MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 1 – 2 FC Cincinnati 2

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II Communications

Sunday night in Chester, FC Cincinnati 2 ended Philadelphia Union II’s undefeated streak defeating the baby Boys in Blue 2-1. Last year Union II swept Cincy. This year, Cincy has returned the favor.

Cincinnati’s Ben Stitz’s scored a lovely curled ball past Andrew Rick from the middle of the D to the far corner, left and high, in the tenth minute. And virtually right out of the locker room in the second half Malik Pinto put the winner past Rick 1 v 1 in the 47th when a Union central defender was caught three yards forward of position trying to intercept the assist from Quimi Ordonez.

Stefan Stojanovic had equalized back in the 17th minute, himself 1 v 1 with Cincinnati’s goalkeeper Paul Walters, on an assist from David Vazquez who stole the ball from a Cincinnati midfielder prior to delivering the feed.

In advance

Back on Sunday, June 4th in northern Kentucky FC Cincinnati 2 defeated Union II, also 2-1.

Hugo Le Guennec received a red card in that match and is an MLS NEXT Pro professional. By rule he served his suspension in yesterday’s match against the team he had fouled. Coach LeBlanc moved Carlos Rojas to left center back to compensate and stayed in formation replacing Rojas with Kyle Tucker.

Going into yesterday’s contest, Union II lay sixth in the table on 33 points while Cincy 2 lay 12th on 21. Chicago has now replaced Union II in sixth with a penalty kick shootout point in addition to a draw. The top seven teams in the eastern conference qualify for the playoffs.

Cincinnati’s first team has been eliminated from Leagues Cup play, so extra reinforcements were possible but were not sent east. Cincinnati played with only four field substitutes in spite of having played Wednesday. Tired legs were obvious throughout the match though Head coach Tyrone Marshall made only two subs.

Union II’s first team played Friday. They advanced and the restricted recovery time between Leagues Cup quarters and semis constricted extra reinforcement. Jeremy Rafanello was made available in addition to the two regular loanees.

First half

After scoring a nicely worked goal in the 10th minute, FC Cincinnati 2 did not threaten Andrew Rick’s Union II goal for the next 35 minutes until Rick was forced to deflect what would have been a certain wide open shot and goal in the 45th.

Philadelphia’s midfield and defense simply out-quicked the heavy-legged Ohioans. Union II pressure in the midfield, especially in the central channel, continually dispossessed Cincinnati before they could string together enough short passes to break into attacks.

Keeper Paul Walters made two double saves to frustrate the home side and only Stojanovic was able to score.

Union II’s best chance of the game at a second goal came in the 24th minute of the first half when when David Vazquez hit a post.

Second half

Cincy was re-energized by the halftime break and the cooling associated with the setting sun creating greater shade in the stadium. They were more on the front foot than they had been for the last half-hour of the first half. That said, they play for short-pass possession and do not seem to look for fast breaks with any consistency.

For the Union, Luciano Sanchez has left for Rutgers and Edward Davis did not provide the same scoring punch off the bench when he replaced Nelsonn Pierre in the 58th minute. Davis broke in for a Chris Donovan-like late opportunity, but unlike the first team man, he was judged offside and in any case put his 78th minute shot too high to threaten Cincinnati’s goal.

Union II took many other shots, but they were either easily saved or not on target. Compare the clearance and save statistics given below. Cincinnati’s goalkeeper is certainly a serious candidate for man of the match.

Next match

On Saturday August 19th at 8:00 pm eastern Union II will visit 2023 expansion side Huntsville FC in Huntsville, AL. They are Nashville’s second team. They are now one point behind Union II and below the playoff line. The match is scheduled to be streamed on Apple TV – MLS Season Pass.

Three points
  1. Francis Westfield last week was named MLS Next Pro Rising Star of Match Day 20 for his first professional goal that gave Union II its match-winner when they clean-sheeted NYC FC at Subaru Park a week ago last Friday.
  2. Starting Union II teenagers regularly play 80 to 90 minutes. Four of the five Union II starting defenders on the night were teenagers and all four plus the two teenage midfielders played 90 minutes (Carlos Rojas and Andrew Rick are both professionals, so the fiver-person amateur limit remained unviolated). Substitutions that were not made until second half stoppage time. Reportedly, the 27-team league’s average for minutes played by teenagers is something between 20 and 30 minutes only.
  3. Questionable decision. MLS NEXT Pro chose Sporting Kansas City II team of the month, but Benny Feilhaber’s team had one loss. Philadelphia Union II was undefeated during the same month.

Union II lineup (4-1-2-1-2, L-R)

Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo, Carlos Rojas, Daniel Kreuger (Neil Pierre 90+1′), Francis Westfield; Kyle Tucker (Alex Perez 90+1′); C. J. Olney (Anton Sorenson 90+1′), Stefan Stojanovic; David Vazquez; Jeremy Rafanello (Boubacar Diallo 70′), Nelson Pierre (Edward Davis 58′).

Unused substitutes: Gavin Atkinson; , Nathan Nkanji.

1st – 3, U II – 8, Acad – 7.

Suspended: Hugo Le Guennec.

Rostered but still absent: Gino Portella, Jose Riasco.

Starters’ Ages

Rick Castillo Rojas Kreuger Westfield Tucker
17.5 20.8 19.5 17.6 17.7 24.0
Stojanovic Olney Vazquez Rafanello Pierre
22.4 16.6 17.5 23.3 18.4

Cincy 2 lineup (3-4-1-2, L-R)

Starters: Paul Walters; London Aghedo, Joey Akpuono, Haroun Conteh (Philip Horton 65′); Isaiah Foster,  Lucas Tamarez,  Juan Machado (Kai Thomas 37′), Malik Pinto; Jesus Castellano; Ben Stitz, Quimi Ordenez.

Unused substitutes: Hunter Morse; Matthew Schenfeld, Jiovanny Mora.


Cincy 2       10th minute       Ben Stitz (Lucas Tamarez)

Union II     17th minute        Stefan Stojanovic (David Vazquez)

Cincy 2       47th minute       Malik Pinto (Arquimedes Ordonez)

Yellow Cards

Union II    29th minute       Stefan Stojanovic (hold from behind)

Union II    68th minute       Juan Castillo (off the ball foul)

Cincy 2      73rd minute        Joey Akpunonu (professional foul)

Cincy 2      90+3 minute       Jesus Castellano (argument)

Cincy 2      90+4 minute       Ben Stitz (time-wasting)


U II Statistic C2 U II Statistic C2
47.5 Possession % 52.5 3 Offsides 2
18 Shots 5 49 Duels won 50
7 Shots on goal 3 10 Tackles  won 9
2 Blocked shots 1 1 Saves 6
356 Total Passes 406 6 Clearances 31
75.3 Pass Accuracy % 77.8 17 Fouls 18
7 Corners 1 2 Yellow Cards 3
16 Crosses 5 0 Red Cards 0

Ref: Danielle Chesky, AR1: Sharon Gingrich, AR2: Patrick Casey, 4th: Gary Gutierrez.

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