Thursday morning isn’t your typical game time, but this isn’t a typical summer.
The Philadelphia Union kicked off their MLS Is Back Tournament play with the morning title against New York City FC. That’s football club, not fire company for those not following along at home. It was the first time the Union had played since March 8th in this matchup of teams from Pool A in the round robin portion of the tournament.
The rust certainly showed for the Union. They are also dealing with some injuries to their top end talent in Sergio Santos, Michee Ngalina, and Andrew Wooten. Naturally a team that hasn’t played that has 27% of it’s starting lineup missing didn’t come out with the biggest jump. The Union’s most powerful statement in the first half actually came before the game, when the Union trotted out in t-shirts saying Black Lives Matter on top of their uniforms sporting the names of black lives that have been lost recently.
Their first half saw them start slow. NYCFC moved the ball early and often, their youth and spark really taking hold in the first half. A frustrated Union team tried to get aggressive but found themselves quickly on the wrong side of the cards. Both Jose Martinez and Jamiro Monteiro drew yellow cards before halftime.
Overall for the game NYCFC passed at an accuracy of 87% as opposed to Philly’s 78% clip. The club from NYC also controlled the ball nearly 60% of the time and attempted 17 shots to the Union’s 8. NYCFC had as many attempts at corner kicks as the Union tried shots.
This lead to an outstanding game from starting keeper Andre Blake. He made 7 stops in the shutout, which is just under his season high of 8. His most impressive save came late in the game.
Blake made a mid-air adjustment to get his fingers on the ball after it was tipped and was able to deflect it away. He also had another impressive save earlier, with NYCFC bearing down on him from the penalty area.
You may notice the 1-0 score there in the corner for the Union. That comes courtesy of the captain Alejandro Bedoya who finished his opportunity to give the Union the lead. He cut off a clearing attempt from a defender and from the right side of the goal, made no mistake in going across the field, slipping it over the arm of an out reaching keeper.
The goal and other highlights will be here.
The Union took their first win of the season, and tournament which brings them to 1-1-1 overall for the year. Their next game will be July 14th vs Inter Miami FC, at 10:30pm. Of course you play one early the next is late. Either way the Union have started off their tournament well and will look to keep the momentum going in a few days.