While the Philadelphia Union played their final preseason game with numberless jerseys, there were a number of things for Union fans to celebrate Saturday night.
Andrew Wenger scored two goals in the first half for the Union and Fernando Aristeguieta added another as Philadelphia finished off a stellar stay in Bradenton, Florida with a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls, winning the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic.
The Union opened their account early, as Wenger floated a long shot over RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles in the third minute to give the Union a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Wenger’s goals book-ended yet another Fernando Aristeguieta score. The Venezuelan striker headed a Sebastian Le Toux free kick toward the goal and Robles was unable to keep the ball from the goal, as Fernando scored his third goal in as many games for the Union.
Yet for all the attention that will be paid to Wenger’s breakout game and Fernando’s continued rise, perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was the defensive effort put forth by the Union. RBNY played fantastically between the boxes throughout the first half, but were stifled by Steven Vitoria and Ethan White time and again once they approached the 18 of Philadelphia. The Red Bulls had better opportunities in the second half, but Union goalkeeper Rais M’Bohli continued his streak of hot play, making smart plays and brilliant saves all night, including a sprawling save on a wide open and charging Bradley Wright-Phillips early in the second half.
The reigning Golden Boot winner did eventually put one in the back of the net after a perfect assist from Sal Zizzo found his foot in the 80th minute, but it was the lone bright spot for a New York Red Bulls team that just wasn’t able to put it all together much of the game. Robles mishandled or misread the ball on two of the Union goals, but came to life in the final ten minutes of the game, making three one-on-one saves on sprinting Union players.
Unfortunately for RBNY, it was a case of too little, too late.
Both teams are scheduled to open their MLS seasons next weekend, as the Union will host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday afternoon, while the Red Bulls prepare for a primetime matchup at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
44′ Wenger (2)
(Picture courtesy of @PhilaUnion)