Philadelphia Union II / USL Match report

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 2-3 Hartford Athletic

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union II came into their final match at Subaru Park in 2020, looking to finally take all three points from Hartford Athletic, but came away with nothing in a late 3-2 loss.

It was the fourth time Union II have taken on Hartford, having drawn 1-1 in their previous match last Wednesday in Hartford, and losing 3-0 and 3-2 in their previous matches on Sept. 20 and July 25 respectively.

The storylines were certainly different for each team heading into their penultimate match.  Union II, coming off a wild 5-4 loss to New York Red Bulls II on Saturday, had already been eliminated from USLC playoff contention for over a week and were simply looking for a solid performance from the young squad. Hartford Athletic on the other hand came in needing three points in order to keep their chances alive to finish atop Group F.  Having won 1-0 against Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Saturday, two wins in their final two games would give Hartford the points needed to secure a first place finish in Group F.

It wouldn’t take long for Hartford to get on the scoreboard, earning a penalty kick in the 7th minute.  Mitch Budler came off his line to cut off a pass into the box, but his dive attempt at the ball was a half a second too late, taking out Hartford midfielder Alex Dixon in the process.  Despite Budler guessing correctly on the shot direction, Hartford midfielder Mads Jorgenson buried the penalty into the bottom right corner, putting Hartford ahead 1-0 early.

Hartford would double their tally in the 15th minute off of a corner kick.  A great whipped in corner from Mads Jorgenson found the left foot of defender Alex Lara at the far post, who delivered from close range, extending Hartford’s lead to 2-0.

Union II would cut into the Hartford lead in the 22nd minute by means of an own-goal by Hartford defender Idan Cohen on a Union II corner kick.  Paxten Aaronson delivered the ball right at the near post, which deflected off Cohen’s clearance attempt and ended up in the back of the net.

Union II escaped going down further in the 37th minute when Nathan Harriel was caught out of a position on a Hartford through ball down the left side.  The cross into the box found Alex Dixon, who looked poised to score, but Budler did well to come off his line to close down the look on goal, forcing a wide shot.

Union II saw a couple of decent chances near the end of the half.  Nathan Harriel had a blasted shot blocked from outside the box in the 44th minute, and Cole Turner was off the mark a minute later with his shot outside the box going well high of the net.

Both teams were physical throughout the first 45 minutes, with three yellow cards being issued; two for Union II and one for Hartford.  The half would end with Hartford holding on to their 2-1 lead.

Hartford defender Idan Cohen’s started of the second half action quickly with a shot right out of the gate in the 46 minute which beat Budler but missed the target by only a few inches.

Union II almost equalized in the 52nd minute when Cole Turner lined up a laser shot from about 25 yards out which hit the cross bar.

The equalizer would indeed come in the 60th minute when defender Nathan Harriel delivered a long ball over the top which bounced high, landing nicely for Caden Stafford who got behind two Hartford defenders and slipped the ball past goalkeeper Mike Novotny.

A golden go ahead opportunity came in the 79′ minute when Union II were awarded a penalty kick from a mistimed Mattias Silva tackle in the box, for which he was shown a yellow card.  Substitute Issa Rayyan stepped up to take the kick, but goalkeeper Mike Novotny guessed correctly, blocking the shot to his right, keeping the score at 2-2.

Hartford Athletic’s winning goal came on quite an unfortunate moment for Union II, as keeper Mitch Budler released the ball on a throw in a seemingly routine play in the 90th minute.  However, the ball immediately rebounded back off of Danny Barrera, who was standing a yard in front of Budler with his leg extended backwards in the air.  The ball caught enough of Barrera’s foot to redirect back towards goals and bounced once on its way into the back of the net.  After looking at the replay, I chalk this goal up to a miracle reflex play on the part of Danny Barrera aided by a hint of carelessness from Budler.  However you want to look at it, it is certainly one of the weirdest goals of the USL season.

The match would end Union II 2 – 3 Hartford Athletic.

Three points

Gritty: The own goal certainly helped to give Union II some life, but this team showed some spunk battling down from 2-0 in a highly physical match. And given the missed penalty and the bizarre goal to end the match, it is fair to say that they easily could’ve left this match with three points.

Missed Opportunity:  The penalty wasn’t an awful take by any means, but it was certainly a missed opportunity to give Union II a late lead.

Uno Mas:  Union II will look to end their 2020 campaign on a higher note on Saturday at 7pm against the Riverhounds in Pittsburgh.


Philadelphia Union II

Mitch Budler; Anthony Sorenson, Brandan Craig, Dante Huckaby, Nathan Harriel; Cole Turner (Axel Picazo,75′); Jack McGlynn, Paxten Aaronson (Danny Flores, 75′), Jack de Vries (Issa Rayyan, 64′); Patrick Bohui (Zach Zandi, 75′), Caden Stafford (Quinn Sullivan, 89′)

Unused Subs: Ben Martino, Jack Jasinski

Hartford Athletic

Mike Novotny, Matheus Silva(c)(Danny Barrera, 81′), Alex Lara, Sam Strong, Idan Cohen (Conor McGlynn, 57′), Gabriel Torres( Tyreke Johnson,69′),  Arthur Rogers, Justin Haak, Mads Jorgensen (Aiden Mesia, 57′), Alfonso Vazquez( Markus Naglestad, 69′), Alex Dixon

Unused Subs: Andre Deas, Nicky Downs

Scoring Summary

HAT – Mads Jorenson, 7′

HAT – Alex Lara, 14′

PHI – Idan Cohen (own goal), 22′

PHI – Caden Stafford, 60′

HAT – Danny Barrera, 90′

Misconduct Summary

PHI – Mitch Budler, 7′

HAT – Alex Dixon, 24′

PHI – Aaron Sorenson, 42′

HAT – Sam STrong, 55′

HAT – Mattias Silva, 79′


  1. That gamewinner though…Zlatan would be so proud.

  2. I liked what I saw from some of the homegrowns. I think it was huge to be able to start 5 HGs and get them all playing time. De Vries had a good run out and looked good, was able to collect in midfield, keep possession, and even tracked back a few times for some important break ups.

    McGlynn continues to look so good with that left foot of his, had a great lofted ball that Stafford headed off the post (and was offsides for anyway).

    Aaronson was a bit quiet, he had some patented Brenden moves like the shoulder dip to buy space but did not really make his mark on the game.

    Turner was active, being the 6 and all. Some misplayed passes and touches but also was able to clam down play a spray the ball around. He also was one of the few players on Union 2 who looked to be able to physically stand up opposing players and turn them around.

    Sorenson, wow, what a prospect. Still raw. But you can’t ignore that athelticism and that utter desire to bomb forward. Had a nice dribble to split two defenders in the final third early in the game. Has 0 fear going overlapping.

    Harriel was steady. Not to jynx it but he reminds me of McKenzie, there is a calmness to Harriels defending that makes it seem like hes barely trying. Had that nice assist and seems calm on the ball.

    Stafford really impressed me again. He seems to bring everything to the game. Holds the ball up, finds space, plays in teammates, and showed his scoring touch this game too. He reminds me of Przybylko actually.

    What is best is that the team plays like the first team. As mentioned they were really unlucky to not atleast come out with a point – and for large parts of the second half they looked like the better team.

  3. Devastating to lose but certainly some positives to take away as they came back from a 2-0 deficit for the second game in a row, this time against the team likely to win the group (ideally Hartford will have clinched the group before their next game as that would mean U2 beat Pittsburgh Saturday night, but I’m not counting on it).
    Hopefully the team will learn from their mistakes and be stronger next year since I’m assuming most of them will be back (even those who’ve signed first team contracts will likely get significant playing time assuming a more fluid transfer between the two teams than we saw this year.)

  4. I do not know the length of the protocols, but until there is a reliable vaccine fully available. movement between the two teams will require both testing and periods of quarantine.
    Freese may be in one now to return to the first team for the October blitz.

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