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Why getting a point is a good start to Union II’s season

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

This weekend was a strong showing for the Philadelphia Union organization, despite both teams tying their matches and walking away with a point.

For the USL side, Saturday night was the first match of this season and it was a strong start against Loudoun United. The match ended in a scoreless draw, but here’s what went right and why getting a point is a good start to the season.

“It was the first match of the season, so we had to see what the opponent has to offer. The boys were nervous at first, you could see that at the beginning, so we had to get rid of that. A couple of players, it was the first pro match for them, so we wanted to take care of that.” – Sven Gartung

Head coach Gartung had a very young lineup, with the average age of the starting XI being 18.4 years old. A young lineup isn’t anything new for the club, but there were some new faces making their first professional appearances. 16-year-old Jack McGlynn made his first professional debut in the second half of the match, replacing Danny Flores and providing more offense and showing opportunities to grow into the club’s style. Tyger Evans was also a young new face from the Academy, playing the entire match at left back.

Gartung went on to say that he was pleased with his team’s performance after the match, and that his younger players showed a lot of talent and promise for the rest of the season. Considering nine of the starting eleven were teenagers, it’s a very good start to the season and to the future development of the club and its individual young players.

Another good start to the season was that 18-year-old Axel Picazo wore the captain’s armband for the night. It was a bit of a surprise since veterans like Zach Zandi, Issa Rayyan, Shanyder Borgelin and Ben Ofeimu all got playing time on Saturday night. Gartung explained his decision, saying that Picazo had been playing well, keeping the team together and earned the armband.

“It felt pretty good. I mean, it was my first tap as a captain so it was nice to be the leader of this team. I think we have a lot of leaders, so it’s just a matter of who wants it. It was a good first match, a good test for us. We did the style of play that we’ve been practicing for weeks now, and I’m not saying we did great, we could have finished some chances, but it was a good performance from the guys so we’re proud.” – Axel Picazo

All in all, the Union II looked good implementing Tanner and Gartung’s style. The gegenpress was rather impressive this match as Gartung seemed to play his faster and more aggressive players on Saturday. With room for improvement, the younger players of Philly’s USL squad are looked pretty good in their first match and might be able to pull off a strong 2020 season.

Of course, Gartung sums it up best, saying Saturday night “was promising, I can’t wait to play the next match. The boys are smiling because they worked hard and they know what they have achieved. They didn’t win, but we were on the same level as Loudoun and from that perspective we keep working for next week and adjust a little bit better.”

One Comment

  1. First match, nerves, but sky high for an opener.
    two concerns. NC will not be Loudon. NC will have its own home opener, and they started against Louisville.
    And what are the knock on effects of the International call ups and the injuries in the first-team?
    Morton for Freese with an academy amateur contract on the bench covers the goalkeeper.
    But five academy players is the limit, and five started last week. If Turner and de Vries are on the Union’s bench as the midfield subs, who starts for Union 2 in Carolina? They need two middies who are not academy players because Flores and Picazo are already academy players, along with Harriel, Huckaby, and Evans on the back line. .
    It will be interesting to see how they solve it.

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