Preseason / Union match reports

Preseason match report: Philadelphia Union 2-1 Ottawa Fury

Photo: Nick Fishman

Philadelphia Union closed out their preseason stint in Florida with a 2-1 victory over Ottawa Fury at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.

While the USL side opened the scoring midway through the first half, the Union responded with a pair of goals— one in each half— to secure the win in their final tuneup before opening the regular season at home next Saturday against Toronto FC.

Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin featured a likely second-choice side to open the contest, with a few of those players contending for a starting spot. Young midfielders Derrick Jones, Brenden Aaronson, and Anthony Fontana featured in the center, but the latter two struggled for much of their time on the field.

Despite dominating possession, Ottawa would strike first. Christiano Francois opened the scoring in the 21st minute for the Fury. The Haitian made a deft turn in the box, blowing past a flat-footed Aurélien Collin. Goalkeeper Carlos Miguel Coronel had little chance as the forward blasted it into the back of the net.

Francois was dangerous during his time on the field, threatening the Union’s back line with speed and quick counters.

While it took a bit to get going, the Union leveled the score in the 40th minute. Warren Creavalle, playing on the left of the midfield diamond, hit a long crosss-field ball to right back Olivier Mbaizo. The Cameroonian drove hard into the box, parallel to endline, before centering a pass to forward Kacper Przybylko. The former FC Kaiserslautern frontman banged home the equalizer, making up for a previously spurned chance.

Moments later, the Polish striker nearly added an assist. He slid a pass through to fellow forward David Accam who clinically put one past the keeper. Unfortunately for the Ghanaian, the flag was up on the sideline.

Overall, it was a rather mixed first half with the young Union side struggling to grab control of the game.

That changed when play resumed.

Curtin’s mass halftime substitutions featured many first-teamers, such as Philadelphia’s newest No. 10, Marco Fabián. The Mexican international was a delight to watch, spraying passes and playing with poise in tight spaces.

Despite dominating the final 45 minutes, the Union needed a little help from a friend to secure the winner.

Just after the hour mark, Fabián played a pinpoint aerial pass to right back replacement, Raymon Gaddis, behind the Fury’s back line. Gaddis swung a cross into the box that was blocked by what appeared to be a hand ball. While it was ruled a corner on the field, good old-fashioned VAR made its season debut and determined the cross was blocked illegally. Fafa Picault, who replaced Accam after 61 minutes, stepped up to the spot. As the goalkeeper slid left, Picault sent the ball the other way.

The goal was all the Union needed, as the club coolly saw out the final few minutes of preseason play.

Now, it’s time for the real fun to begin. It starts at Talen Energy Stadium next Saturday when the Union host Toronto FC at 3pm.

Three points
  • A fond farewell. While a preseason win is all well and good, the real news was the trade of longtime Philadelphia forward C.J. Sapong, who was traded to Chicago Fire earlier in the day. PSP caught up with Curtin postgame to discuss the move.
  • Lights, cameras, action. While the cameras weren’t able to stream the game, they were there to test out a new aspect of VAR. A referee microphone was used to explain what was going on to those in attendance. It’s a cool new feature that could illuminate a lot of decisions that were previously left in the dark.
  • Age before youth. While the youngsters are eager to step on the field, the Union’s best options remain their midfield veterans. While Jones has shone brightly, the others could benefit from some substitution appearances and some starts with USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel.

Philadelphia: Carlos Miguel Coronel (Andre Blake HT); Matthew Real (Fabinho HT), Aurélien Collin, Jack Elliott (Auston Trusty HT), Olivier Mbaizo (Raymon Gaddis 61′); Warren Creavalle (Haris Medunjanin HT), Derrick Jones (Alejandro Bedoya HT) , Anthony Fontana (Ilsinho HT), Brenden Aaronson (Marco Fabián HT); David Accam (Fafa Picault 61′), Kacper Przybylko (Cory Burke 61′)

Scoring summary

OTT: Christiano Francois – 20′
PHI: Kacper Przybylko – 40′ (Mbaizo)
PHI: Fafa Picault – 65′ (PEN)


  1. great to read your stuff again, Nick.
    appreciate the insights on the youngsters.
    Francois was a handful last year in USL with Pittsburgh.

  2. The home opener is at 1:00 according to the Union’s web site, not 3:00.

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