While the USL Championship kicked off yesterday with games in home markets and in some cases a limited number of fans in the stands, the Philadelphia Union II have taken advantage of an off weekend to prepare for their first game back against Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday.
“This week extra helps a little bit, that’s for sure,” head coach Sven Gartung said on a conference call with media on Wednesday.
Gartung said he’s had a group of 29 players in training, which includes a healthy roster of players on USL contracts and players from the academy. Nathan Harriel and Axel Picazo, who took post graduate years after graduating from YSC Academy last June, are still with the group but several recent graduates have departed.
When asked about Harriel’s contract status, Gartung referred the question to Sporting Director Ernst Tanner but said he definitely recommended him getting a contract.
The long layoff from both the USL and the Development Academy suspending seasons means and the inability to have friendlies before returning to game action means there will be plenty to work out in the three games the team has scheduled from July 18-25, but that would be a feature even with more preparation.
“There’s a lot of work that we have to do on a daily basis, but that’s okay,” Gartung said. “That’s why we are developing the player.”
Gartung said fans can expect to see many of the same players who featured in the only game of the season back in early March with some younger players in the mix. Gartung hasn’t named specific players in the younger academy groups looking for what would be their USL debuts in the coming weeks.
This group could potentially include players from the U17 ranks like midfielder Paxten Aaronson, center backs Sam Jones and Brandan Craig and attacking players like Quinn Sullivan.
One player who will almost certainly make his USL Championship debut is David Rabadán, who joined the team on loan from Atlético Albacete but didn’t feature in the first game back in March.
“One player you guys can look forward to is Rabadán,” Gartung said. “What he is offering in training and the way he is getting to know the players every single day, I’m happy to have him on the roster, that I can tell you.”