Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: New York Red Bulls II 5-4 Philadelphia Union II

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Fifteen days after their 6-0 loss against New York Red Bulls II, the Philadelphia Union II once again suffered defeat against the same club on the road again in an insane match. In the first half alone, the Union II would go down two goals in the first twenty minutes, then gain a man advantage and cut New York’s lead in half. Then in the second half it would get tied at two apiece, then three goals in four minutes would make it 4-3, and then two other goals at the end would give us the final 5-4 scoreline. A wild game through and through, and despite the boys in blue coming back on several occasions, it wasn’t enough.

The match started with some pace as the Union II looked to bounce back from their last blowout by NYRB II. Unfortunately it favored New York a bit more with Nathan Harriel coming up big early in the match, shutting down Dantouma Toure repeatedly. Philly would get their first chance on goal in the 13th minute following a corner kick with Brandon Craig hitting a great ball that Luca Lewis had to dive to grab. Lewis’ clearance created New York’s first goal, with a long run then pass into the box from Cherif Dieye to Omar Sowe, who put it behind Matt Freese.

It would get worse for the Union II when Sowe would make a near post run on a corner and head the ball across the face of the goal to beat Freese again just six minutes later. Philly’s young back line looked a bit flat, allowing New York’s midfield time and space with the ball to score both goals. As they settled more into the match already two goals behind, the center backs looked better as New York began to struggle to get balls past.

The tides turned when Red Bulls II captain Chris Lema was sent off in the 38th minute with a straight red card for taking down Axel Piczo just outside the box. A poor back pass by Joe Fala resulted in the veteran captain having to take down Picazo and be shown a red. Now with a man advantage, Anthony Sorenson took the free kick and hit the post, keeping it 2-0 in favor of New York.

Another card, this time a yellow for Sowe on Jack McGlynn for an elbow during the corner kick jostling, led to a penalty kick. McGlynn went to the spot and buried it past Lewis in the 43rd minute to cut New York’s lead in half. It was 2-1 at the end of the first with the Union II gaining some confidence and looking more optimistic with a man advantage.

That momentum did not carry over to the start of the second half though. Soon after the whistle, Freese had to make a tackle on Sowe just outside the box at the start of the second half to prevent him from getting a hat trick. If he hesitated on Sowe’s first goal, he made up for it with some sweeper keeper prowess. But New York was knocking on the door despite playing only with 10 men, with Freese making another great play with a kick save in the 57th minute.

But in typical Union II fashion, something would kind of come out of nothing. The tying goal would come from Picazo in the 55th, redirecting a rather nondescript cross from Caden Stafford. While the Union II evened the score, they still didn’t really control the match or tighten their defense. At this point, Issa Rayyan proved his versatility, shifting into an outside midfielder after playing central defender for Jamoi Topey, and the defense looked weak again.

Jake Lacava would put NYRB II ahead after finding himself open enough to receive a cross in the box, take an inital shot that Freese blocked, then another shot, which was again blocked. The third time was the charm though, with Lacava sneaking the ball just under the outstretched arm of Freese. Bo Cummins would double the lead only two minutes later. Finding himself relatively unmarked, he’d easily receive a cross from Lacava and knock it past Freese on the near post to get his first career goal. It was 4-2 in favor of Red Bulls II.

But again, the Union II wouldn’t die. Stafford brought the ball into the box then dropped it back with a no-look heel kick to McGlynn, who rockets it past Lewis in the 69th minute. It was the third goal in four minutes, and cut New York’s lead to 4-3. McGlynn’s brace was the 12th in club history and the first since Rayyan against Red Bulls II on July 10, 2019. At this point, the match had been truly stretched and New York was looking to finish the match. Man of the match, Freese once again came up huge, making the save on Lacava’s breakaway in the 80th, then once more on Kenny Hot in the 85th.

Fala would put the nail in the coffin, scoring the fifth for Red Bulls II in the 86th minute. Heading it past Freese off a corner, the first team keeper would have no chance to make the stop, so it was 5-3 in favor of New York.

For the third time in the match Philly would get a goal back and hope would begin to bloom one more time. The ever-versatile Rayyan would bring the ball into the box to get a shot off, which Fala blocked, then resulted in a scrum in front of the net where Patrick Bohui got pulled down. The ref would point to the spot for the second time in the match, and Danny Flores would net the penalty kick in the 90th. It was Flores’ first USL goal, and bring the score to 5-4 still favoring Red Bulls II.

Stoppage time had some more chances for the Union II, but nothing stuck and so a very eventful match ended 5-4. The Union II will be at home on Wednesday, once again facing Hartford Athletic at 7:30 p.m.

Three Points

Matt Freese. Single-handedly kept his team in the match and definitely was the man of the match tonight. What should have been eight goals scored by Red Bulls II was only five, which sounds crazy, I know it does. But none of the five goals were Freese’s fault, he stood on his head making a career-high eight saves, and desperately needs his back line to tighten up.

Always bouncing back. First they were down 2-0, then tied it 2-2. Then it was 4-2, and they scored another to make it 4-3. And then it was 5-3, but they brought it back to 5-4. Goonies never say die? Please, Union II never say die.

Injuries continue plaguing the club. Jamoi Topey went out early then Picazo went down clutching his hamstring. Saed Diaz is still not getting any minutes as he slowly recovers, and Issa Rayyan is still not 90 minute fit yet. Injuries have plagued this young team, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.


Philadelphia Union II

Matt Freese; Anthony Sorenson, Jamoi Topey (Quinn Sullivan, 51′), Dante Huckaby, Nathan Harriel (Issa Rayyan, HT); Brandan Craig, Cole Turner; Jack McGlynn (Patrick Bohui, 70′), Paxten Aaronson (Jack Jasinski, 63′), Axel Picazo (Danny Flores, 63′); Caden Stafford

Unused Subs: Ben Martino, David Rabadan

New York Red Bulls II

Luca Lewis; Bo Cummins, Joe Fala, Joey Zalinski, Edgardo Rito; Samad Bounthong, Chris Lema (c), John Tolkin, Dantouma Toure (Jake Lacava, 58′), Cherif Dieye (Kenan Hot, 83′); Omar Sowe (Sebastian Elney, 83′)

Unused Subs: Ciaran Dalton, Preston Kilwien, Deri Corfe, Serge Ngoma

Scoring Summary

NY – Omar Sowe – 13′ (Cherif Dieye)

NY – Omar Sowe – 19′

PHI – Jack McGlynn – 43′ (PK)

PHI – Axel Picazo – 55′ (Caden Stafford)

NY – Jake Lacava – 65′

NY – Bo Cummins – 67′ (Jake Lacava)

PHI – Jack McGlynn – 69′ (Caden Stafford)

NY – Joe Fala – 86′

PHI – Danny Flores – 90′ (PK)

Misconduct Summary

NY – Chris Lema – 38′ (Red)

NY – Zalinski – 41″ (Yellow)

NY – Omar Sowe – 42′ (Yellow)

PHI – Jamoi Topey – 45′ (Yellow)


  1. MCGlynn’s left foot is MLS ready.

    Wonder how the playing time will shake out between the three new homegrowns next year.

  2. It’s never good when a team gives up 3 goals while up a man (even if they score 4 during the same period of time).
    I do think Freese could have stopped the first goal if he had come off his line right away and prevented the NJ player from getting the ball.
    Work definitely needs to be done on corners since 3 of NJ’s goals came off of them…the first off of the Union’s CK and two directly off NJ CK’s.
    The third goal was also a HUGE problem for the defense since there were 5 Union players within a yard or two of the ball and no one was able to either get to it or get on the line to block it despite Freese making 2 point blank saves.

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