It took 87 minutes to break the deadlock, but Christian Hernandez helped the Philadelphia Union capitalize on a giant defensive mistake by Leighton Baines to beat Everton 1-0 last night. The match ended up being a fairly even affair, with both teams taking their turn at dominating possession, and the score could have easily been 2-2 or 3-3 without some fantastic saves by all three keepers, the Union swapping keepers at the half, as well as some poorly taken chances by both sides. In the end Everton probably deserved a draw based on their overall performance, but teams just can't make defensive mistakes like Everton did against the Union, and full credit to them for capitalizing on the opportunity.
On the Union side several players managed to impress tonight, and Peter Novak did an excellent job of making sure his side was ready to challenge Everton, and right from the whistle it was apparent the Union had no fear about this game. In particular youngster Danny Mwanga did will up top, his speed caused problems for Jags and Disti. He did an excellent job of holding the ball up with his back to goal, and the few times he did turn to shoot they were quick powerful attempts. Torres also did well to control the midfield for the Union, and he had several excellent passes into Mwanga or out wide for oncoming players. The only downside to his game was his eagerness to shoot from outside the box, which may have cost the Union a few better looks on goal.
For Everton David Moyes is surely to be disappointed from the result, especially given the opportunities Everton had in front of goal. Jermaine Beckford had several chances in front of goal, but was unable to really test the keeper. His first touch has seemed to improve however, he did an excellent job of controlling a thru ball from Arteta before scuffing the shot wide.
Arteta also had a promising game, although he did appear to have some work to do to reach is 09-10 season heights. The Spanaird did a much better job of controlling possession and moving the ball around the pitch for Everton. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for Everton as he will be sorely needed this year.
Greek youngster Vellios also had a magnificent game after coming on at halftime. Vellios did well to hold the ball, and even when at the top of the box he did not always turn and shoot, but was content to pass the ball to a teammate moving forward. He was cruelly denied a goal in the second half after he took a chance off a sublime Ross Barkley through ball, but the Union keeper made a phenomenal reaction save to keep it out. Vellios also had several other chances that he wasn't able to finish.
Heitinga also did well in this match before his sending off. The Dutchman was in central defense with Jags for the first half and did a good job of stonewalling most attacks, although his lack of communication with Jags and Mucha helped result in two free Union headers. In the second half he was pushed forward into a midfielders role and became the defensive stalwart for Everton. Unfortunately his bad day was ruined when he was sent off for a late challenge in the 90th minute. Upon review the yellow card seemed particularly harsh as reports also suggest Heitinga received a bloody nose from a swinging arm, but the ref was not to be deterred and Heitinga was given his marching orders.
Everton now travel to Washington D.C. where they will face D.C. United in the second leg of their American tour. Make sure you check back here over the next few days as we will have some people at the match, and hopefully score a few interviews as well. Until next time COYB!