For the Philadelphia Union, Tuesday morning's scrimmage with the University of Maryland was a chance to try different formations and cycle in some players who haven't seen much game action with the first team.
For Sasho Cirovski and his Maryland Terps it was a chance to challenge themselves against a level of competition several hope to reach beyond their time in College Park.
Two minutes into the match, the disparity between a team in first place in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer and a top college program in spring exhibition training mode was clear. The Union scored on a quick counter off a turnover and really never looked back in a game they ended up winning 5-0 on a rain-soaked Chester morning.
"We're really grateful for the opportunity to come here and play and get better," Cirovski said after the match. "We'll take a lot of lessons away from today."
A penalty, two soft goals off poor back passes and a couple moments of brilliance from Friday night's hero Tranquillo Barnetta, and a deft volley by Fabian Herbers that caromed off the crossbar very similarly to Barnetta's free kick were the difference in a match that despite the score showed a lot of positives for a team with a handful of future pros.
One of those future pros who may one day suit up for the Union is former Union Academy forward Sebastian Elney. The forward who led the Terps in goals in his first season didn't get a lot of chances and played more defense than he is accustomed to on Tuesday but showed that he is built for the next level in challenges with reserve center back Anderson Conceição and Bethlehem Steel FC regular Joshua Yaro.
"It's a chance for Sebastian to play against his future team here," said Cirovski, whose last trip to Chester with his team ended in a 2-1 loss to Notre Dame in the national title game in December 2013.
Three-fourths of Maryland's back line on Tuesday were with the team then, including Alex Crognale, Suli Dainkeh and right back Chris Odoi-Atsem, who left with an injury and was replaced by Emmanuel Korveh. The Terps have only lost Tsubasah Endoh (Toronto FC) and Mael Corboz (Wilmington Hammerheads) from their regular starting lineup in the fall, and have gained Virginia transfer and potential Generation adidas target Jake Rhozansky as part of another strong recruiting class.
Tuesday was one of four matches Cirovski scheduled against professional teams for the spring. They've already played New York Red Bulls II and Columbus Crew SC, and face D.C. United next week before returning home to face Temple.
The Union, meanwhile, are preparing for a road trip to face the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night. Tuesday's match followed a double session on Monday.
Union head coach Jim Curtin rotated in several of his players, including defender Ray Gaddis, rookie Cole Missimo and Bethlehem Steel FC regulars Eric Ayuk, Leo Fernandes, Taylor Washington and Fabian Herbers. Goalkeeper Matt Jones didn't have much to do for long stretches of the game and Washington, Gaddis and Rosenberry, who subbed in late, spent most of their time in the final third.