Playing Tampa Bay Rowdies on the road was always going to be a tough task for a Philadelphia Union II team still short-handed from injury, but the young squad had plenty of positives to take from a 2-0 loss.
Kicking off more than two hours late because of a weather delay, the Rowdies got in front early when Malik Johnson was able to skip past Anton Sorenson near the end line and serve up former Philadelphia Union forward Leo Fernandes for a one-touch finish past Mitch Budler.
Ten minutes later, Paxten Aaronson nearly connected on a would be wonder goal in an equalizer bid in the 17th minute that clanked off the woodwork. Brandan Craig, wearing the captain’s armband for the second straight game, kept the deficit at one in the 26th minute when he cleared a shot attempt for the Rowdies after a dangerous giveaway.
The second goal did come for the Rowdies in the 39th minute when former Union forward Yann Ekra was able to beat Budler after Zach Steinberger got to the opposite end line of where the first goal came from and cut it back to Ekra.
The visitors came so close to finding the back of the net just before halftime when Craig played a ball forward to Patrick Bohui who flicked it over to Danny Flores. Flores took his shot with a curling effort but was unable to tuck it inside the post and the Union went into the break down 2-0.
A bulk of the chances in the second half came from the Rowdies, but Budler was there to record three second half saves and four on the game. The Rowdies outshot Union II 22-10 on the night and 6-0 in shots on target.
Nathan Harriel, who is from nearby Oldsmar, Fla., checked in for Union II in the 71st minute to earn his first minutes since July 25 and first in his home state since signing his first professional contract. Several other players under USL contracts have yet to return from injury in the team, including Issa Rayyan, Zach Zandi, Yomi Scintu and Shanyder Borgelin.
Up next, Union II will travel to Red Bull Arena to take on Red Bull II Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Philadelphia Union II: Mitchell Budler, Steve Kingue (Nathan Harriel 71’), Brandan Craig, Ben Ofeimu, Anthony Sorenson, David Rabadán (Selmir Miscic 67’), Dante Huckaby, Paxten Aaronson, Danny Flores (Axel Picazo 68’), Jack McGlynn (Sean Bettenhausen 82’), Patrick Bohui (Jack Jasinski 45’)
Substitutes not used: Ben Martino, Jamoi Topey
Tampa Bay Rowdies: Evan Louro, Forrest Lasso, Aaron Guillen, Jordan Scarlett, Leonardo Fernandes (Max Lachowecki 80’), Lewis Hilton, Malik Johnson (Mustapha Dumbuya 64’), Jordan Doherty, Yann Ekra (Kyle Murphy 58’), Zach Steinberger (Dominic Oduro 64’), Sebastián Guenzatti (Kevin Varela Mendoza 80’)
Substitutes not used: Ian Mcgrane, Sebastian Dalgaard