A shorthanded Union squad downed Mexican club Pumas UNAM, 3-0, in an exhibition game Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium. Anthony Fontana, Andrew Wooten and Fafa Picault scored the goals.
With eight players gone to various national teams, Union manager Jim Curtin gave starts to a bunch of players who don’t normally get them: goalkeeper Joe Bendik, defenders RJ Allen and Matt Real, midfielders Anthony Fontana and Michee Ngalina, and forwards Sergio Santos and Andrew Wooten.
Fabinho, Jamiro Monteiro and 16-year-old Selmir Miscic played in the second half as substitutes. It was Miscic’s first appearance with the senior team. He turned pro last September as a 15-year-old, making him the club’s youngest-ever professional signing. Curtin gave Miscic the reins as a central playmaker for a while, and Miscic delivered a nutmeg of a Pumas player early in the second half.
All three goals came in the first half. Fontana struck a lovely free kick in the 22nd minute, Wooten got his first Union goal (albeit in an unofficial game) in the 36th, and Picault scored a penalty kick in the 43rd.
Just before halftime, Pumas’ Juan Iturbe — one of the team’s best-known players, with 10 caps for Paraguay — chopped down Picault on the left wing and was sent off by referee Sorin Stoica. Pumas’ Juan Pablo Vigon was also ejected for complaining from the bench. Stoica booked Vigon for dissent, but he kept talking, earned a second yellow card and was dismissed. Iturbe’s red card counted on the field but Vigon’s did not, so the second half was played 11 vs. 10.
Despite being in the middle of a FIFA international window, there were some league games on Saturday, and two impacted the Union. New York City FC took over first place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 win at home over the New England Revolution, but only got there with a 96th minute penalty kick.
Because of New York’s win, next weekend’s visit of Los Angeles FC won’t be a matchup of the Eastern and Western Conference’s first place teams. LAFC was surprisingly held to a 2-2 tie at Orlando City on Saturday, giving the West’s runaway leaders a three-game winless streak.
The last two of those games have come without star forward Carlos Vela, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Aug. 26 rivalry clash with the crosstown Galaxy. His status for the game here is unknown. The Los Angeles Times reported that LAFC was to fly to Philadelphia on Sunday and stay here for week, instead of flying home and back.