Philadelphia Union beat London United 6-0 Saturday night at IMG Academy to improve to 2-0 in the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic. In his first game with the club, Fernando Aristeguieta scored twice in just 30 minutes of play to lead the way. Richie Marquez, Fred, Andrew Wenger and Cristian Maidana also added goals for the Union.
“It was a good exercise for everybody,” head coach Jim Curtin said. “Obviously you like to get results and like to win, but at the same time, we know that there’s tougher tasks ahead and we look forward to Columbus.”
The goal-fest started in the 10th minute on a free kick from Zach Pfeffer. From the right sideline, Pfeffer perfectly placed a ball for Richie Marquez, who headed it past the keeper for a 1-0 lead. Pfeffer’s strong play continued for much of the first half and just missed adding a goal himself in the 24th minute with a blast from just outside the 18.
Just five minutes later, though, it was the strike of the night from Fred, who powered home a cross from Jimmy McLaughlin to make it 2-0. Fred perfectly one-touched the cross-field pass and whipped it into the back of the net. The Union had one more chance to score before halftime when Antoine Hoppenot crossed a ball for rookie Dzenan Catic, who headed it off the bar.
“I thought the guys that opened the game were very good – they set the tone early and scored two great goals,” Curtin said. “For the second group playing 30 minutes, regardless of the score, we set the goal in the pre-game meal, the exercise was to treat it like we were down a goal going into it and I needed them to score two goals. They took that task, played up-tempo, had a lot of good crosses in the box and we were able to score four goals. I was very happy.”
With London United down to 10 men, the Union dominated the last 30 minutes of play after a mass substitution, including debutant Aristeguieta. In the 70th minute, Andrew Wenger crossed one for Aristeguieta who calmly played it down and centered the ball to score easily.
“It was my first game, I was very excited to get working with the team,” Aristeguieta said. “You can’t stop with that [two-goal game]. We have to keep working and I have to get to know them. It’s the same for me as for them, they don’t know me. And these games are for that – to be ready on March 7.”
Just a minute after Aristeguieta’s first goal, it was Wenger getting on the score sheet after picking up a loose ball in the box and slotting one into the right corner to make it 4-0. In the 80th minute just outside of the 18, Sebastien Le Toux tapped a free kick to Maidana who ripped a shot that took a deflection into the back of the net for 5-0. Aristeguieta then finished off his brace, and the scoring, in the 85th minute to make it 6-0.
“With all of the forward options that we have now, that front line gives you a lot of flexibility,” Curtin said. “They’re all mobile, they can cover ground – they’re going to create a lot of problems for defenses.”
Making his preseason debut tonight was Danny Cruz. The midfielder had been nursing a minor leg injury and the staff had a plan to play him for 20 minutes tonight.
“Coming back off of injury, it was good for him to get 20 minutes,” Curtin said. “We managed it in a way where he had the full warmup with the team and had a good 20 minutes.
The Union will play against Columbus Crew on Wednesday, 5 p.m., for their final game of group stage.
Philadelphia Union 6, London United 0
PHI – Marquez (Pfeffer) 10’
PHI – Fred 29’
PHI – Aristeguieta (Wenger) 70’
PHI – Wenger 71’
PHI – Maidana 80’
PHI – Aristeguieta 85’
UNION STARTING XI
McCarthy; Fabinho, Vitoria, Marquez, Lee; Lahoud, Fred; Cruz, Pfeffer, Ayuk; Catic