Only two matches remain in Philadelphia Union II’s inaugural MLSNEXTPro season and this weekend’s showdown with Orlando City B is incredibly consequential. Kick off from Chester is set for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 11th, with tickets for the match available for purchase online by clicking here.
A win puts Union II in strong position to make the playoffs, while a loss means the postseason could be on the line in the final match of the year against New England Revolution II.
Union II should beat Orlando City B. They are the better side, and Union first team players — who have proven themselves able to adapt to and, at times, dominate MLSNEXTPro competition, will be available for selection following the Union’s match on Saturday against Orlando City. Chris Donovan, Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, and Jesus Bueno have been difference-makers during Union II’s late-season run up the standings, and making the playoffs would be a monumental achievement for such a young squad.
In contrast, Orlando City B has leaned heavily on one player for its offense: Jack Lynn. The 22 year-old striker has 15 goals in 16 starts, generating an astounding 66 shots in that span. He can turn a match on its head in an instant, but his team needs to give him a chance to score a winner rather than a consolation goal.
To shut him down, Union II will rely on a spine of Brandan Craig, Cole Turner, and Bueno, with standout right back Frank Westfield or Nathan Harriel up the right. With that base, Union II needs to be able to control Lynn and quickly transition into coherent attacks that cut off transition counters.
Perhaps most important for Union II is finishing the game strong. No matter how well Marlon LeBlanc’s team has played this year, they have only had one run of games where they avoided late game letdowns. Last weekend it happened again against Rochester NY, and these moments cost the team critical points after hard-fought battles against far more experienced opponents.
If Union II go ahead, the final 10 minutes of the match will become an epic test of their mentality. Everybody on the squad knows they have struggled in these moments, but these players also understand that how they react to these trials will determine their postseason fate.
Union II welcome Orlando City B to Subaru Park at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 11. The match will stream live on MLSNEXTPro.com.