Thursday, February 20, 2014

Union draw Orlando City FC in preseason action

ORLANDO – The Philadelphia Union drew with Orlando City, 1-1, on Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex behind a second-half goal from substitute Leo Fernandes.

After facing the New York Red Bulls last week in Jacksonville, Philadelphia started many similar faces, including three of this off-season’s signings for the second consecutive time, as Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana all were included in the starting XI. Alongside Brian Carroll, the Union’s midfield helped dictate possession in the first half, creating several chances on goal.

“I think we did some very good things in the first half to set the tempo and rhythm for how we wanted to play. I thought our ball movement was really good and I thought our pressuring was good and we forced them to turn over the ball a lot in our attacking half,” Team Manager John Hackworth said. “What we didn’t do so well was capitalize on those opportunities, and you can’t leave a team sitting around long and they caught us on a counter when we were pushing forward.”

The Union’s closest chance of the opening 45 minutes came from a shot blasted by Edu, who had one-touched a ball outside the 18 from Nogueira that was headed into the top right corner of the net. Orlando goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo got to it just in time to make a diving, fingertip save that forced the ball just wide and out for the corner.

Orlando opened the scoring in the 31’ minute on a lofted counter-attack ball that took a tricky bounce over the Union defense to put striker Corey Hertzog in on goal. MacMath raced out to pressure a shot, but Hertzog managed to get the ball over the goalkeeper to put the hosts up, 1-0.

Philadelphia continued to pressure for the remainder of the half, but was unable to find an equalizer. The team was unchanged coming out for the second half and continued on the offensive. Just past the 60th minute, the Union subbed out all eleven starters in favor of an entirely different lineup, who continued with similar spells of possession and attacking play.

After a few close chances from the new eleven on the field, the Union were rewarded in the 72nd minute as Leo Fernandes, Fred and Pedro Ribeiro combined with several quick, one-touch passes just outside the box to create space just outside the 18. Fernandes latched on to the ball at the top of the box and fired it on target to level the score and finish the tight work from the trio of Brazilians.

The Union looked to have secured a game winner in the dying minutes of the match, as another quick combination of passes between Ribeiro, Fernandes and Zach Pfeffer led to a goal that was blown for being offside. Pfeffer was played through behind the Orlando City defense and fired it past Gallardo before the Union celebrated the apparent winner, but the assistant referee raised his flag to call the midfielder just offside.

After the match, Hackworth emphasized these tournament games as not only a means to assess his squad, but continue to develop the chemistry and efforts they are working on in practice.

“The idea is to improve every match and get our guys more and more time,” Hackworth said. “It’s a short preseason and you’ve got to maximize these opportunities against opponents and use these games as evaluation tools, but also implement the things you’re working on in training.”

Philadelphia returns to action Saturday against Columbus Crew in the second match of the Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

BOX SCORE

Philadelphia Union 1, Orlando City SC 1

Wednesday, Feb. 19; 6:00 p.m. ET

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Orlando, Fla.

SCORING SUMMARY

ORL: Hertzog 31’
PHI: Fernandes 72’ (Ribeiro)

UNION STARTING 11

MacMath, Fabinho, Okugo, Williams, Gaddis, Carroll, Edu, Nogueira, Maidana, McInerney, Le Toux.

61st minute substitutions:

Blake, Hernandez, White, Wheeler, Kassel, Quinn, Fernandes, Fred, Cruz, Ribeiro, Pfeffer.
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