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Union play Chicago Fire to scoreless draw

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The Union created a ton of chances but couldn’t produce a breakthrough in a dull draw with the Fire in Clearwater.

Auston Trusty training with the Union
Trey Madara / Brotherly Game

The Philadelphia Union had a number of chances but were unable to put the finishing touches on any of them in a dull scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire in Clearwater on Thursday morning.

Head coach Jim Curtin used 21 players in the match, opting for a veteran lineup over the first hour of play before bringing in a host of younger players and Bethlehem Steel FC defender Olivier Mbaizo to see the match out.

“Overall, we didn’t give up a lot of chances today so from the defensive standpoint we’re happy,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the match at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex. “We’re able to play eight or nine balls behind them where it looked like preseason where if it’s a yard less here or there - Fafa had two where he could have been one-on-one with the goalkeeper, David had a couple as well and CJ also. So we talked about those things. Happy with the performance but that final technical execution on the final ball was a little bit off today.”

It was the first time in three preseason games the Union offense failed to score. The Union lost the first match 4-3 to New York Red Bulls last week and put on an offensive show in a 5-1 win over South Florida on Tuesday.

Homegrown center back Auston Trusty was a bright spot in the match, pairing well with Jack Elliott to shut down the Fire attack.

“It feels good that they believe in me and they let me play, just more opportunities, more for me to take advantage,” Trusty said.

Curtin specifically noted the play of Marcus Epps, the second-year winger who subbed in for David Accam in the 62nd minute.

“Marcus Epps has now consistently shown in a lot of games that he is really playing well and sharp and confident,” Curtin said.

John McCarthy had the start in goal, giving way to Jake McGuire in the 62nd minute.

“A shutout is good, it shows a good defensive performance but we’re looking to build on it,” McCarthy said.

Ilsinho earned the start at the No. 10 position and while there were plenty of chances created in the first half, many came via long passes from either Haris Mendujanin or the back line.

Adam Najem subbed in at halftime and earned a couple of dangerous free kicks he was unable to turn into goal-scoring opportunities. Eric Ayuk looked lively on the ball in his 28 minutes off the bench, pushing the attack forward and earning a free kick just outside the 18.

After a return to Philadelphia from February 9-11, the Union travel back to Clearwater for a second camp from February 12-25, a span that includes the Suncoast Invitational, which they kick off with a game against D.C. United on February 17, at 5 p.m.

Philadelphia Union Lineup:

John McCarthy (Jake McGuire 62’); Fabinho (Olivier Mbaizo 62’), Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott (Josh Yaro 62’), Ray Gaddis (Keegan Rosenberry HT); Haris Medunjanin (Warren Creavalle 62’), Alejandro Bedoya © (Derrick Jones 62’); David Accam (Marcus Epps 62’), Ilsinho (Adam Najem HT), Fafa Picault (Eric Ayuk 62’); CJ Sapong (Jay Simpson HT)