MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 1-2 Rochester NY FC

Photo: Ben Ross

Visiting Rochester NY FC scored a winner in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, defeating Philadelphia Union II on Sunday afternoon at Subaru Park. The Empire Staters leapfrogged Union II in the standings with the victory.

Will Inalien scored a controversial opener for the visitors at the end of the first half, while Chris Donovan added Union II’s goal midway through the second half.

First half

Rochester NY FC kept two dominating clean sheets against Union II earlier in the season. As an independent side not focused on youth player development, its roster’s continuity and maturity provided a challenging test. The challenge continued Sunday afternoon.

The statistics say possession was even in the first half. But the statistics do not indicate in which half of the field possession was maintained. Most of the half was played in Rochester’s end, as is their pattern. They made only occasional counterattacks across midfield.

The key to the former Rhinos is their double pivot of Bubacar Dialo and Pedro Dolabella, and in the 45th minute Dolabella delivered a pass through the Union line to Will Inalien. Another RNY player was clearly offside, but he didn’t play the ball and Inalien scored the opener.

There is no VAR in MLS NEXT Pro. The goal negated Union II having contained and outplayed Rochester for most of the half.

Second Half

Union II responded well to the blow as the second half opened. But Phillip Edjimadu, Rochester’s number two goalkeeper who had replaced the injured Caique in the 26th minute, punched away the shot on target off the kickoff play.

In the 48th minute Anton Sorenson struck a shot off the outside of the left post from distance.

In the attacking third Paxten Aaronson seemed to play much more centrally than in the first half. Union II seemed to be trying to overpower the center of the Rochester defense, as the first team does to its opponents. There were promising developments but Dialo, Dolabella, and company provided stiff, effective opposition during the run of play.

Playing primarily in the Rochester end continued, although both sides slowed the pace because of the heat and because Rochester was nursing a lead. And inevitably both sides been to lose their compactness.

In the 62nd minute a Brandan Craig corner kick taken from the right skipped off a head to Aaronson outside wide left, and was re-served towards the left post on the eight where Chris Donovan headed home an equalizer.

The longer the game went, the more spread it became, and the more clear it was the the younger team on the field was beginning to labor to cover ground in the heat rather than to flow smoothly over it.

In the third minute of stoppage time, an attempt to pressure substitute Gabriel Costa carrying the ball in the left channel backfired by leaving center back Nathan Nkanji isolated against Edward Williams in the center. Williams recognized the Union II man had no cover, and passed Costa’s feed to himself into space on Nkanji’s right. He outran the surprised center man to the ball and found the far side netting on the ground to take all three points. At 27 years old, Williams was Rochester’s oldest, most experienced player.

Union II left it all on the pitch. At the final whistle they were spent. No one may criticize the effort given.

Next match, standings, playoffs

The Union play their home finale Sunday, September 11 at 1 p.m. hosting Orlando City B at Subaru Park. Both teams will play with their backup goalkeepers due to starter red cards in their previous match.

After the Rochester result Union II lie fourth in the Eastern Conference table, two points above the playoff line, with Rochester two points above them in third and Miami II two points below them in fifth.

Three Points
  1.  Gino Portella has resumed full training, perhaps adding center back depth to Union II for the last two matches. He does not yet have any match fitness, so he did not dress on the day.
  2. Only two amateurs were in Union II’s squad, Frank Westfield at RB and Marcos Zambrano at striker, but interestingly both started. Zambrano played 58 minutes, 13 more than his previous appearance in an increment that recalls preseason conditioning sequences. Westfield of course played the entire match.
  3. Jeremy Rafanello made his first appearance back with his old organization.  He came on in the 75th minute for Chris Donovan. He seemed sometimes to be dropping back deeper defensively than Donovan had, leaving Stefan Stojanovic to press Rochester’s defensive line by himself.



Union II: (4-2-2-2 “empty bucket,” L-R): Matt Freese, Anton Sorenson, Nathan Nkanji,, Brandan Craig, Frank Westfield; Cole Turner, Jesus Bueno (Boubacar Diallo 86′); Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan; Chris Donovan (Jeremy Rafanello 75′), Marcos Zambrano (Stefan Stojanovic 59′). Unused Substitutes: Brooks Thompson; Maike Villero, Juan Perdomo, Carlos Paternina, Nelson Pierre,  Jose Riasco. Player source distribution: 1st – 9, 2nd – 9, Am – 2. Suspended: Bajung Darboe. Coach’s Decision: Gino Portella.

RNY: (3-4-3, L-R): Caique (Phillip Edjimadu 26′); Christian Wood, Gerardo Lopez, Jacob Akanyirige; Ian Garrett (Opanin Edwards 58′),, Pedro Dolabella, Bubacar Djalo, Jesus Batiz; Wilterlynd Inalien (Gabriel Costa 67′), Gibran Rayo, Edward Williams. Unused substitutes: Matteus Franca; Michael Smith, Ryan Firestone, Brennan McDermott, Davis Smith, Preston Popp.


RNY         45th minute         Wilterlynd Inalien (Pedro Dolabella)

U II          62nd minute          Chris Donovan (Paxten Aaronson)

RNY         90+3 minute         Edward Williams (Gabriel Costa)


RNY         Yellow         22nd minute        Gibran Rayo (foul)

U II          Yellow         36th minute         Frank Westfield (foul)

U II          Yellow          45+8 minute       Paxten Aaronson (foul)

RNY         Yellow          51st minute         Christian Wood (foul)


Ref: Nabil Bensalah, AR1: Nicholas Seymour, AR2: Joe Franks, 4TH: Marie Durr



  RNY U II  



Possession % 49.6 2 Offsides




11 42 Duels won 45


Shots on goal 5 9 Tackles won



Blocked shots 2 3 Saves



Total passes 348 14 Clearances



passing accuracy % 75 13 Fouls


5 Corners 2 2 Yellow cards



Crosses 9 0 Red cards


One Comment

  1. Not much to say except that you have two teams with completely different purposes on the pitch. One team is focusing on developing players while the other is the top team in their organization. Not sure if it really makes sense for RNY to be in the league.
    Other than that, Quinn Sullivan had a couple of back to back point blank chances midway through the first half that the keeper did well to save.

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