MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: New York Red Bull II 1-2 Philadelphia Union II

Photo: Ben Ross

In a match that was race-horse, end-to-end soccer from the opening tap, Nelson Pierre’s first-half brace proved decisive for Philadelphia Union II against their bitter north Jersey rivals,New York Red Bull II, earning their second win of the season. Both wins have come on the road.

Red Bull II’s goal came on a penalty after Frank Westfield was sent off in the 74th minute, while the hosts saw two of their own sent off in the final moments of the match as well.

In advance

Both second teams played the evening after their first teams did so, and both first teams play again Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup. Both second teams played younger than usual, and Red Bull II played thinner as well. New York had seven changes in its lineup from its previous match, and ended with four 16-year-olds on the field, the fifth having started and been replaced.

The Union take the Open Cup matches seriously under Jim Curtin. In preparation for the third match on the eighth day in Minnesota with a fourth on the twelfth in Colorado, only first team reserve Richard Odada was available beyond usual loanees Nelson Pierre and Anton Sorenson.

First half

From the opening whistle, because New York’s energy-drink style leaves acres of grass behind its back line, Union II played long direct balls behind those center backs to be run onto by its strikers. For the first 20 minutes ,New York only generated an occasional counter thrusts. During perhaps the next ten minutes Union II’s initial energy burst flagged and the Red Bull press created some sustained offensive pressure, but then their energy flagged as well. For the rest of the match each exchanged bursts of attacking effort interspersed with moments of slower pace.

In neither half did either side display much defensive compactness among its lines.

Pierre and Jose Riasco both seemed to have pace advantages over New York’s pair of center backs. In the 20th minute a long service from Gino Portella allowed Riasco to penetrate behind his markers and the Venezuelan in turn found Pierre unmarked 10 yards away from New York’s 16-year-old Polish goalkeeper Alan Rutkowski. Pierre calmly settled and stroked to the far post for the match’s first score and a 1-0 Union II lead.

Nineteen minutes later, former Red Bull II left back Juan Castillo found Pierre again for the match winner.

Second half

Right after halftime and again in the 62nd minute, Rutkowski denied Pierre a hat trick and then a quadruple with the best saves of the match.

New York had used all of its substitution opportunities by the 73rd minute and the young fresh legs began to test Philly’s back line. The breakneck pace and constant chaos probably dulled the edges of defensive effort and anticipation on both sides, setting the stage for the three consecutive “denial-of- goal-scoring-opportunity (DOGSO) red cards.

In the 77th minute, Red Bull II substitute Ricardo Gordoy was getting behind Frank Westfield in the box, and the Union II man grabbed him from the side just before Andrew Rick arrived to snuff the chance. Westfield received a straight red card for the last man back foul and New York was awarded a penalty kick. Gordoy scored on a panenka, and the Union were down to ten men.

But nine minutes later Nelson Pierre was getting away from New York center back Juan Gutierrez before he got to the box, and was pulled down from behind. Gutierrez earned his straight red and the sides were back to even.

In the third minute of stoppage time, New York’s Jayden Reid similarly took down Union II substitute striker Stefan Stojanovic and received his consequent straight red. None of Reid, Gutierrez and Westfield will be able to play July 16 when New York comes to Subaru Park for the re-match. MLS NEXT Pro suspends red cards the next time the two sides play, if the second match remains available that year.

Next match

Union II play away to Miami II in Ft. Lauderdale at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 14. They now lie tenth in the conference and fifth in the division on eight points.

Three points
  1. Develop the youngsters from opening day. The Union’s four 17-year-old starters were much more ready for the MLS Next Pro level of play than were New York’s youngsters, two of whom made their professional debuts. Three of the Union’s foursome debuted last season, while the fourth did so two years ago.
  2. Head coach Marlon LeBlanc was verbally intense on the sidelines from the opening tap, probably because he knew that on paper the match was one his side should win because of point one above.
  3. Jose Riasco and Nelson Pierre threatened New York from the opening tap both offensively and defensively. It was the best they have looked together. (See point one above.)

Union II Lineup (4-2-2-2, L_R): Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo (Boubacar Diallo 86′), Gino Portella, Daniel Kreuger, Francis Westfield; Maike Villero, Richard Odada; CJ Olney, David Vazquez (Luke Martelli 86′); Nelson Pierre (Anton Sorenson 90+2′), Jose Riasco (Stefan Stojanovic 66′). Unused substitutes: Brooks Thompson; Pedro Alvarez, Anthony Ramirez, Alex Perez, Luciano Sanchez. 1st – 3, U II – 8, Acad – 9. Injured: Hugo Le Guennec.

Starters’ ages

Rick Castillo Portella Kreuger Westfield Villero
17.3 20.5 22.1 17.3 17.4 22.3
Odada Vazquez Olney Pierre Riasco
22.5 17.2 16.4 18.1 19.1

NY RB II Lineup (4-4-2, L-R). Starters: Alan. Rutkowski; Jayden Reid, Davi Alexandre (Yostin Salinas HT), Juan Gutierrez, Copeland Berkely; Ibrahim Kasule, Henry Wise (Dylan Sullivan 74′), Erick Ruiz (Aiden Jarvis 65′), Bento Estrela (Julian Hall 61′); Frank Ssebufu (Ricardo Gorday 61′), Oladyo Thomas. Unused substitutes: Will Meyer; Amos-Shapiro-Thompson.


U II      20th minute      Nelson Pierre (Jose Riasco, Gino Portella)

U II      39th minute      Nelson Pierre (Juan Castillo)

N II      78th minute      Ricardo Gordoy


N II     Yellow       3rd minute      Ibrahim Kasule (foul)

U II     Yellow      33rd minute     Gino Portella (handball)

U II     Yellow      43rd minute     Maike Villero (foul)

N II     Yellow      57th minute     Yostin Salinas (foul)

U II     Yellow      72nd minute    Stefan Stojanovic (foul)

U II     Red          74th minute     Francis Westfield (Professional foul last man)

N II     Red          87th minute     Juan Gutierrez (Professional foul last man)

N II     Red         90+3 minute    Jayden Reid (Professional foul last man)

N II Statistic U II N II Statistic U II
52.7 Possession % 47.3 2 Offsides 5
15 Shots 13 64 Duels won 71
4 Shots on goal 4 11 Tackles  won 14
4 Blocked shots 2 2 Saves 3
361 Total Passes 312 17 Clearances 8
60.9 Pass Accuracy % 52.2 16 Fouls 22
5 Corners 6 2 Yellow Cards 3
8 Crosses 15 2 Red Cards 1

Ref: Kyle Johnston, AR1: Robert Cordrey, AR2: Zeno Cho, 4TH: Christian Centeno,


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    This was the first Union II game I had a chance to watch on Apple and although I didn’t think it was possible, they somehow managed to wind up with even worse video coverage than for MLS. Depending on the camera angle, the lines on the field (penalty box, sidelines, endlines, etc.) alternated between being solid and dashed. It was really distracting.
    The Union were clearly the better team and only the NJ keeper kept the score close.
    I still haven’t figured out the DOGSO rule. I thought in a situation like the one with Westfield where a PK was awarded it wasn’t supposed to be a straight red.
    Between the Union on Saturday and Union II last night I think I saw the team spend more time in the corner killing off the game than I have in the previous 13 years combined.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    I assume RB II may rent a crane for the camera position? I do not remember ESPN+ cameras to be quite so high.

  3. Zizouisgod says:

    Good write-up, Tim. I totally forgot that we had Odada.

  4. Tim Jones says:

    By my count, obviously unofficial, both Maike Villero and Gino Portella have accumulated four yellow cards.
    Alvarez is an strong replacement for Villero.
    But a replacement for Portella is more problematic with Craig away, Le Guennec hurt, and Nkanji not dressing.

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