Union match reports

Friendly match report: Philadelphia Union 2-2 Swansea City

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union drew Swansea City AFC in a friendly match on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium, 2-2. After an early penalty goal by C.J. Sapong, Swansea took the lead before halftime thanks to goals by Kyle Bartley and Jordan Ayew. But Jay Simpson’s neat finish early in the second half brought the Union level.

Facing the Premier League side from Wales, Jim Curtin opted to start with a mix of usual starters and young faces. Academy product Auston Trusty made his first Union appearance, with Marcus Epps and Jake McGuire also handed starts.

Just six minutes in, Philadelphia snatched an early lead through C.J. Sapong. On the counter-attack, Roland Alberg found Marcus Epps in space, who used his nifty footwork to draw an obvious foul from Martin Olsson. Sapong sent Kristoffer Nordfeldt the wrong way to give the Union the advantage.

Swansea’s first outsanding chance came in the 21st minute via Wayne Routledge, but Union debutant McGuire met the challenge. After Luciano Narsingh won a free kick, the ensuing ball fell to Routledge within the six-yard box. McGuire, however, got down quickly and stopped what looked to be a sure goal.

Swansea continued to exert pressure and soon found the equalizer. Off a corner kick, McGuire did well to stop a blast by Roque Mesa, but Narsingh kept the ball alive in the box and after some scrambling Kyle Bartley pushed the ball into the net.

Five minutes before halftime, the Swans took the lead. McGuire, coming off his line to grab a corner, completely whiffed on the ball, and Jordan Ayew blasted home from eight yards.

The teams made 21 combined changes at halftime, with only the Swansea keeper Nordfeldt remaining on the pitch. Most notably for the Union, Charlie Davies and Brian Carroll appeared for the first time in 2017.

Philadelphia’s new lineup leveled the match in the 58th minute. Running at the defense from the right wing, Ilsinho threaded a pass to Jay Simpson. Running at full speed, the Englishman controlled and placed a delicate shot to Nordfeldt’s back post. It was Simpson’s first goal since March.

Moments later, Oli McBurnie escaped the Union defense and rounded John McCarthy, but his shot from an awkward angle ran inches wide of the post.

Charlie Davies nearly opened his Union account in the 71st minute after Ilsinho blew past a defender and lofted a well-placed ball to the back post. Davies’ close-range header, however, found only Nordfeldt’s palms.

With 15 minutes left in the match, Curtin handed debuts to draft pick Aaron Jones at right back and current Union Academy member Anthony Fontana at the no. 8 position.

In the 86th minute, Ilsinho almost brought the Union into the lead when he unleashed a drive from outside the 18 that forced a good save from Nordfeldt. The match featured no further incident.

The Union return from the Gold Cup break with a mid-week match against Montreal Impact. Kickoff at the Stade Saputo is on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

Three points

  • A successful friendly. No one left injured (despite some scares), a few young players made their debuts (in particular Auston Trusty and Anthony Fontana), and everyone left happy. That’s about all you can hope for in a match like this.
  • Simpson back on the scoreboard. The backup striker has had a tough go of it so far in 2017. But a strong run, touch, and finish will boost Simpson’s confidence, and perhaps remind Jim Curtin of his quality.
  • Game of Thrones night a mixed bag. The Union’s Welsh guests must have thought Americans insane, walking out of the locker rooms to the ominous Game of Thrones theme in place of the MLS anthem. But Oguchi Onyewu’s voiceover narration to the pre-match warmup video was worth the price of admission.

Philadelphia Union

First half: Jake McGuire, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Ray Gaddis, Giliano Wijnaldum, Fafa Picault, Marcus Epps, Haris Medunjanin, Warren Creavalle, Roland Alberg, C.J. Sapong
Second half: John McCarthy, Keegan Rosenberry (Aaron Jones 76′), Joshua Yaro, Richie Marquez, Fabinho, Derrick Jones (Anthony Fontana 76′), Brian Carroll (Ken Tribbett 76′), Ilsinho, Charlie Davies, Jay Simpson

Swansea City AFC

First half: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Alfie Mawson, Martin Olsson, Kyle Naughton, Kyle Bartley, Leroy Fer, Luciano Narsingh, Wayne Routledge, Tom Carroll, Roque Mesa, Jordan Ayew
Second half:
 Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Mike van der Hoom, Angel Rangel, Federico Fernandez, Stephen Kingsley, Leon Britton, Jefferson Montero, Matt Grimes, Jay Fulton, Modou Barrow, Oli McBurnie

Scoring summary

PHI: C.J. Sapong (PK) — 6′
SWA: Kyle Bartley — 27′
SWA: Jordan Ayew — 39′
PHI: Jay Simpson (Ilsinho) — 58′

Disciplinary summary

PHI: Joshua Yaro — 55′ (unsporting behavior)


  1. I saw Fontana attempt a give and go with Najem and it made me happy. Don’t think I’ve seen that all year from this team, or from most US players. It’s a lost art to US Soccer it feels like.

  2. John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

    I’m not a fan of midseason friendlies but if they are used in this way on a Fifa break it more bearable. It was quite a day for the organization if you think back to where this team was over ten years ago. To bad the team has progressed as the Sons of Ben have regressed.

  3. Nice crowd except for the SoBs but if the worst thing about the day was the turnout by the home team’s supporters group, that’s a pretty good day. I’d go as far as saying that at times, those two teams did not actually look like they were from different leagues. This may be bad news for Swansea supporters and I regret the sentiment as they seem like nice people, but I strongly suspect they’ll be in another relegation battle this season.

    • Chris Evans says:

      You clearly watched a different first half than I did then! Swansea City, without their two best players, completely controlled it, with Philly hardly stringing passes together. The most ridiculous of non penalties aside, it was a one sided affair. What the Swans put out second half had no bearing whatsoever on the forthcoming season. Do you have any idea what other signings are in the pipe line? Thought not!

  4. First team could not possess the ball for about thirty minutes of the first half. Simpson got a nice goal.

  5. The best thing of these mid-season friendlies are the open practices. Every coach in the area should attend these but they don’t. Instead I talked to many Swansea fans who traveled from Chicago, Wales, etc.
    It is fascinating to see what drills these coaches come up with and the skills these players have using mostly 1 and 2 touch during these drills in tight spaces. It is also nice to talk to the coaches and players afterwards and get their signatures.

  6. What’s up with the Sons of Ben this year? Generally, they’ve been among the last to arrive in the stadium on match day. On Saturday, most of the SOB didn’t bother to show up at all.
    Pretty weak effort this season from those in the so-called “supporters” section.

    • I’ve been to 4 games so far this season. SoBs have been a let less “present.” They were out-sung by visiting supporters twice (though to be fair, I sit relatively close to the away supporters section). I wonder if the team isn’t as good at involving them as they were when Nick Sakiewicz was in charge. Pure speculation on my part. It’s just a noticeable decline.

      • I was annoyed by the lack of SOB attendance as well, until I thought further about it. The league schedule is announced early in the year, so I figure 17 games are circled on the calendar then. This 18th game isn’t announced until family vacations are scheduled. And besides — if I’m going to have a spotty SOB section, I’d choose this game over an MLS or USOC match.

        We need the SOB for the second half. Out of 22 teams in the league, our Union have the 8th best goal differential in the league. Time to make a playoff run.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      SoB. Ho Hum.
      ….5.9 million casual DelVal soccer fans ‘drinking the sand’ as Andrew Sheperd quipped in The American President.
      Here’s hoping for the leadership- that charismatic persona-the organization so desperately needs.

      • UnionGoal says:

        How about you? Or do you merely throw stones? I believe Oscar Wilde had summmed you up well when he talked about critics. Hope you prove me wrong and step up.

  7. People are really crying about support at a midseason friendly? Things are worse than I thought.

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