U in Review — Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC

Match Coverage, Match Recap, News, Union

In a match between third and fifth, it was the latter that came out victorious, with the Philadelphia Union defeating the visiting New York City Football Club, 2-0, on Saturday night. 

Cory Burke and the Philadelphia Union continued their recent run of good form, with the Jamaican slotting home his sixth goal of the regular season in the 57th minute, a goal that fired the home side ahead in the match and served as the eventual winner.

It was a goal that was the direct result of both the high-defensive work rate of the Union midfield, namely that of captain Alejandro Bedoya, who dictated the middle of the park all night long, and also a willingness to play positive football.

Piggybacking off an interception from Bedoya near the center circle, Union playmaker Borek Dockal picked his head up and played a well-timed through ball into the path of Burke. Burke did well to turn the ball onto his favored right foot and calmly slot a low shot past an outstretched Sean Johnson.

Philadelphia put the game to bed in the 76th minute, when second-half substitute Ilsinho scored his fifth goal of the campaign that began with another Dockal pass and delivered the Union (10W, 11L, 3D) their second consecutive league victory.

It was another eye-catching goal from the Brazilian, who returned from injury on Saturday night and came on for fellow winger David Accam midway through the second half.

Ilsinho (rightfully) received the plaudits for his individual goal, but it is worth noting that, like Burke’s goal before his, a 1v1 opportunity was made possible by a heads-up, forward-thinking pass from Dockal, who notched his fifth assist in as many games.

City (14W, 6L, 5D) had their share of opportunities to go ahead earlier in the match. Philly’s backline pressed early, often and high up the pitch, which New York nearly capitalized on inside the second minute of the contest.

Auston Trusty was the player who initially misread the play leading to the eventual chance for NYCFC. Throughout the night, Trusty and his defensive partner, Jack Elliott, played on the back of New York’s forwards, David Villa and Jo Inge Berget.

Doing so nearly cost the Union, but Trusty did well to close down Villa, who managed to pick out Maxi Moralez. His shot was parried out of play by Andre Blake, who kept the game scoreless with a crucial save and several others throughout the night.

Overall, it was arguably one of Philadelphia’s most complete performances to show for this season. Speaking to media following the game, Union coach Jim Curtin praised the performance of his team.

“We challenged the group to raise their level,” Curtin began. “It was a complete team effort.”

Philadelphia, with the result, retains hold of fifth in the Eastern Conference, with a pivotal home match upcoming against the New England Revolution. Just four points separate the two clubs, and next Saturday’s game will offer a potential six-point swing for either side.

Scoresheet

Philadelphia Union

Cory Burke (57′)

Ilsinho (76′)

New York City Football Club 

N/A

Bookings

Philadelphia Union

Warren Creavalle (Caution)

New York City Football Club 

Anton Tinnerholm (Caution), Ronald Matarrita (Red)

Shots

Philadelphia Union 

13 Total; 6 On

New York City Football Club 

9 Total; 3 On

Possession

Philadelphia Union

50.5%

New York City Football Club 

49.5%

Starting XI

Philadelphia Union (4-3-3-)

Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry; Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle, 87′), Haris Medunjanin; David Accam (Ilsinho, 67′), Cory Burke, C.J. Sapong

New York City Football Club (4-3-3)

Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens (Ronald Matarrita, 65′), Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm; Ebenezer Ofori, Alexander Ring, Maximiliano Moralez; Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Rodney Wallace, 82′), David Villa (Jesús Medina, 56′), Jo Inge Berget

PFD’s Player of the Game

Jason Hannigan

It’s two more assists for the Union’s No. 10. Dockal always has his head up, picking out runners and seams that haven’t been exploited since the days of Vincent Nogueira and Tranquillo Barnetta. 

Borek Dockal. My pick for PFD’s Player of the Game.

Next Match

Philadelphia will host a crucial match next Saturday, with the Union playing the New England Revolution for the second time in two weeks. First kick is set for 7:00 P.M. ET and will be broadcasted on PHL17.

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Story Stream — Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC

Match Coverage, News, Story Stream, Union

Hey all. Thanks for joining us for Saturday’s game between the Philadelphia Union and visiting New York City Football Club. We’ll update you, the Fan, minute by minute with the latest score, match developments and some commentary, too. 

Joe Lister checking in. I’ll be updating tonight’s Story Stream for Philly Football Daily. 

Remember to refresh this page every few minutes, to receive the most recent updates and game developments. 

Starting XI 

Philadelphia Union

Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry; Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal (Warren Creavalle, 88′), Haris Medunjanin; David Accam (Ilsinho, 67′), Cory Burke, C.J. Sapong

New York City Football Club

Sean Johnson; Ben Sweat, Alexander Callens (Ronald Matarrita, 65′), Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm; Ebenezer Ofori, Alexander Ring, Maximiliano Moralez; Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Rodney Wallace, 82′, David Villa (Jesus Medina, 55′), Jo Inge Berget

2′ : Great save by Andre Blake to start the game and NYCFC gets one off on a breakaway.

12′ : NYCFC seeming to earn a number of breakaways and near goal opportunities, the latest coming from Maximiliano Moralez in 11′

13′ : David Accam slips and slides his way into one of the best chances the Union have had so far.

30′ : Union leads in possession and duels won, but this is NYCFC’s game so far

32′ : With Blake out of goal, Ray Gaddis makes goal line stop to keep this one nil-nil

34′ : David Accam races downfield, loses ball near the goal leading to a NYCFC goal kick

43′ : Haris Medunjamin taken down near half, stopping a goal-scoring opportunity by NYCFC

45′ : Halftime comes with the match still scoreless

First half thoughts: NYCFC currently outplaying Union, but Union could score if Burke and crew chase more loose balls.

Prediction: A NYCFC goal will hurt the Union and mentality towards the game, leading to a 2-0 NYCFC victory.

46′ : David Accam nearly scores while surrounded by NYCFC defenders, ball goes out for a corner.

50′ : CJ Sapong misses shot from right in from of goal off of pass from Borek Dockal. It was his first shot of the day.

57′ : Corey Burke places one into the back of the net from about 12 yards from goal to give the Union the 1-0 lead. Bořek Dočkal with the assist.

67′ : Ray Gaddis rips one after David Accam’s blocked shot, Gaddis’ shot is blocked as well

69′ : Ilsinho goes down on his first touch of the game, trainers called onto field, however, Ilsinho remains on when play restarts

76′ : Ilsinho nets one to give the Union 2-0 lead, assist by Borek Dockal, his second of the night. We now lay to rest my halfway prediction of 2-0 NYCFC

90 +3′ : Solid save by Andre Blake keeps this 2-0

90 + 5′ : Ilsinho goes down, red card issued to Ronald Matarrita

End of match: Union defeat NYCFC 2-0 as Burke, Ilsinho score

Three Takeaways — New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union

Opinion, Three Takeaways

Welcome back to another edition of Three Takeaways, a segment in which I dive in after each Philadelphia Union match, revisit and take a closer look at what went well and what ultimately did not.

On Saturday, August 11, the Philadelphia Union traveled to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on the New England Revolution. History repeated itself as another Philadelphia sports team was victorious against a New England one.

Despite the victory, the Union certainly did not play their best, however, they currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference and are in a Major League Soccer Playoff position if they can hold onto it.

We have a bit to talk about, so I’ll get right to it.

The Union Didn’t Deserve to Win

In the first half, the Union didn’t dominate. Nevertheless, they still found themselves leading 2-0 after Jack Elliott tucked two balls into the back of New England and keeper Matt Turner’s net.

However, in the second half, the Union fell apart.

New England peppered 16 shots on Andre Blake, putting six of them on goal. New England maintained control and majority of possession until Fafa Picault drew a penalty in the 76th minute, which he converted from the spot.

New England had chance after chance before the penalty that gave the Union a little breathing room. Nevertheless, the visitors were forced to work for every touch. I don’t know exactly what coach Brad Friedel said to his team in the locker room, but the Union weren’t able to adjust to the adjusted level that New England played at in the second half.

To clarify, I don’t think that Saturday was a total collapse on the part of the Union. Philly did have a solid first half, and the two goals from Elliott certainly weren’t accidents on the part of the Englishman.

Philadelphia most likely would not have scored on the play that led to Picault’s spot kick goal, however, there were several other build-ups that the Union could’ve finished, and they always looked destined to knick a third goal.

By no standards was the Union’s play great, but three points is three points. In this case, it was six, with the two clubs separated by just a point in the East.

Hopefully, Curtin and his team will recognize what went wrong and look to fix it before next week’s game against NYCFC, a team that could hurt the Union if Philadelphia does not change their reaction to when all goes awry.

Andre Blake, MVP?

It’s no secret that Blake has the potential to be the best keeper in MLS, and an overall solid keeper in Europe. However, what is holding the Jamaican back is that the Union haven’t been offered enough for the Jamaican international star.

On Saturday, Blake showed once again why he’s one of the best in the league, keeping the Union in the game throughout the constant barrage on goal from New England’s attack. Blake stopped ball after ball, limiting the Revs to just two goals from their 26 shots.

For me, the two best players on the current Union roster are Bořek Dočkal and Blake, and against New England, Blake showed that he is undoubtedly No. 1 in the team, and nearly indispensable.

Blake did almost too much, as the back line let New England get off too many shots from wide open, leading to shots that made life rather difficult for the Union keeper. Philly’s  backline must hold its own to keep Blake comfortable between the sticks. Until then, the Union will have to rely heavily on their MVP.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am content with John McCarthy as the starting keeper, but he doesn’t have the same shot-stopping capabilities as Blake. For the right price, I would be willing to let Blake take a flight across the Atlantic, but until then, the Jamaican will remain the best player in Curtin’s team and the rock behind the backline.

What Happens to Herbers and Elliott?

Ilsinho is set to return next Saturday against NYCFC, which begs the question: what will happen to Fabian Herbers, and later Jack Elliott upon the return of preferred central defender Mark McKenzie?

Herbers was called up from Bethlehem Steel FC when Ilsinho went down against the Chicago Fire, and since then has made a visibly positive impact alongside converted winger C.J. Sapong.

Moreover, since Herbers’ return to the First Team, fans haven’t seen much of David Accam on the field. Now, it’s unlikely that Herbers and Accam will switch places and Accam will be sent down to Bethlehem, due to the Union Front Office’s desire to save face. However, at the moment, Herbers might deserve a place in the First Team more than Accam.

In just a few games, Herbers has made an impact with the team, and he can and should make an argument to Curtin against his dropping.

Fans know what will inevitably happen to Elliott when McKenzie returns from his knee injury. Elliott will probably return to the bench, waiting for another chance to prove himself to Curtin.

However, Elliott deserves more. He had a great game against New England, putting his two goals aside. Elliott also had a solid game defensively, slowing down the Revolution attack on breakaways and sticking to his assigned man, reminding us why he was a Rookie of the Year finalist last year.

McKenzie is both a promising and solid defender, but if Elliott continues to play at the level he is at currently, McKenzie should have to work to regain the starting center back position.

Be sure to check back next week, on Saturday, when Lister breaks down the Union’s performance against the visiting New York City Football Club at Talen Energy Stadium.

Wednesday Roundup — August 15, 2018

News, Roundup

News Roundups are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning with quick hits on what you may have missed and what is still to come in The Beautiful Game.

Here’s what you may have missed and what is still developing. And, as always, here’s to helping bring you, the Fan, up to speed and Ahead of the Game. 

Philadelphia Union

Najem Called Up to Afghanistan National Team

Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel FC midfielder Adam Najem received his first-ever international call-up on Tuesday, with an offer to from the Afghanistan Football Federation to represent the country in an upcoming international friendly.

CALL_UP_NAJEM_ROTATOR (1)

Najem, 23, will travel to the Afghan capital of Kabul later this week. There, the Union player will suit up for Afghanistan in a friendly, which is to be played on Sunday, August 19 against the territory of Palestine.

Najem has featured and started in 14 games for Steel FC this season, scoring and assisting twice. He becomes the 13th player from the Union to receive an international call-up.

Major League Soccer

MLS: Wahlberg’s Comments “Nothing Substantive” 

Major League Soccer was quick to respond to the comments made by actor Mark Wahlberg on Monday, which indicated that the star was interested in purchasing Columbus Crew SC.

Wahlberg has recently described himself as a “huge” soccer fan following the 2018 World Cup, and was asked by ABC6 and FOX28 whether the actor would be interested in buying Crew SC.

“Actually, you know what, I certainly would,” Wahlberg replied. “My dear friend Bob Kraft has not only [owns] the [New England] Patriots, but he owns the New England Revolution as well. I have a bunch of people who are involved. I think that may be something we need to discuss.”

A spokesperson for the league called the actor’s comments “not substantive.”

Columbus’ owners, Precourt Sports Ventures, have been working on moving the Crew to Austin, Texas for the last 10 months. Perhaps substantive, it is expected that the Austin City Council will vote on a term sheet today, outlining details for a proposed $200 million, 20,000-seat stadium in North Austin, Texas.

U.S. Soccer

Cameron Set to Leave Stoke 

United States Men’s National Team defender Geoff Cameron is expected to leave English club team Stoke City FC by the end of this month, with several European teams reportedly interested in the American.

Cameron, 33, has spent the last six seasons with the Potters, making over 160 Premier League appearances for the club, which was relegated to the English Championship division last season.

Since Stoke’s relegation from the Premier League, Cameron has been searching for greener pastures, with European outfits Odense BK (Denmark), Werder Bremen (Germany), and Rayo Vallecano (Spain) all reported destinations for the former Houston Dynamo star.

Cameron has a $9.5 million release clause in his contract with the Potters. It has not been activated as of today, and it remains to be seen whether Stoke will sell the American international for less than that.

Global

Usmanov: Everton Investment a “Possibility”

Last week, Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov agreed to sell his 30 percent stake in Arsenal to majority owner Stan Kroenke, who also owns the Colorado Rapids and Los Angeles Rams.

This week, Usmanov has told Bloomberg that he would consider the “right proposal or possibility” to purchase a stake in Liverpool-based club and Premier League side Everton.

Usmanov is a friend of Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, and the Russian’s company, USM Holdings, is a major sponsor of the Toffees’ Finch Farm Training Ground.

Ronaldo Returns to EA Sports FIFA 19 Cover

Returning to the cover of EA Sports FIFA 19 video game is global football icon Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be joined this year by Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

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Last year, Ronaldo and rival Lionel Messi traded places as the face of the EA Sports football game, with the Portuguese star signing a lucrative agreement with the Canadian-based game developer.

FIFA 19 will now feature Ronaldo and Neymar, with No. 7 donning the black and white of his new club team, Juventus. Neymar isn’t the only debutant, with the UEFA Champions League also making a first cameo in the latest installment of the popular game.

Thank you for checking out Wednesday’s News Roundup. Check back here, on Friday morning, for all the latest happening in The Beautiful Game. Until then, Cheers.

Three Takeaways — Portland Timbers vs. Philadelphia Union

Opinion, Three Takeaways

Welcome back to another edition of Three Takeaways, a segment in which I dive in after each Philadelphia Union match, revisit and take a closer look at what went well and what ultimately did not.

On Saturday, August 4, the Philadelphia Union traveled across the country to Portland, Oregon, to take on the Portland Timbers in the first Major League Soccer matchday since the All-Star Game.

Philadelphia dropped the match against Portland, 3-0. Surprisingly, there were quite a few positives to take away from the Union’s performance, and to class with the many negatives, too.

But, with that in mind, let me get right to it.

Fabian Herbers: Where Have You Been?

Fabian Herbers has spent the last few months with Bethlehem Steel FC, the Union’s USL affiliate.

Given that Herbers has been dropped to the reserve team, when he made his appearance in Portland, I expected a rocky performance from the young German. Instead, Herbers played fairly well given his lack of minutes with the First Team in MLS

Both Herbers and C.J. Sapong connected well throughout the game, creating many chances that gave the visitors solid looks at goal.

Herbers scored 199 on the Audi Index, ranking sixth among Union players, and above fellow midfielders Warren Creavalle and Fafa Picault, players who log far more minutes with the First Team than Herbers.

He also placed 13th overall among all players on the pitch, an impressive feat for the injury prone German who has found playing time rather hard to come by since his impressive rookie season in 2016.

I’ve wondered all season why Herbers wasn’t included even in the 18, and the game against Portland has raised even more questions than answered. Herbers showed off everything from his speed, strong passing ability and stamina against the Timbers, going the full 90 minutes for the Union.

Hopefully, fans will see more of Fabian Herbers in the coming months with the Union First Team.

Impressive Performance From the Attack and Midfield

I cannot remember the last time the Union didn’t run a 4-2-3-1 formation yet, on Saturday, head coach Jim Curtin ran a 4-3-3 with a drastically different lineup against the Timbers.

Notable players not normally added to the mix were Homegrown midfielder Derrick Jones who played defensive midfielder, Herbers who played right wing, and Jack Elliott at his usual central defender position.

Jones had a strong showing, too, logging two shots including one on goal that went to the hands of Portland keeper Jeff Attinella. Jones partnered alongside Elliott at central defender for a large portion of last season, and despite the change of position and still playing defensively, he contributed well to the attack as well.

Despite a massive change to the roster and formation, the Union seemed to dominate most of the game, aside for the last 10 to 15 minutes of each half, when Portland got the upper hand. Other than that, I was impressed by the squad for being able to adjust.

Philly’s ability to force Portland into multiple bad situations came as a welcomed surprise. Hopefully, the Union will be able to emulate this with the regular Starting XI and First Team.

Enough With the Fouls!

What really cost the Union all game were the fouls in the box. Fouls, in general, tend to hurt the Union more than the average MLS team. Philly ended the game with 13 fouls in total and a caution issued to Alejandro Bedoya for “unsporting behavior.”

Fouls in the box are what really sent the Union on their downfall, when Fabinho and Creavalle essentially gifted the Timbers two of their three goals. Both fouls were completely unnecessary and honestly just foolish.

Fabinho pushed Alvas Powell just enough to draw a foul, despite the fact that nothing would’ve come of the play. Not to mention, Fabinho had solid coverage! Creavalle ran by Diego Valeri and decided to stick his foot out, despite the fact that Auston Trusty had Valeri on lock.

Fouls have hurt the Union in the past as well as throughout this season, and they are something that Curtin’s team seriously needs to improve on. Fans will hope that changes in the coming months.

Make sure to check back next week when Lister breaks down the Union’s performance at New England Revolution, in what will be their third game in eight days after Philadelphia’s victory in the U.S. Open Cup Semi-Final.