2024 Union II preseason: Florida phase

Photo: @PhilaUnionII

Union II played four matches during its Florida preseason, and unsurprisingly, the record is mixed.

Both the levels of the opposition and the levels of their own game rosters were mixed. They won the first against lesser competition, lost the next against a Division 2 side, won the third against a younger fellow Division 3 developmental team, and lost the last to Division 3 veterans.

Day date Opponent Result League Level
Tue, Feb. 6 Florida Premier FC W  5  –  0 ECNL Boys Amateur
Fri, Feb. 9 Tampa Bay Rowdies L    4  –  1 USL Championship Division 2
Wed, Feb. 14 Colorado Rapids 2 W  2  –  0 MLS NEXT Pro Division 3
Sat, Feb. 17 Orlando City B L    4  –  0 MLS NEXT Pro Division 3


These two preseason scrimmages will occur after the side returns north.

Day date Opponent Venue League Level
Sun, Feb. 25 Loudoun United FC Chester USL Championship Division 2
Fri, Mar. 1 Hartford Athletic Hartford USL Championship Division 2


The 28-game regular season schedule opens at Subaru Park on Sunday, Mar. 17 at 3:00 p.m. against Toronto FC II.

 A lean preseason roster

The collected data (see below) suggests that Union II both practiced and played with fewer than two full elevens until the first team left for Costa Rica. In no match were more than six substitutions reported. From the beginning, some players were asked to play full 90s.

We estimate that between signed professionals and academy amateurs, there were perhaps 15 or 16 players in camp, including keepers. Once the first team left, some of its deeper reserves stayed in Florida with Union II.

We have some potential explanations:

  • The total salary budget may have been divided more heavily in the first team’s favor in 2024 at the expense of the second team to provide greater first-team depth to cover deep runs in their three secondary competitions.
  • The U17 pool is now being depleted from both its top (as it always has been) and now its bottom, since the academy’s new U16 side may mean U16s are no longer “playing up” at the U17 level.
  • Given Academy Director Tommy Wilson’s role in building past professional second-team squads, his departure may have affected the acquisition of this year’s Union II players, although he would have helped with the trialists who went to Florida.

The strongest probable explanation arises from the variability of 2024’s first team schedule.  Its roster size necessarily anticipates deep runs in all three of its secondary competitions. But were no such runs to materialize, a surfeit of players would exist if both rosters were fully staffed. There would be too many players for not enough game minutes.

Last season with a smaller first-team roster there were too many bodies. Once the Champions League was over, Brandan Craig was loaned out to try to get minutes (July 5). After the Leagues Cup had begun Andres Perea was likewise loaned (July 28).

Similarly, this year’s larger roster might easily see more mid-season and end-of-season loans away.

When players sit without playing, their roster asset values drop, a consideration for the club’s balance sheet. Balance sheets affect the club’s ability to get short-term financing, perhaps a contingency to consider when undertaking a building project such as phase two of the WSFS Sportsplex.

Schedule variation

The quantity of first-team games could vary from as many as 21 extra to as few as five. The calculation below assumes Open Cup participation will follow last year’s pattern, but there is no official confirmation of that.

  • Concacaf Champions Cup could add as many as nine games or as few as two.
  • Leagues Cup could add seven or two.
  • The U. S. Open Cup, five or one.

The first team’s currently healthy roster totals 26. It is expected to rise to 27 (José Riasco), and with luck will rise to 28 (David Vazquez). Two more are currently rehabbing from surgeries, one for a few months (Leon Flach, a torn pec) and the other for probably longer (Isaiah LeFlore, an ACL).

Union II’s roster sparseness helps ensure sufficient future minutes for its occupants’ proper development. It also tested the mental fortitude of those who had to play full 90s from the beginning, itself useful as both a growth opportunity and an evaluation.

The data

Utilizing social media, we collate below the minutes from players by position across the Florida matches and what levels of competition they faced. It is not certain that the data is fully complete.

Tactical shapes and individual positions are usually inferences but sometimes estimations. Only sometimes were substitutes concretely linked to whom they replaced. Players with asterisks are first-teamers. Players in italics are academy amateurs. Goals scored are indicated by superscripted “G”s. The remaining unidentified trialist is assumed to be — or have been — a professional.


  • Francis Westfield is 2024’s Swiss Army knife in the defense and the midfield. He has played anywhere in front of the goalkeeper and behind the attacking mid, having added left back to his previously demonstrated versatility. He is also preseason’s Union II ironman being the only player accumulating all 360 available game minutes.
  • Both of Kyle Tucker’s goals were free kicks.
  • Cavan Sullivan’s date of birth makes him slightly less than 14 ½ years old.
  • At this writing, Jose Riasco is still rostered to Union II but is expected to sign with the first team.
  • We believe Trialist 2 has been recently-announced Union II defender Randy Meneses who is on loan for the season with a purchase option from LDUQuito’s U20s in Ecuador.
  • We believe that Trialist 1 is “Sequera” who was listed by surname as a substitute against Orlando, likely referring to 17-year-old Venezuelan attacking mid Giovanny Sequera who played at last fall’s Indonesian U17 World Cup and has not yet been officially announced by Union II. Delays in the United States might perhaps be related to international paperwork since P1 visas historically have been difficult to get for minor league soccer players but this has not been confirmed.
    Florida Premier FC Tampa Bay Rowdies Colorado Rapids 2 Orlando City B
Inferred Shapes 4-1-2-1-2 3-5-2 4-1-2-1-2 4-1-2-1-2
1 Rick GK 75’ GK 90’ GK 90’ GK  
2 Evans GK 15’    
3 Andrus LB 90’    
4 Rojas LCBG 90’ DM 30’ RCB 49’
5 Wetzel RCB 90’ LCB 90’ RB 15’ RB 49’
6 Westfield RB 90’ CCB 90’ LB 90’ LB  
7 Berdecio* RCB 90’ RB 75’ RB 41’
8 Tucker DMG 90’ RDMG 90’ DM 60’ DM  
9 Olney LWB 90’ LM 75’    
10 Pariano* RWB 90’ RM 90’ AM  
11 Horozoglou LMG 45’ LM? 15’    
12 Trialist 3 LM? 45’    
13 Perez RM 45’ LDM 54’ RMG 45’ RM 41’
14 Meneses RM? 45’ LDM 36’    
15 Sequera AM 45’ AM 90’ AM 30’ RM 49’
16 C. Sullivan AM 45’ S 45’ AM 60’ S 49’
17 Davis S 45’ S 45’ S 30’    
18 Zellefrow S 45’ S 45’    
19 Olivas SGG 90’ S 45’ S 60’ S  
20 Vazquez AMG 45’ S 41’
21 Pierre RCB 90’ RCB 41’
22 Makhanya* LCB 90’ LCB  
23 Ngabo*             LM  


  1. Apology to all readers.
    Column four of the player participation data fails to appear for me on my laptop display.
    I will have to make some edits and update it. It will take some me some time.

    .- Tim Jones, 6 PM Sunday February 18.

  2. Given the pictures of training in Costa Rica on the Union website Sunday 18-Feb, and the article which they appeared, at least one individual who played in Orlando Saturday made the Costa Rica trip, Sanders Ngabo number 22.

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