Union II

Union II continues unbeaten home run with 2-0 win over Huntsville City


Philadelphia Union II turned in a dominating display in front of the home fans on Sunday afternoon and continued their unbeaten home form with a 2-0 win over Huntsville City FC.

Union II were dominant in the attacking third but were unable to break through the Alabama defense for most of the match. The youthful Philly side continued to battle and broke through in the 79th minute with homegrown midfielder CJ Olney putting home a pass from Giovanny Sequera. Sanders Ngabo earned Union II its insurance goal late after getting taken down in the box which Frankie Westfield converted from the penalty spot.

With a lineup blending a mix of young MLS professionals and Academy products, Union II were on the front foot early with team captain Kyle Tucker nearly opening the scoring less than two minutes into the contest. Vice captain Frankie Westfield battled and won a second ball for the Boys in Blue and flicked a headed ball forward to the top of the 18. Leandro Soria, making his first MLS NEXT Pro start cleverly positioned himself to gain possession on the half chance and laid off a pass to Tucker. The Union II midfielder unleashed a blast from 24 yards out in stride, beating Huntsville City’s keeper but saw the effort crash off the crossbar.

Union II continued to dominate the opening minutes with another scoring chance coming in the 15th minute courtesy of some pristine passes. Tucker threaded the needle to slip a centering pass inside to David Vazquez to unlock a potential scoring chance. The recently promoted MLS pro collected possession and drew a trio of Alabama defenders. Seeing the defense in recovery mode, he shot a pass to his left for CJ Olney for a quick touch inside but the Union II midfielder put a little too much weight behind the ball as it went over the net.

The pressure around the visitor’s box continued in Union II’s favor as they pushed hard for the opening goal. A set piece off the training ground nearly make it 1-0 in the hosts favor as Tucker connected on a cross with Chris Donovan but the forward’s header went wide of the back post. A few minutes later, Vazquez intercepted a pass from Huntsville City FC centerback Faiz Opande and quickly raced into the box but saw his shot rise over the bar.

The action picked up just past the half hour mark as the two sides combined for a trio of chances but were still unable to find the opener. Huntsville finally got its first offensive opportunity in the 32nd minute as leading scorer Jonathan Bolanos chased down a ball over the top and ripped a cutting back toward the near post that Andrew Rick saved. Union II were back on the attack on the next possession with a crafty little play on the left side of the attack. Westfield began the play with a centering pass Sanders Ngabo. The Union midfielder put a deft volley over the Huntsville defense for Olney but the touch was caught between a pass and shot and went softly to the keeper.

Union II came out of the locker room and turned up the pressure another level early in the second half. The Union’s high pressing system saw the front line attacking every pass from the Huntsville defense and quickly presented a scoring chance as Vazquez jumped on a pass and quickly went ran into the box. A soft touch inside quickly turned into a pass for Soria but the Argentine’s shot was denied by the keeper two minutes into the final half. A few moments later, Marlon LeBlanc’s side were back on the attack with Soria and Donovan keeping possession for the hosts on a counter attack that allowed Tucker to race into the box. The Union II captain won the ball and went for a tough angled shot at the near post that was blocked.

Union II continued to generate scoring chances in a variety of ways as they sought to unlock the Huntsville net. In the 53rd minute Philly went with a quick throw in from Soria that trickled down the right side and into the path of Donovan. down the right side for Donovan. Dekes his defender to get to the end line to pick out Olney’s run to the penalty spot but the midfielder’s shot goes wide.

Scary chance for Huntsville as a 50/50 ball fell right into the path of the opposition who quickly had a 2v1 chance. The ball went into the feet of Ollie Wright as he dribbled around Andrew Rick but ran out of pitch and saw the scoring chance dribble over the end line. Shortly after scoring chance for the away side, Union II made its first two substitutions of the contest with leading scorer Eddy Davis III and Giovanny Sequera entering for Soria and Tucker.

Defense led to offense with 20 minutes remaining as Neil Pierre delivered a sliding clearance into the right place for a counter attack for Vazquez. The homegrown raced down the right side and then beat his defender with a stop and go to race into the attacking third. Stopping on a dime, Vazquez sent a left-footed cross into the box for an unmarked Chris Donovan that went inches wide on the far post flick.

The nonstop pressure continued with a monsterous solo from Ngabo in the 76th minute as he shook off two defenders pulling at his jersey but kept on his feet to continue the play. As the end line approached the midfielder cut a pass into the box for Vazquez that had the keeper beat but centerback Fernando Ciceron made the goal-saving clearance off the line.

With the chances building, Union II rightfully got the goal they deserved in the 79th minute with a smooth finish from CJ Olney. The game-winning goal came once again on a quick but patient attack with Sequera chasing down a long ball and combining with Donovan at the edge of the box. The Venezuelan delivered a perfectly placed pass into the path of Olney for the go-ahead goal.

Union II’s celebration was nearly short lived as Huntsville almost turned the momentum right back on their side in the 84th minute as Dominic Wilson battled Pierre inside the box. The Alabama substitute won possession and laid off a pass to Bolanos at the edge of the box but saw the shot crash off the bar and out.

Union II put the match away late as Ngabo again made a solo run and this time was taken down which forced the referee to point to the penalty spot. Westfield stepped to the spot and converted with a smooth finish into the bottom right corner to double Philly’s advantage and put the match away.

Union II returns to action in two weeks as they make the trip north to take on New England Revolution II on Sunday, May 19th. Kick off from Mark A. Ouellette Stadium is set for 3PM ET with coverage on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.