Even though the projected starters for the Philadelphia Union got the night off, the club was still able to dispatch with the Tampa Bay Rowdies , winning 2-0 in front of the home crowd at Al Lang Stadium. The Union came out with a bit of a different look, with Jim Curtin opting to go with a 4-5-1 against the Rowdies and their 4-3-3.
In the first minute of the match, Tampa defender Ben Sweat was booked for a hard foul from behind on Leo Fernandes. The Union were able to move the ball pretty freely against the Rowdies, who were still trying to find their legs in their second preseason match, and it paid off in the 17th minute as trialist Ilsinho hit a nice corner kick and ex-Harrisburg City Islanders center back Ken Tribbett was able to get his head onto the ball and put it in off of Tampa midfielder Verneri Välimaa's outstretched foot.
Just 12 minutes later, Ilsinho made a nice run through the Tampa defense and crossed the ball into the box. CJ Sapong dummied off of the ball, and Fernandes was there to bang it home past Rowdies' goalkeeper Michael Langer to put the Union up 2-0.
The Rowdies made five subs at halftime including ex-Union forward Danny Mwanga coming on for Tommy Heinemann. The new players provided Tampa some offensive spark, with the Union allowing two free kicks just outside of the box as the result of yellow cards to Anderson Conceicao and Walter Restrepo. Freddy Adu was subbed on on the 61st minute, making his first appearance of 2016. Despite the opportunities, Tampa was unable to convert their chances, and the Union were able to pick up a good win - their first against Tampa.
Notes: I was rather impressed with the play of Ilsinho, who provided assists on both Union goals. I also thought that Keegan Rosenberry, Ken Tribbett, and Leo Fernandes all had good games. Matt Jones was solid in goal as well, and it will be very interesting to see how he stacks up against John McCarthy on Jim Curtin's depth chart (we have our own predictions on this here).
The Union's next match is on Wednesday, February 24th against the New York Red Bulls. It will be at Joe DiMaggio Stadium in Clearwater (right across the road from where the Philadelphia Phillies hold spring training) and starts at 7:00 PM.