USL Match report

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 0-2 Tampa Bay Rowdies

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Looking to get back on track after a midweek loss to Atlanta United II, Philadelphia Union II’s long trip to Tampa Bay wasn’t a pleasant one, succumbing to the Rowdies 2-0 after a 2.5 hour rain delay.

Tampa Bay came into this game at 7-1-3, atop Group H in the table and the second seed in the USL Championship Eastern Conference. Judging only by the amount of facial hair, this looked to be a tough match for the Union II as the Rowdies were full of stubble while most of the Union II apparently don’t yet shave.

Union II started out strong and got a chance in the second minute as Jack McGlynn took it down the left side and crossed into the box but to no avail as there was no one to finish.

After a bit of back and forth, the Rowdies got the first goal of the game at 5:45. Midfielder Malik Johnson worked the ball from the right wing past defender Anthony Sorenson to the end line, where he passed it out front to forward Sebastian Guenzatti who tapped it home for the early 1-0 lead. This got Tampa Bay rolling.

Against the run of play, the Union II got a good chance in the 17th minute as Paxton Aaronson tried to equal his brother’s strike from earlier in the evening. He took a pass in the right channel, cut to the left and fired from 22 yards out but the effort only resulted in a goal kick as the ball pinged off the crossbar. This is the last chance the Union II would see for a while.

Tampa Bay stayed on the front foot using the full width of the field and pushing the ball forward with crisp and determined movement. Any counter attacks by the Union II were quickly snuffed out by the well organized Tampa Bay defense. Chance after chance was thwarted by Union II goalkeeper Mitchell Budler or, once, off the goal line by defender Brandan Craig. But the constant pressure finally paid off as one-time Union midfielder Yann Ekra took a low shot that went through Budler’s wet gloves, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead.

Union II’s best chance of the night came just before the half as midfielder Danny Flores worked an open shot past Rowdies Goalkeeper Evan Louro but it curled just to the left of the net.

Union II coach Marlon LeBlanc seemingly had some calming words for the team at halftime as they came out of the locker room much improved. As the second half wore on, Union II kept a decent amount of possession and limited the Rowdies’ chances. Even so, the game was never in doubt as the final whistle blew just before midnight with the final score Tampa Bay 2-0 over Philadelphia.

Three Points:
  • Second Acts: After getting pummeled throughout the first half by a physically superior team, Union II could have packed it in, but instead came back strong in the second  and played them more or less evenly – and did not give up an additional goal. Maybe there are moral victories in sports.
  • Audacious Goalkeeping: One of the more unusual plays you’ll see was Tampa Bay’s Goalkeeper Evan Louro kicking the ball out of bounds while well outside his box then grabbing the ball and running away thus preventing Union II from a quick restart. Referee Tori Penso had a broad grin on her face as she gave him the well deserved yellow card.
  • The Caribbean Ray Hudson: Really enjoyed listening to the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ color commentator Ryan Davies for both the content and his lilting Trinidadian accent.
Philadelphia Union II:

Mitchell Budler, Steve Kingue (Nathan Harriel 71’), Brandan Craig, Ben Ofeimu, Anthony Sorenson, David Rabadán (Selmir Miscic 67’), Dante Huckaby, Paxten Aaronson, Danny Flores (Axel Picazo 68’), Jack McGlynn (Sean Bettenhausen 82’), Patrick Bohui (Jack Jasinski 45’)
Substitutes not used: Ben Martino, Jamoi Topey

Tampa Bay Rowdies:

Evan Louro, Forrest Lasso, Aaron Guillen, Jordan Scarlett, Leonardo Fernandes (Max Lachowecki 80’), Lewis Hilton, Malik Johnson (Mustapha Dumbuya 64’), Jordan Doherty, Yann Ekra (Kyle Murphy 58’), Zach Steinberger (Dominic Oduro 64’), Sebastián Guenzatti (Kevin Varela Mendoza 80’)
Substitutes not used: Ian Mcgrane, Sebastian Dalgaard

Scoring summary:

TBR – Sebastián Guenzatti (Malik Johnson) 6’
TBR – Yann Ekra (Zach Steinberger) 39’

Misconduct summary:

TBR – Forrest Lasso (caution) 4’
PHI – Paxten Aaronson (caution) 50’
PHI – Ben Ofeimu (caution) 56’
TBR – Evan Louro (caution) 60’


  1. Given the disparity in experience and place in the standings, the travel, and the weather delay, this wasn’t too bad a game for the Union II and they should definitely be able to get some encouragement from how they played, especially in the second half.
    The announcer did have an interesting take in pronouncing the Aaronson family name 🙂

  2. Starting lineup average age calculated to the day was 18.1.
    If Budler handles Ekra’s goal as he might have when he’s older and more experience, the result would have been 1-0. Now Tampa was at least 2-0 better, but 1-0 in St. Pete is nothing to sneeze at, given some past defeats down there.

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