MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 2-0 New York City FC II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II Communications

Friday night, in weather that ranged from mist to drizzle and back, Philadelphia Union II clean-sheeted NYC FC II 2-0 to go six consecutive matches unbeaten, four wins and two draws.

Francis Westfield scored his first career goal in the 43rd minute on a hockey assist from C. J. Olney in the left channel to Stefan Stojanovic who, nodded back for the Union II right back’s blast.

David Vazquez finished powerfully in the 59th minute from Jeremy Rafanello, who had beaten his mark to the end line in the right channel and crossed decisively through the box for Vazquez’s run out of the left channel, a chance that he rifled into the opposite back corner of the net.

In advance

On Sunday, July 2nd on Long Island, Philadelphia Union II defeated NYC FC II 3-1. Last Friday’s rematch was the first of two remaining before the end of the regular season. The series finale will be played on Long Island Sunday, September 3rd.

Before tap-off, Union II sat sixth in the eastern conference table and NYC FC II sat ninth having lost at home the previous Sunday to Huntsville 1-0. Union II drew its international friendly with Wrexham 1-1 a week ago Friday. At season’s end the top seven teams in the conference qualify for the playoffs.

Union II’s parent team advanced on penalty kicks the night before at Subaru Park against D. C. United in the Leagues Cup, so first team reinforcements above and beyond Anton Sorenson and Nelson Pierre were possible. Rafanello was joined by Chris Donovan at striker. Donovan’s playing time especially was influenced by recovery time for the round of 16 match against NY Red Bull Monday, August 7th. He came off after the first half.

The first team’s acquisition of striker Tai Baribo did not affect availability because international paperwork required him to return to Europe (the P1 visa process). It’s unclear whether recent first team center back signing Olwethu Makhanya has yet completed his own similar process.

New York City FC II’s first team was eliminated the same evening as the Union advanced. First team reinforcements were therefore possible, but seem not to have been deployed. Historically that has been NYC FC II’s pattern. They are much more separated from their first team than Union II are from theirs.

First half

New York City FC goalkeeper Alex Rando had six saves in the first half, Union II had 14 shots on target. New York had only four with none finding the frame, even though halftime possession statistics favored the visitors. Union II goalkeeper Andrew Rick made no first-half saves, in contrast to his second half activities.

New York once again put out names familiar from youth championships won several years ago.

But increasingly, Marlon LeBlanc knows how to align his boys to deal with those veterans. The move this evening was to play Stefan Stojanovic as the right flank midfielder in the narrow diamond where he would frequently match up with New York midfielder Piero Elias. Stojanovic’s defending caused New York’s most influential field player to display visible frustration as the half and the match wore on until he subbed off.

Also, Westfield handled John Denis out on NYC’s left wing, as Juan Castillo did with Jonathan Jimenez on the right.

Union II increasingly dominated play as the half wore on. The 1-0 scoreline was just.

Second half

Given how New York began play in the second half, probably coach Matt Pilkington had discussed their few chances. The baby Cityzens rocked the boys in Blue back onto their heels for the first five minutes. Between the the 47th and 50th minutes New York earned five consecutive corner kicks that were interrupted by only one Union II thrust across midfield.

Only after surviving the initial barrage did Union II begin to catch New York high up the pitch and test their center backs for pace, using Nelson Pierre who had come on at halftime for Donovan – Pierre had a clear pace advantage, but his work rate is not developing to match the increase in the pace of play that happens as teams round into end-of-season form. Engine building remains his most fundamental on-going project.

Goalkeeper Rick was busy.

In the 59th Rafanello created Vazquez’s realized opportunity, giving LeBlanc more flexibility to risk substitutes. Ten minutes later Kyle Tucker replaced Olney on the left flank of the diamond after Olney had been carded for failure  to retreat on a free kick, Less than five minutes after that Boubacar Diallo replaced Vazquez, and Luciano Sanchez came on for Rafanello.

In the 75th Pierre broke away cleanly behind New York’s back line, but did not manage to put his shot on frame.

In the 88th Alex Perez replaced Carlos Rojas and Union II began more overtly to play a double pivot, although Tucker had been cautiously staying more level with Rojas than Olney had done.

It was Union II’s second home clean sheet of the season.

Next Match

Union II will host FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, August 13 at 6:00 p.m. at Subaru Park.

Three points
  1. Luciano Sanchez was recently named MLS NEXT Pro Rising Star of the Month for the second consecutive month.
  2. Union II’s defense has improved greatly. They have given up only six goals since the last match in June,, counting the Wrexham friendly.
  3. David Vazquez has moved to the number 10 spot in the last two matches. Previously he had been more of a right flank midfielder. In this match the move facilitated Stojanovic providing defense on the flank.

Union II lineup (4-1-2-1-2, L-R): Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo, Hugo Le Guennec, Daniel Kreuger, Francis Westfield; Carlos Rojas (Alex Perez 88′); C. J. Olney (Kyle Tucker 70′), Stefan Stojanovic, David Vazquez (Boubacar Diallo 72′); Jeremy Rafanello (Luciano Sanchez 72′); , Chris Donovan (Nelson Pierre HT). Unused substitutes: Gavin Atkinson; Nathan Nkanji, Anton Sorenson, Edward Davis. 1st – 4, U II – 8, Acad – 8. Unknown: Gino Portella, Jose Riasco.

Starters’ ages

Rick Castillo LeGuennec Kreuger Westfield Rojas
17.5 20.8 23.5 17.6 17.7 19.5
Olney Vazquez Stojanovic Rafanello Donovan
16.6 17.4 22.4 23.3 23.0

NYC FC II lineup (4-1-4-1, L-R): Starters: Alex Rando; Christian Macfarlane (Brian Flores 90′), Alexander Hauschild, Rio Hope-Gund, Drew Baiera (Ronald Arevalo 78′); Stevo Bednarsky (Jonny Shore 90′); John Denis, Piero Elias (Maximo Carrizo 70′), Jack Beer, Jonathan Jimenez; Matt Myers. Unused substitutes: Kofi Hope-Gund; Jonny Lopez, Klevis Haxhari, Jacob Arroyave,  Julian Gomes.


Union II       43rd minute        Francis Westfield (Stefan Stojanovic, C. J. Olney)

Union II       59th minute        David Vazquez (Jeremy Rafanello)

Yellow Cards

Union II      13th minute        Carlos Rojas (foul)

Union II      66th minute       C. J. Olney (not retreating)

Union II      79th minute       Nelson Pierre (foul)

NYC FC II   90th minute       Jack Beer (foul)

U II Statistic N II U II Statistic N II
37.7 Possession % 62.3 3 Offsides 3
23 Shots 16 61 Duels won 38
10 Shots on goal 5 21 Tackles  won 6
4 Blocked shots 7 5 Saves 8
322 Total Passes 544 24 Clearances 19
68.9 Pass Accuracy % 81.3 13 Fouls 8
4 Corners 9 3 Yellow Cards 1
15 Crosses 16 0 Red Cards 0

Ref: Stephen Foster, AR1: Bryson Condrey, AR2: Patrick Slane, 4TH: Adam Mitchell.


  1. Vince Devine says:

    1st half NYCFC GK had 6 saves, Union II had 14 shots on target? That would mean 8 goals?

  2. PhilieBear1872 says:

    Great display from the youths.

    Some of these pluses needed in the first team??

    I’ll let you decide. We need the players and backup players this game. Let’s let it happen and get the best players we can for the next round of the leagues cup. Over and out Philadelp.

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