Philadelphia Union II

Union II offseason news and notes

Photo: Ben Ross

Now that the first team has re-assembled at Subaru Park, Philadelphia Union II will follow closely behind.

Union II pre-season will begin “in-market” on dates at location(s)  to be determined — probably by weather conditions. The club will likely travel to Clearwater, FL at some point as per Ernst Tanner’s end of season comments last year.

Expectations are that Union II head coach Marlon LeBlanc will return for the 2023 season, although an official announcement is pending. He received his United States Soccer Federation pro coaching license late last year.

Social media sources report that striker Marcos Zambrano and midfielder Bajung Darboe have left the Philadelphia Union’s Academy and will not play for Union II this season.

The Academy departures help explain why the Union made its second round pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. 2022 Union II striker Stefan Stojanovic is the pick and is currently practicing with the first team in preseason.

With Zambrano and Darboe gone, the Chicago native seems in line to see substantial minutes in Union II’s attack this year whatever his future status with the first team. He knows the system and can play in the midfield as well as on the attack.

And the first round pick, red-shirt senior goalkeeper Holden Trent from High Point University in North Carolina, will allow Academy amateur goalkeeper Andrew Rick to start for the Union Development Squad in the semi-pro United Premier Soccer League, as well as for the Academy U-17 side when possible. A 17-year-old keeper needs game minutes to develop, not bench time as a backup.

Finally, at the moment Union II striker Nelson Pierre and Academy amateur right back Frank Westfield are practicing with the first team.  It will be interesting to learn whether they go to Florida on Martin Luther King Day.

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