The Philadelphia Union simply dominated London United in Saturday's friendly at the IMG Academy. In the first half the teams played evenly, as the Union had many of their bench players and reserve squad playing the first 60 minutes. The first ten minutes were rather quiet until a Richie Marquez header off a Zach Pfeffer corner broke the deadlock to give the Union a 1-0 lead. The next goal would come from Fred, who scored a beauty from just outside the 18 yard box on a volley into the far left side netting. It remained 2-0 until the first team was substituted on in the 60th minute. New signing Fernando Aristeguieta scored his debut goal in the 70th minute of play. Andrew Wenger would then score one minute later to make it 4-0. Cristian Maidana would then score on a free kick in the 80th minute to make it 5-0, and the scoring was concluded by Aristeguieta, scoring his second of the game.
As a whole, the Union played decent enough in the first half. They tried to force passes that weren't always there which would hurt against a high caliber MLS team. They played very individualistically and gave up some balls that should not have been given up. A lot of the time, players would dribble into two-on-one situations and lose the ball. In the second half, Union coach Jim Curtin had the Union switch formations from their usual 4-2-3-1 to a 4-1-3-2 which boosted the offensive power, resulting in 4 goals in 25 minutes. This also allowed the Union to have more pressure on offense and keep the ball in London United's end for most, if not all of the last 30 minutes.
Starting Players Who Stood Out
Fabinho - Fabinho had a great game starting in the back. He made great touches on the ball and was challenging London United's players for control of the play. The Brazilian left back had some key crosses which set up chances for the Union and earned corners as well. He hustled and made sure he was always near his man.
Richie Marquez - I was not expecting to be as impressed with Marquez as I was. He really did hustle after all the 50/50 balls in his area and made some big stops in the box. The headed goal was also a plus, and aside from the goal, he played his part and contributed when they needed him.
Zach Pfeffer - Zach had a good game. No, he didn't score, but he took more shots than any other starter. Some were great, others, not so much. But he showed great movement in the midfield and was able to get out of tricky situations, earning corners and free kicks and shooting accurately from range.
Substitutes Who Stood Out
Cristian Maidana - Maidana had a spectacular game. In the 30 minutes he played, Maidana took two beautiful free kicks - the first of which smacked the crossbar, while the second found the net. Maidana orchestrated a lot of the developmental play with some one-twos Andrew Wenger and Sebastien Le Toux, who could then swing the ball to CJ Sapong or Aristeguieta for a shot.
Andrew Wenger - Out of all the Union's players, it could be said that Wenger is the most in-form right now. He made great passes, great runs, got a goal, and made important crosses all throughout the match. Look for him this year, as he will be one of the most consistent players on the pitch.
Fernando Aristeguieta - Fans have waited years for a dependable striker to play for the Union. They've wondered when the Union was going to find someone that blends well with the team and can score when the midfield brings it up. It's early still, but it appears that the Union may have found have the answer in Aristeguieta. He had a great game, scoring two goals in his debut. Goals aside, Aristeguieta made some nice runs, challenged the keeper, completed passes, and got on the end of crosses. It was like he's been at preseason since early February. He had a couple great attempts that just missed or were blocked, and I'm looking forward to see what he can do against a higher caliber team like Columbus Crew SC.