The Philadelphia Union finished their 2018 pre-season with a 2-1 loss to the USL side Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The Union had been participating in the Rowdies’ Suncoast Invitational, a series of friendly matches consisting of several MSL teams and the Rowdies. The Union played 3 matches in the “tournament.” They lost the first one 2-1 against DC United.
On Wednesday night, they took on the Montreal Impact in Clearwater. The Union played their “A” team (excluding Andre Blake) against a side of Impact bench players and trialists. As one would hope, they completely dominated, blowing out the Impact 5-0. The starting lineup for this match will be close, if not identical to the one head coach Jim Curtin will trot out when the Union open their regular season on March 3 in Chester: Fabinho, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, and Keegan Rosenberry in the back; Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medujanin at the holding midfielder positions; David Accam, Anthony Fontana, and Fafa Picault as attacking midfielders; and C.J. Sapong as the lone striker. The Union got goals from Accam, Trusty, Jay Simpson, and a brace from Sapong, while John McCarthy preserved the shutout.
For their final match, Curtin decided to give his bench players some minutes, excepting for Blake, who would get 60 minutes of tune-up time. Among the players in the starting lineup were Matt Real, Richie Marquez, Joshua Yaro, Raymon Gaddis, Derrick Jones, Marcus Epps, Adam Najem, Warren Creavalle, and Simpson. The B team that started the game looked terrible, giving up 2 goals while failing to generate much offensive pressure. Yaro in particular had a rough game. Everything changed after 60 minutes when Curtin subbed in the A squad. The Boys in Blue took over, and they scored on this beautiful Medujanin free kick:
The game ended in a 2-1 loss. While this match brought out some concerns about the Union’s depth, the starters played well and look ready to go when the regular season starts.
- Trusty seems to have passed over both Richie Marquez and Joshua Yaro in the centerback depth chart, and neither Marquez nor Yaro really did anything during the Suncoast Invitational to change that.
- Rosenberry looks like he may be regaining his form from his rookie year. If that continues, Gaddis may not see much playing time this season.
- Bedoya and Medujanin look great together. The Union have a solid core at holding midfielder. Good for Union fans, not so good for Jones and Creavalle, who will once again spend most of their time on the bench.
- Anthony Fontana has outperformed Adam Najem and will be rewarded with a spot in the Starting XI on March 3 (mostly because Ilsinho has a bad hamstring and future number 10 Borek Dockal will not be ready yet).
- Accam has looked great and he will make the Union attack more deadly.
- Blake was his usual spectacular self on Saturday night, making some stunning saves.
- Sapong looks like he will be picking up where he left off the end of last season when he set the franchise record for goals scored in a season.
After a mostly quiet off-season, the Union appear to have taken a step forward on paper, especially with the acquisition of Accam and the anticipated signing of Czech central attacking midfielder Dockal (more on that in a future post).
My expectations are now that the Union will get back into the playoffs this year.
Pattison Avenue will be at the regular season opener on March 3 vs. the New England Revolution. Stay tuned for our previews and recaps all season long.