Andre Blake stood tall at the end and the Philadelphia Union left Cincinnati with a road point after a 0-0 draw.
Ray Gaddis and Jose Martinez returned to the first eleven for Jim Curtin as he led his team out against former Union talisman Haris Medunjanin.
On Cincy’s bouncy turf, the match was always going to be a rough-and-tumble affair. Kacper Przybylko was fouled less than a minute into the match and Cincinnati committed 19 more infractions before the final whistle.
The Union answered with 14 fouls of their own, but as the two sides tore into each other physically, they struggled to create chances to score. FCC attacked through Joe Gyau up the Union right and Philly sought to play into the feet of their strikers, Przybylko and Andrew Wooten. In the 19th minute, Joe Gyau picked up the match’s first card, but it was far from the last the teams would collect.
The first half ended with four total shots, two by Jurgen Locadia and two off the foot of Martinez. All four shots came from outside the box and none were on frame.
The second half picked up the same way the first ended: Kendall Waston once again climbed Przybylko’s back and finally earned a caution of his own.
An injury to Ray Gaddis instigated a double-switch from Curtin as both Gaddis and Wooten made way for Matt Real and Ilsinho.
Locadia whiffed on a tap-in in the 61st minute before firing another long bomb wide of frame in the 64th.
Ilsinho finally created a chance by driving down the right channel and flicking a ball across the box. Sergio Santos replaced Aaronson in the 72nd minute and put Spencer Richey under pressure with a drive from the left side that eventually spun away from goal.
As the match wore down and the teams crossed the combined 30 foul mark, Joe Gyau popped free to test Blake from close range. Though he had little to do all match, the Union goalie was up to the challenge and pushed the shot wide.
Philly returns to Subaru Park on Sunday September 27 for their second-ever match against expansion side Inter Miami CF. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on PHL17.