MLS NEXT Pro Match Report / Philadelphia Union II

Match report: New England Revolution II 3-2 Philadelphia Union II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II communications

Philadelphia Union II’s MLS NEXT Pro season is over. They lost their conference quarter final playoff match in Massachusetts 3-2 Sunday night.

Once again, Marcos Dias scored a penalty kick and Esmir Barjaktarevic scored a brace.

Until the 75th minute, New England seemed in full control of the match. Union II’s late subs, especially midfielders Boubacar Diallo and Juan Castillo, were instrumental in Union II scoring twice and putting pressure on Revs II at the end.

But the effort fell short.

In advance

Union II’s first team played the evening before in an away six-point match in Columbus, OH. They play again this Wednesday in Chester against Atlanta. With Leon Flach and Jakob Glesnes injured, Chris Donovan and Quinn Sullivan started in Ohio. Jeremy Rafanello and Olwethus Makhanya sat the bench. Presumably Donovan, Rafanello, and Makhanya flew to Boston Sunday morning.

Carlos Rojas and Neil Pierre practiced fully Saturday in Chester before the team travelled, and both started.

Union II played the 4-2-2-2 “empty bucket, in an attempt to counter New England’s offensive prowess. They scored 15 goals in the four matches against Philadelphia this season, Bajraktarevic accounting for six.

New England’s first team also had and will have games on the same days as the Union, but both were and will be in Foxboro, maximizing potential extra first team availability. Revs II are in the playoffs for the first time and the organization has strongly supported their prospects for success all season.

The match

New England seemed in control until Union II’s midfielder subs came on in the 67th minute.

Union II played a double six with Carlos Rojas and Hugo Le Guennec as the defensive mids. The new formation did not directly address Union II weaknesses defending both wide channels. Francis Westfield again had significant trouble with Joshua Bolma in Union II’s right defensive channel. Anton Sorenson had something of the same experience with Bajraktarevic on the Union’s left (see photo).

Castillo scored from the field in the 78th minute and Diallo both drew the penalty kick and scored it in the 82nd.

Next match

By failing to survive and advance, Union II closed the book on its 2023 MLS Next Pro season and has transitioned to its post-season. While specifics only now can be negotiated, three things can reasonably be expected to happen.

  • The leading candidates for promotion will begin to audition with the first team even though they will not be rostered to it initially.
  • There will be friendlies against local and regional semi-pro sides to provide evaluation and development for Union II’s own professionals and other academy players .
  • Because the two full-size, grass practice fields at the WSFS Sportsplex are being reconstructed, there is a great deal of stress on the Sportsplex’s competition field currently the sole full-sized grass pitch available. It is expected that postseason friendlies to occur away from Chester.

Union II’s postseason program will continue at least until Thanksgiving and may endure into early December.

Three points
  1. Francis Westfield again had real trouble marking pace, technical New England winger Joshua Bolma.
  2. Juan Castillo has shown well as a left channel midfielder particularly with his pace and aggressiveness.
  3. Goalkeeper Andrew Rick dove correctly against Dias’ penalty kick but did not get enough on it to keep it out.

Union II lineup (4-2-2-2, L-R, substitutes italicized.)

Starters: Andrew Rick; Anton Sorenson, Olwethu Makhanya, Neil Pierre, Francis Westfield; Carlos Rojas, Hugo Le Guennec (Boubacar Diallo 67′); C, J. Olney (Kyle Tucker 79′), David Vazquez (Juan Castillo 67′); Jeremy Rafanello (Nelson Pierre 79′), Chris Donovan (Stefan Stojanovic 61′).

Unused substitutes: Jonathan Evans; Daniel Kreuger, Alex Perez, Sal Olivas, .

1st – 4, U II – 9, Acad – 7. Loaned out: Jose Riasco, Brooks Thompson. In the wind: Gino Portella.

Starters’ ages average = 19.6

Rick Sorenson Makhanya N. Pierre Westfield Rojas
17.7 20.7 19.4 15.9 17.8 19.7
LeGuennec Olney Vazquez Donovan Rafanello
23.6 16.8 17.6 23.1 23.5

Finishers’ ages average = 19.8

Rick Sorenson Makhanya N. Pierre Westfield Rojas
17.7 20.7 19.4 15.9 17.8 19.7
Diallo Tucker Castillo N. Pierre Stojanovic
20.8 24.2 21.0 18.5 22.5

Revs II lineup (4-3-3, L-R, substitutes italicized)

Starters: Jacob Jackson; Peyton Miller, Pierre Cayet, Victor Souza, Colby Quinones; Jake Rozhansky (Maciel 75′), Jack Panayotou, Marcos Dias (Patrick Leal 75′); Joshua Bolma (Santiago Suarez 90′), Jordan Adebayo-Smith (Olger Escobar 90′), Esmir Bajraktarevic (Malcolm Fry 67′)

Unused substitutes:Nico Campuzano; Jacob Akanyirige, Italo, Noble Okello.


Revs II        26th minute       Marcos Dias (penalty kick)

Revs II        55th minute        Esmir Bajraktarevic (Jordan Adebayo-Smith)

Revs II        64th minute        Esmir Bajraktarevic (free kick)

Union II     78th minute.      Juan Castillo

Union II      82nd minute     Boubacar Diallo (penalty kick)

Yellow Cards

Union II     90+4 minute      Juan Castillo (foul)

NE II Statistic U II NE II Statistic U II
60.7 Possession % 39.3 2 Offsides 1
10 Shots 11 54 Duels won 58
5 Shots on goal 5 14 Tackles  won 18
2 Blocked shots 4 3 Saves 2
542 Total Passes 336 6 Clearances 7
85.6 Pass Accuracy % 75 14 Fouls 20
1 Corners 2 0 Yellow Cards 1
7 Crosses 15 0 Red Cards 0
Whistle & Flags

Ref: Gerald Flores, AR1: Mike Nickerson, AR2: Art Arustamyan, 4th: Danielle Chesky.


  1. An interesting season without much support from the fans, sadly… including myself.

    Here’s wishing all a great off season, successfully ready for spring 2024. Doop2!

    • Agreed. After going to just about all of the home games in 2022, I only made a couple this season. (Part of that was due to my wife having two major surgeries, and while I got away with making it to all of the first team games I couldn’t really justify skipping out for Union II.)

  2. Thank you for these recaps and Union 2 roster info throughout the year. Great info on what is in the pipeline.

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