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Union II awaiting approval for full group training ahead of season restarting

The team has a couple dozen players available from the USL roster and the academy for when the season restarts in a couple weeks

Philadelphia Union II head coach Sven Gartung in the team’s only game so far this season on March 7, 2020
Photo by Matt Ralph

After weeks of being scattered around the region and the country, the Philadelphia Union II squad is all back together reporting to Chester but still awaiting approval to do full group training with the restart of the USL Championship season looming.

“If you want to have success, 50 percent is on the field and how you play and the other 50 percent is happening off the field with how the team is communicating and sticking together,” head coach Sven Gartung said in a conference call with media on Monday. “We were able to work together via Zoom calls, we had Christian Pulisic speak with the team and we just tried to create a team environment to build relationships.”

During the layoff several involved with the team graduated from high school and at least one — left back Tyger Evans — reported to campus at Penn State University to begin workouts this week.

Shaynder Borgelin, who returned home to Florida, Danny Flores, who was back in California during the shutdown and local academy players Lukas Burns, Nick Pariano, Adam Lenges, Cole Sotack and Aboubacar Camara were among the graduates who have trained or played with Union II.

Flores and Lenges, along with first team homegrown Jack de Vries, are the only Union II players among the graduates who aren’t committed to play college soccer this fall.

With de Vries, Matt Freese and Cole Turner unavailable while they are with the first team for the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Gartung will need to rely on the depth within his own available roster of players, which totals two dozen when counting players on USL deals and amateurs.

“That’s a big difference (not having de Vries, Freese and Turner available) from the Loudoun game,” Gartung said.

This will also mean more opportunities for younger players to step in and fill roles on both the attacking and defensive side of the field. Issa Rayyan, who has played forward, midfield and right back for the team, may even add to his versatility with a look at left back.

Gartung doesn’t anticipate any new additions to the roster from outside the organization between now and the season starting back up but he will have Spanish midfielder David Rabadán available when the season does resume. The 20-year-old was signed on loan from Atlético Albacete just prior to the season starting and stayed in market along with the other international players when the season was suspended.

Though the schedule hasn’t been released, Union II will play New York Red Bulls, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Hartford Athletic three times, Loudoun United twice and four other teams to be announced in a 15-game schedule. Roughly eight of the games will be on the road but games can be moved because of coronavirus concerns.

“We’re going to to travel by bus and we will be together for a long time,” Gartung said. “But the main focus is on the soccer field here and on our training. We want to develop the players in a certain way and that’s what we’re going to do.”