Le Toux Brace Leads Philadelphia Union To 3-0 Win Over Costa Rica U23s

Philadelphia Union beat Costa Rica U23s 3-0 Wednesday afternoon at IMG Academy in Bradenton during the club’s opener of the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic. Sebastien Le Toux scored twice, including one from the penalty spot, and Cristian Maidana added another to pace the Union.

“This is our third phase of preseason and is one we wanted to start focusing on results,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “The first two phases were about player evaluation and fitness. Now we have set a goal to win this competition, and to keep a clean sheet was something that we also talked about. We scored a couple of good goals today, too, so I was very happy with the performance.”

The Union were off in a hurry, forcing three corners in the opening 10 minutes. In the 9th, Maurice Edu ripped a shot from 20 yards out that was turned away, forcing the third corner. On the ensuing play, the Union were awarded a penalty after a hand ball. Le Toux calmly slotted one in the right corner for the 1-0 lead.

More pressure from the Union ensued. C.J. Sapong was taken down just outside the box in the 13th minute and the ensuing free kick created another scoring chance. Sapong was then taken down inside the box eight minutes later, but the penalty shout was denied by the referee. However, one minute later, Andrew Wenger took a ball from the left corner and weaved through traffic before finding a wide-open Maidana, who tallied the second Union goal.

“I thought our guys came out, were organized and were tough to play against,” Curtin said. “It’s starting to look like what we want it to look against Colorado come March 7.”

The Union took a 2-0 lead to halftime and kept the pressure up in the second. Sapong intercepted a pass near midfield, then made a darting run up the middle of the field and played Le Toux through for the game’s third goal.

“I was happy to score two goals, but it was a good team win,” Le Toux said. “We want to continue to progress with our fitness and play together and then win the two more games in our group.”

The Union made mass subs in the 61st minute. All 11 starters were pulled for John McCarthy, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Michael Lahoud, Raymond Lee, Zach Pfeffer, Brian Carroll, Antoine Hoppenot, Fred, Erik Ayuk Mbu and Conor Casey. Of note, Casey had the best scoring chance in the 68th minute when Marquez played him through on a long pass from his own half. Casey dribbled around the keeper, but his attempt was cleared off the line.

“It was a good test for us,” Curtin said. “Young teams, especially national teams, are going to be eager to impress and represent their countries. So I thought it was a good exercise for our guys.”

The Union will play against London United on Saturday, 7:30 p.m., for their second game of the tournament. Their final game in group play is against Columbus Crew next Wednesday.

BOX SCORE
Philadelphia Union 3, Costa Rica U23s 0
IMG Academy
Bradenton, Fla.

SCORING SUMMARY
PHI – Le Toux (PK) 10’
PHI – Maidana (Wenger) 22’
PHI – Le Toux (Sapong) 51’

UNION STARTING XI
Mbolhi; Gaddis, Vitoria, White, Williams; Edu, Nogueira; Wenger, Maidana, Le Toux; Sapong.