ORLANDO – Behind a three goal performance, the Union put the finishing touches on its final group match of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic with a 3-0 shutout of Toronto FC.
The stats show a back and forth affair in terms of possession (Union 53.2 vs. Toronto 46.8) and attempts on goal (Union 10, Toronto 7), but it was Philly that took better advantage of its chances, burying three with goals from Antoine Hoppenot in the eighth minute, Roger Torres in the 40th and trialist Matt Kassel with a rocket in the 51st.
“Look, we’re happy,” manager John Hackworth stated. “Once you start to put things together and you start to put things in the back of the net and things start to click, it’s good for everybody.”
The Union certainly fired on all cylinders in a match that was the end to a hard week of training and the culmination of three matches in a four day stretch. It also came on the heels of a strong performance from a split squad of incumbent starters that battled Montreal to a scoreless draw the night before in Jacksonville.
In this match, Torres was the playmaker that pulled the string in the midfield. His composure on the ball dictated the Union's possession and he added a really good goal as well. Additionally Hoppenot put himself in the right place twice, scoring the opener and assisting on Torres’ tally.
Hackworth surmised as much postgame, but lauded more than just those two.
“Conor Casey did a great job holding the ball up for us, Antoine was really good running off of him,” said Hackworth. “Roger Torres was good at trying to be our playmaker, Chris Albright and Amobi were good out of the back and you got young guys like rookie [Don] Anding playing left back and Kassel; who constantly hits those bombs in practice, so it’s great to see him finally hit one in a game.”
Hack paused, and then jokingly added:
“Even though it took him two tries…”
The Union knew it needed a good result today in order to have a more competitive final preseason game next Saturday. The players, like Hoppenot, certainly heard that message loud and clear as he explained what coming away with the result does going forward.
“It’s always nice to get a win that’s for sure,” Hoppenot said. “You know the whole team was looking for one and it’s nice to finally get it. Tying games is great but in the season it matters to get three points so it was great to come out here and win and hopefully that’ll jumpstart us for the rest of this preseason.”
Just a pair of preseason matches remain for the Union as Wednesday is a match scheduled against D.C. United (6 p.m.). Next Saturday, the Union will play Sporting Kansas City at 6 p.m. in the final day of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic as a result of clinching second place in Group A.
“This was a good overall result and puts us in a positive place going forward in the last two weeks of our preseason,” said Hackworth.
In the immediate, the scores of fans that flocked to Orlando for the annual preseason fan trip witnessed a promising showing and relayed that by making it feel like a true home match, one that was uniquely Philly.
“The amazing Disney facilities and this cool intimate stadium was filled with our fans that traveled to Orlando and seemed to really enjoy the experience for this preseason trip. They displayed classic and passionate support Union style and the whole set up feels like we are really creating a special preseason tradition,” said Union CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “They filled the stands behind our bench and did a great job of showing force in supporting our team. I was really surprised to see the large number of Union fans that came down for the weekend.”
Philadelphia Union 3, Toronto FC 0
Feb. 16, 2013; 3:00 p.m.
Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Orlando
PHI: Hoppenot (Lahoud), 8’
PHI: Torres (Hoppenot), 40’
PHI: Kassel (unassisted), 51’
UNION STARTING 11
Chris Konopka (Chase Harrison, 75’), Chris Albright (Jordan, 66’), Matt Kassel* (McLaughlin, 75’), Don Anding (Richards, 75’), Amobi Okugo (Schoenle, 75’), Keon Daniel (Vidal*, 75’), Michael Lahoud (Mendoza, 75’), Pantelis Kafes (Okai, 75’), Roger Torres (Fernandes, 75’), Conor Casey (Hoffman, 75’) Antoine Hoppenot (Hristov*’ 75).
Time of match: 1:48
Contact Union writer Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org