Jack McInerney scored in his second straight preseason game but it wasn’t enough for the Philadelphia Union, who dropped a 2-1 decision to the New York Red Bulls at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field on Wednesday night.
Lloyd Sam had a goal and an assist for the Red Bulls, putting New York ahead early in the first half after beating Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath on a counter-attack. Later in the first half, Sam set up star striker Thierry Henry with the game-winner.
The score remained 2-1 throughout the second half as both teams made wholesale lineup changes at the halftime break.
“We were just focused on our own preparations,” Union manager John Hackworth told Jacksonville reporters after the game. “It was good to play an opponent like Red Bull that really tests the things you’re trying to work on. But the whole goal for us tonight was to try to implement the things we’ve been working on throughout the preseason.”
One of the things the Union are trying to implement this preseason is a 4-3-3 formation centered around a trio of new midfield acquisitions: Maurice Edu, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira.
All three players got the start Wednesday, along with captain Brian Carroll in a holding midfield role, Danny Cruz wide to the right and McInerney up top.
Nogueira just arrived to Union camp on Sunday but made his presence felt immediately with a a couple of nifty moves. He also got the assist on McInerney’s goal with a tap on an indirect free kick in the box. McInerney, who scored in the Union’s 1-1 draw with New England last Tuesday, then hit a rocket into the back of the net.
“Vincent, I think he showed his qualities in there,” Hackworth said. “Maidana did the same thing. It’s going to take a little bit of time, a little bit of work to get those guys on the same page and syncing the way we would like. But so far, so good.”
Rookie center back Richard Marquez, out of Division III Redlands, got a surprise start on the backline, along with Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams and Fabinho.
Rookies Andre Blake, Robbie Derschang, Aodhan Quinn and Pedro Ribeiro all came on in the second half. Blake, the top overall pick in the 2014 draft, made a couple of big saves and Ribeiro made perhaps the play of the game when he made a run down the middle of the field with the Red Bulls’ Eric Alexander practically hanging on to him.
“He took him for a ride,” Hackworth said.
Ethan White, Aaron Wheeler, Ray Gaddis, Leo Fernandes, Keon Daniel, Corben Bone and Sebastien Le Toux also came on to start the second half for Philly.
Weather permitting, the Union will now return to Philadelphia for a few days before going back to Florida next week for the final phase of their preseason. Their next exhibition game is against Orlando City on Wednesday at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic.