Philadelphia Union pick up point in Orlando after brutal, hard fought draw

The Philadelphia Union played their third game in eight days at Orlando City SC Saturday night. After injuries took out two of the Union’s playmakers, the side secured a point. The Union now sit on 40 points and have two weeks until their next match.

Cory Burke heads home the first half equalizer for the Union. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

1st half:

The Union rolled out the same lineup from the last two matches. The side’s heavy legs showed early. Orlando started the match on the front foot, creating some good build up play. Luckily the finishing touch was not there in the run of play.

After some early scares, the Union found possession and settled into the game. Their possession made Orlando scramble to lock down the ball. Orlando started four defensive midfielders in this match; they were worried about the Union triangle of Medunjanin, Bedoya and Dockal. Orlando’s one strength came from sitting deep and counter attacking when winning possession from the Union.

In the ninth minute Orlando started a counter attack. A nice passing sequence from Wil Johnson and Scott Suter  create space for a Orlando attack. The Union tried to press and committed a foul in a dangerous area.

Yoshi Yotun stood over the ball, whipped it in the box and found the head Dwyer for goal. The Union did poor job of marking Orlando’s offensive weapon, as Dwyer had a free run in the box. Orlando went up 1-0 early on.

The next 20 minutes were open with both sides creating chances. Philadelphia held most of the possession while Orlando’s players stayed compact and looked to counter. The Union peppered Orlando’s goal but found no break through until the 32nd minute.

Borek Dockal found himself out on the right side as the Union possessed the ball in the attacking third. Borek saw Cory Burke making a run in the box. The Czech sent the ball towards the Jamaican, and he did what he does best. Burke rose above a Orlando defender, and headed the ball past the outstretched arm of keeper Joe Bednik. The Union leveled the match, and looked the better side. Two minutes later Fafa Picault hit the post almost putting the Union ahead. Then an unexpected twist occurred.

Just eight minutes after the Union’s goal, Borek Dockal was on the receiving end of a hard challenge. Borek went down, and was immediately looked at by trainers. As the helped him up the Czech playmaker was visibly upset, as he was getting subbed out. Derrick Jones came on for Borek, and the Union’s fluid attack, now had to operate without its number 10.

The half ended level, but the Union had the front foot.

2nd half:

Once the second half kicked off, the Union picked up where the first half left off. They had the majority of the possession. However there was a major difference, the Union’s midfielders were given a lot of space to advance the ball forward. Orlando’s four defensive midfielders were not stopping the Union, so they made a change.

Attacking midfielder Colman came in for Higuita, which helped Orlando’s counter attacking style greatly. He took a while to get into the game, as the Union still controlled the game with their possession.

The lack of a creative playmaker hurt the Union as they moved into the final third. This prompted a change as a fatigued Sapong was subbed off for Ilsinho in the 61st minute. Ilsinho played wide right, but was able to create offense for others. He showed promise until something went wrong.

The Brazilian looked to take a miss-step in the 72nd minute which made him go down. The trainers came to look at Ilsinho, and determined he had to come off. On came David Accam. The Union now had to play their last 18 minutes with no attacking playmaker. They’d have to do with Cory Burke’s grit and the speed of Picault and Accam.

After the change The Union took advantage of their speed to create offense. They created corners and free kicks, but filled to capitalize on those opportunities.

Orlando made their last two changes in the 77th minute. Bringing on more offensive options. Mueller came on for Johnson, and Pinho came on for Kljestan. Orlando’s fresh legs helped create more offensive chances on the counter attack against the fatigued Union side. 10 minutes of frantic back and forth play created great looks fro both sides. Then Fafa Picault took the game to Orlando City.

Picault found the ball on the left-wing and marauded forward. He sped past two Orlando players and moved inside. An Orlando player challenged, but couldn’t win the ball off of Fafa. Picault moved toward the box, sidestepped one more defender and blasted a shot. It took a deflection off of a Orlando player defending frantically, and the ball spun up and over Bednik. The Union took the lead at the 88th minute. Now all Philly had to do was hold steady.

Unfortunately, the Union’s fatigue set in. Orlando’s fresh legs took advantage in the 90th minute. Orlando City pushed numbers forward. Some nice play by Orlando found the foot of Coleman, he drew defenders to him, and back-heeled a pass to Sutter. He had an angle on goal to the far post, and placed a shot past the outstretched arm of Andre Blake. The goal leveled the match.

The game then died in stoppage time, and it ended 2-2. When all is said and done, the Union may rue the dropped points; however, the Union are still 10 points clear of the red line, and are still only three points out of fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Now, the Union get a 14 day rest until a very back loaded schedule at the end of September.


Cory Burke
Burke scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season to level things in the first half. The Jamaican striker has looked very dangerous in front of goal this season. He has shown he can create goals for himself at times, but he also shows he can get in the right space at the right time to get a goal. His header goal got the Union back into the match after going down early.

Fafa Picault
Fafa continues to produce on the left-wing. He went to another level to create his go-ahead-goal in the 88th minute. His ability to run at defenders has always been dangerous, but now he’s adding the ability to score off those types of runs. Now if only he could score goals from easier oppertunities…

Injuries to playmakers
The Union lost two of their most creative players to injury in this match. Dockal was run into, went down, got up and screamed then came off at the 40 minute mark.  He was instrumental in producing the first half equalizer; his presence was missed as the Union progressed. Ilsinho came in 61st minute, and lasted just about 10 minutes before tweaking something. In those 10 minutes, the Brazilian looked dangerous as ever, and his replacement Accam looked lost for the rest of the match. Both now have 14 days to recover; hopefully neither of them picked up a substantial injury.

Two weeks until the next match
The next match for Philadelphia comes at home against Montreal Impact on September 15th. This time off, will be crucial. The players need time to recuperate and prepare for a tough September schedule. The Union have five games in 15 days at the end of September including the US Open Cup final. The Union will need to take advantage of this time off to rest up for a stretch that will better determine how this team finishes 2018.

Match Highlights:

Box Score:

Philadelphia Union:

Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; CJ Sapong (Ilsinho 62’) (David Accam 72’), Borek Dočkal (Derrick Jones 40’), Fafa Picault; Cory Burke

Substitutes not used: John McCarthy; Mark McKenzie, Fabinho, Warren Creavalle

Orlando City SC: 

Joseph Bendik; Scott Sutter, Shane O’Neill, Carlos Ascues, Scott Sutter; Oriol Rosell, Will Johnson (Chris Mueller 76’); Cristian Higuita (Josué Colmán 57’), Sacha Kljestan (Stéfano Pinho 76’), Yoshimar Yotún; Dom Dwyer

Substitutes not used: Earl Edwards Jr.; Amro Tarek, PC, Pierre Da Silva


ORL – Dominic Dwyer (Yoshimar Yotún) 9’
PHI – Cory Burke (Borek Dočkal) 32’
PHI – Fafa Picault (Haris Medunjanin) 88’
ORL – Scott Sutter (Josué Colmán) 90’+1’


PHI – Alejandro Bedoya (caution) 89’
PHI – Derrick Jones (caution) 90’ + 5’

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Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports