Preseason observations: Philadelphia Union 2-3 FC Dallas

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union

At the end of the exercise — the second-to-last preseason game for the Philadelphia Union — the Joe DiMaggio Complex scoreboard read Guest 3 Home 2.

Neither side, the Union or “home” side FC Dallas, started fully first-choice lineups. Nor did they go after each other with the enthusiasm and venom normal in MLS.  The match started at 10:48 a.m. so morning lethargy may have been present, and the two clubs play in ten days in Dallas for real, so both may have been cagey. The adjective “lackluster” fit.

Philadelphia was not high pressing. Second and third defenders were quite slow to move into supporting positions when a first defender began to put up some resistance. The disjointedness got worse in the second half when three players were playing secondary or tertiary positions, and a fourth was seeing his his first game minutes since injuring his quad roughly a month ago.

The story of the Union’s preseason continues to be left back.

Kai Wagner did not dress yet again. That means the only true left back available is Matt Real, who started.  Ray Gaddis and Olivier Mbaizo can fill in on the left side in a pinch as they have earlier. But the next known true left back is a 2002 birth-year amateur with the U19s who has never appeared for the Union’s USL side. Jack de Vries, filling in, did his inexperienced, game, “not-a-defender” best in the second half, but showed decisively that he is no threat to Real, Wagner, Gaddis. or Mbaizo on the depth chart in that position.

In the first half Dallas was clearly trying to isolate Union central defenders 1 v 1 in front of the goal. The Texans’ first half score, notched by ex-Union man Fafa Picault, was not that specific circumstance, but it did catch the Union defense upfield a bit and will produce “teaching moments” in the film room for all involved.

In the second half Dallas’s brace reflected the left back situation.

While the technical staff will not be pleased with the overall results, they should be pleased with both Union goals.  The first came in the 77th minute, when Michee Ngalina won a dribble duel in the right channel’s corner outside the box and laid back a cross to be emphatically thumped home by Ilsinho. The second came in the 87th when “El Brujo” Martinez  anticipated that the Dallas keeper’s clearance pass would then go out wide, where he intercepted the second pass easily. He rolled it back across from the right and produced a simple Ilsinho tap-in. The Venezuelan’s perfect anticipation created the Brazilian’s easy score.

The Union wrap up preseason with a match against D.C. United on Saturday evening. Then, it will be full steam ahead toward the season-opening rematch against Dallas on Saturday, February 29.


Philadelphia: Joe Bendik; Matt Real (Jack de Vries, HT), Mark McKenzie (Aurelien Collin, HT) Jack Elliott (Cole Turner, HT), Ray Gaddis (Olivier Mbaizo, HT); Jose “El Brujo” Martinez; Jamiro Monteiro (Warren Creavalle, HT), Alejandro Bedoya (Matej Oravec, HT); Berenden Aaronson (Anthony Fontana, HT); Sergio Santos (Ilsinho, HT), Kacper Przybylko (Andrew Wooten, HT, Michee Ngalina, 71′).

Dallas: Gonzales; Ziegler, Hedges, Bresson, Cannon; Hollingshead, Nelson, Santos; Santos; Pepi, Ferreira, Picault. Substitutions unknown.


  1. OneManWolfpack says:

    What’s the latest on Wagner? I think it was a calf issue? Is it more precautionary now, or is he going to miss regular season games?

  2. I actually thought they pressed, and pressed well in the first half. IMO the Union were mostly dominate despite letting in the goal. Agreed the second half was mostly disjointed.
    For someone like me who loves defense, watching El Brujo anticipate and intercept the keeper’s pass was a thing of beauty. For me, this was a perfect example of what I expect the Union to do more of this year.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    I know I know…. wet blanket.
    but good god that was awful soccer.
    Just awful.


    Went to game at Joe DiMaggio Complex

    Notables watching in Stands Jason Kries, Ben Olsen, Brad Freidel

    FC Austin coaching scouting staff

    On bench limited warm up Kai Wagner Andre Blake

    After game Fafa was warmly greeted by almost entire staff and players. Obviously well liked by teammates. Curtin and Ernst were not overly warm and fuzzy post game.

    Wooten still looks like he just joined the team. Did virtually nothing during his playing time second half.

    Mbaizo looks like he could challenge Ray.

    Real is very aggressive.

    Wow does this team needs help at forward. After Kacsper and Sergio there is virtually nothing there.

    Team lacks speed up top and on wings big time, Fafa will be missed on many levels. Seem to have already found his place with FC Dallas.

    We need a vocal effective bilingual Hispanic Assistant coach if you want to communicate better during the game

    Ernst better get some help at forward real soon and cross your fingers that Kascper stays healthy. Jack Mac would be a good addition to this team. We need his poaching ability and he would be welcomed by the fans.

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