Toronto FC II continued its positive run of form on Monday night when it topped Philadelphia Union II 2-1 at Subaru Park in MLS NEXT Pro’s Game of the Week.
Julian Altobelli and Stefan Karajovanovic combined to extend TFCII’s unbeaten run to six, and move their side three points outside of the playoff line, with a game in hand over their next opponent and nearest competitor New England Revolution II.
Altobelli’s goal in the 89th minute broke a 1-1 second-half deadlock that looked destined for a shootout. The game-winner was the 19-year-old’s fourth goal of the season and showed his instant-impact ability after being subbed in just 18 minutes prior.
Karajovanovic’s opener claimed the momentum for TFC II just before an hour-long rain delay. The stylish volley was Karajovanovic’s MLS NEXT Pro account opener, and the finish made it worth the wait.
Union II are now in a seven-game winless skid, but did not go out without a fight.
Defender Matt Real made the most of a second ball in the aftermath of a corner kick in the 70th minute to claim equal footing.
The rainy evening in Chester, PA continued the recent theme for both teams, which are on opposite ends of the momentum pendulum. TFCII’s noted six-game unbeaten run looks to have it on a path for the postseason after a less than ideal five-game winless run across May and June.
On the other side, Union II opened the season looking like a playoff lock but has hit a wall since its last victory on May 16.
The Story: TFCII is getting hot when it matters most
The inaugural season of MLS NEXT Pro makes for a proving ground that is long enough to earn your way out of a hole in the standings. Look no further than the job head coach Gianni Cimini is doing with his men lately. TFCII's up-and-down runs kept them close enough to the playoff line, but not exactly an odds-on favorite before the current stretch.
And there's a chance this week for the Toronto-based side to up their game, as they take on Chelsea U-21s on Friday in the MLS NEXT Pro Invitational, and get a BYE week from league play.
When they return, TFC II has a showdown with fourth-place Revs II that will go a long way in deciding their playoff fate. Another result there would ensure a two-month unbeaten streak across June and July, and a win will catapult them to a playoff position.
Not that TFC II needs extra motivation, but to add another log to the fire, that match on July 31 will complete the season series that TFC II has yet to earn a win in. Revs II took the spoils 1-0 in Week 7, and TFC II earned bested Revs II in a shootout following a 1-1 tie in Week 13.