As Philadelphia Union II heads to the other side of the state for a Keystone State battle against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday night, the club looks to put on the field a performance that shows all the players’ growth from what has been an irregular 2020 USL Championship campaign.
Union II enters the match coming off a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to playoff bound Hartford Athletic on Wednesday night. Union II rallied back from a 2-0 first-half deficit in their final match at Subaru Park but a 90th minute flick from the visitors made the headlines and gave all three points to the CT side. While Interim Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc said he was so proud of his team’s fight to get back into the contest and be in a position to win the match, there is still much improvement to be made in the opening moments of the match.
“We put ourselves in all these games behind the eight-ball a little bit too quickly and one of the things we talked about was not wanting to go behind too early and we did and with us being such a young team, we get punished for every mistake we make, and that’s part of what they're learning,” LeBlanc said after the match Wednesday night. “We try to teach them that when they’re younger, but the younger age groups when you make mistakes you don’t always get punished for them, when you're playing with pro’s you do.”
Saturday night’s match at Highmark Stadium against the Riverhounds will be a tough contest for the Boys in Blue with the home side needing a victory to have a shot at a home playoff match as Group F winners. While LeBlanc acknowledged that the task will be a tall order for his young side against Bob Lilley, he knows the squad wants to prove the previous score lines are in the past and not how his club’s form is currently.
“This is a Pittsburgh team that’s obviously humbled us a couple times,” LeBlanc said. “We talked a little bit about our ambition for last game and wanting to finish on a positive note towards a Hartford team that I thought we were really good against and unfortunate not to not show up on the scoreboard but that’s a Hartford team that just beat Pittsburgh. There’s a lot for us to be hopeful for heading into this last match that we would hopefully show some improvement compared to the first couple matches that we played against them.”
Kick off from Pittsburgh in the season finale is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 3 and will be broadcast on ESPN+.