MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Crown Legacy FC 2-2 (4-2) Philadelphia Union II

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

After leading 2-0 at halftime, Philadelphia Union II gave up goals in the 57th and 90th minutes to allow a penalty kick shootout that Crown Legacy won 4-2.

Stefan Stojanovic pounced on a sloppy clearance by the North Carolinians’ defense in the 18th minute, and Gino Portella rose to head C. J. Olney’s corner kick service in the 43rd to create the halftime lead.

Unmarked Crown Legacy leading scorer Iuri Tavares finished a long diagonal service that eluded center back Hugo Le Guennec with right back Anton Sorenson well up field in the 57th to half the deficit, and Vinicius Mello pounced on an Andrew Rick rebound in the 90th to tie the game.

In the shootout Crown Legacy buried all four shots, while Sorenson’s retake deflected off the post and Stojanovic’s drive was decisively saved by Charlotte goalkeeper Isaac Walker.

In advance

Maike Villero was suspended for the match for yellow card accumulation. He will serve his suspension for last Sunday’s second yellow/red during the third and final New England Revolution II match on August 27, since he is an MLSNP professional not a first-teamer or an academy player.

Each first-team has a match this coming Saturday, restricting the availability of extra reinforcements to their second teams due to insufficient recovery time if the players are scheduled for the Saturday matches. Crown Legacy was further restricted by Charlotte FC playing and losing 1-0 at the same time away to Birmingham Legion in the U. S. Open Cup round of 16.

Crown Legacy opened the season with seven wins and a tie until losing last Friday to Huntsville at Huntsville’s stadium-opening, first-ever home game sellout. They had scored 21 goals in nine matches but kept only two clean sheets.

An unscientific sampling of their roster and players’ match logs suggests Charlotte FC has used Crown Legacy matches to condition several younger first team reserves in sustained sequences of consecutive starts, thus creating shorter-term roster continuities. In this match the goalkeeper, strikers, and midfielders were much the same. The defenders were not at the beginning.

Crown Legacy spent good money to assemble its initial roster of experienced pros from outside North America. Whether the strategy and expenditure will continue into the future remains unclear. Right now it contrasts against the Union’s spending to find and develop local homegrown talent. Crown Legacy started 11 professionals; Union II, used the maximum number of amateurs allowed which is five.

First half

Crown Legacy had to adjust to Union II’s counter-pressing style. The counter press and the midfield defense took away the hosts’ ability to build possession out of the back through the midfield. After ten or fifteen minutes, Crown Legacy began to try for long balls into space behind Union II’s back line.

By the end of the half the game was end to end, back and forth.

Crown Legacy attacked predominantly down the its right channel the entire match. It dominated the possession statistics, but especially early in the game a good deal of it was in their own defensive third moving the ball laterally. Center midfielder Philip Mayaka played primarily as a defensive six rather than as a playmaker.

Second half

Crown Legacy head coach Jose Tavares substituted his regular starters back onto the pitch beginning with two defenders at the start of the second half. Certainly his side seemed to begin playing at a faster pace with greater intensity.

Union II started a lineup with the maximum number of academy players allowed, and unsurprisingly as the match wore on several needed substituting. When one considers that Crown Legacy leads the eastern conference and that Union II were ninth the evenness of the match is a credit to the team from Philadelphia. The frustration is that they had the conference leaders done and dusted until stoppage time.

Next match

Union II host defending league champion Columbus Crew 2 at Subaru Park Sunday, May 28 at 7 PM in a match available on Apple Plus.

Three points
  1. Tuesday, at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Argentina, the U. S. U20s defeated Fiji, the second qualifier from Oceania, 3-0 to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament. Brandan Craig and Jack McGlynn each played the full match. Quinn Sullivan played the first half.
  2. The center back tandem of Gino Portella and Hugo Le Guennec played well enough that Brandan Craig’s absence did not doom the team’s prospects for success.
  3. Francis Westfield, normally the starting right back, and Alex Perez, an u17 academy striker as of last January, started as coach LeBlanc’s double sixes. Each is 17 years old. They did remarkably well for the first 70 minutes, when Perez came off for David Vazquez.

Union II Lineup (4-2-2-2, L-R): Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo, Gino Portella, Hugo Le Guennec, Anton Sorenson; Francis Westfield, Alex Perez (David Vazquez 72′); C. J. Olney (Daniel Kreuger 88′), Stefan Stojanovic; Luciano Sanchez (Boubacar Diallo 63′), Nelson Pierre. Unused substitutes: Brooks Thompson; Nathan Nkanji, Luke Martellli, , Carlos Rojas, Anthony Ramirez. 1st – 2, U II – 8, Acad – 9. Suspended: Maike Villero. Injury recovery: Pedro Alvarez. FIFA U20 World Cup: Brandan Craig

Starters’ ages

Rick Castillo Portella Le Guennec Sorenson Westfield
17.3 20.6 22.2 23.3 20.3 17.5
Perez Olney Stojanovic Sanchez Pierre
17.1 16.4 22.2 18.3 18.2

Crown Legacy Lineup (4-3-3, L-R)

Starters: Isaac Walker; Andrew Privett, Guzman Corujo (Jack Neeley 61′), Gurman Sangha (Brian Romero HT), Hamady Diop (Joao Pedro HT); Nikola Petkovic (Thiago 69′), Philip Mayaka, David Poreba (Marko Filipovic 75′); Iuri Tavares, Vinicius Mello, Nicholas Scardina.

Unused substitutes: Russell Shealy; Ervin Cruz-Garcia, Erik Pena Boardman, Jacob Williams.


U II      18th minute      Stefan Stojanovic

U II      43rd minute      Gino Portella (C. J. Olney)

CL        57th minute       Iuri Tavares (Vinicius Mello)

CL        90th minute      Vinicius Mello

Union II Crown Legacy
v Isaac Walker v Andrew Rick
Anton Sorenson miss Iuri Tavares Goal
Nelson Pierre Goal Joao Pedro Goal
Juan Castillo Goal Brian Romero Goal
Stefan Stojanovic saved Thiago Goal

U II      22nd minute      Yellow      Gino Portella (foul)

U II      32nd minute      Yellow      Marlon LeBlanc


CL Statistic U II CL Statistic U II
78.1 Possession % 21.9 2 Offsides 3
15 Shots 12 48 Duels won 51
4 Shots on goal 7 11 Tackles  won 12
4 Blocked shots 3 5 Saves 2
677 Total Passes 183 10 Clearances 32
87.4 Pass Accuracy % 53.5 14 Fouls 12
6 Corners 5 2 Yellow Cards 2
15 Crosses 8 0 Red Cards 0

Ref: Gabriele Giusti, AR1: Hillis Waddell III, AR2: Bryson Condrey, 4TH: Emma Richards

One Comment

  1. Gruncle Bob says:

    Thanks for the report.
    For what it’s worth, I find the name “Crown Legacy” pretentious and stupid. Further, attaching the “FC” and implying that somehow it is a stand-alone club just increases the stupidity. Sometimes less is more, and this is one of those times.

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