Union II host Inter Miami CF II on Sunday, April 2nd. Watch for free on MLSNEXTPro.com!
Philadelphia Union II’s second match of the season against Inter Miami CF II sees two clubs that fought it out in the middle of the standings of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference face off early to show how they’ve grown.
For Union II, this is the first match in which they could integrate Union Homegrowns Brandan Craig, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan. All three were on international duty last week, and if they don’t play significant minutes for the first team they could provide a boost and lineup flexibility for Marlon LeBlanc’s side.
LeBlanc’s focus this weekend will be on controlling the early phase of the match. Orlando City scored two in the first 16 minutes and put Union II in a place where they needed to throw bodies forward to change the shape of the match. This made things difficult for a young back line and forced Anton Sorenson and Frank Westfield to stretch themselves in the fullback positions and ask the centerbacks to cover a lot of space.
Union II do have a lot of attacking options, but need someone to get the ball on the move. Nelson Pierre, Jose Riasco, and Stefan Stojanovic can all ask questions of a defense, but they will be more successful if they put defenders on their heels rather than needing to create link up play before pushing forward.
Inter Miami CF II opened their 2023 season with a 3-1 loss, just like Union II. IMFC II fell to Chicago, but only after fighting back from an early 1-0 deficit. Homegrown prospect Ben Cremaschi set up Edison Azcona for the equalizer, and those two attackers will be a big part of any success the visitors have against Union II.
Federico Higuain, in his first season as Inter Miami II’s head coach, inserted a lot of young, high-ceiling talent in the second half against Chicago and saw his team’s shape begin to waver. That is part of the risk of going with youth, but Higuain will be determined to follow the same formula this week as he looks to identify players who can help fill in a relatively thin but talented Miami first team roster.