The Philadelphia Union hosted Everton, of the English Premier League, in a friendly match on Wednesday night in front of a sold-out crowd at PPL Park. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard (of the U.S. national team) did not travel with the team. Jan Mucha, who started for Slovakia in the 2010 World Cup, got the start in Howard’s place. The Union also chose to rest their starting goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, and Zac MacMath was called upon to man the goal for Philadelphia.
The Union also gave rare starts to two of their top subs, Roger Torres and Jack McInerney.
Everton started many of their top players including captain Phil Neville and Tim Cahill, who led the club in scoring last season.
Despite all of the big names on both clubs (both playing and resting), the game would come down to a 17 year old who even we, admittedly, had never heard of before last night.
While the game did not count towards their MLS record, the Union still had a ten game home unbeaten streak on the line (6-0-4).
The game was fast paced with a good deal of action. Headers by Danny Mwanga and Carlos Valdez, both just off the mark, easily could have led to a first half score for the Union. On the other side, McMath wasn’t tested in net as Everton looked a bit rusty in their first preseason match.
In the second half, the Union made a bevy of substitutions. Midfielder Michael Farfan, goaliekeeper Thorne Holder, and defender Ryan Richter all entered the match in the first wave. The second wave included Jimmy McLaughlin, Zach Pfeffer, and the Union’s U-17/18 Academy Player of the Year, Christian Hernandez.
In the 74th minute, Holder made a stellar save on a shot from Apostalas Vellios to keep the game knotted in a scoreless tie. Thirteen minutes later, Pfeffer took a close shot that was blocked but was recovered by Hernandez who booted it into the back of the net to give the Union a 1-0 lead (he was then cautioned for removing his shirt) . Philadelphia would win by the same score.
The Union will now host Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates in another friendly international match-up at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday evening. Independent Philly will be there to catch all of the action for you!
[photo credits: Jim Solomon]
To see the full photo gallery from the Union vs. Everton game…