All good things
Chandler Hoffman stole the show with his four goal performance on Tuesday afternoon.
But reserve team coach Brendan Burke got a comprehensive performance from his entire squad in a 6-0 shutout over D.C. United.
It started at the feet of Roger Torres, who sliced and diced United's young backline with his typical pinpoint passing.
"Roger kind of got re-introduced to the first team the other day," Burke told philadelphiaunion.com. "He got some minutes towards the end of the New England game and was positive when he got those. We're trying to get him [momentum], and I know his mentality is to use these games to try to reinforce that momentum. We talked a little bit about that before the game and he took it to heart."
Torres assisted on Hoffman's opening goal and could have tallied two or three more assists if not for some quality one-on-one stops by United goalkeeper Joe Willis.
"I think that's my job," said Torres, who played centrally in Philadelphia's 4-4-2 formation. "We're always trying to do our best. I think that this was a huge oportunity for me to show the coach that I want to be in the starting eleven. And that's not just me, that's everybody. You saw that the guys came with a lot of energy and did a really good job. This is our job and we always need to do the best we can for our team."
Another standout performer was Jimmy McLaughlin. The 19-year-old started at right wing before spending the final portion of the game at right back, where he scored on a rocket-like near-post shot.
"He's going to be a wide player going forward," said Burke. "He played out wide until the 60th minute, when we brought Lucky (Mkosana) on and pushed Josue (Martinez) to the right and just bumped Jimmy back one. We only did that because he's comfortable doing it. But he's a wide player in our mind."
McLaughlin has played both right midfield and right back for the reserve team.
"You saw after he went to right back, he actually found himself in good positions, as much or more as he did a wide player," continued Burke. "I think, from the standpoint that he's going to have the oportunity to learn the game off the ball, keep things in front of him, and kind of process the game mentally - right back doesn't hurt him at all. It actually helps him."
Another wrinkle was the insertion of Zach Pfeffer as a left-sided midfielder.
"He did really well in the Columbus reserve game," explained Burke. "He's able to tuck in and connect with people off of his right foot, which helps him gain a comfort level so he doesn't have to be stretching [play] or running at someone every time he gets the ball. He's a very good player when he's able to be intricate and come into the middle of the field. It gives him plenty of options to bounce the ball off [of other players] and get it back."
However, the best goal of the day was scored by Josue Martinez. The young Costa Rican forward collected the ball inside D.C.'s half, made an assertive run at the United defense, and unleashed a 25 yard firecracker into the upper 90 of Willis' goal.
"We've seen flashes," said Burke, when asked about Martinez' potential. "He's a young player, new to MLS. It's a long grinding season, the physicality of it. He's had spells where he's done well for us. I think that's just a maturity thing. I think as he gets a little bit more mature, his work rate off the ball improves. It's always been good in games, but being able to bring that every day is going to be the difference for him. That's what will ultimately translate into more starts for him. It's not a lack of quality. He has that."
Contact Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Kevin on Twitter @PhilUnionKevinK