The Philadelphia Union played their annual international friendly against the Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt and won 1-0.
Union starting XI: McCarthy; Mbaizo, Elliott, Marquez, Fabinho; Creavalle, Jones; Herbers, Fontana, Epps; Simpson
Frankfurt starting XI: Wiedwald; Chandler, Abraham, Knothe, Beyreuther; Torro, Allan, Mueller, Kamada, Willems; Haller
Not gonna lie. I don’t follow the German Bundesliga, and coming into this week I didn’t know anything about Eintracht Frankfurt. I even spent 2 years in the early ’90s living 20 miles outside of Frankfurt while working at a US Air Force base, but I didn’t follow them because back then we had no internet with translation tools, and its difficult to follow a club when you can’t read the coverage. The only times I visited Eintracht’s home, Frankfurt’s Waldstadion (now called Commerzbank-Arena), was to see a U2 concert and watch the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe play. Even though I didn’t follow Eintracht, I did buy this cool mug with a hand sticking out of it, which I now use as a pen holder:
Why can’t the Union make a mug like this?
So before the match, I needed to do a little research to familiarize myself with the Union’s opponents. One of the first things I found was this tweet:
This translates to:
What do Eintracht and the Philadelphia Eagles have in common?
• Title win 2018!!
Wait, what? Eintracht Frankfurt is also called the Eagles? Evidently the bird on their crest is an eagle, even though it doesn’t look like one to me. Well then, this is a team I could root for! But not for this match, since their opponents were the Boys in Blue.
And what title did they win? I may not follow the Bundesliga, but I am aware that Bayern Munich won the league title this year. I learned that the Eagles had won the DFB-Pokal, which is Germany’s cup competition. Frankfurt is also the club of Timmy Chandler, a player we know from the US Men’s National Team. Once I saw this match preview by Adam Cann on the Union’s website, I didn’t have to research much more, as it is a nice summary of who is on Frankfurt’s squad.
Armed with this information, I was ready to check out the match. With a friendly like this, I was eager to see some of the lesser used Union players get some minutes and get a chance to show us what they got.
And head coach Jim Curtin didn’t disappoint me with the starting lineup, which consisted of benchwarmers and some Bethlehem Steel players.
However, that starting lineup did disappoint in the first half. Marcus Epps came right out of the gate with a wide shot that went across the face of the goal, but that was the best look they had in the half. The U struggled to get into the final third, only managing two shots. The Eagles were literally trying to push the Union around but at least referee Guido Gonzales called fouls on most of those.
The Eagles replaced their entire team at half time, while the only change the Union made was bringing Haris Medujanin in for Warren Creavalle, who’d gotten a knock toward the end of the first half. The Boys in Blue took over in the second half, and finally broke through in the 50th minute when Derrick Jones ran past the Frankfurt defenders and made a low shot that got just inside the far post. The Union made wholesale changes in the 58th minute, basically replacing the starters with their A team, but with a twist as Michee Ngalina got a chance to play at right wing. Ngalina made an impact right away with a pass to Keegan Rosenberry in the box, but Rosenberry’s deflection went off the crossbar.
Frankfurt had a good chance in the 66th minute when Danny Blum chipped the ball over an incoming John McCarthy, but the ball went over the net. Despite that, the Union controlled the tempo throughout the first 30 minutes of the second half.
Frankfurt made their biggest threat in the 76th minute, when Mijat Gacinovic took a shot from close to the end of the box that forced McCarthy to make a save. The rebound fell to Blum, whose shot from close range was also stopped by McCarthy.
Frankfurt took over the run of play from that point on, but the Union defense held firm, resulting in the 1-0 final score.
After the game, Curtin said that the plan was to get some guys who don’t normally play some high-intensity minutes, as they look forward to a busy schedule with both MLS and US Open Cup action coming up, and some of these seldom used players could see some minutes.
And now that I know there is an Eagles team in the Bundesliga, I might just become a Frankfurt fan going into their next season.