The Philadelphia Union’s frenetic rally came up just a bit short in a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace FC of the English Premier League before 15,482 fans Friday night at PPL Park.
An own goal in the 20th minute, a header which bounced off Ethan White and into the net, was the only score in this match.
Since the inaugural season of 2010, the Union have now played 10 international friendlies, and they evened their record at 5-5-0. The Union are 1-4-0 against the EPL with a win over Everton and previous losses to Manchester United, Aston Villa and Stoke City.
In this environment, it’s about so much more than winning and losing.
The Union accomplished many positive things against Crystal Palace.
“The second half, I thought we had a lot of the run of play, which is encouraging,” said Union interim manager Jim Curtin, who improved to 5-2-2 in all competitions since taking over for John Hackworth.
Rookie goalkeeper Andre Blake was outstanding with five saves in the first half and six overall. Blake kept the match within striking distance despite a flurry of chances for Crystal Palace.
“I thought Andre Blake bailed us out a bit with some big saves,” Curtin said.
Blake has been waiting patiently for a chance to play and he wanted to seize the opportunity.
He did just that with a number of terrific saves, highlighted by a great stop in the 76th minute against Crystal Palace forward Glenn Murray.
“I just want to do everything I can to help my team win,” Blake said. “I come into training every day to work hard and show my skills. I wish we could have gotten the win, but it was good to get in there and get a full 90 in.”
After a bit of a slow start in the first half, the Union picked up the pace in the second half and created their fair share of scoring chances.
In the 63rd minute, Aaron Wheeler made a nifty move at the corner of the goal and shot the ball just wide.
Not much later in the 69th minute, Sheanon Williams rose up for a header which was stopped.
Then in the 81st minute, Sebastien Le Toux dribbled swiftly down the right side of the pitch and fired a shot from about 10 yards out. It missed the far end of the goal by mere inches.
“It was a good experience for our guys to get out and play a game like this because our next game against Kansas City on the road is going to be tough,” said centerback Maurice Edu. “We came out a little slow, but improved in the second half and had some good parts out there. It was good to get this game out there and kind of get our legs back under us.”
For a player such as Pedro Ribeiro, it was very good to see some action against an EPL club.
Ribeiro, a former standout at Coastal Carolina, enjoyed the experience and is looking toward the future.
“It was a lot of fun to play,” Ribeiro said. “I enjoyed it, though I wish we could have won. Anytime you get experience like this, you take it and learn from it. That’s what I did tonight.”
Crystal Palace 1, Philadelphia Union 0
Friday, July 25, 2014
PPL Park, Chester, Pa.
CPFC: White (own goal) 20’
PHL: Brown (dangerous) 35’
PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI
Blake, Fabinho, Berry (Lahoud 73’), White (Ribeiro 45’), Gaddis (Williams 45’), Edu © (Carroll 7’), Nogueira (Okugo 45’), Fred (Bone 45’), Cruz (Wheeler 45’), Wenger (Le Toux ’45), Brown (Hoppenot 73’)
CRYSTAL PALACE STARTING XI
Speroni, Ward (Mariappa 50’), Dann (McCarthy 54’) (Ramage 65’), Delaney, Williams (Boateng 65’), Puncheon (Bannan 54’), Jedinak © (O’Keefe 50’), Ledley (Gray 65’), Bolasie (Thomas 54’), Chamakh (Guedioura 65’), Gayle (Murray 51’)
What did you think of Friday's performance? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com