Philadelphia Union

18 June 7:49 am

Here is the team's injury report for this week:


Player Status Injury
Sebastien Le Toux QUESTIONABLE Left knee MCL sprain
Mike Lahoud QUESTIONABLE Right quad strain
Ferndando Aristeguieta QUESTIONABLE Left fibular contusion
Conor Casey QUESTIONABLE Left quad strain


The only new addition to the injury report is Le Toux who was injured after being subbed on in the U.S. Open Cup game on Tuesday against the Rochester Rhinos.


17 June 7:19 pm

The Philadelphia Union U16 Academy team handed the FC Continental U18s a 4-0 drubbing this afternoon in preparation for the USSDA playoffs next week.

After the game, head coach Jeff Cook was happy with his team’s performance and excited for the upcoming tournament.

“The main objective today was preparation for next week. We haven’t played a game since June 6 when the academy season ended so we wanted to get back into competing and preparing for a game…so I was pleased with how the guys approached the game. It’s going to be 3 good teams and we’re going to have to be very intensely focused on the first game. FC West Chester have made the playoffs and they’re a good club from suburban New York. We’ve seen some tape on them. They have a very good striker we’re going to have to control, and we’ll have to make good on our chances to score. We’re a good team going forward, so if we can maximize our chances it’ll give us a good chance to win.”

FC Continental played conservatively from the onset, holding a deep line and rarely pressuring the Union backline in their own third.

Philadelphia spent the opening moments cycling the ball and probing the Continental backline. Despite sustained pressure, they struggled to put together the final pass, save for a shot off the post in the first 15 minutes.

FC Continental grew into the game and put together a few spells of possession late in the first half, but left themselves vulnerable to a number of Union counters. One such counter caught them out as Joe Dezart stripped a Continental attacker in front of his own box. He quickly collected the ball and sent it forward to Justin McMaster. McMaster then took off down the field and played a through ball to a streaking Jack Skahan who blasted his breakaway chance into the upper corner of the net.

McMaster collected his second assist soon after, as his entry pass was badly misplayed by the Continental keeper and swept up by Tiger Graham, who put it through the keeper’s legs and into the net in the waning minute of the half.

The last bit of action occurred in the Union box, as a Continental attacker found space from 25 yards out and sent a low hard drive in towards Andrew Verdi’s goal. The shot had pace but was struck right at Verdi, who did well to smother it with multiple Continental attackers lurking for the rebound.

Head coach Jeff Cook put out a new 11 for the second half. The first action occurred only minutes in, as replacement keeper Justin Bajek.

The Union nearly struck once again as Raheem Taylor-Parkes narrowly missed a low angle shot to the far post.

Taylor-Parkes narrowly missed once again following some brilliant dribbling by Anthony Fontana. Fontana put together two spin moves before playing Raheem through, but his breakaway chance was well saved by the onrushing keeper.

After relentless pressure, the Union found their 3rd in bizarre fashion as a Dawson McCartney corner kick somehow eluded everyone and found its way into the net.

The biggest scare of the match occurred late on, as Justin Bajek whiffed on a Continental corner. Fortunately for him, Evan Godfrey was there to clear. It was one of several key interventions that Godfrey made during the half, as he put in a solid shift at center back.

The last goal was scored late on, as Kalil Elmekhar tore down Continental’s left flank and played a low cross into Juan Infante, who sent touched down the ball and struck a half volley off of the crossbar and into the net.

Cook also spoke volumes about the Union Academy program and how far it has come in only two years of existence.

“We’re coming to the end of our second year as a full time academy program and our objective is to produce outstanding players from our home territory that can eventually represent the club at PPL Park as professionals. We have about 75 players involved in the program now, of which 25 are in residency. Of that group, there’s another 50 that are students at YSC Academy. So it is a comprehensive full-time program. It’s 10 months so it’s very demanding and the staff is working absolutely tirelessly to try and accelerate the development of the most elite players in our region. We’re excited about the future and we feel that there are a lot of indicators that say we’re making good progress.”

17 June 7:15 pm

Today, on the Philadelphia Union’s practice field, the Philadelphia U-18 academy team fell 2-1 to Reading United A.C., the Union’s player development club.

Multiple players from Reading have previously featured in the U-18 academy team including University of Virginia star Darius Madison and Georgetown University’s Brett Campbell.

The game started well for the U-18’s, scoring in the first five minutes thanks to Sebastian Elney, who will play for the University of Maryland next year. He was able to make the most of a ball put into the box and put it in the back of the net despite it bouncing around after he received it. Elney’s goal was made more impressive by the fact that he was playing with a large foam covering on his wrist due to a recent sprain.

The rest of the first half went about as well as they could have hoped for, with the team alternating their defensive strategy between high pressure and low pressure. The first 15 minutes saw the players chasing down every ball and not letting the Reading players get more than two touches. This worked well as it caused Reading some early issues and lead to the goal being scored. The next 15 were dedicated to a low pressure approach, which they executed well. The final minutes of the half saw them switch back to a high pressure system in order to try to get another goal.

“I thought our work on the pressing scheme came off quite good today, and it also showed we still have some work to do with it,” head coach Peter Fuller said. “I thought the guys did a good job, particularly the first group, and overall. The first group, the first 45 minutes I thought was excellent. Going forward into next week our focus is on getting guys sharper and getting better, getting guys more and more comfortable with themselves and making sure out speed of play is right because all three teams in our group will force us to play quickly.”

Fuller then made a full line change at the half, sending out all eleven players who were on the bench for the first half, including Yosef Samuel and Derrick Jones.

The second half did not go nearly as well for the team as they struggled to press the same way that the first half team was able to. Being unable to press lead to Reading having much more time on the ball and were able to pick out passes and eventually place a cross into the box which was headed home on the far post.

Will Campbell, a University of North Carolina commit, was subbed on half way into the second half after playing in the first half. At this time, Samuel was moved into a center-forward position in a switch from the left wing. Neither of these two changes worked for the team as Reading scored a second goal, this time on a well-balanced counterattack.

In his post game talk with the players, Fuller said that he has no favorites on the team and will put the best 11 players out there that can best represent the club.  

Fuller will pick the 18 players who will travel to the US Soccer Development Academy Playoffs in Indiana on Friday. They face the U-18 teams for the Montreal Impact, the LA Galaxy and Kendall SC in group play which begins on Tuesday, June 23.

17 June 12:51 pm

Today was a great day for practice, with the sun staying out for long periods of time while the breeze came in off of the water.

Practice today was a relatively easy day, especially for yesterday's starters, most of whom play 120 minutes. The starters did some warm ups before ending early with some stretching and conditioning. 

Those who didn't start or are coming off of injuries proceeded to play small sided games with varying tasks. One of the people who returned to practice today was Conor Casey, his first game action since re-injuring his hamstring playing the New York Red Bulls.

Practice consisted mostly of various versions of 4v4. The first version was a normal 4v4 where Conor played offensively for both teams as an extra man. 

Those teams broke down like this:


Brian Carroll, Jimmy McLaughlin, Ethan White, and Raymond Lee in gray

Sheanon Williams, Fred, Eric Bird, and Antoine Hoppenot in orange 


The game then expanded to a half field where goalies were involved. This was a 3v2 set up where Antoine played offense on one end and Casey played offense on the other end. Everyone else were in teams of two and they rotated between moving forward against another team of two or defending against one.

Practice ended with a normal 4v4 with the exception of Conor and Antoine not allowed on to the defensive half of the field for their respective teams. Both Brian Sylvestre and Andre Blake looked good in goal.

After practice, Lee, McLaughlin, and Bird got some extra work in on receiving crosses. Antoine and Sheanon did extra conditioning work while Andre and Brian did some extra goal kicks.


15 June 4:31 pm

The Union held their weekly press conferece today, pushed ahead from the usual Wednesday spot due to the US Open Cup game agaisnt the Rochester Rhinos tomorrow. This week, John McCarthy was the player giving his thoughts on the upcoming week. Here are some of his highlights:


John, this is like old-home week – you go up against Reading and now Rochester, how are you feeling?
Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It will be nice to see the group of guys and my old coach – they mean a lot to me, the players, so it will be good to get back on the field with them, but that’s not going to be against them so it will be nice.
Is there any extra incentive -not that you need it- going up agaisnt your old team?
No, no – it’s just something that you look forward to and want to take advantage of it – and it doesn’t matter what team it will be, now it’s the Open Cup and it’s a nice tournament that would be something nice to win and this is the first step for it.
What can you tell us about Rochester – for fans and people that haven’t seen them play and don’t know any of their players.
Yeah, they got a good group of guys. This year, they’re undefeated I think in USL so they had a really good run so far in the regular season, and the Open Cup I think they already have a couple of wins under their belt against a few teams. So they have a good group of guys, a good core, and I think about 11-12 guys returning last year so it’s really good for them.
What’s the mindset for a USL team playing against an MLS team? Do they almost feel like they have nothing to lose?
Yeah, pretty much. I mean it’s kinda like you have nothing to lose and they might look at it as an opportunity for them to get a couple extra looks throughout the season – so they go out there and give it their all, come out with their best lineup, and we’re going to take it to them.
After McCarthy spoke, head coach Jim Curtin jumped up on the stand to give his weekly musings on the upcoming games. Here is some of what he said:

Jim how do you approach the lineup for a game like this?

Yeah, it’s a good team coming-in in Rochester. I’ve watched a bunch of tape on them; they don’t concede a lot of goals – they’ve only given up four and scored 16, they’re 8-0-4 so they haven’t been beat this year. We’re going to have to be on our game – can’t take them lightly. They’re a well-coached, organized team and they have a couple weapons. Fortunately, the Dos Santos kid – the striker – is suspended from the Harrisburg game. I don’t think they’ll press us in our building, but maybe they do, it’ll be something we’re ready for but I expect them to sit back a little bit, give us possession, and make us really have to break them down. Which will be a difficult task because they have some big bodies in there. They have guys that are MLS in one or two years and they’re guys with a chip on their shoulder – lot of familiar names if you go through their roster, a bunch of guys that are playing with edge right now and winning. It’ll be a tough task in terms of how we look at our squad – we’re going to have to field a team that is up to the task and without going into too many details into my lineup, it’s going to be a group that will go out and compete and a group that sets us up knowing that we do have a busy stretch. So there could be some younger guys that see minutes. 

Those early games in the US open cup last year – especially against Harrisburg – definitely weren’t a walk in the park. A lot of the guys who are on this team this year know that – are they taking that into account?

For sure, yeah. I’ve been warning them as much as possible all week. The early round games are in a lot of ways the toughest – because if you run into a Cosmos, or Rochester, this is a chance for them to knock off one of the higher league in terms of standings – they want to impress and say they belong in MLS as a team, as an individual. So that parts challenging – getting the guys motivated. The key is playing at a tempo and a speed that they’re not maybe used to – when MLS games get ramped up, it is faster, it is a stronger league, but there is any given day a team that can come in here and give you a tough time. Last year you saw it with Harrisburg and the Cosmos – those were our two toughest games – because they are still good teams, they both can play, the guys get paid to play, so they are professionals, as well. It’s challenging to get our guys to be ready for it, you see it so often though, these games become tricky, and MLS teams are going to lose in this round. That’s a fact. Someone is going to go down, it happens every year, and you have to do your best to prevent it. The advantage is we have a home game, we don’t have to travel which is good, and we have a big nice field we can play on. So we have to take care of business, it’s up to us to execute and go on the field and put together a good performance on a Tuesday night.

Does it help at all, having a guy like John (McCarthy) who understands the other side and the mentality that Rochester is going to bring into this?

Yeah, for sure.  He helps in the scouting, he helps in all the little things. So again, he’s a guy who has been on both sides – he can speak to how good of a team this Rochester group is – they weren’t as strong last year, but this year they have come in and really separated themselves from a lot of the other teams in the league and are doing really well. Again, we’re not going to have a let down or be caught off guard or underestimate them in any way. John has played both sides, obviously he wants to get a win now for Philadelphia.

12 June 1:19 pm

Practice today took place in conditions similar to what you would find in the Sahara desert. It was hot and dry, unusual considering the practice fields are 500 feet from the water and they usually get a breeze blowing inland.

Missing from practice today were Eric Ayuk, Jimmy McLaughlin, Eric Bird and Raymond Lee. All four went to go play with the Harrisburg City Islanders as they take on St. Louis FC in St. Louis.

Practice consisted mostly of a seven-on-seven drill where the two teams playing focused on possession and smart passing. For this version of seven-on-seven, the teams had to shoot into small goals placed around the field. Both Curtin and assistant coach Mike Sorber could be heard correcting individual players and any mistakes that were made.

The team then switched over to full-size goals for the last 15 minutes of practice, with John McCarthy, Andre Blake and Brain Sylvestre rotating in and out. Chaco looked particularly good today, playing great balls into the middle with both feet and finishing with a lot of technique.

Yosef Samuel joined the team for practice today. Samuel is a member of the Union’s U-18 Academy team.

10 June 1:04 pm

Today’s practice was HOT with temperatures on the field reaching above 95 degrees. Players were allowed to get a late start today after the friendly against Reading United yesterday, stating practice at 11 as opposed to 10.

Because it was so hot out, players were allowed to take it easy, especially in the early stages of practice when they do their strength and conditioning drills. Water breaks were frequent but not so frequent that they disrupted the flow of practice.

Michael Lahoud was back in practice today, fully participating for the first time since his injury against Toronto FC in early May. He looked very good for someone who hasn’t practiced in a month, and even stayed late to work on his passing and cutting.

The players did a lot of one touch possession passing, playing a 9-on-2 game where the nine outside players one touched passes to each other while trying to avoid the two who were running around in the middle trying to intercept the ball.

While they did that, the goalkeepers (all three of them) worked on their reflexes and their positioning on reflex saves. Andre Blake looked better today than he did all last week now that he has had a full week of practice under his belt.

Another familiar face was back in practice today as well, if only for a week. Danny Cruz was with the team today in practice, working to stay fit while his current team, FK Bodo/Glimt of Tippeligaen, is on international break. He is in town to visit his fiancé.

Practice ended with the team doing three separate line drills that had them work on their footwork, passing, and their first touch on the ball. All three lines were then directed towards goal where the three Union keepers tried to stop their shots.

10 June 9:32 am

Week 14 wasn't quite what Union fans envisioned, especially after a 3-0 triumph over Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday, but some Union players received some well-deserved accolades for last week's performances.

Start with forward C.J. Sapong, who scored a pair of goals this week against Columbus and New York City that earned him a nod on Team of the Week. He now has four goals on the year and is third in MLS in goals scored per minute played.

The recent run of form has defender Sheanon Williams making some headlines. Another strong week for the resurgent right back placed him on's Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre posted his remarkable third clean sheet of his young career on Wednesday against Crew SC. He kept keep the game scoreless with a wonderful save on Aaron Schoenfeld in the first half. That earned him a nomination for the Save of the Week.

And some power rankings. The Union are No. 17 at Bleacher Report, No. 18 at ESPNFC and at MLSGB and finally, No. 20 at

09 June 5:11 pm

It doesn’t matter which way you cut it, Saturday’s 2-1 loss to New York City FC was certainly a disappointing result. But some of the advanced stats do point to Saturday being one of the Union’s top performances this season, at least offensively.

The Union had season-highs in shots on target (7) and passing accuracy in the final third (75.4 percent). They also approached season-highs in passing accuracy at 79.5 percent (second), crosses with 32 (second), chances created with 11 (third) and attempted shots with 12 (fourth).

So, let’s see where they stack up against the rest of MLS in some categories.

Team Possession Passing Accuracy Total Shots Chances Created
New York Red Bulls 54.9 (1st) 75.5 (15th) 14.2 (3rd) 10.1 (8th)
Seattle Sounders FC 54.3 (2nd) 80.2 (3rd) 10.2 (18th) 7.6 (18th)
Orlando City SC   53.7 (3rd) 82.6 (1st) 11.9 (12th) 8.4 (13th)
New York City FC 53.4 (4th) 77.2 (7th) 12.9 (9th) 10.1 (9th)
LA Galaxy 52.8 (5th) 76.3 (11th) 10.6 (17th) 7.9 (16th)
D.C. United 52.0 (6th) 76.8 (8th) 10.9 (15th) 7.6 (19th)
Portland Timbers 51.6 (7th) 79.9 (4th) 13.4 (6th) 10.3 (6th)
Columbus Crew SC 51.3 (8th) 81.7 (2nd) 14.4 (2nd) 11.5 (2nd)
Real Salt Lake   50.9 (9th) 75.8 (14th) 9.9 (20th) 6.7 (20th)
Chicago Fire   50.2 (10th) 78.3 (6th) 15.5 (1st) 12.1 (1st)
Sporting Kansas City 49.9 (11th) 75.8 (13th) 13.1 (7th) 10.9 (3rd)
Houston Dynamo   48.5 (12th) 76.1 (12th) 12.3 (10th) 8.7 (10th)
Colorado Rapids   48.3 (13th) 74.4 (17th) 13.8 (5th) 10.6 (5th)
New England Revolution 48.3 (14th) 74.6 (16th) 11.0 (14th) 8.4 (12th)
Montreal Impact   48.2 (15th) 79.0 (5th) 12.1 (11th) 8.1 (14th)
FC Dallas 46.9 (16th) 74.1 (19th) 10.1 (19th) 7.9 (17th)
San Jose Earthquakes 46.5 (17th) 74.2 (18th) 11.6 (13th) 8.5 (11th)
Philadelphia Union 45.8 (18th) 73.8 (20th) 10.8 (16th) 8.0 (15th)
Toronto FC 45.5 (19th) 76.7 (9th) 13.0 (8th) 10.1 (7th)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 45.4 (20th) 76.4 (10th) 14.1 (4th) 10.9 (4th)

As we documented earlier in the year in this blog, possession isn't detrimental strictly on it's own. Teams like Toronto and Vancouver have created plenty of scoring chances regardless of the amount of possession they have per game. But, this possibly stems from increased accuracy in passing. Furthermore, look at the Fire, who lead the league in total shots and chances created, while only have league-average possession.

Regardless, the Union have continued to put together better numbers in all of these categories when they've been able to feature a healthy Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira.

Finally, one last number to push along is the resurgence of forward C.J. Sapong. Since returning from a month-long absence, Sapong has bagged three goals in four games and is now third in MLS in goals per minute played.

Player Minutes per goal Goals
Chad Barrett (SEA) 102 3
Kei Kamara (CLB) 116.2 10
C.J. Sapong (PHI) 117.3 4
Will Bruin (HOU) 124.7 7
Jozy Altidore (TOR) 131.8 5
Krisztian Nemeth (SKC) 135.3 6
Cyle Larin (ORL) 137.6 5
Clint Dempsey (SEA) 138 7
Chris Wondolowski (SJ) 147.3 8
Obafemi Martins (SEA) 150 6


09 June 10:04 am

The Philadelphia Union were off on Monday and goalkeeper John McCarthy spent his time at duPont Hospital in Wilmington, Del.

The 22-year-old Philadelphia native surprised one patient, Cameron McCarthy (no relation), to drop off a few gifts and even brought some hair clippers. The Union goalkeeper then let his new friend shave off all of his hair.


Cameron shaves John McCarthy's head at the hospital! #TeamCameron

Posted by Philadelphia Union on Monday, June 8, 2015


To help support Cameron and her fight, you can visit her Facebook page at and can donate at And if you missed it, here's MyFoxPhilly's story. #TeamCameron



Had a great day today with my new friend #fightlikeagirl #TEAMCAMERON

A photo posted by John McCarthy (@jmacdaddy77) on