MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 0 – 3 New England Revolution II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II communications

Sunday evening in Chester, New England Revolution II swept the season series against Philadelphia Union II by a score of 3-0. They enhanced their own playoff status while crimping Union II’s hopes for the same.

Left winger Joshua Bolma gave goalkeeper Andrew Rick no chance in the 40th minute with a strike to the far side netting from inside the D. Then substitute Marcos Dias locked the door and threw away the key with a second half brace in the the 54th and 86th minutes. Jack Panayotou had both assists on Dias’s goals.

Union reserve striker Jeremy Rafanello forced a deflection into the cross bar from New England keeper Nico Campuzano in the 15th from outside the penalty area on the right. That save kept the match even and allowed New England’s older, bigger, stronger defense to execute coach Marcello Santos’s astute tactical adjustment of a lower restraining line and a disciplined midfield fence, constricting and contesting the space in front of it, to negate long direct service to Rafanello and fellow first team reserve Chris Donovan.

New England first team reserve central midfielder Panayotou played a key role in denying Philadelphia midfield dominance.

In advance

The night before Union II’s match, the Union played D. C. at Audi Field, a bus ride away from Subaru Park. First team reinforcements were made available, as they were last time Revs II played in Chester. Reserve strikers Donovan, Rafanello, and newcomer right center back Olwethu Makhanya all started. Revolution II’s first team also played away the night before, but in Montreal.

A week ago last Friday Revolution II clinched its first ever playoff birth and extended its undefeated streak to a club record nine with a 0-0 tie and a shootout extra point against Toronto II in Canada.

Before yesterday Revs II lay second in the eastern conference on 48 points. Union II lay eighth on 33, two points below the qualification line. Seven teams from each conference will qualify.

MLS NEXT Pro’s quirky experimental red card suspension rule meant left center back Hugo Le Guennec was able to play.  His suspension in the last game for DOGSO at Huntsville will be served when Huntsville visits Chester for Union II’s final home game of the season.

First half

Each side enjoyed periods of sustained possession and offensive pressure in the opponent’s defensive third. Each rang one shot off a post.

New England had a clear pace advantage down its left channel matching Bolma against Francis Westfield of Union II. By and large Makhanya was able to provide cover for Westfield, But in the 40th minute he slid left to cover Le Guennec who fell while being turned by Jordan Abedayo-Smith. After receiving his strike partner’s feed, the pacey New England winger froze Westfield and struck home the match winner. A quick, deep thrown-in had left Juan Castillo out of the play upfield, forcing the slides that were anticipated correctly but not executed with enough success.

The Union’s best player of the half was attacking midfielder David Vazquez (see photo) who has used most of the season to get himself into shape to play the position on both sides of the ball. He was consistently harassing and stripping opponents, as well as creating offensive combinations with Rafanello and Donovan.

New England’s back seven negated attempts to break Donovan free on long direct service. They had seen the process extensively the last time they were at Subaru Park. They also prioritized marking C. J. Olney.

Failing to score first put Philadelphia at a disadvantage.

Second half

An early injury to starting right winger Olger Escobar brought Marcos Dias on as a substitute in the 52nd minute and two minutes later on a feed from Panayotou, he split Le Guennec and Makhanya down the center for the clincher .

Negating Donovan’s deep threat compromised Union II’s scoring credibility, a credibility that was not restored by subs Stojanovic in the midfield for Kyle Tucker and Nelson Pierre at striker for Donovan in the 65th. Coach LeBlanc no longer has a game-changing threat to bring off his bench now that Luciano Sanchez has joined Rutgers.

Essentially the last half an hour provided developmental minutes and assessment opportunities rather than meaningful opportunities to change the result.

Because FC Cincinnati 2 beat NYC FC II 2-0, coach LeBlanc’s side remain in eighth place in the table. But they are now four points below qualification with four games remaining. And only three spots remain unclaimed, with Red Bull II and Columbus 2 joining Crown Legacy and New England.

Next Game

Union II travel to Long Island to play NYC FC II at 5:00 pm Sunday, September 3, two and a half hours before the Union itself taps off in Chester. The match will be on and therefore on YouTube. Union II defeated NYC FC II at Belson Stadium 3-1 on July 2, and 2-0 at Subaru Park on August 4.

Three points

  1. Olwethu Makhanya‘s first game minutes for the organization as a center back were quite credible. He has excellent pace, and anticipated excellently where he needed to be. Two of his passes forward into space anticipated first team speed of collection, not second team, understandable errors given with whom he has been practicing. One v one wrestling against Revs II’s Jordan Adebayo-Smith was not always a dominating win, so wrestling Uhre and Carranza and a strong regime in the weight room seem likely aspects of his immediate future.
  2. David Vazquez played like a Union organization attacking mid in yesterday’s match. He needs to display what he showed game after game after game, and he will need to do it at the next level. But the defensive bite he displayed in this Next Pro game reminded observers of a certain Hungarian who plays the same position at the higher one.
  3. Carlos Rojas continues to play as a single six for Philadelphia Union II. The organization’s technical staff continues to evaluation of him there. His loan does have a purchase option and his Venezuelan club lists several, older defensive midfielders on Transfermarkt, including the 32-year-old club captain. Rojas might be available for acquisition.

Bonus point: Ernst Tanner’s youth emphasis. After Le Guennec was sent off last week in Alabama, Union II’s average age on the field dropped to 18.96 years old.  Of the ten players who actually finished that match only one, Anton Sorenson, had celebrated his 20th birthday. The average age of the ten finishers was 17.8.


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

Starters: Andrew Rick; Juan Castillo, Hugo Le Guennec, Olwethu Makhanya, Francis Westfield; Carlos Rojas (Alex Perez 71′); C. J. Olney (Boubacar Diallo 71′), Kyle Tucker (Stefan Stojanovic 65′); David Vazquez (Sal Olivas 87′); Jeremey Rafanello, Chris Donovan (Nelson Pierre 65′).

Unused substitutes: Gavin Atkinson; Anton Sorenson, Neil Pierre, Edward Davis.

1st – 5, U II – 8, Acad – 7.

Starters’ Ages:

Rick Castillo LeGuennec Makhanya Westfield Rojas
17.6 20.9 23.5 19.3 17.7 19.6
Olney Tucker Vazquez Rafanello Donovan
16.7 24.1 17.5 23.4 23.0

Average age 20.3

Finishers’ ages:

Rick Castillo LeGuennec Makhanya Westfield Perez
17.6 20.9 23.5 19.3 17.7 17.4
Diallo Stojanovic Rafanello Pierre Olivas
20.7 22.5 23.4 18.4 17.1

Average age 19.86

N Eng II lineup: (4-3-3, L-R)

Starters: Nico Campuzano; Joshua Bolma (Santiago Suarez 87′), Pierre Cavet, Victor Souza, Colby Quinones; Jake Rozhansky (Noble Okello 64′), Jack Panayotou (Ben Awashie 87′), Patrick Leal (Malcom Fry 52′); Peyton Miller, Jordan Adebayo-Smith, Olger Escobar (Marcos Dias 52′).

Unused substitutes: Max Weinstein; Jacob Akanyirige, Nakye Greenidge-Duncan, Brandonn Bueno.


Revs II       40th minute       Joshua Bolma (Jordan Adebayo-Smith)

Revs II       54th minute       Marcos Dias (Jack Panayotou)

Revs II       86th minute       Marcos Dias (Jack Panayotou)

Yellow Cards

Union II    43rd minute       Chris Donovan (other reason)

Revs II       46th minute       Jack Panayotou (foul)


U II Statistic NE II U II Statistic NE II
45.5 Possession % 54.5 0 Offsides 1
14 Shots 10 46 Duels won 36
5 Shots on goal 4 14 Tackles  won 8
2 Blocked shots 2 1 Saves 6
371 Total Passes 468 13 Clearances 22
80.6 Pass Accuracy % 82.9 10 Fouls 7
6 Corners 5 1 Yellow Cards 1
24 Crosses 11 0 Red Cards 0

Whistle & Flags

Ref: John Griggs, AR1: Robert Cordrey, AR2: Marcus Moss, 4th: Justin Saporito.

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