It wasn’t the prettiest of matches, and it certainly did not produce any breathtaking highlights to be gawked at years to come, but the Philadelphia Union played a brand of effective soccer that netted them a nice 0-0 draw on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps, a result many Union fans will gladly take.
The first half kicked off in a rather slow and timid fashion, with no goal kicks in the first several minutes of the match. Vancouver did attempt six first half shots by the end of the first 45, but all of them were either blocked or sent out for a harmless goal kick. For their efforts, the Union managed two shots - both of them were on target, but also easy saves for goalkeeper David Ousted.
The bright side of the first half had to be the play of Derrick Jones. Jones helped the Union throughout the game with his calm, cool, collected passes and his ability to handle possession. The Union Academy player turned Bethlehem Steel FC player turned Philadelphia Union player was more than just a good story tonight, he was a real good player as well.
The second half began with the Philadelphia Union pressing some more, registering two shots on target in the first five minutes of the half, thanks in part to Alejandro Bedoya. His impressive backheel attempted was easily handled by Ousted, though. Going further, his impressive displays should be generating better chances than they did tonight.
The best single chance of the match came off of a Vancouver Whitecaps corner kick in the 66th minute. Former Philadelphia Union defender Jordan Harvey sent a threatening volley in toward goal from a dangerous area inside the box, but Keegan Rosenberry quite impressively cleared it off the line to preserve the 0-0 scoreline, putting to rest Vancouver’s best opportunity to put points on the board.
The Union and Whitecaps were then able to see out the match without much in the way of threatening chances. The Union were effective throughout the entire match of controlling the midfield, controlling the pace of the match, and limiting the quality chances of Vancouver’s attack in spite of the best efforts of precocious 16-year old Alphonso Davies, who played the part of someone closer to 26 than 16.
Up next for the Union will be their home opener Saturday afternoon against Toronto FC. Hopefully the return to Chester will inspire the Union attack some more to play up to the level their midfield and back line played tonight.