Philadelphia Union net five goals; allow none in 5-0 blowout win against USL’s Richmond Kickers.
UNION NET FIVE GOALS
In front of an announced crowd of 3,500 people (in reality, less than 1,000 people there), the Philadelphia Union put on an offensive clinic netting four first half goals on their way to a whopping 5-0 win against Richmond Kickers in their fourth round U.S. Open Cup match at Talen Energy Stadium Tuesday night.
The scoring started almost immediately for Philadelphia. Within the first three minutes of the match, Jim Curtin’s squad created two scoring chances, one of which they capitalized on for the match’s first goal. Center back Jack Elliot received the start and provided immediate impacts. Haris Medunjanin whipped in a dangerous cross of an early corner kick opportunity. His ball landed at the feet of Elliot who was in great scoring position. Elliot reached his right leg forward to connect with the ball before slotting in past Richmond’s keeper.
The corner which created the match’s first goal was a result of left back Matt Real finding forward Cory Burke with a perfectly weighted through ball. Burke got in behind Richmond’s back four before shooting from a tough angle. Richmond’s keeper, Trevor Spangenberg saved Burke’s shot which granted the corner.
Spangenberg would concede another Philadelphia goal a little less than 25 minutes later.
Philadelphia threatened Richmond’s right side throughout much of the first half hour of play. Via effective passing and off-ball movement, both David Accam and Burke found ample space along the right-wing moving forward.
Accam found Burke streaking forward with just Spangenberg to beat. Burke raced onto Accam’s through ball, beating Spangenberg to the spot. Burke’s touch forced Spangenberg to reach out to prevent a goal, but he made contact with Burke, forcing the head ref to blow for a penalty. Accam step up, took the penalty, and netted the second goal for Philadelphia.
With just two minutes remaining before first half stoppage time was added, Philadelphia scored twice more. First, in the 44th minute when a lengthy spell of possession produced an Anthony Fontana goal. Then again in the second minute of first half stoppage time when Marcus Epps rifled home a goal thanks to an assist from Burke.
Fontana’s goal happened partly due to Derrick Jones. Jones corralled the ball roughly 20 yards into Richmond’s half before turning and heading directly for goal. He utilized his size and quick first touch to side step two Richmond defenders before sliding a pass forward to Burke. A poor clearance following a shot from Burke left Fontana with the ball inside Richmond’s box. He calmly fired home the match’s third goal.
Epps then entered the scoring column after he fielded a pass from Burke with just Austin Yearwood to beat. Epps beat Yearwood on his heels which allowed the Mississippi native room to skillfully cut the ball back from his right foot to his left. Epps took another touch before ripping a left footed shot passed an outstretched Spangenberg.
The ref’s whistle sounded the end of the first half. Philadelphia was up 4-0. The match was all but said and done.
The second half showcased more offensive chances and an old guest in the lineup.
Englishman Jay Simpson replaced Burke up top to start the second half. And four minutes later, he scored.
Simpson’s immediate impact occurred thanks to a great play by Jones along the end line. A beautiful display of skill from the one-time Union Academy graduate allowed Simpson the opportunity to slot home the goal. Jones beat his man with a fancy dribble before passing to the front of goal. Simpson dashed forward beating the defender to the cross. And like that, Philadelphia had five goals.
The remainder of the match saw Richmond with little time on the ball. What little possession they did have, was routinely snuffed out by Philadelphia’s backline. Richmond never truly threatened Philadelphia or their goal keeper Tuesday night. John McCarthy, playing in place of Andre Blake, faced just one shot on target from Richmond on his way to earning the clean sheet victory.
Perhaps the most significant moment of the match occurred in the 61st minute. 18-year old Congolese winger, Michee Ngalina, entered the match for Epps. Ngalina, a member of USL’s Bethlehem Steel FC, signed a temporary contract with Philadelphia in order to play Tuesday night. He’s displayed an aggressive offensive skill set with Bethlehem since joining in April, and his skills were on display once more against Richmond.
Several times throughout Ngalina’s 30 + minutes of action, he threatened Richmond’s left side. On multiple occasions, Ngalina utilized crafty dribbling to avoid Richmond defenders. He also likes being direct when he has the ball, showing no signs of reluctance in search of goal.
As Brendan Burke, Bethlehem Steel FC head coach, has said in the past, “Michee [Ngalina] is the future.” And perhaps Philadelphia fans finally were able to see what Ngalina can do with time and space on the ball.
Considering Tuesday night’s matchup served as the first all-time between Richmond and Philadelphia, the event was a revealing one. Richmond continued their struggles against Philadelphia and truly showed no signs of life throughout the entirety of the match. The Kickers will hope to rebound as they return to the normal USL campaign once more.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, gets to bang their drum so to speak as they return to MLS play Friday night. The 5-0 victory should hopefully provide some effective game film for Philadelphia attackers to build on in preparation for one of MLS’ top clubs in Toronto FC.
Cory Burke: Another appearance from the Jamaican goal scorer in Jim Curtin’s starting XI, and another immensely effective performance from Burke. His work rate is tough to match. His high-pressing abilities are inescapable at times. And his knack for finding teammates and goal scoring areas is becoming more and more apparent with each appearance. It’s safe to say Burke is continuously turning the heads of Union staff and fans each time he takes the pitch.
David Accam: From the opening whistle, it was clear Accam was playing with an edge. He displayed what his teammates have grown to love about him: an ability to go straight at defenders in a direct manner in hopes of creating chances. Accam created chance, after chance, after chance Tuesday night. However, his performance comes against a lesser team and without knowing how Accam can perform against a tougher MLS side, his reemergence in Curtin’s weekly starting XI remains questionable.
Matt Real: After a five-goal performance, just about every single Union player could be listed under this section. However, the Drexel Hill native provided Philadelphia fans with another glimpse of the future. Real was heavily involved in Philadelphia’s game plan early and often. With Accam playing above him in the formation, Real found a lot of space up the left flank. He combined well with Accam and Burke and even rifled off a few left footed blasts in the attack.
PHILADELPHIA UNION STARTING XI:
John McCarthy, Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliot, Keegan Rosenberry, Derrick Jones, Haris Medunjanin, David Accam (Michee Ngalina 61’), Anthony Fontana (Auston Trusty 83’), Marcus Epps, Cory Burke (Jay Simpson 45’)
Substitutes: Andre Blake, Fabinho, Alejandro Bedoya, Ilsinho
RICHMOND KICKERS STARTING XI:
Trever Spangenberg, Alex Lee (Fred Owusu Sekyere 62’), Scott Thomsen, Mekeil Williams (Conor Shanosky 89’), Austin Yearwood, Oscar Umar, Brandon Eaton, Neil Hlavaty (Koby Osei-Wusu 74’), Matt Bolduc, Raul Gonzalez, Luiz Fernando
Substitutes: Eric Klenofsky, Heveil Cordoves, Yudai Imura, Brian Shriver
3’ PHI – Jack Elliot (Haris Medunjanin)
27’ PHI – David Accam (PK)
43’ PHI – Anthony Fontana (Unassisted)
45 +2’ PHI – Marcus Epps (Cory Burke)
49’ PHI – Jay Simpson (Derrick Jones)
88’ PHI – Keegan Rosenberry (Unsporting Behavior)
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports