Two weeks after suffering a 6-0 defeat to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at home, the Philadelphia Union II are in Pittsburgh looking for a better result at Highmark Stadium tonight at 7 p.m.
They’ll need to do that with several more changes due to injuries that have been piling up in the weeks since the USL Championship season restarted.
Zach Zandi and Shaynder Borgelin have been out since the July 18 match against Pittsburgh, Yomi Scintu had to leave with an injury after scoring against Hartford Athletic last weekend and two other starters — Nathan Harriel and Issa Rayyan — had to go through concussion protocols. Saed Diaz also has an injury along with academy players with Caden Stafford and Sean Bettenhausen while academy left back Anton Sorenson is coming back from having his wisdom teeth removed a few weeks ago.
Half of the team’s contracted players are either hurt or questionable for tonight’s game.
“It’s not getting easier,” head coach Sven Gartung said in a media call this week. “It was challenging from the first day that I arrived but now with these injuries it is even more challenging to find the right pieces to withstand the pressure that is coming up. As you can imagine I’m thinking a lot about what is the right formation, the right mixture of players and how we can resist over a period of time plus organize our attack with these guys missing. We have to come up with alternatives and that is basically what I’m doing 24/7.”
After struggling in their first two matches back from the long shutdown — they were outscored 11-1 — Union II came out sharp against Hartford, taking a 2-0 lead in the first half.
“I told the boys after Hartford that I was proud of them and I was proud to be on the sidelines on Saturday as I saw how hard they worked and getting better at being able to resist opposing teams for 90 minutes,” Gartung said. “They gave Hartford a hard time until the very end but the fact that they kept on working until the final whistle pushing for an equalizer was great.”
Pittsburgh is on a two-game skid after following up a win in Louisville with the 6-0 over Union II. They lost 1-0 to Indy Eleven and 2-1 to New York Red Bulls II.
“We have something to prove,” Gartung said looking ahead to tonight’s game. “We lost six zero.”
How to Watch
What: Philadelphia Union II at Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Where: Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pa. (closed to public)
When: Saturday, August 1, 7 p.m.