Union 5-0 UNC: What did we learn?

Shea Salinas, on the move vs. UNC

What did we learn from Philadelphia Union’s match against the University of North Carolina? A few things. (Not nearly as much as if I was actually there, instead of dodging three feet of snow, but I digress.)

The Union are much better than a good college team.

Yay! No, really. That may not seem like a big deal, considering the massive wins other MLS teams got in friendlies against colleges. (FC Dallas 7-1 over University of Tulsa? Ouch.) But before Saturday’s 5-0 win, let’s be honest: We just couldn’t know. You could hope, you could say they looked good on paper, but the Union hadn’t played anyone out in the open. UNC is a national title contender. That counts for something. The Union did what they were supposed to do.

Sebastien Le Toux can score.

Well, we know he can do it in USL, and now we know he can do it against college players after Saturday’s hat trick. Will he do it in MLS? He netted just once last year for the Sounders in his first MLS season, when he spent a lot of time at midfield. Given more time up top, maybe he can pair with Moreno so that rookie Danny Mwanga only has to ease into action.

Temple University’s J.T. Noone could make the team.

Noone made the trip and got playing time Saturday. We wrote a few weeks ago about his joining the Union, and it looks like he has a legitimate shot to make the team. If so, he might be the only local guy who does. (Drexel’s Dan Zajac apparently made the trip too, though it’s not clear if he played.) The Union have 20 players listed on their roster, and they get another four developmental roster slots as part of their final 24-man roster, all of whom are eligible for league play.

Get used to seeing Alejandro Moreno hit the deck.

The Venezuelan forward is known as a diver, but sometimes, he really does earn those penalties, like the one he drew Saturday that led to the first goal. That’s important to have on a team.

Videos and more after the jump.

Moreno goes down! Moreno goes down!

Union manager Peter Nowak ran three-man and four-man back lines.

Nowak, known for his love of the 3-5-2, opened the first half with a three-man back line and the second half with a four-man back line, according to American Soccer News.  It means we could see either one – or both – throughout the season. Toni Stahl could see some time on defense, as he did Saturday.

Columbian teenager Roger Torres is still linked to the Union for a trial.

No official word yet. (OK, so this isn’t related to the match, but I felt like sticking it here.)

Philadelphia Union has a great photographer in Carlos Morales.

He takes clean action shots, has good timing, and did a great job of representing a game that most Union fans simply weren’t going to see. (There’s a reason our photos in this post link to the Union web site; they’re his photos.) Take note of how he caught the penalty on Moreno with two consecutive shots. Serious props to Morales.

The Sons of Ben plan to blow stuff up.

Never could’ve seen that coming. Never. (What are the odds that the stadium sections next to the Supporters Section sell out last? Can we put money on this? Oh wait, this is my out-loud voice…)

Yeah, there was a goal and stuff. Let's, like, you know, blow stuff up.

Jokes aside, it looks like the SoBs brought a pretty cool atmosphere to the match, and we can expect a lot more of this during the regular season. (One tip though, guys: Don’t be like Chicago Fire fans who release the smoke at the most inopportune times or cover the goal in streamers during the match, forcing their own goalie to clean them up in-game.)

Highlight videos

Keith Hickey at Match Fit USA apparently made the trip, and he has some good observations and links to videos shot by Union fans. The best one is probably this one of Shea Salinas breaking ankles with a nasty move down the right sideline.


Got anything to add?

If you were at the game, we want to hear about it. Who impressed? Who didn’t? What did this one match tell you? Weigh in below.


  1. Jack Mac is better than I thought. The kid finds space but it will be interesting to see if physical teams shut him down. UNC focused on stopping Mwanga so it was easier for Jack to find space. But his golazo from midfield was a shot that the shy don’t take. He is a cold hearted sniper, now he just needs to ice that heart inside the box as well. He could have had two more.

    Next observation is 8 military smoke bombs in one row of seats is too many. It was harder to breathe than the 9th minute of the US match in RFK to honor Charlie Davies. Of course, SoB orchestrated that as well.

    Finally, the sections right next to us are going quickly…133 will have the back 5 rows filled with the travelling supporters from the other team.

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