Union Notes: Hoffman nets winner vs. Schalke, Nowak set to return, and more

Chandler Hoffman Union (Getty Images)

By JOEY SAMUEL

Although it doesn't count in the standings, the Philadelphia Union earned a quality win on Wednesday night in front of a paltry crowd at PPL Park.

Rookie forward Chandler Hoffman scored in the 88th minute to give the Union a 2-1 win over U.S. men's national team midfielder Jermaine Jones and German side Schalke 04. It was the Union's fourth win in four all-time international friendlies at PPL Park.

Philadelphia entered the game with an attack-minded formation, starting Danny Mwanga, Josue Martinez, and Lionard Pajoy, and despite resting a number of key starters including Danny Califf and Zac MacMath, the Union were the better team for much of the first half.

Pajoy opened the scoring in the 21st minute when he headed in a free kick from Keon Daniel. Late in the first half, Sergio Escudero beat backup Union goalkeeper Chase Harrison with a deep shot to tie the game. But Hoffman's late winner, off a cross from fellow rookie Raymon Gaddis, preserved the Union's perfect record in friendlies at PPL Park.

"Schalke is one of the best teams in the German league," said Mwanga after the game. "So being able to get out there and match their physicality and everything else they were doing, we were able to use that as motivation."

YOUNGSTERS IMPRESS AGAINST TOP COMPETITION

In what is becoming a familiar story to Union fans, the team's youngest players performed quite well on Wednesday against world-class competition in Schalke. Players like Zach Pfeffer and Jimmy McLaughlin shined in the second half, much like they did last year in a friendly agaist Everton FC.

“There’s nothing better than game experience,” said McLaughlin. “It’s the best way to improve and be able to go out and play and work on things you’ve been working on in practice. It’s a big step forward for all of us and it was great to be able to get some time in a great environment like this against a lot of great players.”

With the depth in midfield that Philadelphia possesses, it's difficult to see Pfeffer, McLaughlin, or Cristhian Hernandez getting on the field in league play any time soon, but they may see some action in the upcoming US Open Cup.

NOWAK TO RETURN ON SUNDAY

Having completed his two-game suspension, head coach Peter Nowak will return to the sidelines for this Sunday's important league match against the New York Red Bulls. With some key members of his team rested and others coming off the high of a win over a Champions League-bound team, Nowak will be looking for a strong performance from his squad in a game against a team that is arguably the Union's biggest rival.

The Union find themselves in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference with seven points through eight games. They've only scored five goals in those eight games, so they will have to pick up the offense if they hope to beat New York, who have recorded three straight shutouts and sit in second in the East with 19 points from 10 games.

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12 Responses to Union Notes: Hoffman nets winner vs. Schalke, Nowak set to return, and more

  1. James says:

    We looked really good in a 4-3-3, I hope we keep that formation going forward.

  2. Soccer Man says:

    Nowak won’t allow an attacking formation.

  3. b says:

    Lol Nowak 4-3-3 that is hilarious!!

  4. Weaksauce says:

    Any video highlights besides the post game interviews?

  5. Mike says:

    Watched the match… and Schalke looked like they were having practice.

  6. 99 says:

    how paltry is “paltry”? are people not caring about these euro v mls matches as much anymore? or was it because the game wasn’t against Manu, Liverpool, et al?

  7. Johnny Ramone says:

    Hmmm. Small crowd. I thought Philly was another team with proper footy culture.” What’s up with that?

  8. weaksauce says:

    Highlights

    link to youtube.com

  9. Jeff says:

    There were a “paltry” 7500 at a friendly so what does that say about Dallas with 10,000 for a league game vs Seattle? Or even New York with only 11,000 for a match that counts for something?

  10. Golazo FC says:

    cold and rainy weather and the kids are still in school – a EPL would have drawn more – but i think these are the reasons that PPL wasn’t packed.

  11. pete says:

    the sparse crowd had a lot to do with:
    a) weather
    b) Midweek
    c) game announced day after the All Star Game tix went on sale.
    d) Schalke is a somewhat known team, but the average fan is less likely to go when compared to the Celtic/Everton/Chivas [Philly has a large Mexican population] friendlies of the past.
    e) Game was NOT part of the STH holder package when the previous 3 (Celtic/Everton/Chivas) were.

  12. Vic says:

    I big part of any MLS team’s ticket sales are season tickets. I doubt the Schalke game was part of a season ticket plan. Not many people want to come out and buy tickets on a rainy weeknight against Schalke.