Axel Picazo threatened Pittsburgh early but Bob Lilley rallied the troops and the Riverhounds dominated the second half on their way to a 6-0 win over Philadelphia Union II. Sven Gartung ran out a young, dangerous lineup with Shanyder Borgelin in front of recent signing David Rabadan and Picazo. Nathan Harriel, fresh off signing a MLS pre-contract for 2021, started at right back.
A back and forth opening half hour saw Picazo break through the center alone only to be denied. This stimulated Pittsburgh and, fresh off a stunning second half comeback at Louisville City, the Riverhounds imposed themselves on the match. Ropapa Mensah streaked through the center of the Union II defense in the 28th minute and tucked away the go-ahead goal. Eight minutes later, Daniel Griffin, playing in the middle of the attack, received the ball in the box, cut around a defender and tucked the ball past Benjamin Martino, an academy player making his Union II debut in goal.
Four halftime substitutions made Sven Gartung’s side far younger. Jack Jacinski and Quinn Sullivan, a pair of 16-year olds that have impressed with their academy teams, made their debuts and Danny Flores and Saed Diaz entered the match to provide fresh legs up top and bite in midfield.
Pittsburgh, however, smelled blood in the water and sought to make Philadelphia’s young debutants work. Union II were pinned back for much of the second half, but they stuck to Gartung’s philosophy and continued to press and play forward quickly after winning the ball back.
In the 59th minute, Anthony Velarde tucked the ball home for a 3-0 lead and the dam broke. Union II continued to fight and press, but first Lukas Fernandes from the right side of the box then Steeven Dos Santos from a set piece and close range finished off the scoring.
Selmir Miscic came on late to add creativity to the Union II attack, but the focus was clearly on learning shape and pushing through to the final whistle as Gartung’s men fell in their first match back after a long layoff.
Union II are back in action on July 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET when they face New York Red Bulls II on ESPN+.