MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Huntsville City FC 5-2 Philadelphia Union II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II communications with thanks to Huntsville City

Philadelphia Union II travelled for the first time to Joe Davis Stadium’s synthetic turf field in Huntsville, Alabama to play Nashville SC’s first year professional player development side Huntsville City FC, and lost 5-2.

The loss leapfrogged Huntsville past Union II into seventh place in the eastern conference by two points. Each team has five matches remaining. The top seven teams in the conference make the playoffs.

The match turned on a Philadelphia Union red card for last-man-back denial-of-a-goal-scoring-opportunity taken by Hugo Leguennec in the 25th minute. Union II were leading 1-0 at the time.

Huntsville striker Azaad Liadi scored a hat trick on three excellent shots.

  • In the 35th minute he dribbled into the box from the left channel, split Union II right center back Neil Pierre and right back Francis Westfield and gave keeper Andrew Rick no chance from 10 yards.
  • In the 64th minute a return pass from deep in the left corner found him unmarked just inside the left corner of the penalty box and he rifled home to the right upper ninety.
  • In the 73rd, a nice flick found him in the same place as his prior goal, producing the same result and making Huntsville’s lead insurmountable.

Union II Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc must now rally the troops to win back a playoff position in the last five games of the season.

In advance

Huntsville City FC  is Nashville’s professional second team and a 2023 expansion side. The city is the home of the Saturn C5A rocket that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

The match directly conflicted with the Leagues Cup third place match in Chester and the championship final in Nashville. Union II and expansion side Huntsville had not yet met in the regular season. In preseason in Florida, they met on Valentine’s Day producing a 1-1 draw.

Before league play resumed at mid-week, Union II had been in seventh place on 33 points with six games to play. Huntsville had been in eighth on 32, also with six to play, lending the game urgency for both sides.

Jim Curtin’s comments after the semifinal Miami loss suggested the first team would attempt to beat Monterrey for third place. That meant Jeremy Rafanello stayed in Chester.

Additionally, rising former Academy U17s are beginning to try out in Union II practices.  Coach LeBlanc has to earn a playoff spot while teaching new players how to cope with a new level of competition. A few more besides starting striker Edward Davis travelled and played.

  • Neil Pierre got his first professional start at right center back and scored his first professional goal in the 48th minute on an open header from the middle of the six after Westfield flicked on a free kick service from probably David Vazquez. Nelson’s younger brother is not yet 16.
  • Sal Olivas dressed for the first time and got his first 50 MLS Next Pro minutes at striker coming on for starter Davis before the end of the first half.
  • Defender Gavin Wetzel dressed for the first time.
First half

Le Guennec attempted to disguise his DOGSO, but failed. By rule he will serve his suspension when Huntsville comes to Subaru Park for the last home game of the season, the team’s next to the last match. It is his second DOGSO red of the year.

After starting the year with seven losses, Huntsville and head coach Jack Collison deserve credit for climbing into the playoff race.

The technical staff decisions to start Neil Pierre instead of Daniel Kreuger at right center back, and Edward Davis instead of Nelson Pierre at striker, were dictated by player development needs rather than winning to maintain a playoff spot.

Second half

The replacement of striker Stefan Stojanovic at half time with midfielder Alex Perez reinforced the player development minutes priority. It left Olivas as the lone striker in his first ever match until the 71st when Carlos Rojas was left as a single six when Kyle Tucker was removed for Nelson Pierre coming on to provide a second striker in an attempt to generate a tying goal.

Two minutes later Liadi secured his brace and the now out-of-reach match became purely a developmental minutes opportunity.

The Philadelphians never gave up. But players who will have to make a supreme effort Sunday, August 27th at home to New England were removed for rest and preservation. Other comparatively experienced Union II veterans never left the bench.

Next Match

Union II host New England Revolution II Sunday August 27th at Subaru Park at 6:30 pm. New England lie second in the conference on 48 points and have clinched a playoff berth. They have beaten Union II twice, 5-1 at Gillette Stadium early in the year and 4-3 at Subaru Park in May.

Three points
  1. No first teamer started for Union II. That had not happened in the season’s 23 previous matches.
  2. C. J. Olney, not yet 17, was again an iron man on the night.
  3. There are unofficial internet rumors of decent reliability that Jose Riasco may perhaps be in Uruguay with first division side Boston River. Whether he would be trialling, on loan, on loan with a purchase option, or transferred outright remains unclarified.

Union II lineup (4-2-2-2, L-R): Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo (Nelson Pierre 71′), Hugo Le Guennec, red card 25′, Neil Pierre, Francis Westfield; Carlos Rojas, Kyle Tucker (Anton Sorenson 71′); C. J. Olney, David Vazquez (Daniel Kreuger 85′); Edward Davis (Sal Olivas 39′), Stefan Stojanovic (Alex Perez HT). Unused substitutes: Gavin Atkinson; Nathan Nkanji, , Gavin Wetzel, Boubacar Diallo. 1st – 2, U II – 9, Acad – 9. Rostered but absent: Gino Portella, Jose Riasco.

Starters’ Ages

Rick Castillo LeGuennec N. Pierre Westfield Rojas
17.6 20.9 23.5 15.8 17.7 19.6
Tucker Olney Vazquez Stojanovic Davis
24.1 16.7 17.5 22.5 17.2

Huntsville lineup ( 4-1-3-2, L-R):

Starters: John Berner; Joshua Drack (Oliver Wright 65′), Fernando Ciceron, Sean Suber, Chrisnovic N’Sa (Perrin Barnes 56′), Joey De Zart, Joey Skinner, Isaiah Jones (Christopher Pearson 65′), Kemy Amiche, Adem Sipic (Nebiyu Perry 56′), Azaad Liadi (Shaun Joash 82′).

Unused substitutes: Jacob  Grekowicz; Cyrus Rad, Ahmed Longmire, Eli Wachs.


Union II       13th minute       C. J. Olney (David Vazquez)

Huntsville    35th minute      Azaad Liadi (Joshua Drack)

Huntsville    42nd minute     Kemy Amiche (penalty kick)

Union II       48th minute       Neil Pierre (Francis Westfield, David Vazquez)

Huntsville    63rd minute       Azaad Liadi (Joey Skinner)

Huntsville    73rd minute       Azaad Liadi (Nebiyu Perry)

Huntsville    89th minute       Joey Skinner (Oliver Wright)

Yellow Cards

Union II       41st minute       Andrew Rick (foul)

Huntsville    46th minute      Joshua Drack (foul)

Huntsville    49th minute      Sean Suber (argument)

Union II       49th minute       Sal Olivas (argument)

Union II       75th minute       Anton Sorenson (foul)

Red Card

Union II       25th minute       Hugo Le Guennec (DOGSO last man back)


H Statistic U II H Statistic U II
59.1 Possession % 40.9 1 Offsides 0
20 Shots 12 33 Duels won 40
11 Shots on goal 8 10 Tackles  won 11
5 Blocked shots 0 6 Saves 6
500 Total Passes 347 10 Clearances 13
87.2 Pass Accuracy % 75.5 10 Fouls 15
5 Corners 2 2 Yellow Cards 3
12 Crosses 9 0 Red Cards 1


Ref: Kevin Broadley, AR1: Rebecca Luther, AR2: Jonathan Smith, 4th: Aleksandar Zhelyazkov 

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