Friendly against Villa a "confidence-boost" for youthful Philly roster

Young Union players reflect on chance to face European club

Jordan vs. AV

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

Greg Jordan is always nervous watching his teammates play.

He’s much more at ease on the pitch.

Jordan played the entire second half of Wednesday’s 1-0 friendly loss against Aston Villa FC at PPL Park. The experience was extremely valuable for a young player such as Jordan, who has yet to see any action in league matches this season.

Most players are nervous in the early minutes on the field. Not Jordan.

“I’m way, way more nervous watching,” said Jordan, the 32nd overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft from Creighton. “Against Montreal last Saturday, I couldn’t watch at times. It was tough. Playing is different for me. I’m not really nervous at all. It’s much easier for me to play than watching.

“This will be a great learning experience because I’ll get to go back and watch on film and correct my mistakes.”

Jordan nearly equalized in the 81st minute when he ripped a left-footed shot just over the crossbar. In addition to that shot, he earned some meaningful minutes against a club as prestigious as Aston Villa, which has won the FA Cup and First Division Championship seven times.

“It was a great experience for me,” said Jordan, who led Creighton to a 21-2-1 record last year and a No. 2 overall seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. “This was a confidence-boost for me in playing against one of the top teams in the world. It can only make you better.”

For 19-year-old Jimmy McLaughlin, the experience will be etched in his mind for a long time to come.

The Union’s second Homegrown Player and Union Academy graduate, McLaughlin was inserted into the starting lineup against Aston Villa. It wasn’t that long ago that McLaughlin was competing for nearby Great Valley High School.

“The thing you notice right away against a club like Aston Villa is the speed and pace of the game,” McLaughlin said. “The speed of play is so much faster than what I’ve seen in the past in high school and college. They shut down plays so much faster and you have to think quickly.

“For me, it was an amazing experience to play against them. I’m looking forward to watching the film. It was definitely very good for my confidence.”

Defender Raymon Gaddis has started eight matches for the Union this season. But getting another start against Aston Villa helped immensely.

“The intensity was there and the energy was there just like a league game,” said Gaddis, the Union’s 35th overall selection in the SuperDraft. “I thought the sharpness was there and we came out with the same goal – to win the game. I really didn’t treat it any different, but it’s always good experience to play against a club like that even though they lace up their shoes just like we do.”

Having that chance to lace up their shoes is what it’s all about for the young players.

“I had a great time and it’s always a good situation getting a chance to play,” Jordan said. “I’m excited to keep learning from games like this and from my teammates like (Brian Carroll) in order to keep getting better and better.”