Union II

Recap | Union II outlasts Orlando City B in penalty kick shootout


Philadelphia Union kept its unbeaten start to 2024 as they picked up a penalty kick shootout win over Orlando City B on Thursday evening at Subaru Park.

Sal Olivas opened the scoring for the Boys in Blue as put home a cross from Frankie Westfield in the 11th minute. Orlando City B answered at the half hour mark that ultimately saw the two sides deadlocked after the final whistle. The two sides traded successful finishes from the penalty kick spot but on the 14th overall attempt, goalkeeper Andrew Rick came up huge with the save to earn Union II the second league point.

After an early bye in the season, Marlon LeBlanc’s side was fresh from the kick with their direct and attacking style looking to continue their unbeaten start to the 2024 season. Union II were aided with four members of the first team in the lineup as Jamir Berdecio, Olwethu Makhanya, Sanders Ngabo, Nick Pariano got minutes alongside products from the Union Academy.

Goalkeeper Andrew Rick was busy early on, making three saves in the first nine minutes of the match. After stopping a shot from a tight angle, he was quick on his feet to deny a counter attacking chance from Alexander Freeman. On the ensuing corner, vice captain Frankie Westfield was perfectly placed with a goal line flick to deny Orlando City B the opening goal. The rebound fell right to Jhon Solis but Rick rose up to make the save.

The big defensive stops gave the Boys in Blue the momentum they needed with a perfect link up between Westfield and Olivas leading to the opening goal in the 11th minute of play. Westfield resumed play with a throw in to David Vazquez who quickly shot a pass out to the flank for the Union II left back. With Orlando setting into a defensive shape, Westfield whipped a perfectly placed cross into the box where Olivas tapped it in at the near post.

The Eastern Conference battle started to show its intensity as the match grew on with neither side willing to concede an inch. Orlando City B found an equalizer in the 30th minute as Yutaro Tsukada found Wilfredo Rivera to make it 1-1.

Philly came out of the break looking for more Subaru Park magic and nearly got it as Pariano intercepted a pass at the center stripe and dribbled through a pair of defenders before seeing his shot blocked. Just past the hour mark, Union II turned to Carlos Rojas and Giovanny Sequera in place of Pariano and Berdecio which saw Gavin Wetzel slide over to the right back position. The right side of the attack became a strong play for the Boys in Blue but just couldn’t find the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.

Academy forward Ryan Zellefrow entered in the 71st minute and quickly made an impact as he drifted out to the left flank to receive a pass from Vazquez. He quickly shot a cross into the box where Olivas and his defender battled for a touch with Orlando City B seeing a fortunate touch crash off the crossbar and stay out of the net.

Philly nearly ended the match in regulation as Vazquez pushed into the box in the fifth minute of added time. With Orlando City B on its heels, he dribbled in search for an inch to sneak a shot in on goal and as the end line approached blasted a left-footed shot. Orlando’s keeper somehow got the kick out stop that deflected the attempt on goal just wide of the far post.

Union II fans weren’t seeing déjà vu on Thursday night as they came through with a perfect seven for seven in the kicks from the penalty spot. After nearly grabbing a save the a few attempts prior, Rick was confident in his jump to his right with his trailing leg making the game-winning save.

Union II faces a short turnaround for their next league match as they hit the road to take on Atlanta United 2 on Monday, April 15th. Kick off from Fifth Third Bank Stadium is set for 7:30PM ET with the match broadcast for free on MLSNEXTPro.com.