CHESTER, Pa. – On Wednesday night, Aston Villa did something no other international team had done before: beat the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park.
The Union, who had been 4-0 in international friendlies at their home stadium coming into the contest, dropped a 1-0 friendly decision to their English Premier League guests on a first-half goal from striker Nathan Delfouneso.
After receiving a pass from midfielder Brett Holman in the 43rd minute, Delfouneso turned and fired a shot from distance that beat Union ’keeper Zac MacMath to the bottom left corner.
Before that, MacMath had been brilliant to keep the game scoreless, stopping Holman in the second minute from point-blank range and then making another big save on an open Delfouneso.
Chase Harrison, who played the second half in goal for the Union, made an impressive save of his own in stoppage time to prevent Aston Villa from going up two goals.
The Union – who fielded a mostly untested lineup in order to get some regulars a bit of rest – failed to register a shot on goal in the first half. Homegrown players and teenagers Zach Pfeffer, Jimmy McLaughlin and Cristhian Hernandez were among those in the Starting XI for the Union, who ended up giving time to 21 different players.
Substitute Josué Martínez began to bring some life to the Union in the second half, making a great run before shooting wide in the 73rd minute and then putting another strong shot on net four minutes later.
Another second-half sub, center back Greg Jordan, also had a good effort but his long-range shot sailed just high in the 81st minute.
In the final minutes, the Union wanted a handball in the box when Keon Daniel’s free kick went into the Villa wall but the referee didn’t blow his whistle and the Union dropped their first friendly at PPL Park.
Before losing to Aston Villa, the Union had beaten Schalke, Everton, Celtic and CD Guadalajara at PPL. They had previously lost international friendlies to Real Madrid and Manchester United at nearby Lincoln Financial Field.
Villa gave the start in goal to Brad Guzan, the American international who was just re-signed this week after a contract dispute threatened his tenure with the EPL club. US defender Eric Lichaj came on for the visitors as a second-half sub.
Aston Villa continue their preseason tour through the United States with a game at Chicago on Saturday before going to Portland on July 24.
The Union return to MLS play with a Saturday matinee against the New York Red Bulls, hoping to continue their three-game league winning streak.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.