Photo Cred: Jose Roberto Nunez
The Union enjoyed an extended break for International play, but we are all excited to have our Boys in Blue back in Subaru Park. As always, AATSports had the match coverage from Saturday night's Eastern Conference battle!
Harriel, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner
Bedoya, Brujo, Gazdag, Flach
Hagglund, Cameron, Blackett
Gaddis, Nwobodo, Haris, Nelson
First Half Summary
A lot of pre-match news to discuss before we get into the 90 minutes. For one, the Union signed Union II forward Chris Donovan to an MLS contract, and he was on the bench tonight. This was important because Santos was not available tonight (visa issues), and four Union homegrowns (Paxten, Quinn, Jack, and Craig) were with the Youth National Team for the U-20 Concacaf Championship. Side note, Aaronson had a brace in the opening match. Lastly, we welcomed some familiar faces to Chester. Haris Medunjanin, Ray Gaddis, Alvas Powell, and Pat Noonan faced off against their former club!
We had some lively action from the Union within the first few minutes. Bedoya did well in the third minute to be patient with the ball, and he snuck a pass to Carranza in the box. The Union forward took a strong shot at net, but Celentano made a routine save. Overall, the Union spent the first fifteen minutes making positive offensive moves toward net, but they ddn't get a chance to test the keeper again during this time.
I need to take a moment to acknowledge Ray Gaddis. Early in the match he was running down the line with Kai, and he ended up hitting Wagner with a nutmeg. Soon after, Blake punched a ball out to his left, and Ray found himself with a clear shot at net. Gaddis let one rip, and although it did not test Andre, you could tell Gaddis had some extra pep in his step. It is VERY weird to see him in anything but Philly blue.
Enough about Ray, let's get onto the first goal of the match. Carranza's reputation to be a pressing player was on display for this moment. He fought hard for a ball that was approaching the goal line, and he saved the possession for Philly. He fed Ale at the top of the box, and again the Captain showed patience with the ball. Bedoya kept the ball on his left foot and sent a beautiful strike passed the Cincy keeper. 1-0 Union!!
Cincinnati quickly made an attempt to find an equalizing goal. For the next several minutes, the Union found themselves far too close to their net. Blake and company were forced to make play after play along the goal line. It's reassuring to know we have a back four and keeper than can make blocks and saves with ease, but eventually the midfield needs to take control of the ball and help them out.
Well, the bending defense finally broke in the 39th minute. A set piece was deflected toward Vazquez, who was able to find his way behind Nathan, undetected. The visiting forward's header was far too easy, and Cincinnati tied this match up. The mental lapses continue to kill the Union when holding a lead. Often times, it feels like a careless mistake leads to a goal, rather than an amazing play from the opponent.
The whistle finally blew after three minutes of stoppage time, and the Union looked to regroup after a frustrating first half. Additionally, the fans showed some concern for Ale Bedoya, who was seen limping off the pitch. In the presser, Bedoya mentioned that he stepped on someone's foot, so he should be fine.
Second Half Summary
Unfortunately, the first five minutes didn't give me a whole lot of confidence in Philly. The Union were unable to connect on even the most routine passes, which appeared to be an ongoing theme thus far. I understand that the club has been off for a few weeks, but it was uncharacteristically sloppy from Philly tonight.
Besides the poor passing, the approaching 60th minute found the Union playing a tad better, but their attack still wasn't dangerous enough. The crosses weren't connecting, and the middle of the field was clogged by Cincinnati. As the hour mark passed, Wagner was brought down hard, and during the pause, Cory Burke was brought onto the field for Uhre. Mikael only played a short time vs New England, so it was not a surprising move. Regardless, the Union faithful are anxiously waiting to see Mikael at his fullest potential.
Philly finally had a nice sequence in the 73rd minute. Bedoya worked the ball to Burke, who sent a rolling pass across the box. Carranza had a solid dummy, which gave Daniel a clean shot at goal. Unfortunately, the strike was not much of a challenge for the keeper.
This was about as creative as the second half got for Philly, and although Cincinnati made a handful of subs, Curtin kept his 11 intact until the 85th minute. Matt Real replaced Flach, and Chris Donovan made his MLS Debut for Carranza. This move is a bit concerning for a few reasons. Leon had not exactly played well, and at least Real offers a more offensive presence. Considering you are at home, I would like to see Jim go for the win with Real coming on sooner for Flach. Next, although I'm happy for Donovan to make his debut, when are we ever going to see Bueno? The midfield wasn't spectacular tonight, and perhaps a spark from Bueno could have brought a fresh look to the diamond. With the homegrowns eventually returning, I can't imagine that Bueno sees any time unless there is a run of injuries.
Besides another shot at goal from Daniel, Philly would not be able to significantly test Celentano. Stoppage time came to an end, and the Union secured another home draw. Up next, Philly welcomes NYCFC to Chester.
DOOP! - Mike Barrera (mbarrera1323)