Despite the Philadelphia Union's 4-1 loss to AFC Bournemouth, both sides seemed to come away with something valuable.
For the visitors, such a dominant performance at this stage of their preseason will surely be pleasing to them. Bournemouth kept the tempo high all night and repeatedly created chances in a number of ways.
For The Union, playing against a team of that caliber will only make league competition seem easier.
"It helps us for sure, with our season," Head Coach Jim Curtin said after Tuesday's game. "No teams right now in MLS press like that or close down like that."
John McCarthy, Ethan White, and Raymond Lee received rare nods, but other than that, first-teamers filled the Union's starting XI. Maurice Edu and Zach Pfeffer lined up in central midfield after spending much of their recent time on the back line and in the attacking midfield, respectively.
Bournemouth opened the scoring in the 20th minute. Positioned at the top of the 18-yard box, Joshua King let a pass run through his legs before turning and chipping it over an onrushing John McCarthy.
The Cherries doubled their lead just seven minutes later, when Joshua King redirected a low cross into the path of Callum Wilson, who slotted it into the far corner.
The two goals were just a few of the barrage of shots that met John McCarthy in the first half. Despite the goals, the hometown man was impressive in goal, making a fantastic reaction save on a long-range strike and coming out well to deny a closer attempt.
The Union pulled one back in the 35th minute, when an unusually advanced Richie Marquez headed home a perfect cross from Sheanon Williams. Though the scorer may have been a surprise, it's no shock to see Williams create something from the right flank. Once considered the second choice at right back, the 25-year-old defender has staked his claim for a permanent starting spot in recent months.
Bournemouth went into halftime the much better team, asserting their dominance after getting off to a slow start. As we've seen before when Premier League teams come to town, the Union were pushed around by players much larger and stronger than them. CJ Sapong and Maurice Edu, two players who regularly bully MLS opponents, were outmuscled a number of times in the first 45 minutes.
"Everyone always wants to say that MLS is such a big, strong, fast, athletic league," Curtin said. "I think we have some players in that mold, but these guys are a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, and a little bit faster."
In the second half, Bournemouth went with an entirely different team. The Union made a number of changes as well, bringing on Fred, Antoine Hoppenot, Jimmy McLaughlin, Sebastien Le Toux, and Steven Vitoria for Maurice Edu, CJ Sapong, Andrew Wenger, Chaco Maidana, and Ethan White. Ray Gaddis and Fabinho eventually came on as well.
Despite the changes, Bournemouth managed to maintain their form from the first 45 minutes. Their first chance of the half came after a long run from Tyrone Mings. The Union, whether out of poor recognition or fear, never stepped to the towering left back as he strode closer to goal. As the back line finally collapsed onto him, Mings laid the ball off to loanee Christian Atsu. Atsu's shot from point-blank range was saved by a sliding Sheanon Williams, keeping the score at 2-1.
The Cherries managed to score just four minutes later, though, when Tokelo Rantie's cutback found Marc Pugh in acres of space. The midfielder peeled his run, creating several yards of separation between him and Vitoria. The lumbering center back tried to close down Pugh, but he dispatched his shot into the top corner before the defender arrived.
Bournemouth's fourth came in the 85th minute, when Rantie scored an upper-90 goal of his own. This one; however, came on a penalty. Fred cut down Pugh near the top of the box, and the referee rightly awarded the spot kick.
The Union will head north to face Toronto FC on Friday. Former TFC player Maurice Edu is suspended for the clash with Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.