MLS NEXT Pro Match Report

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 6 – 1 Orlando City B

Photo: Ben Ross

After starting ten first team reserve players in the field, Philadelphia Union II soundly defeated Orlando City B 6-1 in the mist, drizzle, and light rain of Subaru Park early Sunday afternoon.

They did everything they could on the day to maintain and enhance their chances of making MLS NEXT Pro’s inaugural season’s playoffs.

They scored two consecutive braces. Striker Chris Donovan had his brace  at six and 22 minutes. Midfielder Quinn Sullivan followed with his in the 24th and 25th minutes on assists from Donovan and Nathan Harriel. Then in the second half substitute striker Jose Riasco added a goal 27 seconds after tap-off on an assist from Maike Villero. Paxten Aaronson added a penalty kick in the 56th.

Orlando ended the clean sheet in the 69th from MLS NEXT all-star winger Favian Loyola on an assist from substitute Tyler Prebenda. (Watch match highlights here .)

Facts known in advance

The new MLS NEXT Pro red card rule, promulgated at mid-season this summer, meant that Matt Freese could not play for Union II and Jaime Ortega could not play for Orlando City B. Each was his side’s starting goalkeeper, and each was sent off in the previous match between the sides. The new rule imposes the suspension the next time the two sides play each other if such a match remains available, and in this case it did.

Brooks Thompson was presumed to start for coach LeBlanc, and he did so.  LeBlanc and Thompson were each nominated for coach of the month and keeper of the month for August. They were not selected.

In his presser Thursday before the first-team’s match Saturday against Orlando, Jim Curtin mentioned 21.8 year old defensive midfielder Richard Odada — an August 2nd signing who has been capped by Kenya’s senior national team — would probably get his organization debut with Union II. He did. Union fans need to become aware of him.

First Half

Starting ten first-team reserves only two of whom were not in the squad on opening day — strikers Donovan and Jeremy Rafanello — meant a degree of coordinated flow to Union II’s play that Orlando simply could not handle. Patterns of play among Union II trios closely echoed those of the first-team’s starters. The half’s possession was recorded by the league as 50-50, but the eyeball test says precious little Orlando possession occurred in its offensive half.

Odada impressed at defensive midfielder in both breaking up plays and distributing the freshly won balls. He and Jesus Bueno covered each other on their respective offensive forays — the so-called “I-beam” variation of the double pivot empty bucket — remarkably well given how recently the Kenyan has arrived in Chester.

Donovan’s first goal was a fluke in the 6th minute. But the sequence of three goals in the 22nd, 24th and 25th minutes, the first from him and the next two from Sullivan, dropped Orlando heads to their chests and took the spark out of their legs.

Orlando’s offensive talisman this season has been striker Jack Lynn who was recovering from injury. But Matt Real shut him down for the most part, ably coordinating his efforts with  fellow center back Brandan Craig.  Only once did Lynn generate a thrust that threatened the goal, and it was insufficient to generate credit for a save. In the 27th minute Orlando’s best chance of the half was cleared from the goal line by Brandan Craig so easily that no save was given.

Second Half

When a team leading by four scores a fifth 27 seconds after the half taps off, enthusiasm for a comeback gets deflated. So it was for Orlando when Riasco scored.

To their credit as new subs came on and professional training took over they never truly gave up. But only in Major League Baseball (at Wrigley Field in Chicago when the wind is blowing out) is a deficit of five nothing to worry about.

And it must be said that some members of Union II’s attack did not display Philadelphia 76er legend Moses Malone’s level of professionalism in continuing to “bring it” on the night of the fifth game in sixth days against the worst team in the league because the fans had paid good money to see a Hall of Famer’s very best. Some of the attacking youngsters remain youngsters not seasoned pros.

Maike Villero earned his first regular season Union II assist on Riasco’s goal. He combined well with Jesus Bueno in the double pivot. He has the athleticism for defensive mid at this level but not yet the vision and offensive understanding to play there alone.

Deflections cut both ways. Loyola’s goal for the visitors in the 69th took a deflection off Real’s foot, becoming impossible for Thompson to stop. Union II have not kept a shutout since May.

Next match, standings, & playoffs

Next Sunday in the regular season finale Union II will play New England Revolution II at Gillette Stadium. All five MLS NEXT Pro’s Decision Day Eastern conference matches tap off at 3 PM ET. Union II still lies 4th in the table one point behind third place Toronto who lost to Rochester and four points above Miami and now-eliminated New England.

Union II’s playoff chances were enhanced by yesterday’s win. They control their own destiny.

New York City lies below Miami and New England in the table. But they remain alive for the playoffs mathematically because they and Miami each have midweek games as well as their finales on Decision Day. Each could pass Union II with two wins and a Union II loss next Sunday.

Here is a chart of the Eastern conference playoff situation as of 10 PM Sunday night.

Pts Now 9/11 Weds Sun





CC2 52 Cin2






Tor2 38 Mia2 @OCB



Phi2 37 @NEn2



Mia2 33 @Tor2 @Chi2



NEn2 33 Phi2 36


NYC2 32 @Cin2 @RNY



Chi2 28 Mia2



OCB 25 Tor2



Cin2 17 NYC2 @CC2


If Columbus, Rochester, Toronto and Philadelphia all win out, the final table’s places will be as above in the maximum points column.  Of course final point totals cannot all be as above for all, since winning and losing is a zero sum process.

If there are ties in the final table’s places, the first tiebreaker is the total number of wins in regulation. The second is goal differential. The third is total goals scored. The fourth is PK shootout wins. The additional six can be found at the bottom of an MLS NEXT Pro standings page.

Three Points
  1. August 2nd’s first-team defensive midfield signing, 21.8 year-old Kenyan international Richard Odada, started and played as a double pivot but more in its “I-beam” variation than the empty bucket. Conclusions based on 45 minutes are risky, but we hazard the observation that the Kenyan is the second-best offensive distributor among Union defensive midfielders behind only Jose Martinez himself (We do not include Jack McGlynn among the DMs in this comparison. Odada found good attacking feeds, but seemed more focused on maintaining possession. McGlynn attacks). The weights of Odada’s passes were sublime.
  2. Orlando was simply not ready for the pace of Union first-team high pressure. Chris Donovan demonstrated the flaw in the sixth minute.  His first goal happened when he blocked the Orlando keeper’s attempt to clear and the deflection arched back over the keeper’s head into the net. Quinn Sullivan pulled the same pacey surprise pressure when blocking a defender’s attempt to clear in the 22nd, and had the wit to realize he would be offside if Donovan played him in with a pass. Donovan collected and dribbled in to shoot and deflected his shot off the keeper’s near post leg. Both Donovan goals were direct results of Orlando being unready for first-team high pressure – words alone do not prepare you.
  3. Andre Blake need lose no sleep over our third point. But Academy ’06 goal keeper Andrew Rick made his first appearance in a professional league match and handled the few balls he had to play competently. Matt Freese’s suspension meant that Rick’s academy backup had to take the YSC Academy U17s opener against Cedar Stars – Monmouth that tapped off about the time Union II’s match was ending. We assume Marcos Zambrano and Bajung Darboe got their ration of game minutes there.



Union II: (4-2-2-2 “empty bucket/I-beam,” L-R): Brooks Thompson (Andrew Rick 77′); Anton Sorenson, Matt Real, Brandan Craig, Nathan Harriel; Jesus Bueno, Richard Odada (Maike Villero HT); Paxten Aaronson (Boubacar Diallo 86′), Quinn Sullivan; Jeremy Rafanello (Jose Riasco HT), Chris Donovan (Nelson Pierre 60′). Unused substitutes: Frank Westfield, Nathan Nkanji, Juan Perdomo, Stefan Stojanovic. Player source distribution: 1st – 10, 2nd – 8, Am – 2. Suspended: Matt Freese.

Orlando City B: (3-4-1-2, L-R) Adam Grinwis; Ignacio Galvan, Thomas Williams (Victor Souza HT), Andrew Forth; Tahir Reid-Brown (Theo Franca 34′), Alejandro Granados, Jared Romero, Alexander Freeman (Tyler Prebenda 66′); Nicholas Taylor, Favian Loyola (Erick Gunera-Calix 89′); Jack Lynn (Moises Tablante HT). Unused substitutes: Dominic Pereira; Brandon Hackenberg. Suspended: Jaime Otero.


U II          6th minute          Chris Donovan

U II         22nd minute         Chris Donovan

U II         24th minute          Quinn Sullivan (Chris Donovan)

U II         25th minute          Quinn Sullivan (Nathan Harriel)

U II         46th minute          Jose Riasco (Maike Villero)

U II         56th minute         Paxten Aaronson (PK)

OCB        69th minute         Favian Loyola (Tyler Prebenda)


OCB         Yellow         7th minute          Tahir Reid-Brown (foul)

U II          Yellow         9th minute          Jesus Bueno (foul)

OCB         Yellow        45th minute         Julian Romero (foul)

U II          Yellow        53rd minute         Nathan Harriel (foul)

OCB         Yellow        55th minute         Andrew Forth (foul)

OCB         Yellow        74th minute         Alejandro Granados (foul)

OCB         Yellow        85th minute         Favian Loyola


Ref: Sergii Demianchuk, AR1: Eric Schreiber, AR2: Robert Cordrey, 4TH: Justin Saporito



  OCB U II  



Possession % 51.5 2 Offsides



Shots 3 44 Duels won



Shots on goal 2 14 Tackles won



Blocked shots 1 0 Saves



Total passes 419 6 Clearances



Passing accuracy % 84.3 8 Fouls



Corners 1 3 Yellow cards



Crosses 7 0 Red cards



  1. I thought Donovan’s first was due to hustle rather than a fluke.
    Definitely a weird game from the perspective of a fan who likes to sit close as I kept moving up and down in different seats depending on how heavy the rain was and what direction the wind was blowing.

    • The block was definitely hustle, no question. The trajectory back over Grinwis’s head into the net is what I consider the fluke.

  2. Any idea where Cole Turner was yesterday afternoon?

  3. Curious about Jose Riasco’s performance. Big signing, didn’t seem to fit in earlier this year… and now, half time replacement in a blow out win? When we signed Riasco, my buddy in Venezuela said he would be homesick, would not perform well in USA. Is that where we are with this guy?

    I guess Odada is Herr Tanner’s next Martinez replacement?

    • Riasco has definitely fit in better than earlier in the season and has really picked up his pressing defenders.
      Coming in at halftime is not surprising since both starters are players with first team contracts who automatically get priority.

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