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Union surrender two early goals before pushing Real Madrid in 2-1 defeat

 Amobi Okugo (Reuters)

When the Philadelphia Union surrendered two early goals to mighty Real Madrid on Saturday night, the MLS Eastern Conference leaders looked like a team destined to be the latest MLS team blown away by a European powerhouse.

Rather than crumble, the Union shook off the poor start and gave Real Madrid the toughest test the Spanish giants have faced to date during the World Football Challenge. Rookie Michael Farfan scored a beautiful late goal and Roger Torres and Jack McInerney came close to finding equalizers before time ran out, leaving Real Madrid with a 2-1 victory at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Just three days removed from beating English club Everton in a friendly, 1-0, Philadelphia trotted out a stronger squad against a Real Madrid side playing its third match in seven days, but that didn't stop the Spanish giants from dominating early. Madrid's passing troubled the Union, but Philadelphia ultimately settled down and stood toe-to-toe with a team that battered the Los Angeles Galaxy, 4-0, just a week ago.

Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes, two of the best defenders in MLS this season, committed early errors to help Real Madrid's reserve-filled starting lineup jump out to a 2-0 lead as Jose Maria Cajellon opened the scoring and Mesut Ozil took a Karim Benzema pass for his own goal.

The quick two-goal lead threatened to grow larger as Real Madrid continued to dominate, but Philadelphia eventually settled down and kept the score 2-0 into the second half, where the Union began to take the game to their opponent.

The Union finally broke through in the 80th minute when Michael Farfan chipped Real Madrid goalkeeper Tomas Mejias. Roger Torres nearly buried an equalizer, blasting a long-range shot that skipped off the crossbar.

Mejias preserved the Real Madrid victory with a diving save of a late McInerney shot.

Here are the match highlights.

What did you think of the match? Impressed with Philadelphia? Surprised Cristiano Ronaldo didn't score?

Share your thoughts.


  1. Jose Maria Callejon looks really good. I just feel like he will never break into the side because of their big spending ways. I still regret Chelsea missing out on Mesut Ozil.

  2. Mwanga is a stud, but if you watch him closely, he can’t manage himself for 90 minutes. When he starts he is less effective (1 goal) then when he comes on as a sub (4 goals). I’d love to see him going 90, but at the moment Nowak is correct in his deployment of him. As he matures i’m sure he will learn how to manage his body for a full 90. I moan and groan at times in PPL as well, but the longer this team is here, the clearer it is that Nowak knows his stuff!

  3. I was extremely impressed with the way the Union played… only saw the second half, but the young reserve players seem to exhibit a level of ball control skills lacking in American soccer.

    Both Farfan brothers had moments of excellence… obviously the goal for Michael, but watching Gabriel shut down Kaka a couple of times was impressive too.

    The best thing about all the young players, though, is how many are USMNT eligible!

  4. The Union should be proud of the way they played one of the top teams in the world, especially in the second half. They had several scorring chances that could easily have tied the game, even in the first half. Mwanga is the real thing, but don’t overlook Jack McInerney. He’s still very young, but plays with great skill and attitude. He’ll be a starter before long.

  5. Great game, great effort by the Union.

    “… the MLS Eastern Conference leaders looked like a team destined to be the latest MLS team blown away by a European powerhouse…”

    To the surprise of many none of the MLS sides first elevens have been blown out. They only play one half, and have done a very good job. It is only the reserves that have been blown away. Congrats to the Union and other teams for some very good efforts.

  6. Mwanga IS a stud which is why it’s bonkers that he isn’t playing more. The folks who sit near me at PPL Park all agree and we all shake our heads in disbelief each time Mwanga walks out with the guys on the bench and not with the starting 11.

    From what I’ve seen so far this season, he’s one of the best 10 (or 5?) forwards in the league. My only hope is that Nowak is saving him for the second half/playoffs.

  7. I think we define “all” differently, when you’re referring to:

    “all the teams are playing these friendlies around the same time against the most popular teams in the world, who is it hurting?”

    That’s just it, not “all” teams are. So, you’re simply proving the point of the other side of the argument.

  8. I’d normally agree, but it’s all-star week, and we only have one going. Everyone else gets rest.
    Plus you gotta do what you can to get the brand out there. There’s not better way than playing well against the best teams in the world.
    I understand they don’t play full squads, and it’s still preseason, but the audiences they’re trying to pull in aren’t as aware.
    All in all, a good few days.

  9. I have watched all of these exhibition games, and they all work the same way…somewhat competitive first half when the full strength side is on the field and total destruction in the second when the reserves come in. Last night, though, was different. The Union’s reserves did well. If this was an indication of what is to come for the Union, I believe they will be a powerhouse in the league for years to come. Plentiful, young to mid age(22-29), cheap good’s the way you win in the MLS. Kudos to Nowak, he knows how to build a winning club in the MLS.

  10. The second 45 minutes in both the Madrid and everton games was mostly Philly reserve and academy players. The kids didn’t look starstruck at all.

    The Union rep’in MLS very well.

  11. That was an entertaining game. The Union gave Real all it could handle what with the heat and their preseason form. A 2-2 scoreline would have been more reflective of the game.

    I think these games do more good then harm in that our reserves get a chance to play against world class competition. Think of all the good these 2 games (Everton/RM) have done to the confidence of Torres, Mwanga, McInerney, Mclaughlin, Richter, Pfeffer and others. When LA put in the reserves against RM they got blown out. Union puts in reserves and they win and almost tie games. Great day in Philly…GO UNION

  12. Impressive performance by the Union tonight, aside from the two early defensive lapses and some missed opportunities in the first half (Ruiz, etc.).

    They played plenty of bench players and still managed to remain competitive, imagine that! Lots of young talent on teams like the Union and DC United. Meanwhile the Red Bulls are not even 11 deep….

  13. If all the teams are playing these friendlies around the same time against the most popular teams in the world who is it hurting? I agree its not good for the MLS teams to play so many games in a short span but if all the teams are doing it everyone is at the same disadvantage.

  14. Good on them, but no MLS team should be playing two friendlies so close together in the middle of the season. Eyes on the prize and all that.

  15. Couple early miscues while the boys worked out the jitters. From then on the U played well. Really proud of their efforts. Amazed at the young talent on this squad. Novak has built this team for the future.


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