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U2 ascends to top of MLS Next Pro table with dominant win over Revs II



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

Ahead of Union II’s Sunday matchup with New England Revolution II at Southern New Hampshire University’s Mark A. Ouellette Stadium, Marlon LeBlanc received a boost to his matchday XI. For the second straight match, first team forward Chris Donovan was in the side, as he looked to stay sharp and match fit for the next time his number is called for the senior team.

You get the feeling Donovan relished the opportunity to lace up his boots and lead the lines for U2, as he bagged a brace and was the best player on the pitch by a country mile. In addition to his goalscoring, he was setting up teammates and creating chances with his improved passing. He was an absolute menace from the opening whistle to the last, and Revs 2 defenders seemingly had no clue what to do with him.

Donovan’s presence was immediately felt when he snuck into a dangerous area in the penalty area in the 2nd minute and nearly opened the scoring with an effort that was blocked by the Revs 2 backline.

Then, in the 34th minute, Donovan sent a warning signal to the New Englanders. He stood up his defender before making a quick burst into a pocket of open turf on the right edge of the area and letting an absolute belter of an effort loose on target that rattled the right post.

U2 had a pair of headed chances later in the half, but both of the efforts sailed over the bar, and when the halftime whistle sounded, the match was somehow still scoreless.

Early in the second half, U2 finally found their goal. In the 47th minute, Eddy Davis III and Donovan linked up as Davis deftly flicked a ball over the Revs 2 backline into the path of Donovan’s run, and Donovan dispatched the ball into the bottom right corner to put U2 1-0 up. The goal was Donovan’s third of the MLS Next Pro season, and the assist was Davis’s first of the year. Adding linkup play to his arsenal could go a long way in Davis’s development as a true number 9 target man.

However, U2’s first lead of the day was short-lived. In the 63rd minute, with their first shot on target of the entire match, Revs 2 leveled the score with a goal from Marcos Dias. It felt like the kind of deflating goal that can sink a team that had dominated the entirety of the match leading up to that point. But U2 weren’t going down like that.

In the 76th minute, Donovan struck again. From a CJ Olney cross, the forward out of Paoli, Pennsylvania doubled his tally with a towering header that gave the Union a much-deserved 2-1 lead.

And they never looked back.

Just five minutes later, Olwethu Makhanya soared into the Foxborough sky and smashed a header into an empty Revs 2 net, extending U2’s lead to 3-1 and putting the final nail in the proverbial New England coffin. The goal was an exclamation point on an outstanding performance from the 20-year-old South African, as he was impervious alongside Neil Pierre all night, hardly allowing Revs 2 a sniff at goal.

When the final whistle blew shortly thereafter, U2 had picked up their second straight victory, while also jumping Chattanooga FC for the top spot in the MLS Next Pro table. Not too shabby for a day’s work.

The next time out for the lads from Chester will be next Sunday against New York Red Bulls II with major MLS Next Pro playoff seeding implications on the line, as New York currently sits just three points behind Philadelphia in the table. Should make for a fun matchup.

Hunter is a writer/contributor for Philadelphia Soccer Now/Brotherly Game covering Union post-game analysis, MLS league-wide news and other stories from the world of footy. He has been covering the Union since 2021.

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