Union II will head up I-95 this weekend for a high-stakes matchup against New York City FC II at Belson Stadium Sunday evening. Tune in for free on MLS NEXT Pro’s official website to watch the action!
Philadelphia has preserved through a tough slate in August, winning just one of their four games in the month. Despite their recent unfavorable results, Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc’s squad is determined to make a push toward the playoffs in their final regular season matches.
“We've put ourselves in the position to be in playoff contention and we've done it with arguably the youngest team in the entire league. So, these kinds of things happen when you play 15 year olds and 16 year olds on your team,” LeBlanc said.
“But I'd be remiss if I didn't say how proud I am of this young group, because these guys clearly kind of bucked the trend a little bit with the youngest teams in this league, and I'm proud of the way that they fought and proud of what they're doing. I'm really looking forward to this stretch, because I think in the long run, it's going to be the experience that these guys are going to get from being in a playoff push. The next few games will certainly be a challenge for us. But I think that this group is so resilient. They've shown that most of the summer and they're gonna show it down this stretch as well.
Sunday’s contest is an important one, as both teams sit just below the playoff line with Philadelphia in eighth and New York in ninth. The pair is chasing down Huntsville City F.C. and Chicago Fire II, who sit on the other side of the postseason line with 37 points each. With only four regular season matches remaining, every result going forward will impact the teams’ chances of earning a postseason berth.
“We all know how badly we want the postseason,” said midfielder CJ Olney during training this week.
“We don't want to just train for two, three more months and not have any fun games to play. So, we're all really riled up, we want to get into the playoffs, we're fighting.”
New York City F.C. has a 9-12-3 record this season, but they’re currently in a rut that has featured two losses and a draw to close August. Despite their recent losses, their top offensive threat in 22-year-old forward Matt Myers, who’s scored 16 goals this year, has continued to produce, totaling six in August alone.
Philadelphia’s most recent win was their last meeting with New York City F.C. on August 4th at Subaru Park, which ended in a shut-out victory for the home team. That night midfielder Frankie Westfield scored his first-ever MLS NEXT Pro goal to close the first half, and David Vazquez scored a second to secure the 2-0 win.
Tune in on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. to watch the rematch unfold on the road!