Match recap: Lessons learned from tough friendly with Stoke

Early first half goals from EPL "giants" make tough night for Union

The Union fell to Stoke City, 2-0 in a friendly Tuesday night at PPL Park.

Goals from the Potters’ Michael Kightly and American midfielder Brek Shea – the hero in the U.S. national team capturing the Gold Cup just two days prior – fueled a win over a young Union side. Shea left the match in the 27th minute after picking up a knee injury. Initially according to a Stoke spokesperson, Shea’s injury was “not deemed serious,” but what was later called by Stoke manager Mark Hughes as potentially serious did find Shea's night end just under the half hour mark of the first half.

Shea however took it in stride when asked about the collision postgame.

“My knee, it is throbbing a little bit, but I don’t really know. I’ll go to the doctor, find out tomorrow, get an MRI,” said Shea. Look, I mean the defender was going for the ball. I tried to put my body in front of his. Slide tackles happen, some good and some bad. I have done worse to other people so I am really not mad at him at all. I am obviously pretty upset right now though because I was excited to get back with Stoke and get ready for this season.

While the final score line clearly wasn’t to his liking, manager John Hackworth said it was good to see the young players who don’t receive regular minutes get a full taste of how to prepare for matches against big time competition.

“This was a good opportunity for us to give guys a run out and make sure that they have the sensations and rhythm of starting in a game,” said Hackworth, postgame. “Everything from listening to the National Anthem, shaking hands [with the opposition] all those kinds of things are really important for players just so that they know how to prepare themselves.”

What the Union could not prepare for was a big, strong imposing Stoke City side. Few players on that squad stood less than six feet which proved a Herculean task to keep Stoke under wraps.

“To be honest, I was quite shocked when I first saw their team,” said Union forward Aaron Wheeler, who started Tuesday’s match at center back alongside veteran Chris Albright. “I don’t think they had a player in the first half that stood less than six foot. They were just big physical specimen; I didn’t know they made them like that over there.”

What a match like this does however is allow the Union to regroup and focus for Saturday in a return to league play against the Chicago Fire at PPL Park (8 p.m., purchase tickets). A match that no one within the Union locker room is taking lightly considering it’s a chance to keep a six-match unbeaten streak at home – in MLS play – intact. The Union has kept true to their mantra of making PPL Park a fortress taking at least a point in every home match since a loss to Los Angeles in May.

“I think for the season we have been working hard and sticking together as a group,” said Union midfielder Keon Daniel. “And I think once we continue to do that and play as a team we will get the results.

Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

BOX SCORE

Stoke City FC 2, Philadelphia Union 0

Tuesday, July 30; 7:30 p.m. ET

PPL Park, Chester, Pa. 

SCORING SUMMARY

SCFC: Knightly (Muniesa) 4’

SCFC: Shea (Knightly) 19’

DISCIPLINARY SUMMARY

SCFC: Shawcross (caution) 26’

PHI: Kassel (caution) 27’

UNION STARTING 11

Nikolov (Konopka 45’), Fabinho (Gaddis 45’), Wheeler (Parke 45’), Albright (Okugo 45’), Kassel (Williams 45’), Lahoud (Carroll 45’), Kleberson (Farfan 45’), Torres (Daniel 45’), Fernandes (Le Toux 45’), Anding (Cruz 45’), Hoppenot (Casey 45’).

STOKE CITY STARTING 11

Sorensen (Butland 45’), Huth, Muniesa (Etherington 68’), Shawcross (Cameron 68’), Shotton (Walters 68’), Whelan (Adams 45’), Shea (Pieters 33’), N’Zonzi (Palacios 43’), Knightly (Crouch 45’), Wilson (Culever 89’), Jerome (Jones 45’).