After another heartbreaking loss to Toronto FC II, Philadelphia Union II faces off against one of the wilder teams in MLS NEXT Pro on July 24th in Orlando.
Orlando City B does not struggle to score the way Union II has. In fact, they were last shut out in mid-May and followed that up with a six goal game and a three goal game. The catch is that they lost the second match 5-3.
In more recent play, Orlando City B has given up three goals in three consecutive matches, including in a 4-3 win over Chicago Fire FC II last weekend.
The key man in Orlando City B’s attack is Jack Lynn, a monster shot-taker who has 12 goals on 48 shots, 29 of them on frame. Lynn is first or second in MLS NEXT Pro in goals (2nd), shots (2nd), and shots on target (1st). He’s having a stunning season and will be a handful for a Union II defense that has been solid but imperfect this year.
Union II’s own attacking woes are difficult to diagnose. The front line is stuffed with talent, but the transitions from defense to attack have often lacked teeth or the counterpressing needed to turn opponents over in their own half.
As a result, top talents like Nelson Pierre and Bajung Darboe have struggled to make their mark, and defenders like Brandan Craig have been forced to play on their back foot too often.
The Union philosophy involves smart, organized, team pressing, and that requires control of space on the pitch. The lack of continuity Union II have had as a young team that enters each match with an ever-changing list of available players has made cohesive pressing difficult, and it is a credit to young players like right back Frank Westfield that they have shown growth in decision-making over the course of the year.
Another positive for Union II going into the Orlando City B match has been the energy and leadership shown by Union homegrown players this year. Matt Real’s goal last weekend against Toronto FC II was celebrated like a first team goal, and deservedly so. The Homegrowns that play with Union II come with a determination to play hard, take no minutes off, and show the rest of the group what it takes to move to the next level. The Union’s signing of Chris Donovan also shows that a path is open from Union II to the first team, further motivating a squad that has struggled to win but has never taken their foot off the gas.
Expect a wide open affair on July 24 at 7:00PM when these two sides meet at Osceola Heritage Park. The match will be streamed live on MLSNEXTPro.com.