Union II Lose Opening Game of the Season 3-1 to Orlando City B

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Nelson Pierre, Union
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union II kicked off their 2023 MLS Next Pro campaign Sunday with a home game against Orlando City. The starting 11 was full of new names to Union II with a multitude of academy talent making up most of the numbers. Cj Olney, Andrew Ricks, Devon Stopek, and David Vazquez were all making their UII debuts, whilst returnees included Anton Sorenson, Gino Portella, Maike Villero, Boubacar Diallo, Stefan Stojanovic, Nelson Pierre. Jose Riasco found himself on the bench to start the campaign.

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union II fall to Orlando City B

First Half: 

For the first 20 to 25 minutes of the first half the game was played at a blistering pace by both sides, unfortunately for the Union that played into Orlando’s style and the visitors found themselves 1-0 up after 5 minutes, Sallm getting the goal. Andrew Rick was making the best of his debut early on with a few good saves but in the 17th minute, he couldn’t prevent Orlando from taking a two-goal advantage thanks to a smart finish from Acuna. 

Union found themselves 2-0 down after 17 minutes and so they tried to just slow the game down and keep possession. It was working in the sense that Orlando didn’t look threatening anymore, but Union II was struggling to create any chances of their own. However, as the 30th minute approached, Nelson Pierre found some space out on the wing, put a ball across the box, and found academy prospect and UII debutee CJ Olney, who fired it home from close range to make it 2-1. 

There was a melee between every player on the pitch near the end of the first half, after some chirpy tackles were being thrown around, but the score stayed 2-1 heading into the second half. 

Union II
Union II open their 2022 MLS Next Pro Campaign against FC Cincinnati 2. Mandatory Credit: Justin Friedberg

Second Half: 

Marlon LeBlanc was the first manager to make a change as Jose Riasco replaced David Vazquez at halftime. Unfortunately for UII, that didn’t really change the game in the way they were hoping and Orlando’s pace, especially down the wings, was just too much for them to handle. Just after 60 minutes had passed, Acuna popped up again, this time with an assist as he found Tablante in the box, who fired Orlando into a 3-1 lead. 

Union II tried to change things again, with Uwimana and Alvarez making their UII debuts in the 75th minute, and then Sanchez replacing Stopek in 86 minutes, but they were failing to make any sort of dangerous attack or chance. UII had 14 shots in the game and only 3 on target. Two of these shots on target came in the last 10 minutes. The first one was a Portella header from a corner, and the other was a Francis Westfield header that should have found the back of the net in stoppage time, but he could only head it straight at the keeper. 

The game ended in a 3-1 loss for Marlon LeBlanc’s side and it was a very disappointing performance, even though most of the team were academy prospects. Next week Union II is at home to Inter Miami and they should have a more fleshed-out team with the international break ending. Maybe that’s what will inject some quality into Marlon LeBlanc’s side. 

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

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Mandatory Credit: Justin Friedberg & Philadelphia Union