Who to watch when Crystal Palace FC comes to PPL Park, Friday (7 p.m.)
So, the Union have a game on Friday.
The talent you see on the field will be unique (and no it's not an MLS team from the West coast), it's English Premier League standouts, Crystal Palace FC. This squad finished right in the middle of the table in the 11th spot, and broke the hearts of Liverpool fans worldwide when they came back from 3-0 to tie the game and extinguish any real chance for the title to return to Anfield. Friday's match (7 p.m., purchase tickets), is a friendly, but it is very much a tune-up match for CPFC, as it's that time of the year when many European clubs take their teams on U.S. tours to prepare for preseason while at the same time garner brand exposure.
— Crystal Palace FC (@CPFC) July 20, 2014
Why should you be exctied for Friday? Here are four players who will pose interesting tests for Philadelphia because of their unique skill sets at each position.
Goalkeeper: Julian Speroni
Speroni has been a mainstay between the pipes for Crystal Palace for over a decade. The Argentine keeper won the club’s Player of the Year award for a record fourth time in his career after this past season. In 37 games Speroni made 116 saves and held 12 clean sheets. Speroni was a major reason why Crystal Palace remained relevant in the Premier League, the 35-year-old made some spectacular saves throughout the course of the season that kept Palace competitive in games where the talent on the other side of the field was vastly superior. Speroni should see major minutes against Philadelphia and will certainly be a class above what the Union is used to seeing on a weekly basis.
Defender: Damien Delaney
The Irishman is your prototypical Premier League center back: tall, strong in the air, and tough to get in behind, Delaney has been stalwart in his retention of the position throughout his career. He joined Crystal Palace in 2012 has appeared in 77 matches for the Eagles. Don’t expect much flash in Delaney’s game, he is a purely defensive player who prides himself on being a ball winner. Look for him to be a rock in the back who understands his role well. Any defender in the EPL must be fearless, and Delaney is no different, he should bring that same tenacity to PPL on Friday. He can be somewhat potent in attack as well, he scored the first of three goals to bring CPFC level with Liverpool and deny them the Premier League Championship crown. Cue, Suarez in tears (see below).
Midfielder: Mile Jedniak
Jedniak is the current captain and motor of Crystal Palace FC. Jedniak plays in the center of field primarily in the defensive position. This position is vital, especially in the Premier League with the plethora of talent at the attacking midfield positions. Jedniak joined CPFC in 2011 and since his debut has 110 appearances for the club, scoring five goals. His campaign last year was impressive, he would have played every single minute for Crystal Palace if he didn’t pick up an injury in the second half of the team’s final regular season game against Fulham. Jedniak should be a familiar face to those to watched this summer’s World Cup, as he was also the captain for Australian national team. Although the team may not have progressed passed the group stage he did score a penalty against the Netherlands to put Australia up 2-1 against the previous World Cup runners-up.
Forward: Dwight Gayle
Gayle is what you would call your new-age Premier League striker. A league that used to be dominated by more formidable players is being replaced by pacy, smaller players, who have the ability to link up with others, and score through combination play to goal. Standing at 5’9” and weighing no more than 155 pounds Gayle proves his worth through his ingenuity. Constantly on the move, the number 16 for Crystal Palace appeared 23 times last season and scored eight times. While his numbers may not jump off the page his production should not be underestimated. Working with little around him Gayle was the team leader in goals and created many of his chances through his own pace. Look for Gayle to be a sparkplug that Union defenders don’t often have to deal with. His pace and ability in front of the net are not to be undervalued.
Extra: Liverpool fans you may want to close your eyes.
Who are you looking forward to watching this Friday? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Doug Ammon at firstname.lastname@example.org