harriel picked up a yellow for a solid foul on Kerwin Vargas on that same sideline, further intensifying the physical nature of this match. The back four altogether looked a lot more cohesive than in previous matches. 

Oliver Semmle made a big stop on Charlotte’s eighth corner of the night. Aside from a few chances later on, it was a fairly quiet night for the German goalkeeper. 

Charlotte won a free kick inside the arc after a foul from Jakob Glesnes. Westwood sent the ball into the wall, where Semmle was there to clean it up. 

Flach and Semmle stopped Charlotte’s best chance of the night, giving up a corner from an outnumbered scenario in the 88th. In their eleven corners, Charlotte rarely got the ball past the first defender. 

Semmle had another stop in the dying seconds of the match to hold onto the clean sheet with three saves.

Three Points:
  •  Boosted Confidence in the Back: With five consecutive matches under Semmle’s belt and a road win in the previous week, he and Jakob Glesnes seem much more comfortable together. Communication looks to have improved on the back line overall. 
  • Flach Finding Form: After spending a decent amount of time injured, Flach is beginning to see his first consistent minutes on the pitch. He looks to be in his best form to date. 
  • Consecutive Clean Sheets: Jim Curtin seems to have righted the ship after giving up an uncharacteristic amount of goals in the earlier matches of this season. The Union are still undefeated away in league competition.



Starters: Oliver Semmle, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliot, Jakob Glesnes, Nate Harriel, Jack McGlynn, Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, Quinn Sullivan (Chris Donovan 83’), Julian Carranza, Mikeal Uhre (Alejandro Bedoya ‘71)

Unused subs: Andrew Rick, Olivier Mbaizo, Damien Lowe, Jose Martinez, Jesus Bueno, Jeremy Rafanello, Tai Baribo


Starters: Kristijan Khalina, Joao Pedro, Andrew Privett, Adilson Malanda, Nathan Byrne, Djibril Diani, Ashley Westwood, Nikola Petkovic (Scott Arfield ‘71), Iuri Tavares (Tyger Smalls ‘71), Patrick Agyemang, Kerwin Vargas (Liel Abada ‘80)

Unused Subs: Liel Abada, Scott Arfield, Ben Bender, David Bingham, Brandt Bronico, Hamady Diop, Jaylin Lindsey, Bill Tuiloma


Scoring Summary:


Discipline Summary:

PHI: Jack McGlynn– ‘25

PHI: Nate Harriel– ‘65

Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr. 



  1. The Three Points explain the bright side. It’s also another draw, though, rather than the ‘three points’.
    . . .
    It’s an away draw I’ll grant, but we have too many draws.
    . . .
    Draws are better than losing, but not by much given 3 points for wins. We’re 4-4-6 and still below the playoffs, and that’s another match in the books where we made up no serious ground.

    • Away draws at eastern conference teams are always useful, unless it’s a bottom of the table team. We may not have made up ground, but we prevented them from using their home game (by definition a better opportunity than our away game) to gain any ground on us.

      Yes we have some ground to make up but that’s because of our home losing streak, not because of good results on the road. Now we’ve played 2 more road games than home games, so theoretically if we can get our act together at home we have an opportunity to gain ground against Toronto and Montreal at home.

  2. paulcontinuum22 says:

    At least we didn’t lose. Gotta take your moral wins where you can get them.

  3. This game was all about Leon Flach. If he isn’t in there, it’s a 2-0 loss. He was absolutely outstanding and better yet, knew his role and stayed in his position. I thought that Martinez was irreplaceable but Leon played the position better last night. How many deflections and disruptions did he have? No question that Martinez has some better offensive skills though I would point out that he thinks they are better than they are which is why he turns the ball over so frequently. Leon deserves all the credit! Semmle is getting better though his long passing needs some work. Back to back shutouts with Flach…..hmmmmmmmm.

  4. While I concur with the kudos to Flach for his defensive solidity as well as the nod to Semmle and Co. keeping a clean sheet, an especially glaring weakness of the defense was a somewhat surprising one (in my humble opinion): how consistently easy it was for Charlotte to create danger by having one of the wingers take on Harriel. And while Vargas and Tavares clearly have speed for days, the lack of closing down that weakness in our shape is a worry for me (another team with an actual 9 who can score off crosses/rebounds would have gotten 2 goals on us easily). And I have just one more gripe: putting on Donovan is essentially Curtin waving the white flag offensively; I appreciate the kid running hard, but he can’t create nor finish, so we are effectively signaling to whoever the opposition is that we are trying to run out the clock, and I’m just not sure this team has the defensive nous this season to do that in the closing minutes of any match, even against an offensively-challenged Charlotte.
    To end on a positive, though: we earned a solid point against a well-coached side and I liked how together the team looked/felt (El Brujo’s volatility really does seem to negatively impact the team psychology)…

  5. Observations from Crapple:

    1) Before the game started, a graphic with the betting percentages was posted: 30% Union win, 30% Charlotte win, 40% draw. What they did not say is that those were the odds of a goal being scored because, to be fair, both teams (mostly) defended well.

    2) Apart from the yellow card given to McGlynn in the first half, I thought the game was well-officiated both on the field and by VAR because a) though it would have been extremely harsh, another official might have called a handball on Elliott in the box and/or b) though it would have been harsh, might have called a Charlotte defender for inadvertently tripping Uhre in the box. In my judgment, both of the no-calls were sound decisions.

    3) The graphic was flashed that the Union had only conceded 2 set piece goals this season. That should have been clear because the Union conceded 11 corners, and they defended all of them well. Many of you will remember the bad old days when every corner conceded was a negative adventure.

    4) Nate Harriel continues to struggle defensively. I am glad that after his yellow card, Bedoya offered extra defensive help on the right side. Nate nearly cost the game by his defensive mis-hit in second half added time–he owes Semmle a weinerschnitzel dinner.

    5) My sense of the game was that the expected goals were about even despite the disparity in possession, and in looking at the statistics on the Philadelphia Union home page, that sense was correct with Charlotte’s xG at 1.2 and the Union’s at 1.0. Without Harriel’s gaffe at the end, it was tighter than that.

    6) There are good road points and bad road points. This was a good point on the road and a solid defensive effort, especially by “The Disruptor,” Leon Flach, who was my MOTM.

  6. Flach is good at running around. And tackling. But he actually doesn’t know how to play soccer. He can’t pass, dribble or shoot. So if you want to tie games 0-0 he’s great. If you want to watch the beautiful game give me literally anyone else. El Brujo is a badass and can play soccer. Not much of a contest in my opinion.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      So you’re saying you’d rather a 2-0 loss with Martinez in the lineup compared with a 0-0 draw with Flach? This season at least, Martinez has been responsible for a LOT more goals against than times he’s helped start an effective offense.

    • I don’t care how many goals the player playing cdm scores or really that much about their passing. I think it’s fine to assume someone else will score a goal and play Flach there given the context of the season (conceding has been a top issue)

  7. Two things:
    1. Uhre is useless and soft. He offers very little. 2. The Diamond has got to go. We have been figured out and if not for heroic saves we lose the game.

  8. We were camping. One eye on the game. One eye on the fire. Hard to offer anything other than one point in the road is better than no points on the road.

  9. Gruncle Bob says:

    I think it’s time for Mbaizo. Harriel was weak defensively and his brain fart at the end almost gave the game away.

  10. Deez Nuggs says:

    Couple thoughts…
    Since Flach returned to the lineup, the Union have two clean sheets. Only three this season (unless you count leg 1 against Pachuca, but I think we should forget THAT series.). Flach was an integral part of our run to MLS Cup and undervalued for it. He played last season with a hernia, and his game suffered for it. But this is a reminder of how good he is when healthy.
    The defense was solid. It’s a reminder how a good defense can make a keeper’s job easier. Semmle was up for it, but thanks to the defense for letting the shots come only from expected angles. I hope this is a sign of being locked in now.
    Harriel was repeatedly toasted on that side until Bedoya came in to help. I’m mostly giving credit to the Charlotte player here. Some excellent ball work.
    And I also have to credit the Charlotte defense. Nearly every time we get the ball they were back in numbers quicker. I think we had enough attack to have maybe snuck one in, but got to give them credit for keeping it tight.

  11. Tim Jones says:

    Leon Flach stays home when he plays the single six. Jose Martinez no longer does.
    Jose Martinez plays a flank midfielder when he plays for Venezuela.
    So switch Martinez into the shuttling midfield rotation.

  12. Andy Muenz says:

    Good news is that Markus Anderson is now healthy enough to play (and score) for Union 2. Hopefully he’ll be able to provide an additional option for the Union up top.

  13. Gazdog!

  14. Gruncle Bob says:

    Is there any other announcing team apart from those 2 yo yos who call Charlotte “the crown”? Gag me. It would be nice if crapple told the idiots that they’re no longer Charlotte’s announcing team.

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