Olney and Olivas power Union II to 3-1 win over Crew 2


Philadelphia Union kept on rolling as they remained top of the MLS NEXT Pro with a resounding 3-1 victory over Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday evening at Subaru Park.

CJ Olney and Sal Olivas led the way for the Boys in Blue, combining on all three goals to extend Union II’s unbeaten home form to eight stretching back to last season. Olivas scored the first brace of his career with a pair of goals in the first half set up by Olney. The Union II midfielder that added a goal of his own with a terrific finish just before the break to regain momentum for the home side seconds after the visitors trimmed the lead.

Playing in front their largest home crowd thus far in 2024, Union II were eager to break open the scoring early with a trio of corner kick opportunities inside the first two minutes of play. Unable to convert, the Boys in Blue played the long game as center back Olwethu Makhanya ripped a volley from the defensive third toward the Columbus 18-yard-box. Team captain Kyle Tucker collected the pass in stride and took a quick touch to his right for an attempt that crashed off a defender but right to the boots of Sal Olivas. The forward quickly laced a shot but show it dribble just wide of the far post.

Union II broke through the Crew defense in the 16th minute with the young Sullivan battling his marker and regaining possession for the Boys in Blue. The 14-year-old shot a pass to CJ Olney out on the left flank and into open space. Looking up, Olney teed up a perfectly weighted cross into the box that Olivas put home with a sliding finish.

Crew 2 sought an game-tying goal nearly 10 minutes after falling behind, turning to a patient build up to try and turn the aggressive nature of the Union’s defense against them. Makhanya and Pierre remained in sync with Columbus earning a corner chance in the 25th minute but saw a headed effort from Adrián González go wide of Andrew Rick in net.

Philly doubled its advantage just past the half hour mark with defense leading to offense. Carlos Rojas successfully won a tackle near the center stripe and got the ball to Olney. The midfielder again shot the ball to the hot boots of Sal Olivas near the top of the box. With the three center backs dropping deep, the 17-year-old ripped a curler from 20 yards out that sent Subaru Park in a frenzy.

The match wasn’t done producing goals with both sides finding the back of the night in quick succession before heading to the locker room. Columbus trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the 43rd minute via a quick attack that saw a fortunate deflection after Frankie Westfield blocked a shot. The ball went inside the six to Gibran Rayo who spun and laid off the ball to Gonzalez for the finish at the back post.

The momentum for the visitors didn’t last long however as Rojas sparked an attack on the right side and shot a pass forward. Originally intended for Olivas, the ball saw a slight deflection from a defender but Olney chased it down and found himself battling the final defender back Christopher Pearson. Olney turned on the brakes with a quick spin move before lacing a shot past the keeper to re-establish the two-goal advantage going into the locker room.

Columbus made a defensive change at the break with Head Coach Kelvin Jones sending in Diego Almeida in place of Ty Nero. The MLS NEXT Pro inaugural champions nearly changed the scoreline as well however Tristan Brown saw his effort in the second minute of the half go wide.

The Olney to Olivas connection continued to produce scoring chances with the duo nearly connecting on a third in the 54th minute. Olney drifted out wide to the left and saw space allowed to him courtesy of the overlapping run from Westfield. With yards of space, Olney lofted a cross into the box to Olivas with the hat trick attempt coming up just short as the leaping redirection went over the crossbar.

Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc continued the youth movement with Jamir Johnson entering for Sullivan in the 55th minute. The U-17 attacker needed little time to test the Crew’s backline as he got out wide four minutes after taking to the field and forcing a diving stop from the keeper. Union II again nearly got a fourth on the following attempt as Tucker’s corner kick service connected with Neil Pierre at the far post but the center back’s header went just wide of the post.

Andrew Rick was clutch at the hour mark as Crew 2 launched a counterattack with a cutback pass to the penalty spot forcing the Union keeper to go post to post. Rick was perfect with his positioning, making the diving stop to his left to deny any momentum for the Ohio side.

Union II’s youth movement continued with a triple change in the 73rd as Alex Perez, Kellan LeBlanc and Anisse Saidi refreshed the lineup. The fresh legs nearly saw the Boys in Blue get another as Olney chased down another promising volley on the left side. Seeking to set up another goal like his first one, the 17-year-old whipped a curling cross to the far post but the Crew chopped it down before LeBlanc could get to it.

Columbus didn’t go down without a fight but couldn’t find a way to get a second past Rick in net. Christopher Pearson and Nicolas Rincon forced saves from the Union’s keeper in a matter of seconds however the Boys in Blue saw out the result to claim the three points.

Union II is back in action later this week as they host FC Cincinnati 2 on Thursday night. The Boys in Blue look to avenge their only loss of the regular season in front of their home fans with kick off from Subaru Park set for 6PM ET.

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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