Philadelphia Union 0-0 Crystal Palace: Eagles draw in pre-season debut
Crystal Palace played their first match of the 2016 preseason on Wednesday. | Photo: Philadelphia Union/Sideline Photos

CHESTER, Pa., USA – Crystal Palace made their preseason debut in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, drawing Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, 0-0. Manager Alan Pardew's side failed to beat Union's goalkeeping duo of John McCarthy and Matt Jones, a tandem which combined for six saves.

Townsend, Tomkins debut for Palace

Midfielder Andros Townsend started for Crystal Palace, marking his official club debut since coming over from Newcastle for a £13 million transfer fee. Townsend played the first 61 minutes at Talen Energy Stadium, tallying two off-target shots for the Eagles. 

At the back line, James Tomkins also made his maiden appearance for Palace after joining from West Ham, coming on as a half-time substitute and maintaining the clean sheet. Tomkins recorded one shot after replacing Martin Kelly.

Neither club could break the deadlock as the match ended up scoreless. | Photo: Philadelphia Union/Sideline Photos
Neither club could break the deadlock as the match ended up scoreless. | Photo: Philadelphia Union/Sideline Photos

Rust shows in first half

Palace, participating in their first match in nearly two months, took the opening 25 minutes to shake off the cobwebs, making for a scrappy beginning to the match. 

Neither side saw an appetizing chance at goal until Union defender Keegan Rosenberry found an opening at the end of a Roland Alberg corner kick. Rosenberry volleyed the cross into the pitch and saw the ball bounce up and over Julian Speroni's crossbar.  At the other end of the pitch, Freddie Ladapo lined a shot right into the arms of John McCarthy for Palace's first decent goalscoring attempt. 

Philadelphia failed to put the ball below the crossbar again on 34 minutes, as forward CJ Sapong let a header fly in the box. Sapong beat Speroni to the ball but failed to keep his shot down and watched is soar just a yard above the woodwork.

The best chance of the first 45 minutes came to Union midfielder Walter Restrepo in the 41st minute. Sapong slid a ball back to Restrepo atop the penalty area but the Colombian-American booted the chance into the stands, wasting a golden opportunity.

On 43 minutes, Ladapo snuck in another strike at goal, intercepting a horrific touch by defender Joshua Yaro and immediately firing near-post, where McCarthy was waiting to make the catch save. 

Second half kept scoreless

Union brought off nine of their eleven at halftime, practically showing Crystal Palace a completely new lineup. Meanwhile, James Tomkins, Connor Wickham, and Damien Delaney entered the match for the Eagles, gradually replacing the majority of the remaining starters as the second half progressed.

After Leo Fernandes shot a couple early flares off-target, Andros Townsend worked his way towards Matt Jones' net and blasted a shot into the side-netting. Palace took over the match's momentum over the remainder of the 90 minutes.

Connor Wickham spun and cracked a shot from right outside the box in the 58th minute, only to have it cleanly kept away by Jones. The Philadelphia 'keeper did the same to a left-footed Bakary Sako strike on 68 minutes.

Jones made his finest save of the night when Sako slid in a ball for Wickham to set up a one-on-one on goal. Determined to maintain the clean sheet, Jones pounced at Wickham's strike and made a strong block to ward the ball out of harm's way.

A final chance was granted to Tomkins, who got his head on a ball in the box but struck the ball wide of the post, failing to cap off his debut with a game-winning score. Referee Hilario Grajeda blew his whistle to mark full time with neither side having notched a deciding goal.