Led by a first-half brace from Marcos Zambrano, Philadelphia Union II opened participation in Torneo Las Americas Elite with a 3-1 victory over Academia Alemena on Monday afternoon.
Zambrano needed just 20 minutes before scoring his first goal of the tournament. The goal began with a long floated pass from the Union II defense over the entire defense and into the path of Nelson Pierre. Drifting out wide, Pierre patiently waited for his teammate to get into the box and sent a hard cross that Zambrano toe poked around the keeper for the opening strike.
Just before the halftime whistle Union II doubled its advantage with a hustle play from the forward. Again the play started out on the wing with Jack Jasinski playing Pierre into the box. While the Colombia side raced back into defense to shut down the play, Pierre connected with a secondary run into the box by Jasinski. With the angle growing too narrow for a shot on frame, the midfielder laid if off for Zambrano. The forward fought off both the defender and the trapped ball in the sandy surface before sending a rocket into the back of the net.
Academia Alemena made some adjustments in the second half and got back into the contest with a finish midway through the final half of the contest. However Union II responded quickly with a set piece finish reminiscent of the 2021 Philadelphia Union with a defenders creating offense. Homegrown Brandan Craig was sent to the corner flag and delivered a perfectly weighted cross into the box. Fellow center back Jackson Gilman timed his leap in sync with the cross and headed it home for the two-goal advantage.
As the South American heat started to affect the squad, Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc turned to his depth to put the match away and pick up three valuable points in the U18 tournament.
Union II continues their group stage tomorrow morning with a match up against Deportivo Cali. Kick off is set for 9 a.m. ET in Colombia with match updates on Union II Twitter.
Philadelphia Union II Starting Lineup
Damian Alguera; Anton Sorenson, Jackson Gilman, Brandan Craig, Francis Westfield; Sam Jones, Ian Abbey, Jack Jasinski, Anthony Ramirez; Nelson Pierre, Marcos Zambrano.
Substitutes used: Samuel Fenton, Robert Myrick, Kleberson Pereira, Jordan Lawrence, Diego Lopez, Paul Killen, Gael Medrano.