Working out the kinks as Union fight back to forge draw against Orlando City

Late goal nets point, but Hackworth says room for improvement

ORLANDO – Philadelphia Union’s first preseason match of 2013 looked like, well…

The Union’s first preseason match of 2013.

It wasn’t flashy and added only a few elements of surprise, but the club escaped with a 1-1 draw against USL-Pro side Orlando City SC, in Game No. 1 in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, courtesy of a goal from supplemental draft selection Leo Fernandes in the 74th minute. Credit Fernandes with taking a high lofted ball down off his chest and burying it far corner of Orlando City’s goal, but the play was christened by a perfect ball played into Fernandes from if Roger Torres who got himself inside Orlando defense and hit an outswinger first time right to Hernandes’ chest.

But it’s one of the few points where manager John Hackworth was pleased with in his club’s first installment of the new season as he mentioned moving the ball down the field as a collective unit was not always the case. With the draw, the Union has still yet to earn three points against the USL-Pro giants, who are now 0-1-2 all time against the Lions.

“We were isolating guys 1v1 in bad spots,” said Hackworth. “We weren’t in good spots coming out of our defensive half of the field, being 1v1 and then finding our open guy. We weren’t doing that and I think that was part of what was frustrating.”

The Union started the match with a 4-4-2 diamond midfield that allowed freedom for the attacking midfielder to roam and the outside fullbacks to push up high into the attack, serving as a two headed monster. There were times when the formation was successful in creating chances, especially the solid ball movement through the middle from both Keon Daniel and Michael Farfan, but too many times did the speedy forwards of Orlando get in behind the Union defense forcing goalkeeper Zac MacMath to make big saves. The combination of Amobi Okugo and newcomer Jeff Parke looked strong at centerback, but there were times when the two would find themselves outnumbered on a counter as outside defenders raced to get back and help.

“I thought the ball movement through our midfield allowed our forwards to stretch the field and get in good spots,” said Hackworth. “And when weren’t doing that [forward] Sebastien [Le Toux] was coming back and trying to find it a lot which is not what we wanted him to do either. We have to put a lot of little pieces together.”

However, a look at the final statistics did show promise that the Union are on the right track.

The Union edged Orlando in possession (55-45), had more of the chances on goal (14-11), had more of the chances on target (Union 4, Orlando 2), were offsides less (Union 2, Orlando 6) and connected on the majority of its attempted passes (Union 502, Orlando 397). Where the club fell short were careless fouls, fueled by frustration and evident specifically from midfielder Danny Cruz, who was tenacious down the right flank, but picked up a yellow card caution in the 33rd minute.

“That’s what you are going to get [when you play an Orlando City],” said Hackworth. “Those guys want to be in MLS and they are a good team. They are well coached and have some very good players, and it’s too easy to take these guys lightly and you can’t do that as I think we saw tonight. But you know we have to work out those frustrations.”

The Union return to Disney on Wednesday and will get its first taste of MLS competition with a match against Columbus Crew at 1 p.m. which will be streamed LIVE via philadelphiaunion.com/live and MLSSoccer.com/live.

Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com