Following win, visitors reflect on night of soccer in Philly
The result didn’t matter, but Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert had positive things to say about the Philadelphia Union and PPL Park after his squad’s 1-0 exhibition win on Wednesday night.
“It was great. It’s really a great arena to play a game of football in,” said Lambert post game. “The fans are very vocal. They’re behind their team. I thought we played excellent, I really did, considering that we’ve only played two games. It was an excellent match between the two teams, a great place to play football.”
The Union were boosted by a strong first half effort from Zac MacMath, who made three critical stops in the first 15 minutes. Philadelphia enjoyed spells of possession but failed to produce scoring opportunities in the final third.
Villa found the game’s only goal just before halftime, when forward Nathan Delfouneso was given space to hit a curling shot inside MacMath’s far post.
“I thought it was great,” goal scorer Delfouneso told reporters after the game. “It was a really good atmosphere, I think we fully enjoyed it. There was a nice bit of banter, the cheers and whatnot. I was impressed with the turnout, and with the Villa fans' turnout as well. We’ve got to be thankful for that as well. I enjoyed it, it was a good experience and we’ve got two more games to experience more of it.”
“They’re a good side,” said Lambert of the Union. “They are. You can tell they’re a good side. The crowd gets right behind them. It certainly helps them. It’s a tight football pitch, which is tough for us. But it was a really tough game for us because we’re only two weeks into the preseason. And Philadelphia have played a lot of games. From that aspect, they might have been viewed to win the game. But it was some really good football from us.”
Wednesday’s loss was the Union’s first in five exhibition games at PPL Park. Philadelphia had previously defeated Everton, Schalke 04, Celtic, and Chivas de Guadalajara in Chester friendlies.
“This league is probably underestimated I think,” explained Lambert. “There are some really good players. There are American internationals who play in Europe. Definitely underrated, some good players. There are some British lads over here too, which is great for the league.”
Villa now travel to Chicago, before wrapping up their pre-season tour with a trip to Portland’s JELD-WEN Field.
Delfouneso believes his teammates are enjoying spending a portion of Summer in the USA.
“It’s my first time visiting America as well, so it’s something different for me,” Delfouneso said. “It’s something -- it’s a different experience for me and I’m enjoying it so far. Hopefully I’ll have a good time for the rest of the trip.”
WATCH: Postgame reactions