UFL: Sans Phil, Loyola still overcomes Archers.

Fenelon and Younghusband. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Fenelon and Younghusband. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Thoughts on Meralco’s 3-0 win over Green Archers United Globe on Sunday.

Phil Younghusband is still hurting from an injured hammy. But it seems that the best replacement for one Younghusband is another.

On Sunday elder brother James supplanted Phil at second striker for the Sparks, and came up with a very Phil-like haul: two goals, both before halftime.

The first was a lovely finish in the 24th minute from the left flank, the second a header off a free kick from Matt Hartmann. James has always been a better header (header-er?) than Phil. Graham Caygill scored the third goal late.

Meralco are now 2-0 in the tough Group A of the FA League Cup.

It was my first time to see the Sparks in this competition. Jamal Fenelon, their new English forward, is really something to behold. He is around 6’3” and built like a nightclub bouncer. He is a handful for a central defender to shake off. GAU’s Boiboi Fernandez did a credible job keeping him off the scoresheet.

Another promising player for Loyola is Joshua Grommen, who started at centerback. Grommen is a Dutch-Filipino, raised in Brisbane, Australia, who is just 18. He came off early in the second half for Anton Del Rosario. We desperately need young, promising centerbacks for the Azkals going forward. He just might be in the mix.

It was a rough day for the Green Archers. They played with five players in the midfield in a 4-1-4-1 formation but still got out-played and out-possessed in the midfield. When they went forward, with Robert Lopez-Mendy as the lone striker, support from the rest of the GAU attackers left some to be desired. Chieffy Caligdong was at the game on his birthday but still not well enough to play. He was missed.

The Archers have a bunch of players back from Kuala Lumpur, where they played for the national futsal squad. Maybe they were adjusting to coming back to the eleven-a-side game.

The shining star for GAU: keeper Paolo Pascual. Made a couple of super legit saves, came out to pluck the ball out of the air with very good timing, and distributed and commanded well. A keeper I was sitting with said he might have been hesitant on James’ second goal. But other than that, a solid day. He prevented a much heavier scoreline. His defense didn’t do him enough favors.

Pascual. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Pascual. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Moving to GAU has been the best career move for Pascual, as he is now getting priceless match experience instead of sitting on the Global bench.

Another good moment for United: Boyet Cañedo’s startling 40-yard screamer that slammed off Baba Sampana’s crossbar. That would have been a terrific play had it gone in. Cañedo was shipped out of Loyola before this tournament and sent to GAU.

The Archers are stuck on a point from the draw with Jeepney. On Tuesday they play Pachanga.

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