After getting blitzed in the first half of their first preseason scrimmage against a Champions League-bound Atlanta United team on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Union gave the Chicago Fire similar treatment in their first preseason match on Saturday in Clearwater.
After hitting woodwork a couple times earlier in the half, Kacper Przybylko scored the first goal of preseason off service from debutant Jakob Glesnes and Sergio Santos and moments later Anthony Fontana dribbled through several defenders and finished off the run with a goal.
The Union held the 2-0 lead at halftime and after making a number of changes, Union II attacker Issa Rayyan connected off a pass from fellow Union Academy alum Cole Turner to make it 3-0.
Like he did in Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Atlanta United, head coach Jim Curtin pieced together a starting XI with several missing pieces, giving Ilsinho the start at the tip of the diamond in a 4-4-2 with Fontana and Alejandro Bedoya as shuttlers and El Brujo at the six.
Matt Freese started in goal and Ray Gaddis at right back for their first minutes of preseason. Glesnes, the 25-year-old Norwegian the Union signed on Friday, stepped into the starting XI, jet lag and all, to pair with Aurelien Collin.
The second half lineup resembled a Union II lineup with Andre Blake as the lone first team starter from last season with Union II-contracted players Shanyder Borgelin, Issa Rayyan and Jamoi Topey along with an unnamed trialist. It’s also worth noting that Jack de Vries played as the No. 10.
“We had a good film session, a good couple days of training, implemented some things we wanted to improve on and to the guy’s credit we had a good response today,” Curtin said afterwards. “The soccer’s still not perfect but I thought the work rate of the guys in the first 45 minutes and the intensity that they played at was very good, created some good goals, could have a couple more. As hard as we worked, we could have worked a little smarter. We had some mistakes, even turnovers we could have eliminated.”
Jack Elliott (finalizing green card) Matej Oravec (immigration paperwork) and Jamiro Monteiro (immigration paperwork) were absent from the lineup again along with Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, who both played for the USMNT in their 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Carson, California. Andrew Wooten and Kai Wagner, who both picked up injuries, have also not played in the first two games and Michee Ngalina has also not featured.
The Union return to Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex on Wednesday to host the Montreal Impact in a scrimmage at 7 p.m.