Match Report / MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / USL Match report

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 2-0 FC Cincinnati 2

Photo: Ben Ross

Philadelphia Union II won its inaugural match in its new league, MLS NEXT Pro, scoring in the fourth and 60th minutes and posting a clean sheet en route to a 2-0 finish over FC Cincinnati 2.

Colombian attacking midfielder Carlos Paternina was left open in the box to receive a precise cross from Stefan Stojanovic (Post publication note: postgame word from Union II sources is that Chris Donovan made the pass) for the opening goal. Then Jesus Bueno blasted one through the hands of Cincinnati net minder Roman Celetano after an excellent dummy by Stojanovic. A searching through ball from Cole Turner off a strip tackle found the Venezuelan midfielder to put the game on ice.

Key statistics reveal that head coach Marlon LeBlanc’s team played the Union style in dominating fashion. Union II had only 42% possession and completed nearly a hundred fewer passes than Cincinnati – but they outshot the visitors 18-2, with eight of the 18 being on goal to only one for the Orange and Blue.

The score would have been higher in Union II’s favor had keeper Celetano not proven why he was the best net minder in NCAA Division I last fall.

For the first 20 minutes Union II high pressure disposed the opponents repeatedly in the Union’s offensive half. After the match, coach Marlon LeBlanc commented that his team played the game in Cincinnati’s half and that Cincinnati played its game in Cincinnati’s half also. Cincinnati striker Andrew Akindele has pace, strength, moves, and a powerful shot, but Union II center backs Jackson Gilman and Nathan Nkanji were equal to the challenge.

In the last third of the first half the visitors created some threats, but halftime revived the hosts, and Bueno’s javelin strike proved decisive.

Both teams had strong representation from their parent sides. From the Union itself, Matt Freese started in goal as captain, with Anton Sorenson at left back and Matt Real at right back on the defensive line. Protecting the center backs was Cole Turner at defensive mid, while Bueno played the Alejandro Bedoya position on the right.

FC Cincinnati flew in four players late Saturday night from Charlotte right after that MLS match concluded, illustrating head coach Tyrone Marshall’s postgame point that his squad still needs to add personnel.

Union II next play away in Ft. Lauderdale next Sunday at 6:00 p.m. against Inter Miami CF II.

Three Points
  1. Approaching his third full year as a Union homegrown player, Cole Turner had a dominating performance as the single defensive midfielder both offensively and defensively. For the first time he not only had flashes of success, but simply bossed the entire match – his assist crystallizes the point. His tackle stripped the ball from the opponent and the through ball off the tackle found a sprinting teammate to clinch the result.
  2. Matt Real needs minutes because playing behind Kai Wagner requires good cheer and patience. That probably explains his appearance with Union II. Could his positioning, right back not left, be an attempt to increase his versatility with an eye to the consequences of Nathan Harriel overtaking Olivier Mbaizo?
  3. This thought originally comes from Union II head coach Marlon LeBlanc, but it bears repeating: both coaches in this match were of African descent. That’s rare and something worth noting and celebrating.

Union II: (4-4-2 narrow diamond, L-R) PHI: Matthew Freese; Anton Sorenson, Jackson Gilman, Nathaniel Nkanji, Matt Real; Cole Turner; Boubacar Diallo (Francis Westfeld 87’), Jesus Bueno (Juan Perdomo Rivero 63’); Carlos Paternina (Ian Abbey 63’); Stefan Stojanovic, Christopher Donovan (Nelson Pierre 76’). Substitutes not used: Brooks Thompson, Edgar Alguera-Mercardo; Bajung Darboe, Jack Jasinski, Maike Villero Farinez. U II Roster Distribution (20): 1st Team –5      U II Pros – 8      Academy – 7

Cincinnati 2🙁4-2-3-1, L-R) Roman Celentano; Avionne Flanagan (Ashton Kamdem 63’), Ian Murphy, Kai Thomas, Morgan Marshall (Max Miller 72’); Harrison Robledo, Zico Bailey; Nick Markanich (Leonardo Vazquez 72’), Gerardo Valenzuela, Quimi Ordonez; Andrew Akindele. Substitutes Not Used: Jack Moxom, David Garcia, Darrell Turcios, Marcel Ruszel. FCC2 Roster Distribution (19): 1st Team – 6.       FCC 2 Pros – 3      Academy – 7


U II      Paternina (Donovan)            03:36

              Bueno (Turner)                        59:42


CIN2    Marshall (foul)                        45:22

U II      Paternina (failure to retreat) 54:17

Stats Summary: PHI/CIN
Shots: 18 / 2
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 10 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 9
Offside: 5 / 4
Possession%: 42.3 / 57.7

Whistle:     REF: Thomas Snyder     AR1: Nicholas Seymour      AR2: Patrick Slane       4TH: Justin Saporito


  1. Team looked good. Excited to see more. I thought most players showed promising moments. Will be interesting to see how the four HGs away with the U20s get minutes with U2 as well.

    • because there was no Union game, the Union’s bench members that were in need of game minutes were available, e.g., Matt Real, Matt Freese, Jesus Bueno.
      I have guessed earlier that Anton Sorenson is likely to be a fixture at left back and that Cokle turner may be a frequent presence at defensive mid. Only time will tell about Turner, of course.

  2. Thank you Tim. Did anyone else here go? There are two extremely short video clips available on the club’s home page. I would like to attend a UII match. It looks like parking is not a problem. Any food or drink for sale?

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Parking was definitely not a problem. Probably about the same level of attendance as an open practice for the Union. They had one concession stand open. Not sure what they sell there since I wasn’t planning on eating or drinking. The nice thing about general admission seating was that I was able to sit towards the end Union II were attacking each half.

    • I almost went, but not totally thawed out after the last home Union game.
      I will go in the future, I’m sure.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Union II clearly looked the better team. I’m guessing Cincinnati is brand new at having a development team compared with Union II that has been there since the time FC Cincinnati was still in USL.
    Really nice plays on both goals. First one was directly off a thrown in down the sideline and then centered. Second was a long pass with the dummy by Stojanovic to a wide open Bueno.
    I also thought the ref did a better job than most MLS refs although he was helped by the somewhat slower pace of play. The Paternina yellow card was well deserved and wasn’t for a foul as indicated above. He was warned in the first half for delaying a restart after a Union II foul and when he stood right over the ball after another foul, the ref immediately went to his pocket and yelled out that he had warned Paternina in the first half. I wish more refs would do that and cut down on the nonsense.

    • Andy is correct about Paternina’s card, of course. I goofed. No excuse. My apologies.
      Thank you, Andy, for helping the record be as accurate as possible.

    • Tyrone Marshall, the FCC 2 head coach, said two things after the game of relevance to Andy’s observation that Union II looked the better team.
      First, they have been at it about six weeks not union II’s nine. Second, they still need to add more players to the squad.
      Coach Marshall faced a special circumstance in that he was away in Philly on Sunday afternoon, while his U-19s were in Cincy Saturday night as his first team had been in Charlotte at the same time. As Coach LeBlanc said after the match, Cincinnati flew in four first teamers late Saturday night who had been in the match day 20 for the loss in Charlotte. Some of the four were whom the subs replaced after the second goal.
      It should be said that Cincinnati began an academy as soon as they joined MLS if not sooner. They recruited two players away the Union Academy one of whom is still with their U-19s. Patrick Bohui and Arnim (?) Miscic, Selmir’s twin brother.

  4. Enrico del Savvagio says:

    Good overview Tim. I was pleased to see the easy 3 points despite the core mission of U2 being developmental. Based upon the 60-or-so munites that I saw online, I have a couple of observations:

    The inconsistent roster, with first-teamers and academy kids in and out of the linup, will make organization a challenge going forward. You could see it in the U’s press. There was sometimes confusion as to who should pressure the ball and who should tuck in (turns out that Cincinnati couldn’t break it down either way: they didn’t have the poise). It’s the nature of this kind of team, and it’ll be good experience for the players to work with a rotating cast. They may be called upon in a moment’s notice to fill slots on the first team and be effective–COVID protocol, anybody?

    With that in mind, I saw 4 players I thought could step in and provide effective minutes for the U. Not surpringly three already do: Freese, Turner and Real. I also liked Paternina’s pace and positivity. There may have been others (Bueno?) but I didn’t see enough.

    I’m looking forward to watching in person.

  5. Have to say the headlines get a little confusing with all of the 2’s and II’s.

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