Union match reports

Recap: Jacksonville Armada 3-1 Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union kicked off the 2015 preseason with a 3-1 loss to NASL side Jacksonville Armada at EverBank Field on Saturday evening.

“It was our first preseason match, we played 30 guys,” said Union head coach Jim Curtin after the defeat. “We’re down here to experiment a little, and I thought we played three balanced groups. Give credit to Jacksonville, they came out and put us under pressure right from the start.”

Curtin also gave credit to to atmosphere created by the crowd of 13,934 in attendance to see their new team, who were playing in front of their fans for the first time.

“They made it uncomfortable – there were 13,000 fans out there. It was a good experience for some of our younger guys to play in that atmosphere.”

First Half

After creating a few crossing chances with good hold up play coming from CJ Sapong, the Philadelphia Union conceded an early goal off a corner kick in the 7th minute when Fabrico Ortiz pounced on a bouncing ball to slot home. It was the first, and likely not the last, set piece goal conceded this season.

The Armada followed up their early goal with two good chances, one of which forced a strong save from Andre Blake.

After only five minutes of scoreless play, the Union were again beaten, this time on the counter. Alhassane Keita darted past Raymond Lee and put Ethan White in a spin cycle, finally finishing his shot under a lunging Andre Blake.

Keita kept his onslaught going, striking the post only minutes later, with Blake clawing the rebound off his line.

After a spell of Union possession that yielded a few half chances, Keita again beat Raymond Lee and Brian Carroll off of a long ball from the Armada keeper. His chip shot fell narrowly wide of Blake’s right goalpost.

After twenty difficult minutes, Sheanon Williams won the ball in midfield and played an excellent ball in to a darting Andrew Wenger at the far post. Wenger made no mistake, sending his shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

The Armada struck back almost immediately, with Keita nearly finding his second goal, forcing a great save from Andre Blake. After palming Keita’s shot over the crossbar, Blake collected the ensuing corner.

The Union created another solid chance when McLaughlin’s cross found a wide open Brian Carroll at the penalty spot. Carroll’s shanked effort went wide left. Philly kept the pressure on, and Andrew Wenger tested the Armada goal with two long distance strikes. Both were saved, and well held, by Miguel Gallardo.

After sitting deep and absorbing the Union’s pressure, the Armada again found themselves on the counter, but Ethan White tracked back and snuffed it out.

Union head coach Jim Curtin made a wholesale substitution in the 30th minute, with Aaron Wheeler, Vincent Nogueira, Antoine Hoppenot, Zach Pfeffer, Aaron Simmons, Navid Nasseri, Derrick Jones and Petros Kanakoudis seeing their first preseason match minutes.

The next two chances fell to Wheeler and Wenger. Wheeler’s breakaway chance was saved by the Gallardo and Wenger’s hard blast went narrowly wide.

Wenger continued his strong day with a solid cross into Pfeffer and Nasseri. Unfortunately, a miscommunication between the two led to a missed shot.

The half ended with a penalty kick to Jacksonville, when Simmons tarnished his otherwise solid outing with a bad tackle on Lucas Trejo. Trejo made no mistake at the spot, chipping his penalty past Blake.

Second Half

Under the calming influences of Vincent Nogueira, Zach Pfeffer, and Aodhan Quinn in the center of the field, the Union started the second half with some solid possession and maintained a good defensive shape, with good crosses from both Pfeffer and Kanikoudis creating chances.

Jim Curtin made another large scale substitution around the 65th minute, sending in Sebastien Le Toux, Dzenan Catic, Fred, Michael Lahoud, Fabinho, Austin Berry, Eric Ayuk, and Richie Marquez.

A series of threatening set pieces and crosses followed, but no one was able to get on the end and head home.

The half proceeded with little to speak of outside of a near disaster in the Union half when Quinn gave the ball away. The Union’s defense was much more solid, with Lahoud, Berry, and Marquez all putting in solid stints. Fabinho was quick to get forward and send in a series of crosses, none of which found a Union player in the box.

The last chance of the game occurred as a Jacksonville free kick was sent straight at John McCarthy, who saved comfortably.

“I thought Andrew Wenger had a really strong performance,” Curtin assessed after the game. “A couple of the younger guys were up to the task. You learn a lot in games. You can play 5v5 and 8v8 and look good in training, but when the lights get bright, the game gets a lot faster — it’s about who are the guys who can compete? We’ll take it, analyze it and learn from it. We played a lot of young guys on the field and we got some experience out of it, which was needed.”

Philadelphia will have a quick turnaround in applying lessons learned from their preseason opening defeat when they face NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 6 pm.

Starting Lineups
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake, Raymond Lee, Ethan White, Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams, Brian Carroll, Pape Gassama, Andrew Wenger, Christian Maidana, Jimmy McLaughlin, CJ Sapong

Jacksonville Armada: Miguel Gallardo, Lucas Trejo, Nurdin Hrustic, Fabrico Ortiz, Shawn Nicklaw, Pascal Millien, Jaime Castrillon, Lucas Scaglia, Jemal Johnson, Alhassane Kieta, Aharon Sonders

Scoring Summary
JAX – Fabrico Ortiz 7′
JAX – Alhassane Keita 11′
PHI – Andrew Wenger (Sheanon Williams) 24′
JAX – Lucas Trejo (PK) 45′

Disciplinary Summary
JAX – Scaglia (Yellow) 43’
PHI – Konate (Yellow) 52’
PHI – Fabinho (Yellow) 89’

Match Stats (PHI / JAX)
Goals: 1 / 3
Shots on Goal: 15 / 10
Corner Kicks: 2 / 5
Fouls: 15 / 14
Possession: 49% / 51%

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Attendance: 13,934


  1. No one not on the roster last year impressed at all, while a few – Lee & Simmons for starters – were awful. And since last year’s roster wasn’t good enough….

  2. Hey, Nick:
    You did THIS.

  3. 13,934? Was the attendance really that high? Impressive.

  4. Wow. Brian Carroll really shouldn’t be playing professional soccer anymore. He couldn’t even put that chance on goal? Every player on my daughters u11 team would have scored that. That and his ridiculous chasing the play while never actually touching the ball.

    In all, if the teams, coaching staffs, and FO’s had all switched uniforms and warm ups during pregame I’d say the Union have a chance to win 10 games this year. As it is, I bet the Union couldn’t beat a good college team.

    My last year of season tickets. Waste of money and time supporting this team.

    • That Carroll miss was atrocious. I hate being too hard on the guy, but please, please only play him in the most dire of emergencies. Have more faith in Curtin making that call rather than Hackworth. Sweet move by McLaughlin to shake free right before Carroll hit the banana slice from 3 yards out though.

    • With Vitoria coming in, we probably get Edu at CDM and should rarely see Carroll again.

    • Jimmy Trojan says:

      Brian Carroll is a lame horse that needs to be put down! Having a one legged youngster would be a better play than Carroll.

      • I am hoping that the contract he signed is not guaranteed and he can be asked to retire before the season

  5. The better team won!
    Since Albright is still going down his blank Rolodex looking for strikers . . . perhaps he could just go over to the Jacksonville locker room and grab Keita who made our defenders and #1 pick International goal keeper look like they just learned to play.

  6. I can’t get too upset since it was first preseason game and they played like 30 guys, but they have a lot of work to do. Will we ever figure out set piece defense? Was trying to watch Catic (or the guy I assumed to be Catic), but he didn’t get much from the midfield.

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Where was Bird? Where was Cruz? Casey I assume was left at home in deference to his age. I thought Pfeffer showed well in the center of the midfield in his third of the time. Thought Marquez did well in his. Berry destroyed well but was slow of thought offensively. Disappointed in White being so easily fooled 1 v 1 for the second goal. Thoughts Quinn had a positive influence while he was in there. Disappointed in Catic. Wheeler had some chances but he doesn’t strike the ball with power. Remember that each of the three squads was set up to be a relatively even mix of veterans and newbies. Everyone – I assume – who was healthy got a chance to get into a game. That tells you that Curtin was committed to giving everyone a look in a game before making any decisions calling for careful thought. Probably will do the same on Tuesday and then make decisions once they are back in Philly before going back for the tournament.

  8. Oh well, there’s always next year.

    • Funny. Good one. Simple and straight forward. Eloquent in a less is more way.

      Here’s one for ya. try this analogy

      Union is to dream as ____________ is to reality.

  9. I don’t really see what Curtin sees in Ethan White, He is forever getting beat and when he isn’t getting beat, He is clutching and grabbing, Not is a Danny Califf treacherous tactical way but because he is about to get beat…
    Is Austin Berry that bad?

  10. OneManWolfpack says:

    Holy crap fellas. CHILL. It was one game. Jacksonville was amped and had a ton to prove. Everyone relax. Not saying this team is winning MLS Cup or anything… but damn. CHILL.
    That all said, Wenger’s goal was nice. Williams service was quality. The D was a mess early on, but this game meant nothing. The negatives did outweigh the positives but CHILL…

    • Did you see anyone that was not on roster last year (counting the HGPs as on the roster) that impressed? I didn’t, and last year’s roster was not good enough. Yes it was first preseason game and Curtin had a plan to get a look at everyone. He cannot be happy with what he saw.

    • A big +1 to the Wolfpack.

  11. The Black Hand says:

    Good grief!!!

  12. Soft chuckle with a Cheshire Cat grin from me. Nothing like preseason to assure you the offseason was spent skiing by a majority of your boys. sometimes even the best look bad and the worst look good. Not much can be gleaned. All I know is I wish we had a Harry Kane.
    That said…”Some men you just can’t reach, so you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants…..Well. He gets.”

  13. Is going to be a long season!

    • I hope it’s a “long season” (lots of soccer, that is)…only now, I need to find a team to cheer on. argh… This front office and coaching staff are nothing but a bunch of interlopers making excuses. If I hear one more “we’re trying”, “we’re working”, “I saw some good things”, “looking for the right combinations”… etc….I’m going to PUKE! Good teams just make it happen. NO BS!

  14. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Thought the Greek trialists left back, kakakoudis maybe, looked credible, except for getting knocked flat near the box early in his shift, in that the hemorrhaging down his channel stopped when he was on the field. Don’t know if it was him or the new midfielders in front of him; in the regular season I’d wait for Adam Cann’s analysis. His status will additionally be influenced by international roster spots and salary demands since he is older and plays in the Greek first division. The one cross I remember was right on his target guy, but was cleared by the Jax defender.

  15. Old Soccer Coach says:

    That we were taken by surprise in the beginning against a side that had already faced two opponents and had been practicing longer is not out of the ordinary. Also remember Jacksonville’s purpose was to win in front of their first home crowd ever to establish credibility and sell tickets. Ours was to diagnose whether specific individuals belong on the roster. Curtin was more concerned with the dynamic within his team, being fair in giving everyone as close to an even chance to succeed or fail as possible, than he was with the outcome of the game. He could have run out his most cohesive side, but would he have learned as much? It is always enjoyable to play preseason games against Our Lady of the Blind and the Blessed Cripple Brothers. But you don’t learn anything against them except what you already knew beforehand. Only a strong team can pressure you in ways you cannot pressure yourself in intrasquad scrimmage. Jax did us several favors. Tampa Bay Rowdies may do us a few more. The IMG Suncoast games will start to tell us what kind of season we can expect because most of the roster decisions will be made. They have not yet started to mesh chemistry because they are still carefully examining who belongs.

    • Spot on analysis.

      Jacksonville has been training for months and really needed to put on a strong performance in order to get their fan base excited for the season. It was the first run out for the Union this print and they have another match to play on Tues. It’s way too early to read anything into this.

      • The Black Hand says:

        It is early…but, man, were they bad!!! We’ve got a month…

      • I can’t help but think that the Union have started preseason training really late. I could be wrong. If so, that’s a bad mistake and no excuse for it. I hope Curtin gave the players fitness regiments during their off season. I hope the players took the off season to get fit and ready. Well see I guess…..

      • Preseason training dates are limited by the CBA in all leagues. The dates aren’t set by the team.
        The players could have been working on their own. And according to the players, they were. But there’s nothing that can be done about the dates of the preseason.

      • When you look at the preseason regiments of teams like Arsenal and Dortmund when their players arrive in July………….its all fitness for the first few weeks. They usually take them to the Alps to train in altitude……why? Fitness, fitness, fitness…………you need to your players to have engines before they can gel. I don’t see that sense of urgency with our club……ever.

  16. I thought it was interesting that at halftime Curtain said his guys weren’t ready for Jacksonville. WHO’S RESPONSIBILITY IS IT TO GET THEM READY FOR A GAME?!? If Jacksonville ate them alive like that, what do you think Columbus or New England will do? Philly tough my ass. Curtain’s guys couldn’t get it done at the end of last year, couldn’t get it done against an NASL side playing their first game ever, and won’t get it done against Colorado on March 7. And by midseason we’ll have a new coach. So depressing.

  17. The lineups the Union played are nothing like any starting lineup they will field in the regular season. I think this is the year that Pfeffer is one of the first players off the bench. Need him to be. White, Lee and Carrol were all terrible, but it was the first preseason game. If anything White’s performance was most disappointing since he may be an opening day starter.

    Wenger-Maidana-Le Toux

    Let’s wait til we see this lineup before we go into panic mode.

    • The Black Hand says:

      It’s not so much the result, as it is the complete lack of cohesive play.
      No one expected the Union to be in top form…but we did expect to see play that resembled a professional football club. We were just manhandled by the Jacksonville Armada…the Jacksonville Armada.

      • Agree! See freys2 below…with that starting lineup, we should have been 2-0 within the first 15 minutes, even if it isn’t what will eventually become the starting 11. Remember, we have supposed first team players and Jax is downstairs somewhere. That’s like the Phillies getting beat by an American Legion team…oh, wait…we’ll have to endure that too, I suppose.

    • The starting lineup for that game was Blake; Lee, Edu, White, Williams; Carroll, Gassama; Wenger, Maidana, McLaughlin; Sapong
      And for right now, that anonymous CB in your lineup is White, and Edu was at CB because Vitoria isn’t on the roster yet, so Carroll is the current starting CDM (at least until Vitoria becomes official). So 7 of the starters for this game are our actual starters. I’m not sure how that’s “nothing like any starting lineup [the Union] will ever field in the regular season.”
      My thinking is that if we (the collective fans) wait ’til the start of the season to panic, then the FO will make no new moves because they won’t feel they have to. That’s how this organization is run. They’re not going to dish out any more money unless they feel not dishing out money is going to cost them. So panicking preemptively is the only way to ensure that the FO gets off their ass and does something

    • yup…..thats kind of where I’m at right now, I have the same shape and line-up right now……except I have a White/Berry penciled in where you have CB……fingers crossed!

  18. Can someone please run an analysis of preseason results for every team in MLS since its inception and the correlation of those results against each team’s record that year? I think we need some perspective here because, if you didn’t know anything else about this game, you might think that some fans thought it was a well studied, high stakes final. It’s irrelevant, 100%.

    • Did some quick looking this afternoon, saw that 6 out of 8 teams with a record better than .500 in the preseason made the playoffs. This is just last years overall preseason results against all teams(MLS, NASL, College, Foreign). FC Dallas (a playoff team) was not included as I could not find their preseason data. Might find time to look through 2013 tomorrow.

  19. I would sincerely like to know why there is such a lack of any discernible professional skill with the ball on this team? Even the most basic skill with the ball at your feet. What type of practice goes on with the Union? Don’t even use the excuse that this is preseason and the first game and they are looking at a lot of players. I’ve looked at footage of other teams matches and I’m not noticing the lousy skill that is exhibited by the Union. And because it’s the Union it’s the same fumbling with the ball, turnovers, poor reading of plays. amateurish receiving and passing of the ball. Again why does the Union consistently have to be “that” team? The priority of this team should be getting the ball to Maidana in a position for him to make plays. The Union look like their playing volley ball and hacky sack with weak headers and poor play with the ball at their feet. Brain Carroll does not belong on the Union period, end of story. What was Curtins game plan? Sapong for long stretches looked like Brian Brown. Andrew Wenger is going to be a star! Why does shooting the ball look wimpish and like limp noodles? JAX is not a good team defensively and the Union couldn’t score on gimme’s. Since our coach was a top line all-star defender one would think our back line shape would be the least of our problems. Ethan White is only as good as the player he partners with. In other words with Edu next to him and Okugo covered up a lot of his mistakes and helped him be a better player. Why is this team never ready to play? This may be the first game of the preseason but this is not the first time we’ve seen this farce on the pitch. Honestly few of the so-called starters put together wouldn’t make up one quality MLS player. Slow, poor basic skills, an inability to adjust to the situation of play and not prepared to play. The Union have issues bigger than training camp and preseason and in spite of the number of players, it’s the same players who have been with the team who are making the same mistakes. If you are a non playoff team you should work on your basic skill until you can do them in preseason, mid-season and end of season and in your sleep. If you are weak at something it is the coaches job to notice it and point it out and don’t you dare come back the next camp doing the same crap. Example: Le Toux his weak on the ball. We know he an score so he should have done nothing but drills with the ball at his feet. He has no excuses for not improving that part of his game over the years! We can have all the DP’s we want but if the team is littered with poorly skilled players who can’t do basic things the DP’s are useless!

    • Amen LCBline!!! I’ve been stressing that this team has an enormous struggle acquiring players who are masters at simple skill set that is required to play professional ball. Sometimes I can’t believe how bad some of the players are when the ball is at their feet. This should not be a problem and the coach should be addressing and fixing this immediatly. End of story. The players should take it upon themselves to fix their weak spots. That means basically working extremely hard over the break and not taking vacation.

    • Agreed, well said Le Toux is suppose to be a great player he cant pass or dribble runs around like a chicken without a head

    • Watching Okugo was one of the things that made the Onion, no that is not a typo, bearable for me. His incisiveness. Clean touch. Simple deadly accurate one touch passing that most do in 2 or 3. Yes his absolute class was just about the one thing that made them tolerable for me. This is going to test my resolve – I know it.

      • Which again makes all of the BS for his not being on the Union totally bogus! Yes let us by all means make it necessary to sit through another season with Brian Carroll on the roster. The Union’s poor skill looks like the MLS version of the NHL Flyers chip it out and dump and chase with no speed and skill to retrieve the puck. And by all means, give me a home where the Jurassic players roam.

  20. I thought kind of funny that 5 midfielders couldn’t get Sapong the ball. Or Catic. Maybe we need more midfielders! Let’s play a 3-6-1.

    Honestly, a u10 coach uses whole-sale substitutions of the entire team and evaluates players’ abilities during games.

    Albright and Curtin are supposed to be professionals. They should be able to judge players abilities and skills and speed and strength during training. Those that are sub-par shouldn’t see the pitch.

    Albright is desperately searching for bargains in Europe and South American when all he has to do is look for diamonds in the rough on NASL sides. Pitiful and sad.

    Do you miss Okugo yet, huh Jim? Probably not until you lose to Colorado 5-0.

    • Ben, agreed and I’ll take you one step further……it should take them 10 minutes or one training session with some of them………..

  21. Obviously it was a preseason game, so a lot of the rage should be tempered. That said, wow did a lot of guys look bad. I’m hoping this doesn’t become the regular. Also, the season starts in 1 month, get the starters starting and the first off the bench in together. Don’t play 30 guys, it’s embarrassing and most are not going to be on the team or ever see time. We need the guys who are playing to get time together now.
    I really was really trying to look at individual players and such, because with so many ridiculous lineups in 1 game it’s hard to see the overall. Thankfully a few guys looked good, wenger in particular.
    All I know is, when the European teams come here in the summer on preseason, and we are mid season, they look a hell of a lot better than we did yesterday. It’s one thing to be in preseason, it’s another to be embarrassing.
    Really hope we get that CB. We also desperately need a fwd, and could use a lb and back up winger.

  22. I am not going to lose sleep over this result. I do not expect the likes of Maurice Edu and Sebastian LeToux to,come full out and show top form in their first pre season match especially when playing in unfamiliar combinations.

    That being said, my one concern is what appeared to be a lack of serious concentrated effort from a number of bodies that need to prove they belong on this roster. Some of the kids fighting for roster spots must show more,fight.

    I know Curtin and Allbeight love Brian Carroll, but a few more efforts like that he will have to be asked to retire.

  23. Last place for this team, there is no way this team makes the playoffs, they suck

  24. OneManWolfpack says:

    If this is the way it’s gonna be the entire preseason I don’t think I’ll be able to read the comments. Wow. Yes, the team looked terrible, but so what. They played 30 guys… you can barely judge anything with that kind of game.
    Talk to me in at least 2 weeks…

  25. Woof. It’s obvious among the comments that it’s been a long winter and folks are desperate to watch some futbol. That stated, it’s the 1st preseason game people, STAY CALM. I agree their offseason activity has been lacking, and LB and striker are still glaring holes. That stated, one game with a huge cast of characters(which I have no problem with) winning was not the main goal. Jeeze, the MLS season is way long, and we have many veterans, etc, etc.

    • Not for nothing and I can see your point. However 3rd year in a row with the same basic skill deficiencies by players who have been around long enough to know. That should not be apart of training camp or a preseason game even if it is just the first game. Most of the comments could have been copied and pasted from the last few years. If players who have been on the team for the past few years haven’t improved then how are you going to honestly be able to incorporate in new players or the plays you’d like to implement? Simple skill plays that cost them so many points last year, cost them in the open cup final and cost them a playoff spot. Don’t blame it on the first preseason game.

  26. WSSM

  27. If the play is that bad I can turn around and watch my seat. It has my name on it.

  28. On a different note, at least we didn’t see this:

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