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Match Report: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Orlando City Lions

Leo Fernandes marked his first Union appearance with a stylish goal to save his side and earn a 1-1 draw against the Orlando City Lions.

In their first preseason match of the 2013 season, the Union were ill-prepared for Orlando City’s high pressure attack. They struggled to contain the high-flying duo of Dennis Chin and Long Tan while reverting to the long ball tactics of years past, looking every bit a side playing their first competitive match of the season.

Orlando City grabbed a deserved opener in the 54th minute, though it came from a Union error. Attempting a short goal kick, Zac MacMath’s poor ball put Union captain Brian Carroll under pressure. Carroll’s heavy touch failed to help matters, and he was easily dispossessed, with a quick pass releasing Chin to round MacMath and slot home from an acute angle.

On the 60-minute mark, coach John Hackworth rang the changes and swapped 10 men. The move shocked his team into life. Roger Torres was the offensive catalyst, and after forcing the best out of goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo with a long-distance shot, he turned provider. Receiving Torres’ clever chip on his chest, 2013 supplemental draft pick Fernandes turned quickly and banged his shot past Gallardo to secure the draw for the Union.

First Half

With his first opportunity to craft a lineup in 2013, Hackworth went traditional. Jeff Parke joined last year’s starters Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo and Gabriel Farfan to compose the backline of the Union’s 4-4-2. Captain Brian Carroll anchored the midfield, with Michael Farfan running the attack between Keon Daniel and Danny Cruz. Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey comprised the forward pairing.

Little went right for Union in the early going with the defense looking confused and disjointed, despite Parke being the only replacement from the line that played together through much of 2012. A Williams turnover in the 7th minute could have led to immediate trouble, if not for Gabe Farfan’s defensive pressure at the final moment.

Okugo and Parke were spread wide, unsettling the middle of the pitch, forcing the fullbacks into crucial recovering tackles. First Farfan knifed in to stop an Orlando City break before Williams caught up to Tan who had been played in on MacMath’s goal.

In the 14th minute, the Union finally had their first look at goal, but after getting himself into a dangerous position, Le Toux snatched at his shot, scuffing it well wide.

Clumsy touches, specifically from Le Toux and Carroll, saw the Union conceding possession often, but Williams was twice in the right place to make clearing defensive headers.

Breaking back at Orlando City, Gabe Farfan drove into the center of park, only to be felled by Freddie Braun, who earned a yellow card for his troubles. Michael Farfan stepped up for the free kick and rather than hooking the ball into the box, drove a low ball straight at Gallardo. Only the slightest touch would have opened the scoring, but the Union attackers failed to react and the chance went begging.

The Lions continued to raise the tempo and, finding space to operate in midfield, raced at the Union defense with every opportunity. Chin would have thought he was through on 33 minutes, but Parke proved his quality with an excellent recovery.

With the midfield opening up in both directions, Michael Farfan found the time to chip over the top for Casey, but Gallardo was first to the ball, which hung for a fraction too long. Casey showed his mobility minutes later as he got himself into a wide position, but his cross just eluded Le Toux.

The final ball continued to elude the Union when Okugo sent Michael Farfan on a run forward. Threading the needle through Orlando City’s defense, Cruz made a mess of the cross, putting it behind for a goal kick.

Farfan then tried his luck from distance as the half wore down but saw his powerful effort rise just over the bar.

Second Half

With no halftime subs, Michael Farfan picked up where he left off in the first half and nearly created the Union’s opener. Picking off a pass in his attacking third, his cross was on target for Le Toux, who swung his leg, but failed to make contact.

Despite their erratic performance, the Union were beginning to find the front foot, and they should have been in the lead minutes later. Finding space to run at the center of the defense, Cruz unleashed a strong drive from 30 yards out which beat Gallardo, but rebounded heavily off the post. The chance was still there, however, with Le Toux bearing down on the empty net, but the striker somehow managed to get his touch wrong with the goal begging.

It would prove costly for the visitors when Orlando City found the opener minutes later. MacMath seemed to hesitate as he weighed up whether to play the ball short to the retreating Carroll, but once the ball was played it always looked like trouble. Receiving the ball 20 yard from his own goal, Carroll’s strong touch took him back into his own box where he was quickly swarmed over, conceding possession while still trying to settle the pass. Once Chin was released there was little for MacMath to do and he rounded the third year man with ease, remaining composed to slide the ball home from the tight angle.

Following the goal, Orlando City had their tails up searching for a second. Brushing off Carroll’s challenge, the Lions stormed through the Union defense, but fortunately the service into the box yielded a tame header that MacMath easily saved.

Having seen enough, Hackworth removed all of his outfield players. Retaining the 4-4-2 formation, Bakary Soumare led a backline comprised of Ray Gaddis and rookies Eric Schoenle and Damani Richards. Greg Jordan took over for Carroll with Roger Torres pulling the strings inside of Leo Fernandes and trialist Jordi Vidal. Jack McInerney and Antoine Hoppenot looked to breach the Orlando City defense where Casey and Le Toux had failed.

Slowly, the Union grew back into the game, with Roger Torres looking eager and sharp on the ball. With a passing fluency missing from the starters, the Union midfield maintained possession and began to probe the Lions flanks.

Torres nearly tied the match in the 70th minute when he let fly from distance after being released by Hoppenot. The shot had power and movement, but Gallardo was able to fight off the effort.

The Union pressure was taking its toll and patrolling the midfield, Torres was beginning to find gaps in the Lions defense. In the 74th minute, Torres put Vidal up the left flank, where the trialist won a corner. Nothing came of the free kick, but before Orlando City could clear their lines, Torres found Fernandes in the box. Vidal fought hard to keep the play alive, doing just enough to keep the ball rolling, and Torres’ first-time contact with the outside-of-his-boot flick landed where Fernandes could control with his chest before lashing home the equalizer on the turn.

Suddenly, the momentum was turned, and the Union surged forward seeking a winner. McInerney would have delivered the victory were it not for more excellent goalkeeping from Gallardo. Fernandes did well to put Hoppenot into space, sending him and McInerney in on Gallardo. But with a simple tap-in beckoning, Hoppenot underhit his pass, allowing the goalkeeper to smother the danger away.

With time running short, the Union continued to press for the match winner when Torres picked out the streaking McInerney racing into the box. McInerney’s unselfish layoff set the table for a dream debut for Fernandes, but the brace was not on the cards and his shot was blocked at close range.

The Union next take the field on Wednesday, 13 February, when they meet the Columbus Crew at 1:00 pm (MLSsoccer.com, PhiladelphiaUnion.com).

Philadelphia Union
Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams (Ray Gaddis ’61), Amobi Okugo (Bakary Soumare ’61), Jeff Parke (Eric Schoenle’61), Gabriel Farfan (Shaun Francis ’61); Danny Cruz (Leo Fernandes ’61), Brian Carroll (Greg Jordan ’61), Michael Farfan (Roger Torres ’61), Keon Daniel (Jordi Vidal ’61); Conor Casey (Jack McInerney ’61), Sebastien Le Toux (Antoine Hoppenot ’61)

Orlando City Lions
Miguel Gallardo; Brian Fekete, Rob Valentino, Kieron Bernard, Bryan Burke; James O’Connor, Freddie Braun , Jamie Watson, Keammar Daley; Dennis Chin, Long Tan

Scoring Summary
54: OCL – Chin
76: PHI – Fernandes (Torres)

Discipline Summary
22: OCL – Braun (caution)
33: PHI – Cruz (caution)

33 Comments

  1. Let’s take some early bets on the “Why is HE STILL starting!?!?” player of 2013!
    I have my money on Carrol.

  2. or the why is he not starting award. i’m going torres.

    • its been kind of obvious, he was out of shape, got injured, came back out of shape, season over. …

      • Hack / the media have been talking about the great shape he came back in.

      • I was so impressed by Torres last night. He looked like the best player on the pitch for Philadelphia.

        Is it just me, or does it seem like the 4-3-3 doesn’t seem to maximize the current Union personnel? If Torres ends up starting, would Hackworth put Carroll in the middle, Marfan on the right and Torres on the left?

        Saumare looked good, too. So, Saumare and Parke? Or, Saumare and Okugo at Center Backs?

        I wonder about a 4-3-1-2 with Torres linking from midfield to Seba and McInerney/Casey

  3. Thanks for the detailed report, especially giving who each player was at the 2nd half sub stage. I wish we had seen more of the subs than just 25 minutes (won’t go on a rant on how wrong it was to wait that long to make subs). Didn’t see enough of Vidal, but Fernandes took his goal well and looked good generally. Lets see what Wednesday brings.

  4. Okugo for Carroll, with Soumare sliding in at CB. Torres at CAM with Marfan on the wing instead of Cruz. Jack over Casey. Time to show our youth.

    • +1 but maybe Jack ove Le Toux. Just a thought

    • I agree with this. I have liked Carrol and he used to be very important to us but he has reached his ceiling and if anything is in decline; he showed this yesterday.
      As far as Cruz goes, he does not seem like first team material at the moment. He needs to get himself under control in about five different ways

      • Carroll is an excellent player. I really don’t get the hate. He sees the field and has great passing accuracy. He was placed in a bad situation yesterday.
        /
        The person who has a truly poor decision making problem is Cruz. I would agree with that.

      • Its not hate, I think he is great but I don’t think he is the best option for his position. I think Okugo would do a better job at the moment and will only get better if he plays more. And I’d rather not have two defensive midfielders on the field

      • The Black Hand says:

        It is not very often that you see Carroll advance the ball forward. His passing seems to be lateral, or back. I do think he covers a lot of ground defensively. It’s just that, Okugo covers the same ground defensively and is far better on the offensive side of the ball. To me, sticking with Carroll does not progress the club. I felt he should have been transferred out over the offseason, not made captain. I respect Carroll’s game and feel that his experience can be useful to another team. I just feel that Okugo is FAR better for THIS club, moving forward.

      • Yeah Carroll gets dissed around here. They seem to favor Okugo, who hasn’t even seen much time at all individually at CDM, over Carroll.
        .
        I cant think of a single game in which Okugo has played the CDM role that Carroll played yesterday ever for the Union.
        .
        Im really not sure anybody on this page really gets what a CDM does anyway.
        .
        How much offense do you really expect from a Central Defensive Midfielder?
        .
        Carroll deserves the captaincy and to start.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Its the linkage to the offensive players, that I expect out of a CDM (along with the obvious defensive responsibilities). Without it, you are left with a black hole in the center of the pitch, that opposing clubs will gladly fill (as we saw last season). I’m not looking for Carroll to carry or take on defenders, just to provide an outlet for our back line and take a look to advance play. A lot of damage can be done on the counter attack, which your CDM would play an integral part in the orchestration of. I like Carroll. I do believe he should start but not at the expense of Okugo (Equal defensively,Younger, Faster,etc…etc…)

  5. New season. Same old Union.

  6. Nice summary. Hard to read too much into this performance since it was our first preseason match so I’m going to resist writing off players based on this. Liked the way that the young guys played, but Orlando was beginning to tire at that point.

    Looking forward to Wed, nice that we can actual watch our team in the preseason for once.

  7. Real take aways from yesterday’s game.
    .
    It looks like we’re gonna run a 4-4-2 and not a 4-3-3.
    .
    Long ball still the norm.
    .
    M. Farfan never took hold of the midfield.
    .
    Torres did.
    .
    Soumare looked good.
    .
    Daniel and Cruz did not.
    .
    Gaddis looked improved.
    .
    Our starting 11 did not show desire.
    .
    One year on and our #1 is still making high school mistakes.

    • Yeah and Johnson makes middle school mistakes but earns call ups for his trouble. What a world.

    • Yeah, we really did need a veteran keeper. MacMath is still not fully ready.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Goalkeeping was/is questionable, to put it nicely. An ‘Oh Shit Plan’ could have been explored this offseason. I would love to see an experienced, semi-stable goalkeeper brought in, if only to serve as backup/advisor to the young (qnd frightening) Zac MacMath.

      • Victor Valdes made the same mistake that Zac made on Sat just last year vs. Real Madrid and he’s one of the best keepers in the world.

        If you’re going to commit to playing a possession game out of the back, then that’s part of the learning process. Let’s be thankful that he did this in a match that didn’t mean anything.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Zac is repeatedly making the same mistakes. Goalkeepers make mistakes. Good goalkeepers learn from them. MacMath is shaky. A veteran, like Kevin Hartman, would be nice to have if MacMath does indeed prove that he needs more time.

      • I agree 100% that we should have a veteran backup instead of this carousel of mediocrity behind him.
        That being said, I still think the hate on MacMath is pretty rough. He’s what, still 22? He hasn’t even had a year to prove that he is learning yet. Carroll has had 10+ years to learn how to handle a bad ball and his touch looked like mine would.
        I’ll throw another name at you, Joe Hart. He’s made his fair share of mistakes as well. Hell, Howard didn’t look that great on Honduras’ second goal either.
        Honestly, I think the problems in midfield and attack are 10000 times more important than a occasional mistake from MacMath. To play the way we all want to, we really need to answer a few questions in terms of starters or else it wouldn’t matter who we have back there cause they’ll be facing 20 shots a game because we won’t be able to keep possession.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Agree. Issues with the keeper are far less pressing than our need for a structured, capable midfield. It troubles me that these were all issues we knew about last year, yet little has been done. As for our troubles up top; I like the Conner Casey signing. He is a legitimate, albeit it well aged, forward. Le Toux as well, his presence alone should give the club a boost (captain???). Both will add to a drastically undersized and very inexperienced attack. Unfortunately, that will matter little unless we get our midfield sorted. If we don’t, we can be prepared for countless long balls over the top and a lot of blank score sheets. Thus mounting the pressure against our fragile, young keeper. I really hope that Hackworth has a plan.

      • We need to change the overall mindset of shutouts equal wins, 1 goal per game equals draw and 2 goals given equals a loss. If you look at the majority of teams like that they are bottom of the table teams or ones that spend 1 million dollars per game on their back line and goalie. For years america has succeded on defense and goaltending because its what we had. we need to have the mindset that we can score 2 goals on anyone so if the goalie gives one up the point isnt to try and salvage a draw.
        Zac is very young as far as goal tending goes and as long as it doesnt hurt his development mentally he is a fine keeper for us. What is most troubling is we rely on our right and left backs for far too much going forward. Their ablity to go forward is great but our need for them to do it scares me. what happened to the midfield creating plays.
        The US is in a flux right now both at the MLS and national team levels. We need to be patient and the coaches need to stop the shuffle and allow some flow to happen between the best 11 not the 11 we hit on the dart board.

  8. Can we all slow down and realize its just the first PRESEASON friendly? It has been three weeks of drills and meetings and conditioning. It will take a few matches to get game legs and get mentally prepared for 90 minute matches that actually mean something.
    Let me know if I am waaaaay off base here.

    • I don’t think you are waaaay off base. One of the few to acknowledge that they haven’t played in a while and Orlando FC is not just starting. That being said when it comes to looking at individual players technical ability especially with people like Le Toux and Carroll who we have all seen a lot its somewhat reasonable to raise concerns right away.

    • On the other hand, despite the relative status of soccer in this country and city, it’s good to see us Philly fans still giving to the Union like they’re the Eagles!

  9. Why didn’t Soumare start?

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