The Philadelphia Union ended their 2016 preseason on a high note, defeating Toronto FC 1-0 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, FL. CJ Sapong's goal in the 59th minute was the difference in a match that saw both teams hit the goalpost.
The Union were almost gifted a goal early as the Union's newest signing Ilsinho beat Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin but his shot hit off of the far post and caromed out. Toronto had good chances of their own, however Andre Blake stood out and made some huge saves early, first on a shot by Jonathon Osorio and then a little later on a shot by Sebastian Giovinco. Clint Irwin was forced to make a great reaction save on a shot from distance to keep the teams level in the 33rd minute. The Union were able to put together some really good sequences of passing, moving the ball freely through the Toronto midfield, but going into halftime they had nothing to show for it.
After the half, the Union came out looking hungry. They dominated possession, and it paid off in the 59th minute. Damien Perquis committed a bad turnover in the midfield to Brian Carroll who sprung Sapong. Sapong raced down the left flank and slotted the ball home to give the Union a 1-0 lead. Not too long after that, Sebastian Giovinco rang one off of the post and then seconds later Jonathan Osorio missed a wide open net.
Jim Curtin managed this like it was an MLS game, opting to make only one sub the entire match. Ilsinho came off for Sebastien Le Toux in the 74th minute, while the rest of the team played the full 90 minutes. Curtin had remarked at halftime that he wanted to look at the fitness of his players ahead of the upcoming season opener against FC Dallas, and while there were some heavy legs on the pitch toward the end of the match nothing stood out in my mind as to issues with fitness.
The Union will face FC Dallas in Frisco, TX next Sunday at 3:00 PM EST.