PHILADELPHIA — The result may not have ended in their favor, but that doesn’t mean that the Philadelphia Union didn’t take a great deal from their friendly match with Manchester United on Wednesday night.
After holding the English giants scoreless for 75 minutes, the Union fell to a well-taken goal from Frenchman Gabriel Obertan. Though Philadelphia Coach John Hackworth said he was disappointed with the result, he was happy at the opportunity to play such talent.
“In the second half, we made some pretty big changes and gave [the Union’s younger players] invaluable experience, but the level dropped off,” Hackworth said. “It was somewhat to be expected because the only way they’ll learn is to be in those environments, at that speed of play, against those types of players. And yet, [it's] a little bit disappointing as we expected a little more.”
Though the Union were not able to get on the board, the performance was a solid one from an organizational standpoint—and the Union did see a lot of the ball.
Captain Danny Califf was pleased with what they were able to do, particularly in the first half.
“We controlled the ball well, we moved it around and we played without fear and with confidence,” Califf said. “That was the big thing and probably the most impressive thing. We kept our heads up and played with confidence.”
Hackworth said seeing how a world class team like Manchester United prepares and plays really helps a young team like Philadelphia.
“I think it’s a fantastic experience to see how fast the game should be played at the highest level,” Hackworth said. “Also, to see the pure work ethic of some of the players out there. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are up there, and those guys show that if the game requires putting in a 100 percent sprint at this time, I have to do it. And they do it.
“Our young players, that’s something we need to learn. Not only to be fit enough to play at that level, but to have that mentality to recognize and understand those moments in games when the work just must be done.”
Union midfielder Fred said he was delighted with the experience and that the match will pay dividends.
“I really enjoyed the game and playing one of the big teams in the world,” said the Brazilian. “It was a very good experience for everybody to play and enjoy the game.”