For the second time in 2023, Philadelphia Union II faces off Inter Miami II with the two sides battling in MLS NEXT Pro action Sunday evening at 6PM MLSNEXTPro.com.
Sunday’s contest marks the conclusion of the club’s three-game road trip that seen the Boys in Blue split their results thus far. Union II took home all three points last time out though with a 2-1 victory over Eastern Conference rivals New York Red Bulls II last weekend.
Philly came out strong in the first half, putting up a chance as early as the second minute of the match when defender Gino Portella’s header forced a quick save. Forward Nelson Pierre proved his skill for the boys in blue after recording a brace on the game, clutching the 2-1 win. In the 20th minute, forward Jose Riasco made a dashing run into the box, beating multiple defenders and slotting the ball to forward Nelson Pierre who buried his shot, putting the boys in blue up 1-0. By the 39th minute, the Union doubled their lead after Pierre caught the counter attack, making a run into the box and slotting his shot clean into the bottom right corner.
The rivalry rang true. Three red cards were administered throughout the match with two handed to the Red Bulls and one to Union defender Francis Westfield in the 77th minute whose foul led to the Red Bulls’ penalty shot goal, putting the game at 2-1. With the absence of defender Brandan Craig, U17 defender Daniel Kreuger made his second start for the Union, playing the full 90’. All around, the Union seem to have gathered their footing since the last time they met Inter Miami, the makings of an exciting matchup to come.
Inter Miami II stand 3(W)-4(L)-0(D) in the season thus far, most recently defeating Atlanta United II in a 3-2 comeback victory after going down two goals in the first five minutes of the match. In their last head to head this season, Inter Miami walked away with a 2-1 victory at Subaru Park. Their leading scorer, forward Lucas Meek, has two goals this season, registering his first in second half stoppage time against Union II when both teams first met in April. Forward Dairon Reyes holds the most assists in the season at three with his first also occurring against Union II and his second and third occurring during both of Inter Miami II’s last two matchups.
Federico Higuain, in his first season as Inter Miami II’s head coach, has bounced between starting formations, showing everything from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-4-2, while Marlon Leblanc has been partial towards the 4-4-2. The Union II backline would do well to organize around Inter Miami’s top two attacking threats and hold steady through the end of regulation time to secure a win this time around.