The Union have their first preseason scrimmage of 2018 Saturday morning down in Florida. A 10 am start against the New York Red Bulls, will give the Union their first test of 2018. With the team still coming together, Philly will get a chance to face a familiar foe. Here’s a match preview of the Union’s first preseason activity.
Union vs Red Bulls:
TIME CHANGE: This Saturday's scrimmage vs. @NewYorkRedBulls at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in @VSPC has been moved from 11am to 10am. The match is free and open to the public. #DOOP pic.twitter.com/de7VfPSLWn
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) February 1, 2018
Playing a very good MLS team as the first preseason scrimmage may seem weird to some. Many teams usually open against college or youth national teams; the Union are going right for an eastern conference opponent.
This won’t likely be a normal 90 minute game, these scrimmages are usually in two-to-three 30 minute sessions. This allows teams to have a different starting 11 for each 30 minutes. In terms of players, the veteran/more established players will usually get the first 15-30 minutes, and then the newer/younger players get more significant playing time. But who will be on the Union’s roster for this match, or for all of preseason for that matter?
Union’s preseason Roster:
— Tim Lovenguth (@Tim_Lovenguth) February 2, 2018
As you can see there are some academy kids on the roster (Brenden Aaronson, Tomas Romero and Michael Pellegrino), and also another youngster on trial (Omar Castro).
Union’s youngsters will have to be comfortable and confident:
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) February 2, 2018
Adam Najem seems comfortable and confident in the opportunity he has in front of him. The rest of the younger players will have to be as well.
Jim Curtin noted his thoughts on the opponent and the young players:
“The thinking of a lot of teams down here is when you play a college team or youth national team to ease your way into preseason. We decided to go the opposite and have a test with Red Bull who is as high of a pressing opponent as there is, get you to think fast and deal with difficult situations. We’ll see how some of our young guys hold up under that.”
If a youngster takes advantage against a good MLS opponent, then maybe they will get more opportunities throughout preseason to work their way up the roster. With all of this opportunity, there is definitely an injection of energy in this team.
The team’s energy and cohesion will be put to the test:
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) February 2, 2018
As CJ noted, this Union team seems very loose, friendly, and full of energy. Hopefully this can help the cohesion of the team on the field.
Curtin said this about what he expects his team to do in this Scrimmage:
“We’ve been working a lot on our defensive shape and getting everybody connected, we set it up now for our first opponent to be the Red Bulls.”
The team’s defensive shape was their weak link last season. With an influx of new defenders, this shape will be put to the test against one of the best high pressing attacking teams in MLS. The Union players will all be raring to get some real game time, but may also be a bit rusty in this test. Could this be an issue?
The Red Bulls have already had two short scrimmages under their belt this preseason. Maybe they will be more adjusted to the game speed. All in all, the Union will have to look to not get trapped in their own half by the Red Bulls press. That being said, if the Union fail to do this it won’t be the end of the world.
The result of the match means nothing:
This game is a test of the player’s comfortability, confidence, energy and cohesion. Coach Curtin said that he is not concerned about the score of this scrimmage. He did however put an emphasis on how players progress with certain techniques the coaching staff has put in place this preseason.
So don’t be overly dramatic if the Union lose by one or two; also don’t be overjoyed if the Union win big. This is an exercise more about the players than the goals scored. Once March third hits, then it will be about the results.
As of right now, there are no plans for this match to be streamed on either the Union’s or Red Bulls’ websites. Be sure to follow both on twitter for updates on the games!
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports