The Philadelphia Union’s trip to Dallas to kick off the 2020 season didn’t go according to plan. The team failed to bring along any of their late 2019 magic and they turned in a largely disappointing performance as they fell 2-0 to FC Dallas.
The Union’s first starting lineup of 2020 didn’t look exactly like what most people were expecting. Of the new 2020 offseason acquisitions, only center back Jakob Glesnes cracked the starting eleven with Jose Martinez making the bench. Matej Oravec wasn’t included at all and the change at center back meant that Jack Elliott missed his first minutes for the Union since 2018.
FC Dallas had some interesting storylines within their starting lineup as well. Former Union veteran Fafa Picault got the start for Dallas after being traded away at the end of the 2019 season. And fitness issues for standout player Paxton Pomykal meant that he couldn’t go the full 90 and Tanner Tessmann got his first start in Dallas after officially signing for the team just a few days ago.
Both sides looked unsteady as the match began, which is to be expected during the season opener. The Union tended to maintain the majority of possession but it rarely translated into a serious goal scoring opportunity. And FC Dallas seemed content to control the Union in the midfield and wait for their chance to spring a quick counter.
It didn’t help that the Union back line of Gaddis, Glesnes, McKenzie and Real didn’t feel like they were really clicking during the first half. They would show flashes of solid defense but those would be followed up with dangerous moments that nearly lead to Dallas goals.
The closest chance came in the 18th minute where only a brilliant save by Andre Blake kept Dallas off the board.
After this save Dallas continued to up the pressure as they hoped to use their speed to break past the Union defense. But continued strong play from Blake and Warren Creavalle helped lock down the defense when Dallas pressed on the counter.
As the Union defense struggled to gel, so did the Union attack. Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos didn’t have many opportunities to trouble the Dallas goalkeeper. Matt Real, Alejandro Bedoya, and Brenden Aaronson attempted to keep up the pressure as well, but this didn’t translate to many shots on goal. The Union would finish the night with just three shots on target.
The closest goal scoring opportunity of the half my have come from Mark McKenzie who nearly headed in a corner kick deep into added time. But his chance went just wide and both sides entered halftime scoreless.
FC Dallas came out of halftime looking like the more dangerous side as Thiago Santos nearly broke the deadlock in the 50th minute. But his shot for the near post ended up just wide and into the side netting.
Dallas finally made good on their pressure in the 61st minute as Zdenek Ondrasek fired in the opening goal from distance. He controlled a Jesus Ferreira pass from outside the box that he was able to then turn and fire into the bottom left corner just out of the reach of Blake.
The Union attempted to bump up the pressure after going behind a goal and both sides made their first changes for the night. Dallas pulled off Fafa while the Union decided it was time to bring on Ilsinho in exchange for Aaronson. Santos and Przybylko continued to take their shots when they had the opportunity, but they struggled to put any on frame.
The Union tried to switch things up again in the 79th minute when they brought on Anthony Fontana for Creavalle. Dallas was dealing with another injured player at the time, which milked some more precious time off of the clock.
Frustration eventually started to boil over for the Union and Santos caused a bit of a scene by attempting to poke the ball out of the hands of the Dallas keeper while he was on the ground. More time was lost while the referee restored order.
The final Union sub in the 90th minute was Jack Elliott for Real, presumably with the aim to put Elliott as an extra attacker while the Union switch to a three man back line. But the Union didn’t get a chance to implement these tactics as FC Dallas quickly put the game on ice.
It was late sub Paxton Pomykal who dribbled deep into the Union defense and worked from right to left near the top of the box. This gave him just enough space to turn and roll a shot that managed to get past Blake and sneak just inside the far post.
The Union had about five minutes of added time to work with, but they weren’t able to find a consolation goal in the time that was left. The 2-0 scoreline held as the final whistle blew.
- The last time that the Union opened the season in Dallas was 2016. The end result of that match? A 2-0 FC Dallas victory.
- It’s hard to say who was the man of the match for the Union. Andre Blake’s big save was probably the moment of the match, but he looked shaky at times as well. Basically any Union player who had flashes of success also had moments of poor play.
- After tonight’s performance, expect lots of speculation about how much the starters will be shuffled ahead of the team’s trip to Los Angeles next week to face LAFC.