John Hackworth wanted to put pressure on Sporting Kansas City, the back-to-back Eastern Conference champions.
The Union manager rolled out a 4-2-3-1 formation in Saturday's season opener, with the recently returned Sebastien Le Toux running as a lone striker at the top of the shape.
Brian Carroll and Michael Lahoud played in the defensive midfield behind Keon Daniel and the Farfan twins.
Amobi Okugo paired Jeff Parke in central defense, while Sheanon Williams played right back and Ray Gaddis started at left back.
For tactical reasons, Conor Casey and Bakary Soumare began on the bench.
"We feel like Conor's had a good preseason, but we wanted to press and we did," said Hackworth of the Union's new target man. "That's not playing to Conor's strengths. We feel like Conor still needs some time to get integrated."
Amobi Okugo, who could have possibly started in the midfield with Carroll, instead got the nod at center back over Soumare.
"Same thing with 'Baky'", Hackworth said. "Baky's had a solid preseason. But when it comes down to it, when we're playing a 90 minute game against the two-time defending eastern conference champion, and we feel like (we want) to take the game to them, our decision was to go with Amobi."
The Union manager added that there is no fitness issue with Soumare.
"I've said it - they were tough choices" Hackworth explained. "You guys get to write that they were the wrong choices now. But in reality, it's choices that a coach has to make and I'll take full responsibilty for that."
Casey would eventually enter as a second half sub, along with Roger Torres and Jack McInerney.
Among the other choices was moving Gabriel Farfan into his natural midfield position. That allowed Ray Gaddis to play left fullback.
"Ray's been really good," Hackworth added. "I think hopefully you guys can write (that) he played a good game today, and he did. He was very good defensively. He had arguably one of the best guys in the country, in our league, (Graham Zusi) to negate, and I thought he did a great job."
Philadelphia outplayed Sporting for a good 40 minutes, going up 1-0 and missing an opportunity to go up 2-0. It was a late first half goal and two second half goals that ultimately turned into a 3-1 defeat.
"Look, I mean everything we thought we could take advantage of worked," said Hackworth. "And it worked not just for a couple of minutes, but for almost the first half. If we execute on the chances that we have I think we walk into half time up two, maybe three goals, and that unfortunatey didn't happen. Then it's a matter of us managing the game, reading critical moments, and execution. On the flip side, thats what Sporting KC did tonight. I'm looking at the stats, we have 17 attempts on goal, they have 7. We pushed the the game the right way and did what we wanted to do. At the end of the day we didnt execute."
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at email@example.com