For only the first time since 2011 the Philadelphia Union won their opening match, 2- Nil, over the New England Revolution, sending the announced crowd of 16,452 happily into the windy and chilly Chester PA night. The win was helped along by an early ejection for NE, and capped by the first professional goal for a “Home Grown” Player.
Revolution Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
G Matt Turner, D’s Andrew Farrell, Antonio Mlinar Delamea, Claude Dielna, Gabriel Somi, MF’s Scott Caldwell, Wilfried Zahibo, Teal Bunbury, Cristian Penilla, Diego Fagundez, F Juan Agudelo
Union Starting XI: 4-2-3-1
G Andre Blake; D’s Fabinho, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry, MFs Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, David Accam, Anthony Fontana, Fabian Herbers, F CJ Sapong
As per usual for an early season game, both teams took a while to feel each other out and get their legs under them after what Head coach Jim Curtin, later called a long and tough pre-season. Blake had to make two big saves in a row ijn the 8′, and the Union had a few minor chances, but not much else through first 17′
In the 24′ the game changed dramatically as Delamea pulled down Sapong on a clear scoring chance, and was sent off. The Revs soon brought on an extra defender to help.
With just about all the play in the NE end for the next 19′, the Union just could not finish some great plays, especially Sapong who missed at least two in close chances. Bedoya joked after the game that C. J. should have had 5 goals.
That all changed when Newark, Delaware’s own, Fontana, on assists by Sapong and Bedoya, got the first Doop of 2018 in the 43′. It was his first professional goal.
Curtin said post game: “It’s a special moment for the kid obviously scoring your first goal. It’s amazing, obviously playing in your first professional match… you can reflect back to when Anthony was in the Union Juniors… there was a 40 by 40 patch of Astroturf where this young group of nine year old kids (including Austin Trusty) and had kind of a dream of someday playing for the Philadelphia Union.” He went on to say “It’s a proud night for their families, their parents. It’s a proud night for our Union Academy.”
The second half was a chippy affair and saw a surprising amount of play in the Union end for a team up a man. Bedoya and Curtin both noted after the game that they were a bit scared that the team was laying back too much which is one reason they subbed in two forwards for two midfielders in the 66′.
That move paid dividends quickly as Sapong finally put an Onion in the Bag in the 69′ on a beautiful run and pass by Cory Burke who had just come on for Herbers, to give the Union their eventual winning score.
The chippiness would only get worse as NE lost another man to a needless second yellow in the 86′ and the fouls kept coming until the merciful final whistle.
Jalil Anibaba for Penilla 27′
Brandon Bye for Agudelo 55′
Kelyn Rowe for Fagundez 76′
Jay Simpson for Fontana and Cory Burke on for Herbers 66′
Derrick Jones for Accam 85′
Red Card Delamea in 24′ pulling down Sapong on a clear scoring chance.
Yellow to Deilna 36′
Yellow to Farrell 59′
2nd yellow Dielna sends him off 86′
Yellow to Sapong 63′
It was only the third time since the team’s founding in zolo, that the Union opened at home. Apparently many of the crowd – except the overflowing and endlessly chanting Sons of Ben, in the River End – wished they had not, as at least a quarter of the announced crowd did not show up. Those who made it, though were loud and proud, and of course regaled us with more than a few E-A-G-L-E-S chants.
On Friday it was announced that Fafa Picault was issued a 3 game suspension for a language infraction during a scrimmage, something MLS is very stringent about, so that opened the door for Herbers to get the start.
All in all it was a very good start for this now young team and it’s mix of veterans to back them up. Only time will tell if they can stay consistent and healthy enough to carry this through the long MLS season.
The Union have two weeks off before their next match, also at home, against the Columbus Crew SC on St Patrick’s day at 2:00 PM. Expect much todo supporting “Save The Crew”, at least until the match starts.