Recap: Hoffman's late winner gives Union 2-1 win vs. Schalke 04
CHESTER, Pa. -- The Philadelphia Union defeated Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04 in a friendly at PPL Park on Wednesday night by a score of 2-1. Lionard Pajoy opened the scoring, while Sergio Escudero tied the match with a shot from distance late in the first half. Chandler Hoffman gave the Union a dramatic victory with an 88th minute tally, continuing the team’s run of unbeaten results in international competition at PPL Park.
Playing in an attack-minded formation, the Union started brightly, with Josue Martinez, Keon Daniel, and Danny Mwanga creating opportunities in the attacking third. Mwanga nearly opened the scoring in the 16th minute after stripping USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones outside the box, but his shot from 20 yards out was a yard wide of the near post.
The Union would get their goal just five minutes later, though, thanks to a stellar set piece delivery from Daniel. The Trinidad & Tobago international whipped in a left-footed cross from the sideline, finding an unmarked Pajoy inside the area. The Colombian snapped a header past Schalke goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall, giving Philadelphia the early lead.
With Brian Carroll marshalling the midfield, the Union got forward early and often, testing the Schalke defense with quick ball movement.
Chase Harrison, making his first appearance in front of the PPL Park faithful, had an active 45 minutes of play in goal. The Virginia Tech product was forced into action early on, making a diving fingertip stop in the third minute to deny a Teemu Pukki shot headed into the far corner. Harrison followed that up with a nice reaction save in the ninth minute, getting his hand onto a close-range header from Bundesliga Golden Boot winner Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
In the 35th minute, Huntelaar and Harrison collided while going for a cross, a play that resulted in a penalty kick for Schalke and an early substitution of a visibly shaken Huntelaar. The subsequent penalty attempt was fired with power by Lewis Holtby, only to hit the underside of the crossbar and bounce away from the goal and into the arms of Harrison.
Schalke, who recently finished in third place in the Bundesliga and qualified for Champions League play, managed to equalize just three minutes later, with a bending strike from Escudero leaving Harrison frozen in his tracks.
Playing in the final match of his Schalke career, Spanish legend Raul pulled the strings in the midfield, showing his vision and quality before coming off at halftime with the match tied at 1-1.
In the second half, the game opened up, with both sides pressing for the go-ahead goal.
The visitors managed to find space in behind the Union backline on several occasions, but second half substitute Chris Konopka was up to the challenge each time, coming off his line aggressively on several occasions to deny quality scoring opportunities.
In the 82nd minute, Konopka got some help from the post, as a chip from Pukki hit the woodwork after beating the oncoming keeper. The follow-up attempt from Jose Jurado was then blocked by Carlos Valdes, with a third effort easily caught by Konopka.
With a steady rain coming down late in the match, the Union continued to push forward. Their persistence was rewarded in the 88th minute when Okugo sprung a counterattack with a well-placed ball to a streaking Ray Gaddis. The rookie defender got to the end line and hit a low cross, with the deflected pass finding Hoffman alone inside the box. The 2012 first-round draft pick settled the delivery with poise before spinning and shooting to the far post. His attempt bounced beyond the outstretched arms of Unnerstall, giving the Union a late lead over the German giants.
The hosts would protect the one-goal margin, with the 2-1 victory marking the club’s fourth consecutive friendly victory at PPL Park (wins against Celtic, Chivas, Everton, and Schalke).
The Union will look to build off of their friendly success this Sunday when they take on the New York Red Bulls at PPL Park (12:30pm).
WATCH: Post-game reactions