MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: New England Revolution II 1-3 Philadelphia Union II

Photo: Ben Ross

Philadelphia Union II scored three goals in the first half to defeat New England Revolution II 3-1 and continue their season into the playoffs’ first round.

Matt Real scored from a corner kick melee in the 14th minute, Jeremy Rafanello struck a goalkeeper spill into the twine in the 20th, and Chris Donovan drove a far post strike from the right side of the box just inside the left post – after a long service from Cole Turner to a Rafanello head flick – for the one that hindsight will say put the match to bed in the 37th.

New England earned a consolation score in the 79th minute from substitute Ryan Lima off an assist from Damian Rivera.

A key difference between the two sides was the quality of their goal-keeping.

For Revs II, Max Weinstein has replaced Jacob Jackson after Jackson suffered a season-ending injury earlier, and the 18-year-old showed promise. But he lacked the consistency and polish of 24-year-old Matt Freese.  Freese made all the saves he had to make and then some while Weinstein made some mistakes.

Freese saved a penalty kick in the 43rd minute, reading the shooter’s run-up perfectly. He and his teammates should probably treat Union II technical staffer Austin Reynolds – whose specialty is opposition analysis – to a cup of coffee in the Annex’s canteen once they are back in Chester.

Facts in advance

If Union II won Sunday at New England, they would make the playoffs – and they did. Where they would finish depended on three of the other four Eastern conference Decision Day results. Only Columbus’s 9-0 annihilation of Cincinnati had no impact on Union II.

They ended in third place because NYCFC II beat Rochester 5-4 in the PK shootout that followed their 2-2 draw in upstate New York. The draw eliminated the Cityzens, but their shootout win meant Rochester gets to travel to Columbus to face the Crew in the conference semifinals. Rochester has the same number of points but one fewer win.

Toronto came back against Chicago to take second place 2-1 and, Orlando beat rival Miami 1-0 to eliminate the Baby Pink Flamingos.

The first team played Saturday mid-afternoon in Atlanta, and the usual first-team bench was present. Nathan Harriel played 13 minutes plus stoppage time, Chris Donovan did so for three plus stoppage, while Matt Freese, Anton Sorenson, Cole Turner, Richard Odada, and Jeremy Rafanello did not dress in Georgia’s capital and are presumed not to have been present.

New England II midfielder Jake Rozhansky and defender Michael DeShields received red cards in Chester on August 21st against Union II and so were suspended for the match under the new MLS NEXT Pro red card rule instituted at mid-summer.

First Half

In a rarity this season Philadelphia Union II started the older of the two sides on aggregate using eight first-team reserves. Even though New England dominated possession, Union II dominated the half.

Cole Turner replaced Brandan Craig at center back, and was clearly the distributor of choice. He is direct and vertical, straight down the field. He did not try diagonal balls for switches. Since both Donovan and Rafanello had pace advantages on the New England center backs, there was no reason for him to adjust his tactic.

New England played out of the back and took advantage of the comparative inexperience of Union II’s midfield and center backs, necessitating several collections of breakaways by Freese before they could develop into meaningful threats deserving of save status.

Richard Odada, in the defensive mid double pivot with Maike Villero, clearly adjusted his game to accommodate the comparative inexperience of Turner and Real as center backs. He also knew he needed to nurse his endurance deep into the second half.

Second Half

Neither team made substitutions at halftime. As the half elapsed, play became much more spread out. The Union’s first-team reserves are not 90 minutes match fit and New England coach Clint Peay seems to have a knack for some halftime magic in his adjustments.

Union II coach Marvin LeBlanc subbed Frank Westfield for Maike Villero in the 63rd minute – leaning on Westfield’s versatility – and at times Union II seemed to defend in a 5-4-1, particularly after Stefan Stojanovic and Nelson Pierre replaced strikers Rafanello and Donovan in the 72nd minute. Stojanovic dropped into the midfield to defend leaving Pierre as the outlet up top.

Late in the match Pierre collected a good feed and threatened New England’s goal on a break, but his shot was deflected by New England’s keeper and the opportunity fizzled.

There was a moment of concern in the 85th minute when Freese cramped up after rejecting another New England attempt. But Union fans relaxed once it was clear it was a cramp not a tear and Freese came onto his feet ready to continue.

LeBlanc’s final two subs came in the next minute with Juan Perdomo replacing Bajung Darboe  and Logan Oliver replacing Odada, both were in the 86th. Referee Natalie Simon blew the final whistle after four minutes of stoppage time.

Playoffs & next match

The four teams below qualified for the Eastern conference playoffs in these seeding positions. Wins are the first tiebreaker. The second, goal difference, was not needed.

 9/18 Team




1st Columbus 2




2nd Toronto II




3rd Philadelphia II




4th Rochester




Here is the Eastern conference playoff semifinal schedule, aka, the first round of the playoffs.







4th seed

@1st seed



3:oo PM

3rd seed

@2nd seed



7:00 PM

Philadelphia Union II will play Toronto FC II in York, Ontario, Canada at 7:00 PM Saturday, September 24th, one hour after the first team’s friendly in Chester against Pachuca at 6:00 PM.

A best guess is that the first team will be missing as many as nine players away on international duty. There is no official confirmation of any of this information.

International matches

Revelations Cup

US U-20s

Danial Gazdag


Jack McGlynn

Jose Martinez


Paxten Aaronson

Andre Blake


Quinn Sullivan

Olivier Mbaizo


Brandan Craig

Mikael Uhre


Richard Odada will not be with Kenya since FIFA has not rescinded the Kenya federation’s suspension for undue interference.

Three Points
  1. Reporting from Kenya on the internet indicates that new first team defensive midfielder Richard Odada was advised by Montreal defensive midfielder, captain, and DP Victor Wanyama about coming to MLS. Wanyama has retired as Kenya’s national team DM and Odada is considered his likely successor. Odada could not get game minutes at the end of Red Star Belgrade’s season and has not had any since May. His appearances with Union II are restoring game fitness, a point reinforced by the sequence of the minutes increases he has so far received.
  2. The Professional Referees Organization (PRO) has been integrating female officials into its MLS NEXT Pro game staffs all season. The process has never been newsworthy. For all parties concerned that is a positive development  for soccer in North America.
  3. The game day roster excluded first-teamers who will be unavailable for playoffs next week (Brandan Craig, Quinn Sullivan and Paxten Aaronson). It also excluded three Union II-contracted professionals (Brooks Thompson, Carlos Paternina, and Jose Riasco). A fourth, Gino Portella, has unclear contract status but has behaved as part of the Union II’s setup for the entire season.



 Union II (4-2-2-2 “empty bucket,” L-R) Matt Freese; Anton Sorenson, Matt Real, Cole Turner, Nathan Harriel; Richard Odada ( Logan Oliver 86′), Maike Villero (Frank Westfield 63′); Boubacar Diallo, Bajung Darboe (Juan Perdomo 86′); Chris Donovan (Stefan Stojanovic 72′), Jeremy Rafanello (Nelson Pierre 72′). Unused substitutes: Andrew Rick;  Nathan Nkanji, Noe Uwimana, Anthony Ramirez. Player source distribution: 1st – 8, 2nd – 7 Am – 5.

Rev II (4-3-3, L-R) Max Weinstein; Italo (Ryan Spaulding 63′), Pierre Cayet, Ben Reveno, Sean O’Hearn (Brandonn Bueno 63′); Damian Rivera, Colby Quinones, Michel (Ryan Lima 70′); Weverton (Malcolm Fry 63′), Marcos Dias, Noel Buck (Hikaru Fujiwara 82′). Unused substitutes: Marzuq Puckering; , Steban Lopera,  Jack Burkhardt.


U II          14th minute          Matt Real

U II          20th minute          Jeremy Rafanello

U II          37th minute          Chris Donovan (Jeremy Rafanello, Cole Turner)

Rev II      79th minute          Ryan Lima (Damian Rivera)


Rev II         Yellow         12th minute          Max Weinstein (foul)

U II             Yellow         43rd minute         Matt Real (dissent)

U II             Yellow         45th minute          Nathan Harriel (foul)

Rev II         Yellow         47th minute          Colby Quinones (foul)

Rev II         Yellow         52nd minute         Weverton (argument)

U II            Yellow          52nd minute         Richard Odada (argument)

U II           Yellow          90th minute          Anton Sorenson (foul)

U II           Yellow          90+4 minute         Frank Westfield


Ref: Natalie Simon, AR1: Patrick Casey, AR2: Ian Mangione, 4TH: Stephanie MacFarland



  Rev II U II  

Rev II


Possession % 63.9 3 Offsides



Shots 16 32 Duels won



Shots on goal 8 7 Tackles won



Blocked shots 2 6 Saves



Total passes 425 19 Clearances



Passing accuracy % 82.1 20 Fouls



Corners 6 5 Yellow cards



Crosses 17 0 Red cards



  1. I made an incorrect assumption about where in Canada the match would be played.
    The MLS NET Pro website lists the match as at BMO Field, which is Toronto FC’s home pitch.
    It seems it will not be in York.

  2. Timing of Saturday’s game couldn’t be worse since not only will there be limited player availability (Sorenson, Freese, Turner should all be in Chester with the other first teamers) and since many of us will be watching that game, we won’t be able to watch Union 2.

  3. Fun report! Thanks for the thorough work

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