Union's Win vs Celtic a Confidence Booster

The Union's 1-0 win vs Celtic came at a perfect time


It sure didn’t feel like a friendly at PPL Park on Wednesday
night when the Union edged Scottish power Celtic FC 1-0 on a 23
minute goal from forward Sebastien Le Toux. While neither side fielded their
full starting XI for the duration of the match, the first friendly in Union
history was an intense, back-and-forth contest that nearly saw Celtic equalize
in the waning moments.

After a demoralizing 2-1 loss to San Jose on Saturday, a
match that was controlled throughout by Philadelphia, a win against a club like
Celtic will go a long way towards the boosting club’s confidence.

“Overall I thought we played very well in the first half,
moved the ball well, had a balanced attack, good mobility, and created a number
of chances,” said Union coach John Hackworth. “We got a goal and limited the
opportunities we allowed Celtic to have, which is good. I think we controlled
the tempo and the rhythm of the game, and that was good.”

Goalkeeper Brian Perk had a tremendous second half in net,
denying Celtic on numerous occasions to keep the home side in the lead. After
Toni Stahl received his second yellow card and subsequent ejection, Celtic
pressed hard for a late goal but came up empty in large part because of the
rookie goalkeeper out of UCLA.

“I think (the win in a friendly) helps, but at the end of
the day I think we all know we played great in the last game (against San Jose)
and I don’t think there’s any reason to hang our heads,” said Perk. “It just
shows if we keep playing the way we did the last couple games, we are going to
get a lot of points.”

The win was a historic one for the expansion Union, beating
a club with 122 years of history on their side. Even more telling than the
victory itself was the way Philadelphia conducted themselves, coming out attacking
and clearly showing no fear against the favored visitors. ‘The Bhoys’ may not
have had their full complement of stars on the pitch – nor did the Union in the
second half after subbing over half their starting XI at the break -- but they
were clearly playing to win and ended up convincingly outplayed by the MLS

“We understand that it’s a preseason game for them,” added
Hackworth. “They’re just brand new into their preseason. For us, we’re in good
form and we used it to test some of our younger players. We don’t take too much
stock in it and say hey, we beat Celtic and we’re one of the top clubs. We got
a result, we got a shutout, and that’s really important for us in this locker
room, and now we move on.

“We made a lot of changes at halftime and gave guys an
opportunity to get 45 minutes. That was important for guys who haven’t played
regularly in MLS games. It was also a really good opportunity for the coaching
staff to evaluate some players and get them experience in a real game. In the
end, we got a shutout, which is huge. It was something we needed as a group.”

The Union moved the ball with pace and creativity throughout
the evening, proving once again that they have no plans to sit back and play
defensively against any opponent. With the club returning to MLS play this
Saturday at PPL Park, the win -- and the type of win -- should go a long way
towards erasing the memory of the last match at PPL Park.

With only three days until
the Union take to the pitch again at home, we’ll find out soon enough.