The second round of the United Football League gets going Sunday with Global Smartmatic and Air Force Rider looking to stay on top and bottom teams Navy, Loyola Meralco Sparks and Green Archers Orient Freight hoping to make a late frantic push for the title at the University of Makati pitch.
Global, level on points with Air Force Rider but ahead on goal difference over, faces Loyola Meralco at 2 p.m., while Air Force collides with Green Archers at 4 p.m. Army Fritz and Macziol, in third with nine points, tackles bottom side Navy in the nightcap at 6 p.m.
Every game counts now for Loyola, Meralco and Green Archers as they try to stay in the title hunt in the league backed by LBC.
Loyola had a promising end to the first round, scoring a late goal to force a 2-2 draw with struggling Kaya Smart. But it will be a different story against a formidable Global side, which is looking to repeat its 6-2 victory over Loyola in the first round.
Showing it is serious in its bid to contend for the league title, Loyola, with five points, added eight players to its squad, including former national Under-19 tournament Most Valuable Player Glenn Balaquina.
Loyola also acquired Filipino-British brothers Darren and Mark Hartmann from second division side Nomads. Darren had stints with the national, while Mark is one of the leading scorers in the second division before his departure.
Former Union standout Taku Yashioka was also added to the squad, along with Jayson Cutamora, Al Faizar Tahil, Rolly Perez and Nico Mabanag, the skipper of the Ateneo juniors squad.
Global will still rely on Misagh Bahadoran and Izzeldin El-Habbib, who scored the equalizing goal against in the 1-1 draw against Air Force last week.
Coach Frank Muescam is still waiting for former national team standout Robert Canedo to return to his goal scoring ways as the San Carlos City native is still struggling to hit top form following a one-year layoff.
Green Archers also bolstered its squad during the transfer window, adding a strong defensive presence in Lemuel Unabia and pace at midfield by acquiring Gerald Pacquiao. Floriano Pasilan, with his pace, remains the most potent attacking threat for the Green Archers.
Air Force won the first round meeting Green Archers, 2-1, on goals from Surgeant Montillano and Ian Araneta. Pasilan scored the consolation goal for Green Archers.
The Airmen will be without central defender Joel Ballo-Allo, who was sent off for a second yellow card in the Global match. But Joebel Bermejo could return for Air Force and he is expected to pair up with Reymark Palmes in a makeshift backline.
Army goes into the duel with Navy, confident after blanking Kaya Smart 2-0, last weekend with Roel Gener assisting on goals by Meliton Pelayo and Luis Brilliantes.
Navy is looking to end its search for a victory after managing just two draws in the first round. Past stars of the national team like Loreto Kalalang and Marlon Pinero are still with Navy, which has found difficulty dealing with teams that make an assault in the second half.