One of the pillars for the Philadelphia Union has been the club’s ‘Next Man Up’ dependability. In order for that to succeed players lower on the depth chart need minutes on the pitch in order to be ready for important minutes whether in Scotiabank Champions League or MLS-league matches. For the 2021 Union, that ability to rotate players has been difficult with 10 games in a six-week span but the club was finally able to get their depth time in a competitive match as Philadelphia Union II hosted Real Central NJ on Tuesday night at the Power Training Complex.
“With how busy our schedule has been we haven’t had good, long training weeks where you can get guys fitness so this was a great exercise for our guys to get out there,” Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin told PhiladelphiaUnion.com as he took in the contest. “We managed minutes for certain guys but we were able to push some for long so that when they are called upon for the first team they are ready to go.”
Sporting a different badge, veteran Aurelian Collin sported the captain’s armband for Union 2 and were many of the Union’s young homegrowns as well as Academy forward Caden Stafford. Facing a brand new USL League Two side, Union II controlled the majority of the possession with Collin and newcomer Stuart Findlay spending more time on the offensive side of the midfield stripe rather than the goalkeeper Matt Freese’ side. While Curtin noted there would obviously be a talent gap facing a lower-tiered side, it forced the club’s playmakers to problem solve on the fly.
“Our guys were going to have the ball in the final third a lot in these kind of exercises and it was a challenge to break down teams that are organized,” Curtin said. “It was actually a really good exercise for our guys against a good team that has some talented kids. The fitness was the most important today for sure.”
Union II needed just eight minutes to solve the first puzzle as right back Nathan Harriel delivered a stinging cross from the right flank to the far post where midfielder Jack McGlynn fired it home with a left-footed shot. Nine minutes later the lead was doubled as Paxten Aaronson slotted a shot underneath the goalkeeper after a perfectly crossed ball on the left side from Matt Real.
While the scoreboard saw only 2-0 at the break, McGlynn nearly had a brace if not for the post denying a left-footed curler in the 21 minute. Jose ‘El Brujo’ Martinez controlled the match in the midfield winning all but one of his tackles in his 45 minutes of action as he builds up his legs ahead of a possible return to the lineup for Philadelphia Union on Sunday evening at D.C. United.
The second half the injection of more youth as members of the Union Academy got minutes along with Union 2 forward Shaynder Borgelin. Matt Real added another assist in the club’s third goal as he sent a left-footed low cross into the box that was deflected home by a Union II trialist. The scoring was rounded out with a bang as Brandan Craig continued to show is experience from free kicks with a 75th minute curler to make it 4-0.
PHI – Jack McGlynn (Nathan Harriel) 8’
PHI – Paxten Aaronson (Matt Real) 17’
PHI – Union 2 Trialist (Matt Real) 58’
PHI – Brandan Craig 75’
Philadelphia Union II: Matt Freese; Matt Real, Stuart Findlay (Mani Diop 59’), Aurelin Collin (Brandan Craig 45’), Nathan Harriel (Trialist 45’); Jose Martinez (Dante Huckaby 45’), Cole Turner (Quinn Sullivan 69’), Jack McGlynn (Jack Jasinski 66’), Quinn Sullivan (Shanyder Boregelin 66’); Paxten Aaronson, Caden Stafford (Union 2 Trialist 45’)