Preseason / Union

News from Florida: Chicago 1 – Union 0

Photo Paul Rudderow

The Philadelphia Union scrimmaged the Chicago Fire Saturday afternoon in Clearwater at Joe DiMaggio field in a three-period match of 45 minutes, 45, minutes, and 25 minutes. Chicago scored in the 100th minute, while the Union did not score.

The Union’s most fundamental objective, building match fitness, was achieved.

Roster details

The most important detail for Union fans is that El Brujo Martinez went down on the field injured in the 24th minute. Jonathan Tannenwald of the Inquirer reports there was no injury update later Saturday evening. He sat upright on the Union bench later on during the rest of the match. The injury involved his lower left leg, ankle and/or foot.

The second-most interesting detail is that he was replaced by Cole Turner, who played the event’s final 91 minutes as the defensive center midfielder.

Jim Curtin had been open during his midweek media availability that the starters were the players who would probably start against Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica April 7th. Curtin used the remaining 36 minutes with the starters to integrate Turner. The action hints that he is “next man up” on the depth chart.

As a third detail, the commentator describing the match said that both Sergio Santos and Cory Burke were suffering from slight knocks. The only true striker available was Kacper Przybylko. Jack de Vries started next to him, and Ilsinho and Paxten Aaronson replaced them after the 60th minute. When the 35-year-old came seven minutes into the extra 3rd period, de Vries returned to the pitch.

The final unexpected roster detail is that Matej Oravec played Jamiro Monteiro’s left shuttling central midfield spot with the second group.

As has been gently expected (because his name has never disappeared from the official club website roster page even though he is an out-of-contract free agent and remains in negotiation with the club), Aurelien Collin played left center back.

Union Lineups

First 60 minutes: Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo; El Brujo Martinez (Cole Turner, 24’); Jamior Monteiro, Alejandrao Bedoya; Anthony Fontana; Jack de Vries, Kacper Przybylko.

Second 55: Andre Blake (Joe Bendik, 71’); Matt Real, Aurelien Collin, Brandan Craig, Nate Harriel; Cole Turner; Matej Oravec, Quinn Sullivan; Jack McGlynn; Paxton Aaronson, Ilsinho (Jack de Vries, 97’)

Unavailable: Sergio Santos (injured – toe), Cory Burke (injured – unspecified), Matt Freese (Olympic Qualifying), Stuart Findlay (not yet arrived)

Observations on play

The Union have so far failed to score for the preseason’s entire 205 minutes.

Chicago’s first unit successfully counterattacked the Union’s high pressure several times. Andre Blake had to be more active earlier than Bobby Shuttleworth, Blake’s counterpart in goal.

Not surprisingly given the disruption of mass substitution by both sides, the Union’s second unit confined the game much more to a midfield contest. Both second units began to find their shapes and rhythms as time passed.

Chicago scored in the 100th minute, from a situation of confusion just outside the penalty box. Either the Union back line was trying to step up to place Chicago offside and failed, or a young Union center back anticipated his team winning the ball a count too early and left his mark. Joe Bendik touched the shot but not enough to keep it out.

The livestream visual evidence supports Curtin’s earlier claims that all his young homegrowns belong. None were yet dominant, but they were not overmatched on the pitch.

Chicago is serving notice that its first-choice side will be more formidable this season that in recent ones.

The Union’s next preseason match is Wednesday, March 24th at 12:30 pm versus Orlando City in Osceola County Stadium before they fly back to Philadelphia later that day. There may well be a live preseason blog in the fashion of earlier ones.

The next livestream video is planned for Wednesday, March 31st, from Subaru Park at 3 pm hosting D. C. United.


  1. I watched most of this game because I am addicted. Thoughts: De Vries looked a bit rough, missing some touches. But good experience for him. I hope we don’t lose Martinez for a long period of time, I have him as our most important player. Turned actually looked ok, he had a few giveaways where he took too many touches, but also looked strong and grew more comfortable as the game went on. Monteiro and Bedoya were a bit ineffective, hopefully they hit their strides right as the season starts.

  2. Barring a significant Martinez injury, I think the first part of the season turns on whether Fontana can effectively play the #10. We know he can score. If he also can do a good job linking play and making passes in tight areas, the Union might be as good as last year, but I doubt better.
    Fontana had some good touches in tight areas against the Fire, so there is some cause for hope. And I do wish Ant the best, but was really hoping that they would bring in a DP #10.
    Understand the larger vision and plan of playing the kids, but there were always going to be some veteran DPs involved. Borek Dockal got here late and didn’t even want to be in mls, but still ended up at the top of the league in assists. A high quality #10 can make a huge difference, making a good team great, or in that case making a medicore team good.
    I guess the argument against an older #10 that is that they wouldn’t gegenpress, but Tanner has proven he can find value in other leagues and I am sure there were some candidates that were good both ways.
    It’s just really disappointing that they have not brought another top class player with all the $$$ from the MM & BA sales when you see other teams across MLS making moves that clearly improve their squads.

    • I’m definitely not someone who tries to explain away the Union not spending on players, but this year I understand it. Honestly, this transfer window league-wide has been a pretty big dud. I just saw that only 3 new DPs were brought into MLS this window. No one is really spending right now. Just have to trust most of those dollars went into the team in one form or another in a difficult time. Personally I’m hoping for a floor no worse than a drop to mid-table and plenty of opportunity for the youth to play and get experience.

  3. Apologies for misspelling Jamiro and Alejandro in the lineups segment.
    There is a good reason that “haste makes waste” is a cliche.

  4. While the lack of scoring is a slight concern in the back my head, I keep telling myself, “It’s pre-season, the score doesn’t matter, the games are just to get the squad into game shape.” While the schedule this year has conveniently put the CCL games before the regular season, making these games additional “warm-ups” / “pre-season”. (This would of been more useful if our season opener didn’t also have the two extra games that matter.) I would also like to see the Union advance, and frankly if they don’t start Dooping the old Onion Bag I will start to worry.

  5. How did Oravec look? I remember people thinking last year that he was going to fill the role that Brujo ended up grabbing. Could he be the next Kacper-type signing by the club – absent the first year and then huge the next?

    • Difficult to say how he looked.
      The livestream was better than nothing but with only two cameras, most of the play was presented in wide-angle at a distance. And, personally, the yellow numbers on the light blue shirts do not make enough of a contrast for me to easily see the numbers. Additionally the left side of the pitch was the far side during the second 45 minute period. Only in the 25-minute extra time was I certain he was playing in the midfield and not on the back line.
      He sees opportunities to attack very quickly and makes the vertical runs to execute them.
      I have no sense how well he read the game there or how well he executed his defensive responsibilities.
      It seemed to me at the time that he was being treated in exactly the same fashion that Jack de Vries was treated in a similar Clearwater Scrimmage last year. He was the 20th field player and was put into the position that least disrupted the first 19 plying where they needed to have practice.
      We fans most easily notice aggression, and he was aggressive on offense. As for all the rest of it I cannot really say. I’m sorry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *