Union match reports

Recap: Philadelphia Union 1-2 New York Red Bulls

The Philadelphia Union fell 2-1 to the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field. All the goals came in the first half of the Union’s third preseason meeting, when both teams played most of their primary starters.

Philadelphia’s three new DP signings started together for the first time, with Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira featured centrally and Christian Maidana pushed out wide left to start. Danny Cruz started on the right wing, while Brian Carroll slotted into his usual spot in front of the back four. Richie Marquez partnered Amobi Okugo in defense with Sheanon Williams and Fabinho on the outside. Zac MacMath and Jack McInerney rounded out the starting XI.

The Red Bulls, who were playing their first preseason match since falling 2-0 to the University of South Florida in a closed door scrimmage on Feb. 6, opened the scoring in the eighth minute. Lloyd Sam scampered down the right wing from close to the midfield line before drilling a hard shot through Zac MacMath from 12 yards. Fabinho seemed to slip on the play, and Amobi Okugo did not close Sam down, but MacMath will be disappointed to have let the shot get through.

The Union were able to equalize from an indirect free kick in the 29th minute following a bizarre circumstance. Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles was called for wasting time after holding the ball for close to 20 seconds. Vincent Nogueira rolled the ball forward and Jack McInerney hit the free kick from 16 yards into the lower corner of Robles’ goal.

New York jumped on top again in the 36th minute. Sam again found space down the right, this time centering for Theirry Henry’s first time finish from the top of the box.

The Union fielded an entirely new XI for the second half, with the Red Bulls also sending out a largely new group of players. The unfamiliarity among the second teams was obvious, with few chances falling to either side. Pedro Ribeiro had two half-chances to equalize, and Andre Blake looked confident in goal, but the second period of play was an unsurprisingly uneasy 45 minutes for two sides playing early in the preseason.

The Union next face Orlando City on Feb. 19 in their opening game at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.

Quick thoughts

Jack McInerney — Had a few good opportunities and found himself in good places. The goal was well taken. He should have scored being one-on-one with Robles early on. Would have liked to have seen him at least steer his late first half header on goal from 8 yards.

Maidana and Nogueira smaller

John Hackworth, Cristian Maidana, Vincent Nogueira, and Nick Sakiewicz before the game. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

The new midfielders — Nogueira was lively in his first action with the Union, combining well and covering a lot of ground (and picking up an assist). Edu was efficient and also covered a ton of the field. Maidana saw the least of the ball of the three but had a handful of nice touches on the left side.

Pedro Ribeiro – Had the best two chances for the Union in the second half, both times finding good space and getting a shot toward goal. Had a great run through the midfield where he basically had a Red Bull defender riding his back before drawing a foul.

Andre Blake – Not called on much in an uneasy second half, but confidently controlled his box. Made one strong challenge for a 50-50 ball and one very fine save from close range after spilling a first save. That spillage and a few mis-kicked clearances aside, a very strong performance.

Zac MacMath – If Blake’s stock rose a little, MacMath’s sank just a tad. Would have probably liked to save Sam’s goal as it seemed to slip straight through the goalkeeper. The second was a tougher ask with Henry’s first time shot finding the side netting.

Ray Gaddis – Playing RB with the second team, the third year player looked off his game. Some easy touches and short passes seemed to get away from the usually tidy Gaddis.

Aaron Wheeler – He’s not a center back. I think we all see that.

Sebastien Le Toux, Keon Daniel, Leo Fernandes – None of the three had a bad outing. But all seemed to be second best to others at their position.

Scoring Summary:
NY: Lloyd Sam 1 (unassisted) 8’
PHI: Jack McInerney 1 (Vincent Nogueria 1) 29’
NY: Thierry Henry 1 (Lloyd Sam 1, Tim Cahill 1) 36’

Disciplinary Summary:
NY: Eric Alexander (caution) 80’

Philadelphia Union (First Half) – Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Richard Marquez, Fabinho, Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana, Danny Cruz, Jack McInerney

Philadelphia Union (Second Half) – Andre Blake, Robert Derschang, Ethan White, Aaron Wheeler, Raymon Gaddis, Aodhan Quinn, Leo Fernandes, Keon Daniel, Corben Bone, Pedro Ribeiro, Sebastien Le Toux

New York Red Bulls (First Half) – Luis Robles, Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Armando, Bobby Convey, Lloyd Sam, Peguy Luyindula, Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele, Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry

New York Red Bulls (Second Half) – Luis Robles (Santiago Castano 70’), Richard Eckersley (Chris Duvall* 80’), Armando (Ambroise Oyongo* 70’), Ibrahim Sekagya, Roy Miller, Eric Stevenson*, Michael Bustamante, Eric Alexander, Marius Obekop (Ruben Bover 70’), Andre Akpan (Amando Moreno 81’), Bradley Wright-Phillips
* – Guest Player

Referee: Chris Penso


  1. Maidana should have scored as well. The ball bounced right too him in the box on a throw in 10 yards in front of Robles.

  2. Okay maybe I’m nit picking (no definitely am) but couldn’t one argue that the second goal be disallowed.. From the poor angle we’re shown it seems as though Cahill (in an offside position) is preventing MacMath from seeing the ball.. (per offside rules… “preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.”)

    Just saying 😛

    Defense is really shaky.. Carroll is bad… Really bad. Too slow, poor passer. Ribiero is a really good player. Really good. Very surprised he fell that far in the draft, especially after hearing his hype building up before it.

    And Nogueira isn’t a DP.

    • Seoond on Ribiero. His size is also valuable for us on set pieces given our weakness there. Will start off the season as a sub but would eventually like him to replace Carroll in the midfield (and slide Edu back). Curious to see what happens with Pfeffer as well.

      • Riberio looked like he will make either Carroll or Cruz expendable.

        Anybody else think Pfeffer is only here until the summer window opens and he goes back on loan to Europe?

        Eric, you don’t think Nogeuria has the skill level to be a DP?

      • No, he means that Nogueira isn’t a DP in that he does not have that designation on our team

    • Disagree aboout Nog. I think he was the best player on the field and Henry was on it.

      • Agreed. I think Nogueira looked terrific. Real hop in his step.

      • Agreed. What is his DP status? I was under the impression that he is not a DP. That Maidana is due to a transfer fee and Edu for salary.

      • I’ve been told by some that he’s a DP and others that he’s not. And we’re talking people who should know. When I have something official that says it one way or the other, with absolutely no conflict, I’ll let you know.

  3. Where is Pfeffer? Time he plays some?

  4. Maybe the Union needs to search for another center back to pair with one of the young guys which would allow Amobi to move up into Carroll’s spot. Looked liked the goals mostly came as a result of the left defense miscues but also poor performance by Carroll.

  5. First real competition. Union need to work on keeping the ball from bouncing away from them. It’ll come. Still not sure if Carroll should be in the picture, but we’ll see how things develop moving foward. Honestly think this team will compete in a big way this year. Does anyone have a listing of the numbers assigned to the new players? We know Edu is #21. Union website is late with updates. NYRB had their players numbers listed.

  6. Watched last nights game. Happy to see that some things never change:
    1. Carroll only completes backwards passes.
    2. Daniel only completes backwards passes.
    3. The team has no tactical awareness nor plan. Hackworth could have Ozil, Xavi, Messi, and Neymar and he we’d still lose games 1-0. When is someone going to start a watch to see who gets fired first, Moyes or Hackworth?

    • It’s only 1 preseason game. I know, I can’t believe I’m saying this either. Hackworth gets this season or at least the first half depending on the teams position in the standings. He’s always saying how competition is good so… Sorber is waiting in the wings. If Hackworth can strengthen CB and do more than rely on Carroll, Cruz, and Daniel then all is forgiven. Hopefully he’s letting them play themselves off the field and onto the bench or into street clothes. Moyes isn’t going anywhere yet. He’s going to be allowed to rebuild and retool.

    • You’re really asking for something you won’t see until the players have had time to play together. NY had the advantage of a core group kept intact.

  7. I know it’s only one game and it means nothing but just some random thoughts:
    – Edu and Nog looked really good in most ways. Nog was fast and looked to get on the ball and Edu looked calm on it. It is incredible to have midfielders who are good enough to take a pass, turn and look for a forward pass.
    – I almost hate to admit this, but I can see a purpose for Carrol in Cruz with this lineup. Problem is, it wasn’t executed last night. Carrol needs to stay back at ALL times. With Nog and Edu being so fluid there where time I saw Carrol too far forward. Cruz needs to stop trying to check back to the ball, cause he sucks and will just lose it. So he needs to stay more on the defenses’ shoulder and look for balls over the top.
    – It was nice seeing Jack more involved. I think he can be more than “just” a poacher. He is capable of dropping back and contributing to moves as well.
    – Madidana was less involved but he had a few skill moves in there.

    • To me Cruz doesn’t have the pro level skill to start. He is better coming off of the bench late in the game to run at defenses. He is not good with the ball at his feet unless it’s lofted to him to sprint on to. Otherwise he’s too ineffective. He can certainly pressure the ball but then what? He is not a starter. LeToux can make plays off the wing and is always a threat to finish or make a killer pass. It’s just my opinion but I don’t see the point in watching Cruz pinball around for the first 45 minutes. Why solidify the midfield just to stifle the attack with Cruz’s ball fumbling. His speed and tenacity is better served coming in late if the Union has a 2 goal lead. I wouldn’t trust him out there with a 1 goal lead or if it’s tied . I actually like Cruz because he has a lot of heart but it has to be about putting your best options on the pitch.

      • I love the way Cruz give it his all but he doesn’t have the talent to start Le Toux should take his place and the need to get rid of Carroll while he still has a little value and put in Riberio.

      • I agree too but one aspect of having Cruz on one wing and Maidana on the other (and having them swap at times) would be to mix up our attacking options.

        Cruz’s wing can be used for a more direct approach, if that is working. Maidana’s wing can be more of a shorter approach, if thats working.

        Now that we have midfielders who can control and pass, it is good to mix up our options.

      • I would agree with you if Cruz wasn’t so helter skelter. Cruz has excellent speed but his touch is awful. If he could get himself under control and develop a touch he’d be a great asset. But it’s asking to much of him to be a starter. With him starting on the wing the opposition has the advantage. He dosen’t see the field the way Le Toux does.

  8. No Casey? No Pfeffer? Are they injured?

    • Haven’t heard anything about an injury. But I mean Hop, Jimmy Mac, and Cope didn’t play either. I was surprised that Wheeler played the second half at CB rather than Cope.

  9. Really happy to see Nog add sparkle to our game, creativity, confidently beating people with the dribble, and demanding the ball. Edu looks strong. I thought they played a 4-2-3-1 with Edu jumping forward occasionally.

    The left side of our D was sieve like, with Fabinho looking weak and Marquez (?) at CB not up to the task.

    I was disappointed to see Cruz start. It is clear to me that he is rated that highly by Hack.

    • On the first goal that Sam scored, Fabinho was caught high up the pitch and Marquez could not catch him in a foot race. Thought maybe MacMath could have saved or at least got a hand on that near post shot. On the second, both Fabinho and Carroll shifted to cover Sam on the far side – leaving Henry wide up at the top of the 18. I think if Marquez had more experience or Okugo was paired with a vet both of those goals could have been avoided.
      On Cruz, I re-watched the first half after seeing Twitter blow up with complaints on his play. If Cruz keeps his game simple and pins back the opposing defense by running-on to balls over the top, he could be pretty effective. He pumped in a few decent crosses into the middle. He struggles when he tracks back and tries to play the ball on the ground. Not his strong suit. Also, Le Toux didn’t seem to be on his game either. I’ll chalk it up to the weather and the quality surrounding him in the second half.

      • I disagree on the cause of the goals. Both were lack of cohesiveness and communication. On the first Fabinho over committed and did not mark Sam leaving Sam to take off from a great read by I think it was Cahill. The second goal was similar in that defenders didn’t communicate and doubled Cahill leaving men open. You can tell the players have the abilities but the team work is not there yet.

  10. I know it’s only pre-season, but darn it I hate losing to the Red Bulls!

  11. New players, new system, I don’t think we could have expected a whole lot more. Vincent has been here about 72 hours. Overall, it was very encouraging. Yes, a center back is needed and I think a left back too.

    I am also not sure the 4-3-3 will last. It may not best suit the talents of the best players on the roster. In that formation, it becomes almost impossible to play Casey and McInenery together. I would rather have Connor Casey (or Jack if he is sitting) on the field than LeToux or Cruz.

    The formation also puts that much more pressure on Carroll in the back. He needs less pressure, not more.

  12. Would love to see the U play a 4-2-3-1. With Edu and Nog as 2, Maid/Le2/(Rob,Thor, Hop, Casey) playing 3, and Mac playing up top. I do think the rest of the guys give Hack a lot of tactical options during a game to be used and have a place. The problem is I don’t trust Hack to use them as subs and spot starters, he’ll try to shoehorn them in as starters stubornly( I will be so glad to be proven wrong on that last point) even with these negatives I think the U have a solid shot at the playoffs, and after that it’s up for grabs. I think Carroll needs to be relegated to the bench and spot started or subbed, that or trade him for a LB or starter CB if you could get one for him.

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