Prospects Debut as Union Play Crystal Palace to Scoreless Draw

CHESTER, Pa. -- Although Wednesday’s friendly versus Crystal Palace FC was inconveniently sandwiched between hosting D.C. United last Saturday and the New York Red Bulls on Sunday in MLS play, the Union made the most of it. 

Derrick Jones, Cole Missimo and Taylor Washington impressed in their club debut, as the Union went toe to toe with the English Premier League side, 0-0, on Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium.

Jones, a 19-year-old Union academy product and one of the club’s brightest young prospects, opened eyes in the 50th minute when he grabbed possession just outside the Crystal Palace box and laced a heady pass to streaking Warren Creavalle. The midfielder’s cross was disposed of by the Eagles' defense, but the point was made by Jones, who was poised against the English side. 

Assigned the duty of box-to-box midfielder, Jones was picked up on a short-term loan from the Union’s USL affiliate, the Bethlehem Steel, to play on Wednesday. 

But Missimo wouldn’t be outdone by his Steel teammate. The 64th overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft put his ball skills on display midway through the second half, when he stunned Crystal Palace’s Connor Wickham with a vicious nutmeg that brought the home crowd to their feet. 

Despite the draw, it was a good showing for the Union’s youth. 

The Union are 5-5-1 dating back to July 14, 2010, when the club began challenging international clubs to midseason friendlies. Last season, the Union were dominated by A.F.C. Bournemouth, 4-1. Wednesday marked the second time the Union hosted the Eagles. They lost to Crystal Palace, 1-0, on July 25, 2014

The first half was riddled with the Union’s missed opportunities. With Roland Alberg and C.J. Sapong picking up most of the offensive pressure, Walter Restrepo had the half’s best chances in the 41st minute, when he ripped a shot from the top of the box that buzzed the cross bar and flew into the crowd. Moments later, Restrepo gained the left corner and fired off a shot that curved just outside the right post.

Moving into the second half, the Union made wholesale roster changes that included goaltender Matt Jones for John McCarthy. The veteran keeper was put to work early and often, as he made four saves. Jones and McCarthy combined for the seven-save shutout.

The Union began the match with a fairly regular gameday lineup that featured Alberg at center midfield and Sapong up top, flanked by Restrepo and Sebastien Le Toux. Behind Alberg sat Leo Fernandes and Brian Carroll, with Ken Tribbett, Josh Yaro, Fabinho and Keegan Rosenberry.

Fernandes and Restrepo remained into the second half, as Union manager Jim Curtin tapped Fabian Herbers, Anderson, Richie Marquez and Ray Gaddis. Ryan Richter replaced Restrepo in the 77th minute.

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