Palace’s preparations for the 2016/17 Premier League season started with a goalless draw against high-flying Philadelphia Union at the Talen Energy Stadium.
Despite not finding the net in the 90 minutes, the Eagles managed to give run-outs to all their outfield players and a quiet first 45 minutes was surpassed after the break, with only a good display from Matt Jones in the Union goal denying Alan Pardew’s men a winning start to their three-game tour.
Having not played for nearly two month there was plenty of ring-rust for the visitors to shake off, and it showed in a scrappy opening 25 minutes which only produced a single chance for each side. Firstly Keegan Rosenberry swung a cross into the box but CJ Sapong could only stab the ball into the side netting, and at the other end Freddie Ladapo shot straight at John McCarthy with the Eagles’ first foray forward.
Also unsurprisingly given they were fully match sharp, the Union enjoyed the majority of possession and territory in the first half but chances remained few and far between, however on 27 minutes Rosenberry went close when he volleyed downward into the turf following a Roland Alberg corner but the ball spun over Julian Speroni’s crossbar.
Five minutes later another set-piece into the box caused problems when CJ Sapong beat Speroni to Alberg’s delivery but his header flashed over, and on 40 minutes the best chance of the half arrived at Walter Restrepo’s feet when a quick throw-in allowed Sapong to race away and cut the ball back to the edge of the box but the midfielder blazed over.
Ladapoo managed to eke out a second opportunity for himself out of nothing when he snuck in behind Josh Yaro after a poor touch by the defender to prod the ball goalwards but McCarthy blocked with his body, and that was as good as things got for the visibly tiring Eagles XI in the first half.
As expected a raft of changes took place at the interval with the Union making nine changes to Pardew’s three, which saw James Tomkins make his debut, and the alterations had the desired effect as the second half was much livelier than its predecessor.
Early on Leo Fernandes twice screwed the ball harmlessly off target before another new face in Andros Townsend cracked the ball into the side-netting in what was a highlight of a solid debut from the £13 million man.
As the quality on the field improved, so did the play and soon Palace were looking much more dangerous and creating plenty of chances, but some inspired goalkeeping kept them at bay.
On the hour mark Connor Wickham controlled the ball just outside the area, spun around a defender and unleashed a vicious strike but it was pushed past the post by substitute stopper Jones, and the Union’s third choice custodian then had to do the same when Bakary Sako took aim midway through the half but again it was diverted away for a corner.
However he made his best save when Sako slipped in Wickham who sped goalwards and looked destined to find the net but Jones stayed big and got a hand to the effort which prevented the deadlock being broken.
There was one final chance for the Eagles but Tomkins couldn’t cap his first game in red and blue with a goal as his header flashed wide of the far post as the spoils were shared.
Union: McCarthy (M Jones 46), Fabinho (Gaddis 46), Yaro (Anderson 46), Tribbett (Marquez 46), Rosenberry (Washington 46), Carroll (D Jones 46), Fernandes, Alberg (Missimo 46), Restrepo (Richter 77), Le Toux (Herbers 46), Sapong (Creavalle 46).
Palace: Speroni, Ward (Croll 66), Kelly (Delaney 46), Dann (Tomkins 46), Fryers, Boateng, Mutch (Sako 66), Townsend (Lee 60), Puncheon (Wickham 46), Kaikai (Zaha 54), Ladapo (Campbell 60). Subs not used: Perntreou.