MLS NEXT Pro Match Report

Match report: Rochester NY FC 3-0 Philadelphia Union II

Photo: Ben Ross

Rochester NY FC striker Gibran Rayo scored a hat trick on two feeds from open play and a melee after a uncleared free kick to defeat Philadelphia Union II in upstate New York for a second time this season. Also for the second time, the score was 3-0.

Head coach Marlon LeBlanc’s side contested the midfield more effectively in the second half, but had only one meaningful  chance to score when Rochester goalkeeper Caique left his net, missed, and the boys in blue had an open target. But they missed it. Otherwise Rochester easily controlled in their defensive third.


Because the match was away and the first team plays the next day at home — and because of last weekend’s quantity of delays and cancellations of airline flights — there was little chance of reinforcements beyond the norm. First-team left back Anton Sorenson and defensive midfielder Cole Turner travelled. Chris Donovan did not because Sergio Santos remains absent. And because Stuart Findlay may be returning to England, Brandan Craig now seems much less certain Union II minutes. The addition of Jesus Bueno in the midfield was a pleasant surprise.

Stefan Stojanovic and Gino Portella continue to undergo injury rehabilitation, although both now work on the sidelines with the training staff during practice. Jose Riasco was suspended for his June 27 red card against NYC FC II, the old suspension rule still applying since his offense occurred before yesterday’s implementation of the new red card rule (see postscript below).

Some of the MLS NEXT Cup U-17 champions travelled but have only begun to learn Union II basic assignments. Playing time depended on circumstances as the match develops.  Union II’s roster was thin in addition to being in transition.

At tap-off Rochester lay fourth in the Eastern Conference and third in its Northeast Division with 23 points from 13 games. It had won five, lost four and drawn four, having won all four post-draw penalty shootouts. They lost three of their first four games, but have only lost once since. They were the Team of the Month for May and head coach Bruno Balthazar was May’s Coach of the Month in recognition of the turnaround.

The turnaround has seen Rochester play three center backs fronted by a double pivot and two flank midfielders who range forward. Those seven set up in a low block on the edge of the area. When the Union lost 3-0 in Rochester in April, well-judged runs from members of the double  pivot were especially dangerous.

As the league’s sole independent side, Rochester has only on its own resources available to it, a handicap, but its decisions are solely its own, an advantage. Its lineup displays less variation than that of any other team in the conference. It was started exactly as PSP predicted, and there was only one change on the bench with a Rochester homegrown making his debut.

Rochester has three players under 20, and its player pool totals 22. It has merged its academy operations with local academy Empire United, whose U-17s did not qualify for MLS NEXT Cup and whose U-19s were eliminated from it in the first round.

Players under 20

RNY (22)

Union II (31)

























(Small data sets can be misleading. Joe Bendik’s single game in a Union II goal drops that percentage 10 full points.)

The match

With the match clearly out of reach in the last half hour, LeBlanc showed two of the MLS NEXT Cup U-17 champions the higher level of play they face in the next phase their soccer development. They are both 16. He also got more game minutes for two of his own reserves who have had less playing time on the season. He now returns to the beginning of the cycle of bringing the new crop of U-17s youngsters up to speed.

With the result Union II will slide down the Eastern Conference table, as others playing later this weekend will move past and separate as they win points.

Like the first team, Union II are having trouble scoring goals. They do not create numerous chances, so they have to finish the few that they have, and they did not do so Thursday.

Reported changes to the Union roster may affect Union II. If Sergio Santos is on the move, Donovan will be the first team’s fourth striker and no longer be available consistently to the second team. That would create opportunities for Nelson Pierre, Jose Riasco, and  the recovering Stojanovic to improve their scoring, to say nothing of other teenagers rising from the academy.

If another report that Stuart Findlay is returning to England’s League One to play for Oxford United also proves true, Brandan Craig will be the first team’s reserve center back and no longer be consistently available to the reserve side.

Union II next play Monday evening July 18 hosting Toronto FC II at Subaru Park at 6:00 p.m. They will lie seventh or lower in the Eastern Conference table, and last in the Northeast division. They hold a game in hand over the rest of the league because of the Columbus postponement.

Three Points
  1. Union Academy U-17s, including Union II striker Nelson Pierre, won the MLS NEXT Cup championship in their age bracket Sunday evening. The score was 3-2. They had been down 2-0 in the 50th minute.  Marcos Zambrano won the tournament’s Golden Boot. Here is the U-17 roster for the tournament with what we know about ages and positions. They are the candidates to  provide the next cohort of Academy amateurs to Philadelphia Union II. Note how many are 16 rather than 17.
    Player Min Pos Year Age


    Andrew Rick 90+5 GK 2006 16.4
    Luke Martelli 90+2 LB 2005 17.1
    Gavin Wetzel 90+5 CB 2006 15.9
    Daniel Krueger 90+5 CB 2006 16.5
    Frank Westfield 72 RB 2005 16.6
    Devon Decorte 90+5 M 2006 16.2
    Alex Perez 90+5 M 2006 16.2
    Logan Oliver 90+2 M 2005 17.3
    David Vazquez 73 M 2006 16.4
    CJ Olney HT S 2006 15.6
    Marcos Zambrano 72 S 2005 17.5


    Devon Stopek 0+3 LB 2005 17.5
    Noe Uwimana 18 RB 2005 17.4
    Luke Zielinski 0+3 M 2006 16.3
    Nelson Pierre 17 S 2005 17.3
    Luciano Sanchez 45 S 2005 17.4
    Marcello Mazzolla 18 S 2005 17.5


    Jonathan Evans ? 2006 16.0
    Antonio Horozoglou ? 2006 16.0
    Jack Andrus ? 2006 16.5

    (Writer’s note: Ages updated and corrected 7/11/2022)

  2. Also Sunday evening the USMNT U-20s played Cinderella story Dominican Republic for the 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship. Two Union homegrowns started, Paxton Aaronson at center forward, and Union II regular Brandan Craig at left center back. Right wing Quinn Sullivan and left midfield Jack McGlynn  came on as subs. Aaronson won both the tournament’s Golden Boot  and its Golden Ball. He had seven goals.  Sullivan had six and also made the all-tournament team.
  3. MLS NEXT Pro has changed two rules in mid-season. First, any player injured who has to receive medical attention on the pitch who takes more than 15 seconds for the process must wait three minutes before returning to play. Second, a player receiving a red card will serve his suspension the next time the two teams play each other. The full texts of both are appended below in the postscript.

Union II (4-1-2-1-2 “narrow diamond,” L-R): Brooks Thompson; Anton Sorenson, Nathan Nkanji (Anthony Ramirez, HT), Cole Turner, Frank Westfield; Jesus Bueno; Jack Jasinski, Boubacar Diallo (Maike Villero, 80′); Juan Perdomo (Carlos Paternina, 74′);  Bajung Darboe (David Vazquez, 74′), Nelson Pierre (C. J. Olney, 80′). Unused substitutes: Andrew Rick;     Marcello Mazzolla, Luciano Sanchez, Alex Perez. Distribution: 1st3, 2nd6, Am – 11. Injury rehab: Stefan Stojanovic, Gino Portella.

Rochester (3-4-3, L-R): Caique; Lamar Batista, Gerardo Lopez, Gustavo Martini Rissi; Ian Garrett, Pedro Dolabella ( Brennan McDermott, 85′), Bubacar Djalo (Paulo Soares, 76′), Jacob Akanyirige; Jesus Batiz (Gabriel Costa, 71′), Gibran Rayo ( Preston Popp, 85′), Edward Williams (Dante Brigida, 85′). Unused substitutes: Phillip Ejimadu; Christian Wood,  Wilterlynd Inalien, Davis Smith,  . Not Dressed: Milan Vanacker, Matteus Franca, Ryan Firestone.


RNY      24th minute      Gibran Rayo (Gustavo Rissi)

RNY     28th minute      Gibran Rayo

RNY     60th minute      Gibran Rayo (Jacob Akanyirige)


U II      26th minute      Nathan Nkanji (foul)

RNY     70th minute      Bubacar Djalo (foul)

U II      89th minute      Carlos Paternina (foul)

Whistle Ref: Jeremy Scheer, AR1: Mike Nickerson, AR2: Nicholas Balcer, 4TH: Sharon Gingrich


  RNY U II  



Possession % 58.8 6 Offsides



Shots 18 56 Duels won



Shots on goal 11 16 Tackles won



Blocked shots 1 8 Saves



Total passes 444 12 Clearances



Passing accuracy % 83.8 13 Fouls



Corners 6 2 Yellow cards



Crosses 14 0 Red cards



Here are the verbatim texts of the new rules from the MLS NEXT Pro website.

RED CARD SUSPENSION RULE: If a player receives a red card (second yellow card or straight red card), the player will serve a 1 game suspension versus the same team against which the player received the red card.

Other Considerations:

  • Regular Season: All suspensions must be served during the same regular season, except in the event a red card occurs on the final game of the regular season. For example, if Team A does not play Team B again the remainder of the season, Team A’s player who received the red card would serve his 1 game suspension in the next regular season game.
  • Final Regular Season Game: If a player receives a red card in his team’s last regular season game, then the 1 game suspension would be served in the playoffs (if applicable) or the first game of the next regular season.
  • Player Trade: The rule applies in the event of a player trade. For example, if Player X from Team A receives a red card against Team B, and then is traded to Team C, he would serve his 1 game suspension when his new team (Team C) plays Team B; if his new team does not play Team B, then he would be suspended for the first game with his new team.
  • Failure to Serve Suspension: If a player does not serve his suspension because he is no longer eligible (e.g., retires, season ending injury, released, transferred, etc.), the player will be required to serve his suspension in the event he returns to MLS NEXT Pro. If the player signs in a new league, such suspension may also carry over to the other league (e.g., if the player is transferred to Manchester United, then he may be ineligible to participate in his first English Premier League game).
  • Supplemental Discipline: If a player is issued supplemental discipline (i.e., additional games), such supplemental discipline will be served in games immediately following the game to which the player received the red card, and then the 1 game suspension from the red card would be served the next time his club plays the original opponent.
  • Non-Player Related Ejection: The rule also applies to non-player related red cards (e.g., red card resulting from a confrontation with the opposing team’s technical staff or a confrontation with a referee).
  • Ineligible Players: The rule does not apply to (1) players on loan from a club’s first division affiliate and (2) amateur players. Such category of players would be ineligible to play in the next MLS NEXT Pro league season game (status quo).

OFF-FIELD TREATMENT RULE: If the referee stops play due to a potential player injury, the player may be required to leave the field of play for 3 minutes.

Player Required to Leave the Field for 3 Minutes:

  • Referee will stop play if a player is suspected to have an injury and is on the ground for longer than 15 seconds. Prior to the medical staff entering the field of play, the referee may ask the player if he requires on-field medical attention.
  • After 15 seconds, if play does not continue, the referee will wave the medical crew on the field to evaluate the player.
  • The 3 minutes that a player must remain off the field commences once the ball is in play.

Player Not Required to Leave the Field for 3 Minutes:

  • The referee will not stop play when a player remains on the ground beyond 15 seconds and he indicates that he does not require medical attention, or if a player voluntarily removes himself from the field. In these instances, the player is not required to remain off the field for 3 minutes. Please note that if a player refuses medical care, the referee may allow play to restart.
  • If a player suffers a foul that results in a red or yellow card.
  • Rule does not apply to the assessment of potential injuries involving the following:
  • Goalkeepers
  • Head injury, cardiac issue, or life-threatening event (e.g., seizure, choking, etc.)
  • Penalty kick situation (when the potentially injured player is also the penalty kick taker)
  • Collision of 2 players on the same team that requires medical attention
  • Collision involving a goalkeeper and opposing player whereby both players require medical attention
  • Player is bleeding

*15 seconds is an approximation and shall serve as a guideline. The 15 second timeframe starts the moment the ball is either out of play, or play has stopped. If the player is injured but not on the ground, the referee may still stop play and wave the medical staff on the field. For example, if the ball is out of play and it takes 5 seconds for the referee to reach the player that is on the ground, then the referee and player would have approximately 10 seconds to determine if medical staff should enter the field of play.

Important Considerations:

  • On-Field Medical Evaluation: Medical staffs are permitted to evaluate players on the field for extended periods of time (subject to referee discretion)
  • Substitutions: If a player requiring 3 minutes of off-field medical evaluation is substituted, the incoming player is eligible to enter the field of play at any time (subject to the referee’s discretion).
  • For example, if a player remains on the ground due to potential injury for 2 minutes 45 seconds, the player may be substituted without the team having to wait 3 minutes.
  • Club Feedback: League Office will conduct 3 meetings per season with Athletic Trainers and Head Coaches to discuss the impact of the new rule.
  • Halftime: If halftime occurs during the 3 minutes of off field treatment, the player is eligible to return to the field for the start of the second half.
  • For example, if a player is off the field for 2 minutes and halftime occurs, the player is not required to wait 1 minute into the second half prior to returning to the field (i.e., the player is eligible to return to the game to start the second half).
  • For those instances when other stoppages occur (e.g., hydration breaks), the referee will maintain the integrity of the 3 minute off field treatment requirement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: