Match Report / Union II

Match Report: Chicago Fire FC II 1 (4) – 1 (3) Philadelphia Union II

Photo @PhilaUnionII

In a match of contrasting halves on Thursday evening at SeatGeek Stadium, Chicago Fire II scored off a goalkeeper rebound late in the first half and Philadelphia Union II scored off the same late in the second.

Harold Osorio struck home past Andrew Rick in the 37th minute, and Edward Davis III did the same past Patrick Los in the 71st.

In Advance

Philadelphia Union II has started strongly with six points from two matches. Both were at home, and both were the opponent’s season opener. Neither the schedule nor international absences prevented game minutes by first team reserves, so the technical staff had choices. The four who are perhaps becoming routine selections were made available — Olwethu Makhanya, Jamir Berdecio, Sanders Ngabo, and Nick Pariano.

Chicago II had tied Cincinnati 2 in their opener in Cincy, adding an extra standings point by winning the shootout. Next, they won their first-round match in the U. S. Open Cup 6-0 over USL-2 amateur side Chicago City SC in the Battle of Windy City, so Union II was their league home opener.  Their first team plays Sunday so last moment reinforcements were unlikely. But deliberate, considered ones were quite possible.

Chicago II’s website’s full roster lists more 20-somethings than does Union II’s. But like Union II, it also lists many teenagers including a few under-16s.

First half

In a word, Chicago dominated the half. In addition to scoring, they maintained possession that fluctuated between four minutes of every five and three out of every four. Philadelphia managed only two to five counter thrusts while maintaining virtually no possession in their offensive third. By halftime the gap between their two strikers and their midfield line was often 30 yards.

Andrew Rick had to exercise good judgment as a sweeper keeper and did so several times.

Chicago’s right back was said to be a ten-year veteran of France’s Ligue 1. He certainly delivered some inch-perfect crosses. Chicago’s outside backs thrust forward aggressively, forcing Union II’s outside central mids to play wide and defend .  By the end of the half, Union II’s midfield looked like a flat four, not a box.

Chicago seemed to have pace advantages all over the field, and the boys from Philly were attacking only with direct service from deep.

Second half

The second half was  different. If either side could be said to have dominated, it was Philadelphia.

Chicago made three substitutions at halftime, a decision appropriate to how thoroughly they had controlled the first half. Philadelphia’s coach LeBlanc made two subs and a tactical change. He brought on CJ Olney and David Vazquez for Giovanny Sequera and Kyle Tucker at the outside mids, and switched from the flattened box to a diamond.

The pace-of-play advantage Chicago had enjoyed reversed itself. Philadelphia now won most second balls and pressed successfully throughout midfield. Olney dominated the left channel offensively, and Vazquez added central pressure, eliminating Chicago’s control of the space in front of its center backs.

The commentator reported that Union II was heavily out shooting the home team and that its expected goals statistic for the half was significantly larger than their hosts.

The ground coverage of Olney and Vazquez was significantly better than that of Tucker and Sequera, and Sanders Ngabo once again showed that he can be credible as a single six after the opposition has begun to tire.

Strictly by the eyeball test Chicago II seemed a better team than either Toronto II or New England II.

The shootout

MLS NEXT Pro mandates a penalty kick shootout at the end of a match ending in a draw, and awards a second point in the standings to the shootout winner.

Olwethu Makhanya put his attempt above the right upper 90. and Sal Olivas had his attempt saved by Chicago keeper Los.

1st  Union II 3 4 2nd  Chicago II
vs. Los vs. Rick
Westfield Goal 1 Goal Osorio
Makhanya Miss 2 Goal Poreba
Zellefrow Goal 3 Goal Rochester
Perez Goal 4 Goal Konincks
Olivas Saved 5
Next match

In two full weeks Union II play at home to Orlando B Thursday, April 11 at 4 p.m. in Subaru Park. The day they flew home from preseason in Clearwater, a reinforced Union II side lost to Orlando B on its home field 4-0 giving up two goals inside the first 15 minutes.

Three points — plus one
  1. Carlos Rojas: Coach LeBlanc has said that the team’s strong start reduces the pressure for the Venezuelan center back to rush his recovery from injury.
  2. Gavin Wetzel: when Neil Pierre came on in the 65th for Jamir Berdecio, Wetzel got his first game minutes at right back and seemed to do well with them.
  3. Playoff eligibility: Populating the bench almost exclusively with academy u17s against New England last Sunday reflects that they will have replaced graduated seniors by next October, and that they must have appeared on five matchday rosters – four if one is away — to be playoff eligible.
  4. Amateur game day roster restriction: Only eleven amateur players may be on any given game-day roster, and only five may play on the pitch at an given moment.
A morning-after thought

the contrast between the success levels of the Union II’s halves illustrates perfectly the importance of what then Sporting Director Earnie Stewart  emphasized as a foundation for everything else in soccer performance, namely “engine-building.”  Olney nd Vazquez have building their engines to Union specifications for quite a while.  Tucker and Sequera are less far along in the construction process.



Union II 1st – 4, U II – 9, Acad Ams – 7. (4-2-2-2, L-R)

Starters: Andrew Rick; Jamir Berdecio (Neil Pierre 65’), Gavin Wetzel, Olwethu Makhanya, Frank Westfield; Sanders Ngabo, Nick Pariano (Alex Perez 85’), Kyle Tucker (David Vazquez 45’), Giovanny Sequera (CJ Olney 45’); Edward Davis (Ryan Zellefrow 89’) , Sal Olivas.

Unused substitutes: Mike Sheridan; John Andrus, Randy Meneses, Antonios Horozoglou.

Starters’ ages – Average = 19.5

Rick Westfield Wetzel Makhanya Berdecio Ngabo
18.1 18.3 17.6 19.9 21.6 19.7
Pariano Sequera Tucker Davis Olivas
21.0 18.1 24.7 17.8 17.7

Unavailable: Carlos Rojas – Injury. Anisse Saidi, Jamir Johnson, Diego Rocio, Kellan LeBlanc, Cavan Sullivan – all in the GA Cup.

Chicago II (4-2-3-1, R-L))

Starters: Patrick Los; Arnaud Souquet (Billy Hency 45’, Diego Konincks, Jaylen Shannon, Lamonth Rochester; Federico Navarro (Vitaily Hlyut 45’), Javier Casas (Romain Blake 87’)  , David Poreba; Christian Koffi (David Tchetchao 45’), Jason Shokalook (Dylan Borso 71’), Harold Osorio.

Unused substitutes: Bryan Dowd; Michael Nesci, Christopher Cupps, Juan Miguel Calle.         


Chicago II          37th minute           Harold Osorio

Union II            71st minute            Edward Davis III

Yellow Cards

Union II            36th minute          Gavin Wetzel (professional foul)

Union II            74th minute          Olwethu Makhanya (foul)

Chicago II        76th minute          Dylan Borso (foul)

Union II           90+2 minute.       Sal Olivas (professional foul)

C II Statistic U II C II Statistic U II
Possession % 2 Offsides 3
13 Shots 17 Duels won
8 Shots on goal 10 Tackles  won
3 Blocked shots 2 8 Saves 7
Total Passes 0 Clearances 2
84 Pass Accuracy % 65.7 10 Fouls 14
3 Corners 7 1 Yellow Cards 3
8 Crosses 11 Red Cards
Whistle & Flags

Ref: Alex Beehler, AR1: Jay Norris, AR2: Sharon Gingrich, 4TH: Fermin Sanchez


  1. IS it just me or does Ngabo look great.

    • Remember the the pace of play in MLS NEXT Pro is noticeably slower than in MS itself.
      Ngabo is recovering from injury in addition to learning and adjusting to the union’s system.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Union 2 definitely looked better in the second half than the first. I’m pretty sure you had indicated that Vasquez missed the game Sunday because of international duty and I’m guessing he only played 45 minutes to give him some rest from that, but where was CJ Olney for the first 2.5 games?

  3. All that has been said, and every indication is that nothing more will be said, is that CJ was attending to a private, personal circumstance.
    The clear implication of the organization’s behavior is that we all need to respect CJ’s privacy.
    Remember if you get impatient that he is still only a junior in high school not a full blown adult professional athlete.

    • +1

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Thanks, Tim. I hadn’t even heard that, but it is enough for me. Glad to see him back as he is one of my favorite Union 2 players and I think he has real potential to make an impact for the parent club someday.

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