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U in Review — Matchday 2: Columbus vs. Philadelphia

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On Saturday, the Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew SC played to a scoreless draw, at Talen Energy Stadium. 

There was plenty to be cheerful for for millions of Irish-Americans on Saturday, which was evident by the tailgates outside Talen Energy Stadium hours before the Philadelphia Union’s match against the visiting Columbus Crew SC.

However, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations would not extend to inside the stadium, as the 15,000 paid Union fans witnessed their team play out to a scoreless, and rather uneventful, draw.

Columbus and Philadelphia shared an even amount of possession, with the visiting Crew edging the home side in that category 51 to 49 percent. As for shots, neither side were clinical on the day, with both Columbus and Philadelphia managing 3 shots on goal.

Arguably the best chance, for both teams, came around the 50th minute mark.

First, in the 50th minute, the Crew’s leading-scorer so far this season, Gyasi Zardes, had a flashing header that just sailed over the head of Andre Blake and his goal. It was arguably the best look for Columbus on the day.

Then, in the 52nd minute, Union captain Alejandro Bedoya connected with his own header off a corner. But former Philadelphia Union Academy goalkeeper and current Crew shot-stopper Zach Steffen sprawled to make the save and keep the match scoreless.

But perhaps the most eventful moment of Saturday’s match was the moment the Union’s newest signing, Czech international Borek Dockal, was announced a part of manager Jim Curtin’s Starting XI.

Dockal’s debut for the Philadelphia Union would not last the full length of the match, as the Czech made way for the club’s Homegrown midfielder Anthony Fontana in the 77th minute.

The match ended scoreless, and players left the field serenaded by a mix of boos and clapping. Overall, it was a fair result for both sides, who were simply not clinical enough, or adventurous enough, when going forward throughout the day.

According to the club, it is just the second time in club history that the Union have started a season with back-to-back shutouts.

New. It’s how one fan summed up the Czech’s debut for the club.

Overall, Dockal looked comfortable in possession and when interchanging with his new teammates. However, it should be noted that the Union’s new No. 10 squandered  possession on several occasions, feeling the brunt of a Columbus backline that closed down on Philadelphia’s players from the first whistle to the last.

After the match, Curtin specifically praised his counterpart, Greg Berhalter, for the visitor’s strong press and tight man-marking on the day, which he credited for giving his side trouble when looking to keep possession and mount attacks.

In his first post-match press conference, Dockal was asked what he thought about his first game in Major League Soccer. Dockal specifically addressed the physicality of the match.

“I don’t think it [MLS] was more physical than what I am used to.” 

Dockal also talked about his individual performance.

“I have to learn from this first game, to be better for the next.”  

Also of note: 

Fabinho would start, but not finish, the match for the Union, as the Brazilian was substituted at halftime. According to the club, the Brazilian was being assessed for a “leg injury,” and he will be further evaluated.

Ray Gaddis, a six-year veteran of MLS and the Union, came on in the Brazilian’s place.

Starting in his second straight MLS match for the Union, Homegrown defender Auston Trusty went the full 90 minutes once again.

Trusty was tasked with defending Zardes, and the US U-20 youth international did a fine job keeping tabs on the Crew forward. Zardes finished the match without a goal, which is the first time this season he’s failed to score.

Starting XI —

Philadelphia (4-2-3-1) — 

Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Fabinho (Ray Gaddis, 45′); Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya (C); David Accam, Borek Dockal (Anthony Fontana, 77′), Fabian Herbers (Cory Burke, 63′); C.J. Sapong

Columbus (4-2-3-1 ) —

Zach Steffen; Milton Valenzuela, Lalas Abubakar, Jonathan Mensah,  Harrison Afful; Artur, Wil Trapp; Cristian Martínez (Niko Hansen, 74′),  Federico Higuaín and Pedro Santos

Next Match —

The Philadelphia Union will be off, again, next weekend.

The Union return to league play on Saturday, March 31, when they travel to Colorado and Dicks Sporting Goods Park to face off against the Colorado Rapids. Kickoff is slated for 9:00 PM EST and will be broadcasted on the Live Well Network and MLS Live.

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