Philadelphia Union got off to a rough post-Copa America break Saturday when the team was thoroughly dominated in a 3-2 loss to New York City FC in front of 27,456 fans in attendance. Saturday’s loss ends Philadelphia’s eight game winning streak.
Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin, dealing with the breaking news of Vincent Nogueira’s release, opted to start Warren Creavalle alongside Brian Carroll. To add, forward CJ Sapong was unable to go and was replaced by rookie Fabian Herbers.
On the day, Philadelphia looked lethargic and unable to cope with the oddly shaped pitch at Yankee Stadium. Throughout the match, the Blue and Gold tried to play the long ball down the field, but the squad on the pitch could not find the right pass to keep any sort of possession.
Frank Lampard scores first goal of 2016 MLS season
NYCFC's Frank Lampard, who made his first start on the season, made his presence known in the match very early on. Not even ten minutes into the match, the former Chelsea FC legend added his first goal of the season. In the eighth minute, Lampard collected a Tommy McNamara errant shot and redirected it into the back of the net from about eight yards out for the early 1-0 lead.
Not to be outdone by his fellow Designated Player, David Villa almost scored the goal of the season in the 13th minute when he launched a curling shot from nearly midfield, beat Andre Blake, but hit the cross bar on his shot.
However, the Spanish International would get his 11th goal on the season eight minutes after his near midfield shot. In the 21st minute, Jack Harrsion sprinted down the field flanked by two Union defenders. When the rookie got inside the box, he hit a backheel pass behind him, where Villa sprinted onto the ball and hit a curling shot past Blake for the 2-0 lead.
Andrea Pirlo scores first goal for New York City FC
To complete the trio of DP goals in the match, Andrea Pirlo would score a dazzling free kick goal in the 50th minute to put the match fairly out of reach for Philadelphia. It was the first MLS goal for the former Juventus FC midfielder.
Even before NYCFC added their third goal, Curtin, realizing that a result was getting away from him, brought on Roland Alberg for Warren Creavalle at halftime.
Alberg, who scored two goals in Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup win over Harrisburg City Islanders, would score his first Major League Soccer goal in the form of a penalty kick to bring NYCFC’s lead to 3-1.
Philadelphia would battle back late in the second half and get a second goal in the form of a Frederic Brillant header own goal off an 88th minute corner kick. Initially, the goal was credited to Union midfielder Brian Carroll, but, on replay, the ball skidded off of Carroll’s head and off Brillant for the own goal.
Despite some high pressure and a possible missed penalty call in stoppage time by referee Silviu Petrescu as Alberg went down in the box, the Union would run out of steam in their comeback as they fell 3-2 to NYCFC.
There are a couple keys to take away from this game:
The Union miss/will continue to miss Vincent Nogueira
The French International was arguably the Union’s best midfielder during his two years with the team.
On the field, he was a key cog that linked the defense with the offense in his number eight role. Further, he was able to make teammates better with his ability to find the necessary outlet pass or control possession will certainly be missed.
On Saturday, fans got an idea of what life will be like with out the 28-year-old French midfielder with Warren Creavalle filling in his spot and, later on, Roland Alberg, which leads us to the next takeaway.
Roland Alberg has earned the right to start
While Alberg is closer to being a central attacking midfielder than a box-to-box midfielder, his three goals in two consecutive starts in certainly hard to shrug off and certainly indicative of a second look at inclusion in the starting eleven. His inclusion any starting eleven does leave the Union more vulnerable in the back if Creavalle continues to start, but Alberg, with time to gel, could flourish in the Union’s double pivot.