The Union have parted ways with minor-league USL team coach Sven Gartung after the team gave up 18 goals in a four-game losing streak to resume the season.
Gartung was hired in February after longtime coach Brendan Burke stepped aside and became the organization’s chief scout. He ended up presiding over just five games: those four losses and a scoreless tie with D.C. United’s USL team in early March.
A native of Germany, Gartung came here with previous stops in Malaysia, Switzerland, and his home country. His highest-profile past job was as technical director of German club Eintracht Braunschweig’s youth academy from late 2010 until early 2015. While there, he got to know Christian Pulisic, a connection that led to Pulisic doing a Zoom call with Union academy players this past May.
The Union said the interim coach will be Marlon LeBlanc, who joined the academy staff in July and oversees the under-17 team. LeBlanc, a Mercer County native, was West Virginia’s men’s soccer coach for 14 seasons until resigning at the end of last year. While at WVU, he coached future Union players Ray Gaddis and Jack Elliott.
Last August, LeBlanc’s wife and children moved to the Philadelphia area so that son Kellan could join the Union’s youth academy.
LeBlanc said he learned of the coaching change on Monday. The Union announced the move Wednesday, just over an hour before a game against the New York Red Bulls’ USL team. The team’s statement gave no reason for the change.
“I was at training Monday evening, and coaching my first pro game on Wednesday night,” LeBlanc said. “So it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been fun, too.”
The game turned out to be Union II’s first win of the year, 3-2. All three Union II goals were scored by teenagers: 16-year-olds Patrick Bohui and Jack Jasinski and 17-year-old Jack McGlynn. Bohui scored in the first minute of the game, and held the record for youngest scorer in team history until Jasinski — just a day younger — scored in the 75th. McGlynn scored in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time.
“It happened so quick, I didn’t even know — I thought it was a dream,” Bohui said of his goal.
Paxten Aaronson, the 16-year-old younger brother of Union star Brenden, made his first USL start and was influential throughout — especially a beautiful feint in the buildup to Jasinski’s winner.
“I think the kid has got such a big upside, and he’s already an outstanding player,” LeBlanc said of Aaronson. “One of the first things I wanted to do was to move him into the middle of the park [from the left], and I thought for long stretches of time, he was the best player on the field. Fantastic energy, ability to unbalance his opponent off the dribble, and his vision to connect passes is tremendous.”