Philadelphia Union II continued its late playoff push by snapping Columbus Crew 2’s seven-match unbeaten run with a thrilling 2-1 win at Subaru Park Sunday evening.
A ferocious volley from Union II substitute Stefan Stojanovic late into second-half stoppage time proved to be the difference as the home team escaped with a vital win to spark momentum into the final stretch of the season.
The match marked the second matchup for these teams with Crew 2 winning 1-0 in the first game on April 10. However, the match winner from that game, Jacen Rusell-Rowe, was out for this match for Crew 2.
With the victory, Union II now have won consecutive games for the first time since May and inched closer to top four spot in the Eastern Conference standings. As for Crew 2, the away side suffered its second road loss of the season but still remained atop of the East with 38 points.
The match started off as a stalemate with both sides creating multiple chances but no one managed to finish. By the 33rd minute, the Union II took the lead with a tap-in goal from midfielder Paxten Aaronson after a quick and decisive counterattack.
The first half finished 1-0 with Union II leading, but Crew 2 came back with a vengeance to begin the second half.
The away side began to ramp up its pressure on the Union II backline to win the ball up the field in dangerous areas and ultimately finished the game with 60% possession of the ball.
Crew 2 forward Noah Fuson headed in his eighth goal of the season to equalize in the 64th minute after the Union II backline left him unmarked in front of goal.
The match seemed destined to go to a shootout with both sides deadlock at 1-1 in the 90th minute. However, Stojanovic unleashed a fierce volley in the first minute of stoppage time to secure all three points.
Crew 2’s efforts for a late equalizer with the remaining time were short lived as Union II escaped with all three points thanks to Stojanovic’s first goal of the season.
After losing three straight games and scoring once while conceding 10 goals in that span, the Philadelphia Union II now have won consecutive games for the first time since May.
The team from Philadelphia now sits seventh in the Eastern Conference and are only four points off a top four spot, which would guarantee the side a playoff berth.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, Union II have a legitimate chance to finish in the playoff picture despite the mid-season struggles that dropped the club to the middle of the standings.
Now with a full and retooled squad led by midfielder Paxten Aaronson, who now has three goals in five matches played, look for Union II to put together a run in the coming weeks off the back of an exhilarating win over Crew 2.