United City sizzles early

Originally published by Daily Tribune Online

United City FC ushered a new era with a victory after crushing Maharlika FC, 4-0, in the Copa Paulino Alcantara at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite late Thursday.

The new-look Philippine Football League (PFL) champions relied on their latest signings and quickly asserted mastery in their first-ever game this year.

Debuting foreign recruits Alan Robertson, Ricky Sendra and national U-23 stalwart Ivan Ouano conspired for a strong opening half, before Pika Minegeshi extended their gap in the final stretch.

“(We’re) off to a great start. 4-0 win and no complaints,” United City owner Eric Gottschalk said.

After skipping the 2021 Copa edition, United City made crucial changes during the offseason following the departure of their key players Bienvenido Marañon and skipper Stephan Schrock.

Marañon, the club’s all-time leading scorer, transferred to Malaysian powerhouse club Johor Darul Tazim FC in January, while Schrock decided to terminate his contract last week.

Despite a short preparation, the Frank Muescan-mentored club imposed its dominance as the South African Robertson scored his debut goal off a corner kick from Curt Dizon in the 23rd minute.

Sendra, who played for Stallion Laguna FC last year, doubled the lead three minutes later, after unleashing a fine finish from Symen Lyngbo’s right flank assist.

Ouano made it 3-0 a few moments before the halftime whistle, getting a perfect pass from Dizon before nailing a shot past Maharlika goalie Bendeken.

Maharlika struggled to get things going in the second half as United City continued to dominate the possession until Minegishi struck a tight 74th minute shot to seal the victory.

United City will be up for a tougher task when it faces reigning Copa champion Kaya Iloilo FC on 28 March.

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