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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting Stoke'd: A look at the Union's friendly

A quick look at the Stoke City roster makes it clear why the Barclay’s Premier League club would want to head to the United States for its preseason trip. That junket concludes Tuesday when the Potters come to PPL Park to face the Union.

It should be an interesting meeting between the English club, which is wrapping up a three-game swing that includes a 1-0 win over FC Dallas and a 2-0 loss to Houston. Both of those clubs are ones with which the club has done previous transfer business – Brek Shea from Dallas, Geoff Cameron from Houston – making the Union unique in the fixture list.

Here’s the preview of the game via Stoke’s site (including a refreshing outsider’s look at the Union’s standing), while this blog from The Sentinel in Staffordshire is informative in providing info on the Potters’ trip.

A handful of quick bullet points on the team:

- Stoke certainly has a Western hemisphere influence. In addition to Shea and Cameron, Stoke’s roster includes American midfielder Maurice Edu (who spent most of last season on loan with Turkish club Bursaspor ). There’s also Keon Daniel’s Trinidad and Tobago teammate Kenwyne Jones and Honduran midfield Wilson Palacios. Shea, who scored the game-winner for the United States in the Gold Cup final Sunday is unlikely to play, while Jones, who was also at the Gold Cup with the Soca Warriors, got some action last Thursday against Houston.

- It’s an offseason of flux for the Potters. Out goes manager Tony Pulis after seven seasons in charge, five in the Premier League including making the 2010-11 FA Cup Final. In two stints over three divisions, Pulis navigated the Potters for close to 500 games, finishing 11th in the Premier League last season, just six points from relegation. In comes Mark Hughes, whose managerial path has become increasingly checkered by failed stints at Manchester City, Fulham, and Queens Park Rangers after initial success at Blackburn. The Welshman and former Manchester United, Chelsea and Barcelona striker is hoping to install a new mentality at Stoke, a team often criticized last year for blatantly unattractive football.

- The on-field product may not always be the most appealing, but the names Stoke brings from Staffordshire are quite recognizable. In addition to the CONCACAF quintet, there’s highly-touted Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, former Chelsea defender Robert Huth and well-traveled 6-foot-7 English striker Peter Crouch. Also of note are captain Ryan Shawcross, Scottish international/Liverpool castoff Charlie Adam and former Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant.
- Both of Stoke’s summer transfer signings, former Barcelona defender Marc Muniesa and young Dutch defender Erik Pieters, are in the side.

- The only goal for Stoke on the trip has come via Jonathan Wilkinson in the 1-0 win over Dallas. Giles Barnes (the Englishman formerly of Derby County and West Brom) and Andrew Driver (formerly of Scottish club Hearts) had the goals in Houston’s 2-0 win. Things weren’t entirely tame, as defender Andy Wilkinson was sent off against Dallas.

Stoke’s full travel roster (per a Union release):

Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic, Thomas Sorensen, Jack Butland

Defenders: Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross, Robert Huth, Erik Pieters, Ryan Shotton, Andy Wilkinson, Marc Wilson, Marc Muniesa, Jordan Keane

Midfielders: Wilson Palacios, Charlie Adam, Florent Cuvelier, Glenn Whelan, Steven N’Zonzi, Matthew Etherington, Michael Kightly, Jamie Ness, Maurice Edu, Brek Shea

Strikers: Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome, Jonathan Walters, Kenwyne Jones

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