While there is never a good time to have an injury, especially at goalkeeper, the Philadelphia Union may be able to give Matt Freese his first MLS start against a struggling offensive team Saturday when they face the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The 20-year-old Freese was pressed into action last Saturday when No. 1 Andre Blake suffered a hamstring injury early in the second half of Philadelphia’s 3-0 victory over Montreal. Freese entered the game with the Union (4-1-3) already up two, and Alejandro Bedoya scored two minutes after his introduction to lessen the stress.
Freese needed to make only one save in the final 36 minutes as Philadelphia recorded its third shutout in five matches and fourth win in that span.
“I’m not someone that dwells on the past, I’m just moving forward and trying to be ready for whatever is next for me so I was back to work the day after.” Freese told the club’s official website regarding his debut. “I’m just trying to focus on being there at practice every day, being early, leaving late and doing what I’ve been doing for the past three months and continuing to learn as much as I can.”
Union coach Jim Curtin has not publicly announced whether Freese or Carlos Miguel Coronel will start, only that Blake has been ruled out of this contest. Coronel did win his lone start this season, a 3-0 victory over Columbus on March 23.
Regardless of who is between the sticks, they will be facing a Whitecaps team that has a Western Conference-low six goals. The goals have come from six different players, but none of them came last Saturday in a 1-0 defeat at Orlando City.
Vancouver (1-2-5) nearly held out for a draw, only to concede on 88 minutes. Coach Marc Dos Santos made five changes to his starting XI from the side that beat Los Angeles FC 1-0 and played a five-man back that featured a forward pairing of Fredy Montero and Yordy Reyna.
“We have to give better balls to the forward players,” midfielder Jon Erice told Vancouver’s official website Thursday. “If we don’t give them good balls, it will be difficult for them to score. We need points, we need to win at home. In the last five games we have had tough games against big teams, and we gave good performances. We got points against LAFC, that means we are growing.”
Philadelphia walloped Vancouver 4-0 in the lone meeting last year as Borek Dockal had a brace before Ilsinho and Fafa Picault added penalties the final 16 minutes after Jose Aja was given a straight red card. The Union had a 24-2 edge in shots, including 11-1 on target.
(Yordy Reyna photo courtesy Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports)