Derrick Jones’ well-taken second half goal led Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 victory over German DFP Pokal Cup champions Eintracht Frankfurt at Talen Energy Stadium Saturday evening. Frankfurt was gearing up for a season-opening SuperCup match against Bayern Munich and the Union were staying fresh in advance of a home US Open Cup quarterfinal showdown with Orlando City SC Wednesday evening.
Jim Curtin started Warren Creavalle alongside homegrown players Derrick Jones and Anthony Fontana in midfield. Olivier Mbaizo made his first Union appearance, starting on the right of defense next to Jack Elliott, Richie Marquez, and Fabinho, with the latter wearing the captain’s armband. Fabian Herbers and Marcus Epps flanked Jay Simpson up front.
The first big chance of the match came through Epps. Jones released the winger up the left and after leaving center back Noel Knothe in his wake, Epps fired a low cross inches in front of Simpson’s far post run.
American Timmy Chandler had a good look from outside the box in the sixth minute. After a cross into the box was deflected into the air, Chandler hit a full volley over goal from 22 yards out.
In the 18th minute, Frankfurt broke again after a midfield turnover. Daichi Kamada collected the ball in front of the Union box on the right, but his shot was laced around the far post.
Play died down as the half wore on, but the match remained quite physical for a friendly. Fabinho went up Jetro Willems’ back in midfield and received a caution in the 32nd minute, and both teams took the foul as a signal to slow the game to a crawl. Things picked up again in the 43rd minute when a Fabinho turnover in the center of the park became a three-on-two break for Frankfurt. Haller held off his defender on the left side of the box and centered for Kamada, but Fabinho had recovered to block the shot, which spun over John McCarthy’s goal.
Haris Medunjanin replaced Warren Creavalle at halftime for the Union, and Frankfurt took off everybody except goalie Felix Wiedwald.
Early in the second half, Derrick Jones showed great awareness to step in front of a low clearance by Wiedwald, drive in alone and curl a well-placed shot inside the far post. It was an excellent individual effort and helped spring the match to life.
Three minutes later, Epps was released alone up the left wing. He drove at center back Marco Russ as fullback Danny da Costa recovered from behind. It looked like da Costa caught Epps’ leg in the box but referee Guido Gonzalez was uninterested in calling the penalty.
Everybody except Medunjanin and McCarty was replaced in the 59th minute as Jim Curtin got a half hour of time for many of the players likely to start Philly’s US Open Cup quarterfinal match on Wednesday.
Two minutes after entering, Bethlehem Steel’s Michee Ngalina shook the pants off of Taleb Tawatha and strode toward the endline on the right. Keegan Rosenberry overlapped centrally and turned Ngalina’s cross toward goal, only to see it deflect off the crossbar and stay out.
In the 64th minute, Cory Burke found himself with the ball in the right channel with Ngalina running centrally. Burke hit a hard low throughball toward the left where David Accam looked to receive a nudge in the back as he sought to put a shot on frame.
Danny Blum had the first big chance of the half for Frankfurt when he latched onto a ball behind the defense on the left. But with McCarthy coming out, the midfielder lifted his shot far over the goal frame.
A 67th mintue exchange between Medunjanin and Borek Dockal released Cory Buke down the right, but as he sought to cut back on Simon Falette, the Jamaican striker lost his footing.
Tawatha found his way up the left in the 68th minute and stood the ball up at the far post for Marco Russ, but Auston Trusty was quick to close and stayed on his feet to smother the chance.
Ngalina continued his impressive outing by tracking Tawatha all the way into his own box in the 70th to shut down a promising attack. The Union quickly transitioned through Dockal but the chance fell apart when Accam and Burke failed to get on the same page at the top of the box.
In the 72nd, Frankfurt put together a chaotic move up the right and the ball eventually fell to Branimir Hrgota in the center of the box. He pulled his shot around the near post, but the offsides flag went up anyway.
Philly answered quickly with Ngalina again heavily involved. The Bethlehem Steel winger held the ball on the right before feeding Haris Medunjanin. The Bosnian found Dockal who spun a cross to the far post. The ball was headed skyward and Ale Bedoya corralled it and settled for Matt Real to take a strike at net that lacked power. Frankfurt immediately broke the other way and a quick exchange of play on the right created room for Mijat Gacinovic to fire a close range shot at McCarthy, who produced a wonderful save. A follow-up from Blum was also pushed away by the Union goalie.
An 80th minute foul on Ngalina just outside the Union box allowed Canadian-born Dutch international Jonathan de Guzman to take aim from 20 yards out, but he spun the free kick just over the bar with McCarthy ever-watchful.
In the 84th minute, Cory Burke and Simon Falette were both handed yellow cards for pushing and shoving around the top of the Frankfurt box. The cautions were warranted and everybody took a breather.
The Union continued to press as the clock would down, with Bedoya leading and Accam growing into the game down the left. First he turned Marco Russ into a cone then lifted a hard shot over the bar from the top left corner of the box.
In the end, Jones’ goal was enough to lead Philly to victory, and they came through the match without injury worries.
Now preparations begin for a huge US Open Cup quarterfinal match against Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium on Wednesday evening.