Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 0-1 Chicago Fire

Philadelphia Union dropped a closed scrimmage Thursday to the Chicago Fire at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

After a scoreless first half, Chicago’s Michael de Leeuw collected his own rebounded shot and buried it home for the winner in the 56th minute.

The halftime substitutions of Tribbett for Onyewu, Epps for Ilsinho, and Picault for Simpson disrupted the smooth defensive shape the Union had showed in the first half. Off a right channel counter attack at the 55:10 mark, Chicago found an unmarked de Leeuw at the far post. John McCarthy, on for Andre Blake at the interval, made a reaction save that rebounded straight back to de Leeuw, who put it home.

Both sides substituted all remaining starters in the 62nd and 63rd minutes respectively.

The Union subs were on the front foot nearly the entire time they were on the field, but the Chicago defense held firm. The best Union chance sailed just high over the bar in the 87th minute.

For highlights, click here.

Three points
  • Simpson shoots: Jay Simpson shoots when he has a chance. In the last 12 minutes of the first half he took four shots, the last of which he should have buried.
  • Bedoya’s work rate: Alejandro Bedoya’s acreage covered and work rate were noticeably in advance of anyone else’s, Chicago or Philly.
  • Young midfield subs: Adam Nejam, 22, and Anthony Fontana, 17, were the mighty mites of the substitute central midfield, and their being backed by Derrick Jones, 19, was also interesting. The positions they played reflected some degree of preseason improvisation. But it was an intriguing central spine.

Philadelphia: Andre Blake (John McCarthy ’46), Keegan Rosenberry (Ray Gaddis ’62), Oguchi Onyewu (Ken Tribbett ’46), Richie Marquez (Jack Elliott ’62), Fabinho (Giliano Wijnaldum ’62), Warren Creavalle (Derrick Jones ’62), Alejandro Bedoya (Adam Najem ’62), Roland Alberg (Anthony Fontana ’62), Ilson Jr. (Marcus Epps ’46), Fabian Herbers (Chris Pontius ’62), Jay Simpson (Fafa Picault ’46)

Chicago: Jorge Bava (Matt Lampson 64’); Michael Harrington (Jonathan Campbell 64’), Johan Kappelhof (Drew Beckie^ 80’), Joao Meira (Matej Dekovic* 72’), Patrick Doody (Collin Fernandez 72’); Arturo Alvarez (John Goossens 64’), Juninho (Daniel Johnson 72’), Dax McCarty (Brandt Bronico* 72’), David Accam (Drew Conner 72’); Nemanja Nikolic (Luis Solignac 64’), Michael de Leeuw

Scoring summary

CHI – Michael de Leeuw (Nemanja Nikolic) 56’


PHI – Roland Alberg (caution) 39’

CHI – Patrick Doody (caution) 49’


  1. Simpson shoots: Jay Simpson shoots when he has a chance. In the last 12 minutes of the first half he took four shots, the last of which he should have buried.

    That’s probably more than CJ had in the last 4 games of the season <_<

    • Agreed. I liked what I saw out of him under the circumstances. Would have like better finishing, but he founds holes and made space without having practiced much with his teammates.

  2. Even though we were unable to get anything from this match, I felt like we controlled the play. Both our starters and the subs demonstrated a clear and cohesive understanding of how we wanted to play.

    • i agree. i thought the second team looked surprisingly sharp, to echo tim’s comments about the young central midfielders. it would have been nice for them to produce a goal but i was amazed at how good they were at connecting passes in really tight spots.

      ray gaddis also looked really good and incredibly fast. he looked like he didn’t take much time off in the off season

      • You’re right about Gaddis. He looked really sharp, especially when Epps played him that ball into space near midfield. It looked like the pass had been overhit, but Gaddis speed to get there made it look perfect.

  3. It’s always hard, no matter the sport, to realize that preseason results are not anywhere near as important as development and cohesion. By all accounts, we are succeeding on those fronts.
    But it would feel nice to put a few in the ol’ onion bag (just getting everyone ready for the season with that one).

    • Someone should set up a pool for how many times we hear that phrase between March 6 and October 26.
      hopefully, lots.
      On the other hand variety is the spice of life.

    • Yeah agreed 100%. If you recall we lost to the Fire last preseason 4-1 or something like that. And I believe the Fire finished the season as the worst team in MLS. So clearly preseason results are worthless.

  4. A lot of positives I felt. Simpson looked promising. The starting core did well. Fabinho has a couple of reaaally nice field switching passes that I couldn’t believe he pulled off in the high wind. Most of the starters showed well. Epps looked really good. He did a really nice job pushing forward and getting back on defense. Gaddis was surprisingly sharp. The camera was in a crappy position so it was hard to tell how the far side of the field was doing. The only real negatives were Creavalle’s atrocious passing and Tribbett’s poor defending.

    • Creavalle and Bedoya still seem to be not on the same page with each other. They were having an animated discussion after Bedoya’s failed dummy created a dangerous turnover that Chicago couldn’t convert.

      • I said it a lot last season and I’ll say it again its cause Creavalle should not be on the field. Organizationally the guy is a terror and no one understands what he is doing himself included. After the people they picked up I don’t know how he hasn’t been cut.

      • Because they haven’t picked up anyone to replace him. I would argue that Brian Carroll is just as much as a terror because he’s an offensive black hole. Yes he moves the ball quickly and has a high pass % but it’s literally always sideways or back, and usually putting those players into a box. But honestly it’s MLS depth and you’re not getting great players there yet.

      • So your telling me the depth of Carroll, Edu Medujanin, Bedoya, Jones is not enough to get rid of Creavalle. I find this hard to believe. I also entirely disagree with you on Carroll. He is great organizationally knows where he needs to be cuts out passing lanes and works well with his partner. This is all a huge advantage over Creavalle. High pass % cutting passing lanes and moving the ball quickly from a number six is all you really need if he can shuttle the ball to either the 8 or the wingers or the 10 then they can take the movement forward.

      • Agree with you on Carroll. I would expect that once the team is comfortable with Edu’s condition, Creavalle’s spot on the roster will be in jeopardy.

      • Creavalle is on the roster as plan C (or even D) He’s a pure utility player — defensive midfield/outside back. When you see him on the field, it means three guys in front of him have been hospitalized.

      • You all are going to be disappointed. Creavalle started the playoff game last year over Carroll. He’s got more versatility on the bench than Carroll. Also, Carroll never shuttles the ball to the number 8 unless the number 8 is behind him. He literally only passes to the CBs or the OBs.

      • Hey A, I’d like to know why you think Carroll never shuttles the ball to the 8 or has no offensive ability if my memory serves me right Carroll had more goals shots and shots on goal than Creavalle did last year. And Carroll clearly worked better than anyone else in pair out there. To me Creavalle isn’t even depth this is my argument. I would much rather see Jones or a young player as option D or 4 or whatever you want to call it.

      • Carroll had 14 shot, with 3 on goal and 1 goal and no assists. Creavalle had 4 shots, 0 on goal and no goals and 1 assist. They both stink in that regard. But I stand by that Carroll basically never passes forward. I’m not really make the case that either are good at this point. I’m just saying they are both extremely limited players and the coaches have shown to favor Creavalle more and that he’s a more flexible bench player. I totally agree that I’d rather see other players (Jones, Najem) when necessary but don’t be surprised to see Creavalle playing and making the bench even with our reinforcements.

      • A – I think that Nogueira would disagree with your assessment of Carroll and his passing abilities.

      • No he wouldn’t. Carroll’s passing stinks. Why are you even defending it. I agree it worked perfectly with Nogueria’s style. That’s because Vince liked to drop deeper than his #6 to start play and be able to see the whole field. I think he was the best player we ever had and Carroll gave him space to work, but him dropping so deep combined with Carroll’s lack of offensive caused us to attack with only 4 and stretched the formations sometimes. I can count on both hands the times I have seen Carroll pass forward.

    • That wind was brutal for long balls, which honestly is probably a good practice since it forced us to keep the ball on the ground. Fabinho did seem to pick Ilshino out a few times but the ball just couldn’t get there.

    • Totally agree about Epps, although this was the first time I even saw him play. But those couple dribbles he had soon after stepping on had me saying, “Whoa, who is this #20?”

      While preseason results certainly aren’t all that meaningful, it would be nice to have a nice string of play and form in the upcoming preseason tournament.

    • Yeeessss! I started a huge chain of replies…My life is complete.

  5. Alberg started as the #10…. interesting. I sense him getting that position on opening day in front of both Bedoya and Medunjanin.

  6. Because work was canceled due to the threat of snow yesterday, I was able to watch the game. Here’s my take.
    Positives: Simpson played higher than Sapong and seemed less involved in the press, but looked dangerous. Najem and Epps looked very good. Gooch’s closing speed seemed impressive considering his long layoff.
    Negatives: Fabi and Herbers didn’t look like they had much of an understanding together on the left. Alberg continues to seem terrible at the 10. He is like Maidana in that he has one excellent skill (his shot) but his deficiencies in everything else drag the team down when he is on the field. Creavalle takes sooo much time on the ball when a player in his position needs to move it along briskly.
    Alberg in particular worries me. I just can’t see a successful team this year if he is starting in our midfield.

    • I did see Simpson checking back a few times too though. I agree that Alberg needs to demand the ball more. He was part of a few nice quick pass sequences though.

    • Don’t expect to see Herbers on the left permanently. Fabi and Pontius had a great relationship there last year, and I would expect that to continue, unless Fabi gets beat out by the new guy. But that’s a discussion for another day.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        earlier Jim Curtin mentioned that Pontius had some rib issue as a result of colliding with the Steel’s Cory Burke in the friendly against Jamaica in Chattanooga.
        That said, developing Herbers on the left makes a good deal of sense of it works.

    • Disagree about Alberg. He had some nice interplay and his free kick missed by inches. He will obviously be preferred as a 10 over Bedoya and we know he can score and assist.

      • Once Edu is back we have 4 central midfielders for 3 spots. They have not shown the disire to move Bedoya to the wing. I’m pretty sure Alberg will be #4 in that list.

  7. Fontana and Najem were really flying around. Liked the intensity out of those guys.

  8. Let’s not read too much into a single game where the shift changes were more dramatic than a hockey game. We don’t know they depth chart yet, and we don’t know the comfort level of the new guys, and we don’t know who’s going to BSFC.
    The preseason tourney will be a better gauge. For now, try to gather generalities about performances, instead of extrapolating over an entire season.

  9. Just watching that goal – what the hell is Tribbett even trying to do? He loses his man, makes a halfhearted attempt to get in the way of the shot, then takes himself out of the play to allow the easy finish.
    Based on other comments in this thread, Warren Creavalle did not magically become a competent player in the offseason.
    I agree that reading anything into one preseason game is silly, but I don’t think “Tribbett and Creavalle blow and should never see the field in a competitive MLS game” is based on just this one game, this is more of just a reminder/confirmation.
    “HE SHOOTS!” is less exciting when it’s not followed by “HE SCORES!”

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