By Olin Gay/First State FC
First State FC held leads across both halves but could not hold on, losing to a late Philadelphia Union Development Squad winner 4-3 at Abessinio Stadium. The Midnight Riders looked poised to take home their first points of the season with two goals before halftime, but consistent pressure from the Union attack eventually wore down the First State defense.
From the start of the game, pressure from the wing became the critical part of the pitch, with First State’s Hakeem Williams and Philadelphia Union’s Ian Abbey getting into space on opposite flanks and sending in dangerous crosses. Even though the Union had some significant chances early, it was the Midnight Riders who struck first. Williams received the ball on the left wing, dribbled past a defender and shot from the edge of the box, beating the keeper to the top of the net to make it 1-0 in the 22nd minute.
First State continued to win many 50/50 challenges and kept Philadelphia Union off-balance. After Abbey nearly scored after an intricate passing move, First State took possession and drove into the Union penalty box. Both a sliding defender and the goalkeeper kept the initial shot out of the net, but the ball ping-ponged around and fell to Alexis Garcia. He hammered the ball hard past the scrum to put First State FC up 2-0 just before halftime.
A combination of halftime adjustments and renewed energy saw the Philadelphia Union Development Squad start the second half on the front foot. After the First State defense headed off an attack towards the right corner flag, the Union made a few quick passes and scored a close range shot to make it 2-1 in the 49th minute.
Philadelphia continued to pour on the pressure, and Jackson Gilman met a cross deep into the Midnight Riders’ box for a looping headed goal that tied the game 2-2 in the 58th minute. But First State FC did not get discouraged, and responded over the next 10 minutes, creating several chances and earning free kicks. In the 68th minute, the Midnight Riders pushed the ball to the right wing, and put a cross dead center in the Union box. Yohan Kim got to the ball well ahead of the defender, and it deflected first off the frame of the goal, then the back of the Union goalkeeper, and finally settled into the back of the net to restore the home team’s lead at 3-2.
The Philadelphia Union Development Squad also responded to adversity, and by the 80th minute were knocking on the door to tie the game. Stefan Chirila carried the ball to the left corner of the Union box and scored a long-range curling shot over First State goalkeeper Valentin Kneis, quieting the crowd at 3-3.
Not satisfied with a draw, both teams pushed hard to get a winner and all three points. The Midnight Riders had a free kick headed away from goal and a corner cleared off the line, but Luke Zielinski of the Union would make the difference in the 89th minute. The away team drove through midfield and took a shot from deep. It deflected high into the air, looping around towards the far side of First State’s net, and the Union player stabbed the ball in before the goalkeeper could collect it, giving the Union the lead 4-3. The scoreline would remain after a few uneventful final minutes and the full-time whistle.
After the game, First State FC’s Head Coach Dan Frick was asked if the team was getting closer after the home loss.
“The results of the first two games did not go the way we wanted, but we’re making progress,” Frick said. “We’ve gotten the lead, we’re into halftime…now, can we finish the games? (First State’s) attack was so much better…we had a philosophy, and I think the boys responded really well in training.”
First State FC is sponsored by local Delaware businesses Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists (DOS), IncNow, Gonser and Gonser Law, and Elite PT. The Midnight Riders next home game is June 4th against FC Motown. Tickets for the game are available at tickets.firststatefc.com.
Photos Provided by First State FC