With a young and hungry squad, Philadelphia Union needed just two minutes to find the back of the net in its preseason opener against FC Cincinnati which ended in a 1-1 draw in Clearwater, Florida.
Offseason acquisition Julian Carranza had a memorable debut for the Boys in Blue as he opened his scoring account with a far post finish in the second minute. 2021 MLS All-Star Kai Wagner attacked down the left flank with a perfectly threaded pass to Sergio Santos. Seeing Cincinnati’s defense split, the Brazilian rocketed a cross to the far post and connected with Carranza for simple finish and 1-0 lead.
Wagner nearly doubled the Union’s advantage before the 20th minute after team captain Alejandro Bedoya wrestled possession away from FC Cincinnati in midfield and sent a cross into the box. The German left back came flying up the pitch and sent a left-footed blast just wide of the post.
FC Cincinnati drew level in the 38th minute with a well-placed, long-range curler from Yuya Kubo that snuck past a diving Matt Freese.
Freese then showed his resiliency and talent just before halftime by sprinting out to make a clutch save that denied Zico Bailey a place on the scoreboard.
Jim Curtin turned to his young depth in the second half as a trio of Philadelphia Union Academy players took to the pitch at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex. Forwards Nelson Pierre and Bajung Darboe led the line while versatile Jack Jasinski featured at both right back and in midfield. All four Union members of the most recent USMNT U-20 camp helped round out the second half lineup.
The sides traded blows in the second half with veteran goalkeeper Joe Bendik coming up with a breakaway stop in the 63rd minute. Looking to employ a high defensive line, Cincinnati timed a volley over the top that sent Isaac Atanga in on goal. Bendik came off his line with precision and cut the ball off before the Ghanaian forward had time to attempt a shot.
Philadelphia Union looks to build off the result when they return to the pitch for their second preseason match against CF Montreal on Tuesday, February 8th.
Philadelphia Union Lineup
Matt Freese (Joe Bendik 45’); Kai Wagner (Matt Real 45’), Stuart Findlay (Cole Turner 45’), Jakob Glesnes (Brandon Craig 45’), Nathan Harriel (Jack Jasinski 55’); Jesus Bueno (Jose Martinez 45’, Anton Sorenson 74’), Leon Flach (Jack McGlynn 45’), Alejandro Bedoya (Quinn Sullivan 45’), Daniel Gazdag (Paxten Aaronson 45’); Sergio Santos (Nelson Pierre 40’), Julian Carranza (Bajung Darboe 45’).