Three wins on the trot and Philadelphia Union II are right back in the MLS NEXT Pro playoff picture, and in the month of August they’ll have enhanced home broadcasts to bring fans even closer to the action.
The first enhanced broadcast takes place on Sunday, August 14 at 6:00 p.m. ET when Inter Miami II rolls into Subaru Park. Miami II is two points ahead of Union II and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. TFC II is holed up in fourth place, the last playoff position, and faces off with RNY FC on Friday, August 12. So by the time Miami II and Union II play, they’ll know TFC II’s result and whether they could end up even or, in Miami II’s case, above the Canadians by the end of the weekend.
The best part about Union II’s winning streak is that they have reversed the late-game losses that haunted them early in the year. Whereas they used to give up late heartbreakers, now Union II is building confidence by finishing games strong. Their second half comeback against FC Cincinnati 2 was built on late-game energy; Chris Donovan’s 51st minute goal came after Union II turned Cincy 2 over twice as the home side looked to enter an attacking transition. After the second turnover, a slick pass to Donovan at the top of the box let the Union striker show off his accuracy with a low, driven finish. Jesus Bueno then finished off the match only six minutes later.
This ability to read the game and cut off those transitions has let Union II’s young talent show what they can do when an opponent is disorganized. Additionally, it has shown just how good the players that are fighting for minutes with the Union can be.
Donovan and Bueno scored against Cincinnati 2, but Matt Real, Cole Turner, and Brandan Craig have also been standout performers of late. With Stuart Findlay gone, Turner and Craig know they are always on the cusp of first team minutes, and they have sought to prove they belong on a MLS pitch every time their name is called for Union II play.
Now head coach Marlon LeBlanc will look for his young studs to break out. Nelson Pierre, Jose Riasco, and Bajung Darboe are all still looking for that streak that brings them the confidence to flourish, and the midfield is still searching for a breakout star as well.
What is clear is that the system is starting to click for this young team, and the system is designed to give them a chance against opponents of any skill level by controlling the space those opponents play in.
Sunday’s match will be a battle as both clubs know a lot is on the line.
Tune in to the enhanced broadcast on MLSNEXTPro.com beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday August 14.