If Tuesday night was any indication, AFC Bournemouth has no plans of being a doormat. The recently-promoted Cherries, who were playing in England’s fourth division just six years ago, thoroughly dominated the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in the Union’s annual international friendly, winning by a final score of 4-1.
Right from the opening kick, Bournemouth was all over the Union, finally capitalizing in the 20th minute when summer transfer Joshua King slipped one past goalkeeper John McCarthy. Just six minutes later, the team’s leading goalscorer from a year ago, Callum Wilson, finished off a beautiful string of passes to go up 2-0.
“Credit to Bournemouth I thought they put a lot into the game,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “Their ability to press us all over the field. Their commitment, their organization was excellent.”
For a team about to embark on their first season in the Premier League in their 125-year history, Tuesday’s friendly represented a grand beginning. And while the Cherries are slight favorites from England’s oddmakers to be one of three teams relegated (higher than Watford and Norwich), they certainly showed no signs of a hangover from last year’s remarkable run to the title in the Sky Bet Championship – England’s second division.
“I think that some of [our players] learned some lessons because Bournemouth has a team of men,” Curtin said. “They’ve won in a very tough league and worked their way up to the Premier League; the best league in the world and did so with a plus 53-goal differential last season. They can score some goals, they can defend it and I think that for our young guys to play against them was a good experience.”
On the flip side, perhaps it was hard for the Union to get up for this game. After all, prior to the team’s break for the Fourth of July weekend, they had played five competitive games in a 15-day stretch to end June. Then, they immediately turned around and blanked one of the Western Conference’s top teams, Portland Timbers, just three days ago.
But the Union crawled back into the game before halftime when Richie Marquez scored his first ever goal for the Union by headed home a cross from Sheanon Williams.
That’s where the game stood at halftime, 2-1, but after scheduled wholesale changes for Bournemouth, the Cherries were well comfortable on the ball in the second half.
Marc Pugh made it 3-1 in the 62nd minute that was set up nicely by Tokelo Rantie. Then in the 85th minute, Rantie was slotted home a penalty to end the scoring.
One bright spot for the Union was Williams, who delivered an assist. He also cleared a ball off the line with a remarkable diving stop in the 58th minute to keep it a one-goal game. Williams, who’s been with the club since 2010, has seen a quite a few of these friendlies and was impressed by Bournemouth’s energy.
“I think out of all the teams that we’ve played, they were the most aggressive,” he said. “They were the team that seemed to care the most about the game. A lot of the times the teams come in here and don’t really want to play and aren’t really up for the game and we can kind of catch them by surprise. They were ready form minute one and that’s credit to them and their coaching staff.”
The busy summer continues for the Union, but they’ll finally hit the road. After five consecutive home games at PPL Park, the club will spend the rest of July away from Chester. On Saturday, they’ll make their first of two trips to BMO Field to face Toronto FC. A week from today, they’ll take on New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena for the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. They’ll wrap up the month at D.C. United on Sunday, July 26.
Contact Union press officer Chris Winkler at email@example.com.