Photo courtesy of Orlando City SC
Ten thoughts on Philadelphia Union after the club’s first preseason friendly on Saturday.
Most impressive Union player
Roger Torres, hands down. Torres put a swerving long-distance blast on net, assisted on the Union’s loan goal with a beautiful chip, and was active defensively, making at least two interceptions. Granted, Torres entered at the 60-minute mark with fresh legs against an Orlando lineup that had been running all game, and in three years, he has yet to show he can go 90 minutes. But he looked active, creative and composed. Now that he’s wearing the No. 10 jersey, let’s see if he can earn that role in the starting lineup.
Most impressive Orlando players
Forward Long Tan and goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo belong in MLS. Gallardo was the best goalkeeper on the field. Tan put in the game’s best performance by a forward. If he can keep his mouth shut and just play, he should find himself back in MLS. Considering Zac MacMath’s latest misadventure in goal showed he still lacks the poise for the starting role, the Union may want to get Gallardo’s phone number. Also impressive: forward Dennis Chin and center back Kieron Bernard.
Sebastien Le Toux — taking a corner kick?
Really? It isn’t clear yet that he isn’t particularly good at them? That was my immediate reaction (and probably yours) when you saw him line up to take a corner in the 28th minute. Then he sent in decent service. While most are happy to have Le Toux back, this is the one area that sentiment doesn’t hold.
No Mike Lahoud. No Chris Albright. It’s just one preseason match, but the numbers game doesn’t look good for Albright with rookie center back Eric Schoenle and trialist left back Shaun Francis showing well so far. Lahoud probably sat because Greg Jordan needed some minutes to show he’s worth retaining on the roster.
No Chandler Hoffman, Stephen Okai or Don Anding either. Hoffman looks the odd man out in a crowded group of forwards. The absences of the draftees, new signing Alex Mendoza, and Jimmy McLaughlin probably aren’t as significant, as some of them will probably spend the season on loan at Harrisburg.
The starting defense looked weak
Jeff Parke and Amobi Okugo looked out of sync. Sheanon Williams looked out of sorts. Parke had no chemistry with his teammates, which isn’t surprising, since he just got to Union camp after featuring in the national team’s January camp. This is a work in progress.
Okugo: Not in midfield
No, it’s not surprising that he played central defense, but it is notable that he didn’t play a minute in midfield.
Beautiful goal by
Le Toux Fernandes!
Yes, the announcer botched the goal call by crediting Le Toux, who wasn’t even on the field. Apparently having a British accent doesn’t automatically qualify you to broadcast soccer after all. The Fernandes goal was a thing of beauty, as he controlled a Torres chip with his chest and then one-timed a left-footed shot into the net.
Was that a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3?
The Union’s shape looked more a 4-4-2 at the outset, with a midfield diamond, Casey in a target role, and Le Toux doing his thing. It was harder to tell in the second half, perhaps because I was too busy identifying Union players whose names the announcers didn’t know. (Really? Poor form.) It looked more like a 4-3-3 in the second half, but that may be due to a skewed camera angle in the online video, which focused on the Union’s left flank, where Fernandes was often very advanced on the wing.
Who were those new guys?
Left back Shaun Francis (formerly of Columbus) and Jordi Vidal (formerly of Real Madrid) wore Nos. 16 and 8, respectively, and each looked decent in their first Union appearances. Fernandes (33) and fellow draftee Eric Schoenle (30) may join them in earning roster spots.
Union fans … in Greece?
So, random detour:
I traveled recently to Greece, which is why you haven’t seen my weekly column in a few weeks. (Apparently I missed the memo that the Union aren’t training there this year!)
Little did I expect to run into Union fans in Athens, but sure enough, just across the street from Hadrian’s Arch, I met Matt and Nicole from Deptford, N.J. We chatted it a bit. It turns out they would have liked Union season tickets at one point but were told they were on a waiting list.
So hey, Matt and Nicole! If you’re out there and still interested (or if other readers know them), get in touch, and I’ll hook you up with Union ticket representative Alex Carrington, who has four open season ticket seats right in front of mine in section 121.