No better place to prepare for rigors of EPL season than against USA competition says Stoke

MLS teams force Europe's best on USA tour to bring "A" game

Anding vs. Stoke

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

The scoreline didn't favor the Union, but that doesn't matter.

It was another chance for local fans to see a club from the storied English Premier League.

Stoke City wrapped up its preseason American tour with a 2-0 victory at PPL Park on Tuesday night.

"The atmosphere was good," Stoke striker Peter Crouch told reporters after the game. "We came to the U.S. last year and we really enjoyed it. Playing the games is a good test, and again tonight was another good test. Obviously you can tell that the (Union) are in their season because they're very fit. But this is our third game now and we feel quite sharp and we think it's been a good test."

Stoke's goals came in the first half, as Michael Kightly and Brek Shea finished dangerous crosses into the box just 15 minutes apart.

The "Potters" finish their tour with wins against Philadelphia and Dallas after losing 1-0 in Houston.

They'll travel back to England to continue preparations ahead of August 17th's season opener at Liverpool.

"I think it's been a good workout for us, obviously when you come here the teams are in the middle of their season," midfielder Charlie Adam told philadelphiaunion.com. "It's good for us to get match fitness. Tonight was a difficult game, but we got the victory and we're ready to move on to next week. The (USA) is a good place to come and play your games, and you always get the right work done."

Of course, it wouldn't be a friendly match without the obligatory questions about Major League Soccer and the growth of the game in the United States.

"We get MLS back at home now and I watch the odd game here and there," Crouch explained. Certainly some players (in MLS) have played in the Premier League, so we all take an interest in it now and I think it's progressing. That's why a lot of teams come out here now, because they know that obviously there's no language barrier and they're going to get a good test, so I think you'll see more Premier League teams coming out here (in preseason).

"We watch a lot [of Major League Soccer] because we've got a few Scottish players here," said Adam. "It's good, it's progressing every year and it's getting better. It's one of the leagues that's coming to the top and you never know what could happen in the next few years."

Stoke manager Mark Hughes echoed the sentiments of his players.

"We've been really pleased with the quality of the opposition," Hughes said. "I think it's the right level. It's been difficult in terms of preparation. When we flew into Houston we didn't have too much preparation time before that game and we probably felt it in the game itself. We played better in Dallas and we're hoping for the upward curve to continue. I've been pleased with what I've seen from the guys they've taken onboard a lot of the stuff we've worked on in training and it's looking like it's coming to fruition. It's still early days for us, we're still looking to add to our fitness levels which obviously the game itself helps in that regard."

"We've been very impressed. I think the strides they've made in the last 5 or 10 years is a credit to everybody involved in soccer in America. We've had the experience of coming over before, certainly when I was playing I'd been over. The contrast between what's in place now and what the norm was maybe 5, 10, 15 years ago is (drastic) so it's really impressive."

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com