The Union kicked off the 2017 Suncoast Invitational at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, February 18 by defeating the host Tampa Bay Rowdies by a 1-0 final.
In the first half, perhaps the best chance for the Union came courtesy of a Derrick Jones long-range attempt about 10 minutes from the opening whistle. Andre Blake kept his net empty after returning from Jamaican National Team duty just one day prior. About five minutes from time, Fabian Herbers had another quality opportunity for Philadelphia with a shot from the right wing, but his attempt went just high.
At halftime, Philadelphia made eight changes, with Blake, Jack Elliott and D. Jones the only holdovers from the first half. In the 70th minute, Chris Pontius had the best chance of the half for the Union to that point, with a left-footed thumper following a pass to the wing by Adam Najem.
Pontius would get on the scoresheet a few minutes later by assisting the match's only goal, scored by D. Jones following a turnover. The 2016 MLS Comeback Player of the Year slotted cleanly to Jones, who was off on a breakaway and neatly rounded the keeper, putting Philadelphia ahead. The goal would hold up as the Union recorded a win in their first official preseason contest, with Blake keeping the clean sheet.
The Union resume Suncoast Invitational play by taking on the Montreal Impact at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex on Wednesday, February 22 (7:30 p.m. ET). Tickets for that contest are available here.
Union lineup: Blake; Gaddis (Rosenberry 46'), Elliott, Marquez (Tribbett 46'), Fabinho (Wijnaldum 46'); Medunjanin (Creavalle 46'), D. Jones (Carroll 76'); Herbers (Ilsinho 46'), Bedoya (Najem 46', Fontana 76'), Epps (Pontius 46'); Sapong (Davies 46')
PHI - D. Jones (Pontius) 73'
TBR - Mkandawire (caution) 55'
PHI - Tribbett (caution) 61'
PHI - D. Jones (caution) 71'
TBR - Collins (ejection) 84'
TBR - Carr (caution) 88'