Four goals and three red cards would make for an exciting game at any level, but the Union II and Orlando City B accomplished that in the second half Sunday night as the Union won 3-1 at Osceola Park in MLS Next Pro action.
Matt Real, Jesus Bueno and Nelson Pierre scored for the Union as the squad had to deal with a Matt Freese red card with 20 minutes to play to pull out the victory in a gritty road performance. It was the first Union II win since beating the same Orlando City team in May.
The hosts took it to the Union from the start with a number of attacking runs down both sides, pressuring Anton Sorenson and Matt Real early. Orlando’s Favian Lovola — who spent some time previously with the Philadelphia Union Academy — tested Freese seven minutes in with a dipping cross that the Union keeper misplayed but was able to corral from behind his back. Five minutes later, a bad giveaway in the back led to Moises Tablante with a one-on-one breakaway on Freese, and the Union keeper came up big to deny the Orlando forward. Orlando controlled the pace for much of the half, pushing down the left side again with runs that beat the Union line but were saved by the lineman’s flag.
The Union slowly began to assert themselves midway through the first half. In the 23 rd minute, Brandan Craig played a dangerous in-swinger that missed Bueno before getting scooped up by Orlando keeper Javier Otero. But the Union withstood another dangerous attack in the 28th minute, again down the left, with Freese making a big stop before Orlando struck the crossbar on the rebound. On the ensuing counter, Juan Perdomo was taken down from behind inside the corner of the box with no call in what appeared to be a lot of leg.
Quinn Sullivan emerged late in the first half. He tested Otero with a dipping shot from distance eight minutes from the break that the Orlando keeper pushed over the bar. Five minutes later, Sullivan had another great chance when he cut inside from the left and curled a shot to the far post that was picked out of the top corner. In stoppage time, Anton Sorenson broke free down the right side, but his tight-angled shot was also stopped by Otero.
The Union came out with more energy to start the second half. Only a minute in, Real had a cross to Sullivan pushed across the goalmouth that the Union couldn’t convert. Five minutes later, Donovan broke free off a throw in from the right side and beat the last defender, but his left-footed shot didn’t have enough to beat Otero.
Seven minutes into the half, the Union finally broke through. Craig played a corner to the far side of the box that Donovan headed across the goalmouth, and Real was there to head it home to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The hosts gained more momentum 10 minutes into the break, but the game took a dramatic turn in the 70th minute when Freese was sent off for handling the ball outside the box. An Orlando striker found the ball through the line with only Freese to beat, but as he touched the ball around the Union keeper, the ball may have handled with an arm. Referee Anya Voigt was a fair distance away, and with no VAR, made the call on the spot with much support from the home side.
Brooks Thompson came on for Freese with Boubacar Diallo giving way and was immediately pressed into service, saving a sitter a minute after entering the game. Not soon after, the teams were evened up when Otero was dismissed following a sideline exchange during the water break at the 77th minute. In a bizarre twist, the teams played 10 on 10 with goalkeeper Dominic Pereira coming on to replace Otero.
Minutes after returning from the water break, Orlando tied the game when Ethan Subachan tucked home a cross from Alexander Freeman at the back post. Two minutes later, the Union responded, and Bueno scored the winner after a scramble in front of the box. His initial shot off a Real cross was blocked and fell to Sullivan at the corner of the penalty area. Sullivan’s shot curled past Pereira, and Bueno toed it into the corner to put the Union up 2-1.
The final minutes were chaotic as Orlando had a great chance from Lovola to tie it late while Union also had a chance at the other end from Pierre. Eventually, Pierre finished off the Lions four minutes into stoppage time after a two-on-one with Sullivan, tucking the ball into the far corner to extend the Union lead.
More chaos followed as several players earned cards for taunting and pushing, including the Union’s Maike Villero and a second for Orlando’s Diego Pareja, which reduced the hosts to nine.
The Union were able to ride out the final minutes and secure a huge road win, which could surely build momentum down the stretch. The Union II will be back in action next Sunday against Columbus Crew 2 at Subaru Park in a game slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
PHI: Real 52’
ORL: Subachan 85’
PHI: Bueno 87’
PHI: Pierre 90+4’
PHI: Perdomo 9’
PHI: Diallo 24’
ORL: Pareja 83’
PHI: Pierre 90+4’
ORL: Pareja 90+ 4’
PHI: Villero 90+4’
PHI: Freese 70’
ORL: Otero 77’
ORL: Pareja 90+
Union II: Freese, Real, Craig, Nkanji, Sorenson, Bueno, Diallo (Thompson 71’), Sullivan, Perdomo (Darboe 66’), Donovan (Villero 81’), Riasco (Pierre 66’)
Unused subs: Martelli, Oliver, Paternina, Ramirez, Westfield
Orlando City: Otero, Forth, Taylor (Reid brown 87’), Williams, Freeman, Granados (Pereira 57’), Yan, Galván (Pareja 80’), Loyola, Lynn (Subachan 80’), Tablante
Unused subs: Hackenberg, Bell, Valles, Silva