Philadelphia Union Goalkeeper John McCarthy saw his first start in the goal for the 2015 season and his young Major League Soccer career. Inevitably, someone looking from the outside would think he was nervous, though he seemed in command as the team walked out onto the field to face New York City FC for the first of two matches in a matter of five days between the two clubs. The Saturday match saw them playing at PPL Park, and then the Thursday night match would see them play at New York City FC’s “Home field” Yankee Stadium.
The match brought a different energy to the crowd that gathered (most of them) in support of the Union. Former starting Goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi had been having a hard time since he came to Philadelphia during last season, and was essentially “benched” and told by Head Coach Jim Curtin that he “needed to take some time to clear his head”. Many fans had noticed that M’Bolhi seemed to not have a real “connection” to the defense that they would want to see from a goalkeeper. M’Bolhi also seemed to be at the bottom of every goalkeeping statistic category, and could have been blamed for conceding two goals when the Union played Sporting Kansas City.
However, Saturday it was a different story. McCarthy looked poised like he may be nervous at the idea of playing against some big names such as Mix Diskerud and David Villa. He also was not really challenged by New York City FC’s offense, as it seemed that he had communication with Captain Maurice Edu and the rest of the defense that was noticeably missing when M’Bolhi had been in net. Another piece that had been missing from the defense that came back to strengthen them on Saturday, was the return of Sheanon Williams to the starting XI allowing Ray Gaddis to go back to the left back spot.
In the second half, it seemed that New York City FC really started to get more possession and David Villa was able to score on McCarthy, however, he was the only one to do so. Overall, McCarthy was not challenged much by New York City FC at PPL Park and came out with his first win as a starter and the Union’s first win of the season on a stoppage time goal by Vincent Nogueira. McCarthy will potentially be challenged in the coming days and weeks as the Union travel to New York and then have a quick turnaround to a Sunday afternoon game back at home against the New England Revolution.
Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin was quoted in his press conference before the team left for New York that the goalkeeping situation would be evaluated on a week by week basis as 2014 MLS SuperDraft choice Andre Blake is getting closer to being recovered from an early season knee injury. As of last week, M’Bolhi had been reported as not being with the team and it is unclear if that is going to change anytime soon, but if it does then he will likely return as third on the depth chart.
The Union take on New York City FC tonight Thursday April 16, 2015 at 7pm EST on The Comcast Network in Philadelphia and MLS Live. The Sunday afternoon kickoff between the Union and the New England Revolution will be on April 19, 2015 at 5pm EST on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app.