Philadelphia Union II had an up and down year in the inaugural season of MLS NEXT Pro, but they did enough to solidify themselves as the three-seed in the eastern conference to make the playoffs! The team’s unique makeup and talented leadership could propel Philly to go on a playoff run. Could they be the first ever champions of MLS NEXT Pro?
Union II at Toronto FC II
Tonight, Union II will be north of the border to take one two-seed Toronto FC II in the eastern conference semi-finals. the two sides met twice during the regular season; Toronto won both meetings in close one-goal matches. Now, Philly will be looking to beat their northern rivals for the first time ever whilst making a run to MLS NET Pro Cup.
This Union II side is resilient, they have talented youngsters in their side who could just shock the league with an outpouring of goals. The team’s makeup and leadership make them a cinderella team in the playoffs, and we all know how a Philly team loves to be an underdog come playoff time!
A talented leader and a unique team structure
Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc is the best type of leader to guide this young team to success. He does a great job of coupling the Union’s identity as a pressing, very pacey team, while also catering to the players he has available to him.
Union II has only a few rostered players of their own, the rest of the team is made up of eligible first-team players, and academy prospects. This influx of talent and youth has helped the Union develop players at all levels of the club. It makes the team look different each time they step on the pitch, giving them a bit of an unpredictability factor to their game.
LeBlanc and this Union II team will be ready to show what they’re made of in a win-or-go-home game. That unpredictability in terms of personnel might just be a factor that gives Philly the upper hand in this playoff match and drive them to win the whole tournament.
Could this side win it all?
Union II is not expected to win the MLS NEXT Pro Cup, but that might be what gets them to the point of competing for it. Being an underdog, and most likely having to play each playoff match they can make it to on the road, will be motivation for LeBlanc and his team to push to “shock the world”.
Philly goes on the road in the conference semi-finals tonight against Toronto. Should they win, they would move on to the eastern conference final to play the winner of Columbus Crew 2 and Rochester NY FC; if Rochester wins Philly would host the conference final!
We’ll see how Union II will fare should they be able to go on a Cup run. If they make it all the way to the final, they’ll play that match on the road as every team in the west finished with more points than Philly this season.
Could tonight be the start of something extraordinary for Union II in their already successful first season in MLS NEXT Pro? Make sure to tune in to MLSNEXTPro.com where you can watch every match for free to find out!
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Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire