CHESTER, Pa. — Selmir Miscic and his Philadelphia Union II teammates had waited nine months to celebrate a goal in an official USL Championship game so the pileup near the sideline after Miscic had headed home a Yomi Scintu cross Wednesday night was understandable.
“It was a beautiful ball from Yomi and I was able to jump and direct it into the corner,” Miscic said after the match. “You see how much it meant not only to me but to the team. Hopefully we have more moments like that.”
The goal was the 17-year-old’s second in USL after he scored his first professional goal last October.
It tied the game at the time at 1-1 on what was basically the first action of the second half, but the kind of mistakes that have plagued the young team since returning to play on Saturday came back to haunt them again.
Seven minutes later the visitors regained the lead and didn’t look back, scoring twice more in a six minute span and tacking on a fifth goal in the 75th minute. Red Bulls forward Sebastian Elney, a YSC Academy graduate who played for the Union U19 team for a season before going to the University of Maryland, was part of the second half parade of goals. Former Ocean City Nor’easters forward Deri Corfe opened the scoring 10 minutes in.
“That was too easy,” head coach Sven Gartung said after the match. “I wouldn’t say it was only the class of Red Bull 2 but it was a little bit our mistakes that led to these quick, fast-break turnovers, and eventually to the goals. So we helped them a lot.”
After giving USL Championship debuts to Ben Martino, Jack Jasinski and Quinn Sullivan in the 6-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds here Saturday, Gartung called on Mitchell Budler to start in goal and brought Brandan Craig and Paxten Aaronson off the bench. Aaronson was just a little over a week younger than his older brother Brenden Aaronson, a second-year midfielder for the first team, when he made his debut with the Bethlehem Steel in 2017.
Gartung said introducing players to the speed of play at this level is critical for their development. Even against a fellow MLS-run team, Union II was still the much younger and inexperienced side.
And despite the lumps they’ve taken being outscored 11-1 over their first two games back, Gartung said they’re going to stick to the plan to build around the team’s identity and style of play.
“I would say the boys are very brave and keep on trying to to push our style of play that we want to do,” Gartung said. “We’re not gonna park the bus with five defenders or something like that and we want to keep on playing. We see it was a beautiful goal that we scored and so we see it’s possible to do these things, and we’ll continue our way with a style of play.”
Center back Ben Ofeimu, who leads the team in active appearances with 42, wore the captain’s armband for the night anchoring a defense that welcomed Issa Rayyan back as the starting left back, allowing Dante Huckaby to shift over to central defense. Rayyan wore a face mask to protect his broken nose but had to be taken out at halftime by medical decision for a concussion.
After being healthy coming out of the break, the team suffered two injuries to starters against Pittsburgh. Shaynder Borgelin broke his foot and Zach Zandi re-aggravated an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out for a couple weeks.
The team will have another quick turnaround for Saturday when they take their first road trip of the season to visit Hartford Athletic.
“We showed you know some good signs, obviously we grabbed the goal and then just little mistakes, little mistakes from us,” Miscic said. “We’re a young team and those things are gonna happen. We just have to try to tweak the little things and avoid those little mistakes.”
Philadelphia Union II: Mitchell Budler; Isaa Rayyan (Brandan Craig, 45’), Dante Huckaby, Ben Ofeimu; Steve Kingue (Paxten Aaronson, 66’), Jack McGlynn, Axel Picazo (David Rabadan, 66’), Danny Flores; Selmir Miscic (Quinn Sullivan, 86’), Yomi Scintu (Saed Diaz, 66’)
Substitutes not used: Lukas Burns, Jamoi Topey,
New York Red Bulls II: Wallis Lapsley; Presteon Kilwien, Roy Boateng, Joseph Fala (Boima Cummins, 83’), Samad Bounthong; Daniel Edelman, Sebastian Elney (Omar Sowe, 67’), Caden Clark (Barry Sharifi, 78’), Kyle Zajec (Cherif Dieye, 79’) , Deri Corfe; Jake LaCava (Dantouma Toure, 67’)
Substitutes not used: Edgardo Rito, Alex Bobocea