Union II Falls in Extra Point Shootout Loss Against Chicago Fire II

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Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

Union II faced their first road trip of the 2024 season alongside their first-midweek game of the season as they took on Chicago Fire II on Thursday night. Marlon LeBlanc’s side has enjoyed a 100% record start to the season so far, but they faced a tricky away game against a good Chicago side, who had also started their season with 2 wins from 2 games.

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

Union II vs Fire II Recap 

LeBlanc made a few changes to the Union II starting 11, with Andrew Rick, Sanders Ngabo, and Olwethu Makhanya all coming back as starters. CJ Olney made the matchday squad for the first time this season as he started on the bench, alongside both David Vazquez and Niel Pierre who had just returned for US U19’s duty.

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

Chicago takes the first half

The opening 10 minutes mainly saw Chicago dominating possession, taking their time to move through Union’s high-intensity press. When Union II managed to get on the ball, Marlon LeBlanc’s men tried to move up the field quickly, but nothing really came of it. The first chances of the game fell to Chicago, firstly a volley at the back post that went just far wide and then a corner that led to a scramble before Rick gathered the ball. 

The first big chance of the game fell to Chicago just before the 25th minute as a ball that switched play from right to left opened Union’s defense, the ball was put to the back post, but Rick managed to save the resulting close-range shot. 

Chicago continued to dominate with the ball, with very few chances popping up for Philly outside of a couple of corners. The hosts finally took advantage of their domination in the game to take the lead in the 36th minute. Andrew Rick made a great save from a deflected shot from the outside of the box, but the rebound fell to Osorio and he finished from close range. 

Chicago would continue to dominate for the remainder of the half and head into the 2nd half with a 1-goal advantage over. It’s a position Marlon LeBlanc’s side has come back from twice already this season, can they do it for the 3rd time in a row? 

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

Union II bounced back in the second half

The second half started, and Marlon LeBlanc’s side was fast out of the traps. A couple of good chances fell to Union II early on, with the 2nd falling to Eddy Davis but he put his shot over the bar. Marlon LeBlanc made 2 subs during the halftime break, with captain Kyle Tucker and Giovanny Sequera coming off for David Vazquez and CJ Olney, who was playing in his first game this season. 

A couple more chances fell to Philly just after the initial two in the 2nd half, CJ Olney’s cross to the back post found Nick Pariano but his shot was well blocked by a Chicago defender. The 2nd chance was a soft header that was straight at the Chicago keeper. CJ Olney then had a good chance a few minutes later but his shot was slightly deflected by a defender, which made it a much easier save for the keeper. 

The next 10 minutes or so were very scrappy from both sides with no chances happening, the only event that happened was Neil Pierre coming on for Jamir Berdecio. Andrew Rick made another great save to keep Union II in the game after a good shot from Chicago

Union II had been the better side in this 2nd half and they took advantage of the chances that they were creating when they equalised in the 70th minute. CJ Olney broke through down the left wing and cut inside but his shot was saved, the rebound however fell to Eddy Davis, who bundled the ball over the line for his 2nd goal in 3 games this season

The last 10 minutes approached, and Philly had a penalty shout as CJ Olney broke through into the box and went to the ground after a slight push in the back from a Chicago defender. The referee waved it off straight away and it would have been a very soft penalty if given. 

Union II thought they had taken the lead in the 81st minute when a long-range effort took a big deflection off a Chicago player, but the Chicago keeper adjusted superbly and somehow tipped the ball onto the bar, an absolute wonder save to keep the tie level. 

With 5 minutes remaining, Marlon LeBlanc made another change, this time it was Nick Pariano coming off and being replaced by Alex Perez. LeBlanc made another late change when Eddy Davis came off for Ryan Zellefrow. CJ Olney had a half chance as we entered the 90th minute but his skillful touch just ended up being too heavy and the keeper cut the angle off. 

Union went close in added time when Ryan Zellefrow did well down the wing and his early cross found Olney in the box, but his ranged header just went wide. After 90 minutes, the game is tied at 1-1 and the teams head to penalties for an extra point.

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

A Shootout for an extra point

Frank Westfield stepped up for Union II first and calmly placed it into the right bottom corner, 1-0 Union. Chicago scored their first with a fantastic finish, 1-1. Makhanya stepped up for Philly’s 2nd and put his penalty high and wide, still 1-1. Chicago places their 2nd penalty away to take the lead 2-1.  

Union II substitute Ryan Zellefrow took Philly’s 3rd penalty and slotted it home in the bottom left corner, 2-2 and Philly needed some Rick heroics. Chicago with another quality penalty for their 3rd to keep their lead 3-2. Another Union substitute stepped up to take one, this time Alex Perez and he finished well into the bottom right corner, 3-3. Chicago put their 4th penalty right down the middle and were just one penalty away from winning the extra point, 4-3. 

Sal Olivas was Philly’s 5th penalty taker; his effort was saved by the Chicago goalkeeper. So the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and Chicago win the extra point with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory. 

Next up for Marlon LeBlanc’s side is a home game against Orlando City B in 14 days’ time. 

Union II
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II