MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Columbus Crew 2 2-6 Philadelphia Union II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II Communications

In a match played early Tuesday afternoon after having been postponed following a three and a half hour lightning delay Monday night, Philadelphia Union II defeated Columbus Crew 2 at historic Crew Stadium in Ohio’s capital 6-2.

Four of Union II’s goals came as a direct result of Columbus’s curious game day roster decision not to have a reserve goalkeeper on its bench.

When starting keeper Stanislav Lapkes took down Philadelphia striker Stefan Stojanovic in the sixth minute after the Union II man intercepted a horrid back pass from Jacob Erlandson to be alone just outside the penalty box, Lapkes tripped the Union II striker after he had been deked and was rightly given a straight red card for being the last man back denying a goal scoring opportunity. Columbus reserve midfielder Clay Holstad slipped into Lapkes’s gloves and shirt and should be credited with a magnificent effort for never having played in goal in his career.

But Union II goals numbers one, two, five and six reflected his lack of experience.

Union II’s man of the match was Stefan Stojanovic who thrice made perfectly timed runs onto excellent feeds to put the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately the third was disallowed for Luciano Sanchez having almost pancake-blocked Holstad while in an offside position on the goal line, so Stojanovic missed his hat trick and had to settle for a brace.

The set-up man of the match was C. J. Olney, who recorded two actual assists and took marvelous advantage of Columbus’s being a man short in the midfield. He is now tied for the league lead in assists with seven.

In advance

Back on Sunday May 28th Union II defeated Crew 2 at Subaru Park on Jeremy Rafanello’s hat trick 3-2.

Pre-game, Columbus lay third in the Eastern Conference table with 34 points having played 17 games, winning 10, losing five, and drawing two (with two extra points from shootouts). Philadelphia lay sixth after 19 games with 27 points, winning seven, losing eight, and drawing four (also with two extra points from shootouts). Having climbed into the playoff picture, Philadelphia was trying to stay there.

Each club’s first team began its Leagues Cup schedule this past weekend. The Union played Saturday night winning 3-1, so an extra first-teamer could have travelled because Union II departed Sunday late morning. But they also play Wednesday, so recovery time would be only two days. Only striker Nelson Pierre was made available from the first team.

By contrast Columbus played Sunday night late because of a weather delay winning also but in the same city, and does not play again until Thursday so reinforcements were perhaps more easily available.

A second Leagues Cup effect on Union II is that five Union II mainstays are included on the first team’s 30-player Leagues Cup roster and have recently been practicing with the first team. They are goalkeeper Andrew Rick, defender Anton Sorenson, midfielders C. J. Olney and David Vazquez, and striker Nelson Pierre.

Recent signings

Because his game eligibility still awaits receipt of his P1 Visa and his international transfer certificate and because he is not yet in the United States, center back Olwethu Mkhanya from Stellenbosch in South Africa’s top flight was not yet available. Fellow center back Academy player Neil Pierre travelled to Columbus and subbed on late wearing number 44.

First half

Despite going down a man after six minutes, Columbus remained game throughout the first half. Noah Fuson did a worryingly good job finding the space between Union II center backs Hugo Le Guennec and Daniel Kreuger, earning a penalty kick which he himself scored in the 32nd minute, and then collecting an excellent long cross in first half stoppage time to score.

Holstad’s play as a goalkeeper was ingeniously unconventional.

He was a third center back  two yards behind the other two when Columbus was in possession. He covered the penalty spot not the middle of the six, presumably assuming that the spot was where Union II would serve the ball for expected runs. And as long as Columbus had the energy to press the ball effectively on defense, he was not punished for being so far off his line. But in the 81st and 92nd minutes that pressing effectiveness had faded and two long shots from distance padded Philadelphia’s margin of victory.

Second half

Union II head coach Marlon LeBLanc may have commented to his center backs at halftime about being split by Fuson. Probably he made other defensive suggestions, since Columbus developed many fewer chances in the second stanza of the match.

In the 50th minute Olney found Stojanovic for Union II’s third, a lead that Columbus never overcame.

Unsurprisingly, in the 60th Luciano Sanchez replaced goal scorer and assist giver Nelson Pierre — the two Pierre brothers both played so first names are mandatory — as has become a predictable pattern this summer. And Columbus head coach Laurent Courtois matched LeBlanc with three subs of his own.

In the 68th, after Sanchez’s audition for Rutgers’ American football offensive line had cost Stojanovic his hat trick, Boubacar Diallo replaced Kyle Tucker in the midfield and NY Red Bull academy alumnus Eddie Davis made his professional debut replacing Union II’s Columbus killer.

Immediately thereafter David Vazquez double-stripped a tiring Columbus defender, cut to the center, and rifled unstoppably back to the left post whence he had come to put the match out of reach.

In the 81st Juan Castillo stripped another tiring defender at midfield on the left touch line and immediately lofted a 70-yard howitzer shot into the wide open net. In the second minute of stoppage time Sanchez sent a mortar shot from 30 yards wide that bounced behind the Crew 2 goalie and found the net from an assist from Alex Perez.

Next Match

 This Friday, July 28th at Subaru Park, Union II play a friendly against Wrexham AFC, newly promoted to England’s League 2. Tap off is at 7:30 PM. Reports anticipate the match will be the most heavily attended second team home game in its history. LeBlanc’s boys will be playing on three days rest.

(By memory the largest Philadelphia second team crowd ever was probably when Bethlehem Steel FC played FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium back when both were in the USL Championship. Nippert stadium held slightly over thirty thousand and Cincinnati regularly filled it.)

Three points
  1. The battle of the teenage midfields was won decisively by Union II’s Olney and Vazquez.
  2. Union II has scored six goals before, but has never before done so with only one first team player available.
  3.  The whereabouts of Gino Portella and Jose Riasco remain mysterious as both players remain rostered to Union II but unaccounted for since June 18th.

Union II lineup (4-2-2-2, L-R): Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo, Hugo Le Guennec, Daniel Kreuger (Neil Pierre 86′), Francis Westfield; Carlos Rojas (Alex Perez 86′), Kyle Tucker (Boubacar Diallo 68′); C. J. Olney, David Vazquez; Stefan Stojanovic (Eddie Davis 68′), Nelson Pierre (Luciano Sanchez 59′). Unused substitutes: Brooks Thompson; Nathan Nkanji. 1st – 1, U II – 10, Acad – 7. Unknown: Gino Portella, Jose Riasco.

Starters’ ages

Rick Castillo LeGuennec Kreuger Westfield Rojas
17.5 20.8 23.5 17.6 17.6 19.5
Tucker Olney Vazquez Stojanovic Nels Pierre
24.0 16.6 17.4 22.4 18.3

Crew 2 lineup (4-3-3, L-R): Starters: Stanislav Lapkes (Clay Holstad 6′); Stuart Ritchie, Jacob Erlandson, Keegan Hughes, Abdi Mohamed (Owen Presthus 62′); Cole Mrowka (Aidan Wolf 62′),  Gio de Libera, Taha Habroune; Coleman Gannon (Mataeo Bunbury 62′), Noah Fuson, Marco Micaletto (Nicolas Rincon 80′). Unused substitutes: Christopher Rodgers, Nana Tuffour.


Union II       27th minute       Stefan Stojanovic (Nelson Pierre, C. J. Olney)

Crew 2         32nd minute        Noah Fuson (PK)

Union II       37th minute        Nelson Pierre

Crew 2          45+1 minute        Noah Fuson (Stuart Ritchie)

Union II       50th minute        Stefan Stojanovic (C. J. Olney)

Union II       69th minute        David Vazquez

Union II       81st minute         Juan Castillo

Union II       90+2 minute       Luciano Sanchez (Alex Perez)

Yellow Cards

Crew 2         14th minute         Keegan Hughes (foul)

Crew 2.        45+2 minute        Cole Mrowka (foul)

Crew 2         52nd minute.       Taha Habourne (foul)

Union II      87th minute         Boubacar Diallo (foul)

Red Card

Crew 2          6th minute        Stanislav Lapkes (DOGSO – last man)

C2 Statistic UII C2 Statistic UII
61.1 Possession % 38.9 1 Offsides 3
10 Shots 26 28 Duels won 31
3 Shots on goal 11 2 Tackles  won 10
4 Blocked shots 4 5 Saves 1
584 Total Passes 360 19 Clearances 8
88.9 Pass Accuracy % 83.1 9 Fouls 11
3 Corners 8 3 Yellow Cards 1
11 Crosses 11 1 Red Cards 0

Ref: Kevin Fikar, AR1: Eric Burton, AR2: Christian Little, 4th: Austin Saini.


  1. So what’s happening with Riaso… and now Portello… UNACCOUTED FOR SINCE JUNE 18th?

    I thought Herr Tanner just bought a homeland teammate for Raisco?


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