The Philadelphia Union hosted Mexican club CF Pachuca Saturday evening at Subaru Park for an international friendly match and celebrated Hispanic Heritage Night, topping the Liga MX club 1-0. Most of the Union regulars were away playing for their respective national teams in FIFA tune up matches getting ready for the World Cup in November, but the team did not disappoint despite fewer goals than the home crowd has grown accustomed to seeing lately.
The first half was mostly quiet for both sides. In the 29th minute, Victor Guzman of Pachuca had a chance from the left side of the box which snuck past Union goalie Joe Bendik, but it was blocked by a sliding Kai Wagner to save the goal and allow Bendik to cover the ball. In the final play of the first half, Wagner sent a cross near the back post that Julian Carranza got a header on which just missed by a few inches wide right to send the teams into the locker room scoreless at halftime.
In the 49th minute Wagner sent a free kick towards the left post which found Nathan Harriel in front of the net to knock in with a header to put the boys in blue in front. Pachuca’s best chance to tie came in the 86th minute when a long range header was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by Bendik to save the clean sheet in his first appearance in a match since September 3, 2021, against the New England Revolution.
In the postgame, coach Jim Curtin praised his younger players ability to step up:
“This was a good opportunity for a lot of young players to get some minutes, and we got through it healthy which is an important part of the exercise. When we play on our home field, the goal is always to win.
Curtin also experimented with Kai Wagner playing the Center Back position instead of his normal Left Back:
“You have to prepare for situations, there was some thought to it too, if we do pick up an injury at the end of a game in the playoffs and you don’t want to make a drastic change, then Kai could be a guy who can do that in an emergency. It was a situation where his skill set and his ability to organize kind of suits the position…so to see him do that pretty comfortably and seeing Matt Real play well at left back was really positive.”
News and notes:
- Philadelphia Union had eight call-ups in the September FIFA International Break which includes Andre Blake (Jamaica), Daniel Gazdag (Hungary), Jose Martinez (Venezuela), Olivier Mbaizo (Cameroon) in addition to Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, and Brandan Craig who were called up to the U-20 USMNT.
- This was the debut match for Richard Odada and Jeremy Rafanello who were signed just before the transfer deadline, in addition to Union II homegrown forward Nelson Pierre making his debut with the top squad.
- Pachuca currently sits 3rd in Liga MX and has already qualified for next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. The Union have qualified as well.
- Next match is October 1 at Charlotte FC with kickoff at 5:30pm. The match will be broadcast locally on PHL17 and streaming on ESPN+.
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