Match preview: Something to prove on both sides in Friday night club friendly at PPL Park
Crystal Palace Football Club at Philadelphia Union
What: International club friendly (exhibition); When: Friday, 7 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
Tickets: Bonus match for season ticket holders; for general admission: purchase tickets
TV: None; Radio: None; Online: no stream; Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday
Parking: $20 at all PPL Park approved lots; Mass transit: Regular service from Chester Transportation Center.
In many ways, Crystal Palace has something to prove.
On Friday, the English Premier League side will play the Union, the second team on its U.S. tour at PPL Park (7 p.m., purchase tickets). On Wednesday, Palace battled to a 2-2 draw with MLS’ Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium.
As each new season creates a clean slate, this one will definitely look to prove that the dramatic run down the stretch Palace pulled off to stave EPL relegation was no fluke. Crystal Palace finished 11th best in the EPL standings last season after an impressive final 10 match run. Palace won five of those last 10, drew three times, and boasted notable victories against Chelsea (1-0), Aston Villa (1-0) and Everton (3-2).
There was even a dramatic 3-3 draw against Liverpool in the penultimate match of the 2013-14 season that proved Palace on any given day can – and have battle it out with the best.
But this is a new season.
And in preparation to open a season on a high note against EPL giants Arsenal on Aug. 16, Palace will have to show what it can do against a surging Union team, one eager to show what it can do against world class competition.
“We are going to put a good group on the field, likely two good groups and try to go after them,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin told reporters on Wednesday. “[This game] will be a chance for us to see some guys [that don’t normally get major minutes] and have them answer some questions for us.”
Crystal Palace boasts a formidable attack but one in its preseason and could enter this match a bit tired, according to manager Tony Pulis. With this serving as preseason tune-up, Palace is putting in double shifts on the training pitch in preparation for their cluster of preseason games. But being tired this early in the game isn’t a bad thing, according to Pulis.
“They’ve worked hard. What people don’t understand is that we’ve overloaded them. They are very tired coming into this game [against Columbus] because of the work they’ve done before it,” Pulis said following Wednesday's draw at Crew Stadium. “For the next week or two, we will overload them, so they will be playing at times a little bit tired. But that will get them fitter for when the season starts.”
However, Curtin has seen this Crystal Palace side on film and knows that tired or not, Palace won’t plan to make this one an easy affair on his Union collective.
“They are an exciting, dynamic team and they attack like crazy,” Curtin said. “They won’t make it easy for our defenders in particular and they will be a handful going forward. Just like a lot of English Premier League teams they change a lot and there has been a lot of change in the offseason, so there will be some new players…you can’t really prepare for if you’re getting their top group, but their playing in the Premiership, so you know it’s going to be a tough one.”
Curtin noted that a few players that continue to grow their talents on the Union’s developmental level in Harrisburg could be called up for this affair as well.
In nine matches played, the Union is 5-4 all-time in international club friendlies, but just 1-3 all-time against EPL opponents, its lone win against Everton FC in 2011.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org