|UFL Season in Review: Sparks score thrilling wins, but stumble at finish
With an explosive attack, the Sparks emerged as one of the fancied teams going into UFL league play last January.
Phil and James Younghusband form a potent attack that can break down defenses with aplomb, while Mark Hartmann is an elite set piece specialist. The midfield remained formidable with Anto Gonzales and Jake Morallo also playing key roles.
The Sparks can pile up the goals. And they did this season, scoring a remarkable 64 goals in 18 matches.
The title though still proved elusive for the Sparks, whose late-season collapse remained a major talking point at the end of the season.
It was the Sparks’ title to lose. After sealing Navy’s relegation with a 10-1 beating, the Sparks needed wins against rival Air Force and Nomads Auction Manila for them to just need a draw against Global in their final game of the season as their superior goal difference was enough if the two teams finished the season tied on points.
But in a stunning twist, the Sparks lost to Air Force on a late goal and was held to a draw by Nomads – also because of a late goal – dooming their title hopes.
There are still plenty of positives to draw from the Sparks’ campaign this season with Phil Younghusband winning the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer.
Loyola was involved in thrilling high-scoring matches and nicked in late goals themselves, adding excitement to the league.
They nipped Pasargad on a 95th minute strike from Hartmann, salvaged a draw against Kaya with a 93rd minute header from James Younghusband. The Sparks’ finish to the season may have left a lot to be desired, but the team firmly established themselves as a powerhouse in the league for seasons to come.