Match Report / Union II

Match report: Atlanta United 2 0 – 5 Philadelphia Union II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II Communications from Atlanta United 2 and Will Jarrett

Monday evening at Kennesaw State University in northern Georgia, Philadelphia Union II shut out Atlanta United 2 5-0 to set up a showdown for first place in the Eastern Conference next Sunday against New York Red Bull II at Subaru Park in Chester.

First-team reserve striker Chris Donovan played the entire 90 and scored a brace, including the match-winner in the 18th minute off service from David Vazquez, who also had a brace of assists. (See photo.)

When Atlanta 2 risked more men forward in the second half while trying to equalize and get back in the match, Union II added four more. Edward Davis III headed home a keeper rebound in the 49th. CJ Olney scored a 24-yard free kick in the 52nd. Donovan completed his brace from Vazquez in the 65th. Substitute Kyle Tucker scored a second free kick in the 81st.

Union II goalkeeper Andrew Rick and his defense in front of him kept their first clean sheet of the year.

In advance

Atlanta 2 played on three weeks’ rest, while Philadelphia II played on the fifth day after its previous match.

Playing at home the day after a first-team home game, Atlanta 2 easily could have received extra first-team reinforcements. Since Philadelphia’s first team played in Atlanta the night before, so could Union II. And they did. The extras were Donovan and Markus Anderson, who both needed game minutes to restore sharpness and conditioning.

Atlanta 2 had played only twice, losing to Orlando B 3-2 and beating expansion side Carolina Core 4-0, both at home. Union II had already played four times, winning two and drawing two with one shootout loss and one shootout win. Clearly, the three-week layoff handicapped the men from Georgia.

First half

At the beginning of the match, Union II seemed disjointed for the first two or three minutes. But the defensive pressure exerted by the two first-team reserve forwards turned the match in Philadelphia’s favor. Atlanta did not adjust well for the first half hour.

The hosts sustained a strong five minutes of play around minutes 30 to 35, and then the match became spread out, becoming distinctly back-and-forth in its pattern.

Second half

Edward David III substituted Markus Anderson at halftime, and the 17-year-old from California promptly doubled Union II’s lead. Atlanta keeper John Berner saved Davis’s initial header but put the rebound back to him and the second time was both the charm and effortless.

On Olney’s free kick, two Union players got themselves side by side next to Atlanta’s initial wall and ducked on the shot. Olney placed it perfectly through the gap and past keeper Berner, who acquired sight too late for a save.

Atlanta then had to chase the game and laid themselves open. After Olney’s strike, Atlanta head coach Steve Cooke brought some of his veterans off the bench. However, they performed no better than the teenage attackers they replaced.

After Donovan’s second goal, Union II head coach Marlon LeBlanc went to his bench, replacing right back Jamir Berdecio with Gavin Wetzel, right midfielder Nick Pariano with Kyle Tucker, and attacking mid David Vazquez with Giovanny Sequera.

Minutes 73 through 76 saw three yellow cards in quick succession, the first to the Union’s Giovanny Sequera and the next two to Atlanta. Tired legs and mental frustration probably were the root causes of Atlanta’s outburst. Referee Shawn Tehini called a tight game. Her approach benefitted the Union as their superior conditioning meant they were fouled more frequently from tired Georgia legs that were half a step slow. Atlanta fouled nine times more than did Union II.

Unsurprisingly, Donovan was named man of the match, but PSP gives full credit to Union II single defensive mid, 19-year-old Sanders Ngabo, without whom playing the narrow diamond would have been problematic. The Danish youth international with a connection to Uganda was essential to Union II’s defensive success. At the beginning of the second half, it seemed as though coach Cooke ordered his players to pay closer attention to Ngabo, but two goals at the opening put an abrupt end to those efforts.

Next match

Union II plays Sunday, April 21, at Subaru Park against New York Red Bull II at 3:00 PM. Red Bull II remain undefeated (3-0-2) and are in first place in the Eastern Conference.

Three points
  1. Carlos Rojas started at left center back and played the full 90. When Ngabo picked up a yellow card in the 88th, he pushed up to the single six with Neil Pierre replacing him in the back four. The time invested in recovering the Venezuelan from injury was soundly spent.
  2. Neil Pierre and the U17s have their own showdown for the division’s first place against New York Red Bull U17s on Saturday, April 20, in North Jersey.
  3. Jamir Berdecio remains defensively inconsistent at right back. He displays great willingness to try, with strong instincts to attack, but Gavin Wetzel has now substituted for him twice after 60 minutes to secure the right channel defensively for the last half hour.



Union II (4-1-2-1-2, LR) 1st – 6, U II –4+ 5, Acad Am –1+3 .

Starters: Andrew Rick; Francis Westfield, Carlos Rojas, Olwethu Makhanya, Jamir Berdecio (Gavin Wetzel, 68′); Sanders Ngabo (Neil Pierre, 88′); CJ Olney, Nick Pariano (Kyle Tucker, 68′), David Vazquez (Giovanny Sequera, 68′); Markus Anderson (Edward Davis III, HT), Chris Donovan.

Unused substitutes: Mike Sheridan, Ryan Zellefrow, Sal Olivas.

Starters’ Ages: Average = 19.9

Rick Westfield Rojas Makhanya Berdecio Ngabo
18.2 18.3 20.2 19.9 21.7 19.8
Pariano Olney Vazquez Anderson Donovan
21.1 17.3 18.1 20.3 23.7

Atlanta 2 (4-2-3-1)

Starters: John Berner; Matthew Edwards, Kaiden Moore (Jacob Williams, 55′) Efrain Morales, Ronald Hernandez; Noble Okello, Javier Armas; Matias Gallardo, Alan Carleton (Erik Centeno, 55′) Luke Brennan (Stephen Hurlock, 79′); Matthew Dejianne (Karim Tmimi, 55′).

Unused Substitutes: Jayden Hibbert; Shawn Lanza, Pavel Romero, Miles Hadley.


Union II           18th minute          Chris Donovan (David Vazquez)

Union II           49th minute          Edward Davis III

Union II           52nd minute         CJ Olney

Union II            65th minute         Chris Donovan (David Vazquez)

Union II            81st minute          Kyle Tucker

Yellow Cards

Atlanta 2            3rd minute         Matthew Edwards (foul)

Union II           73rd minute         Giovanny Sequera (foul)

Atlanta 2          74th minute         Efrain Morales (foul)

Atlanta 2          76th minute         Karim Tmimi (foul)

Atlanta 2          83rd minute         Matias Gallardo (foul)

Union II           85th minute          Sanders Ngabo (foul)

Union II           92nd minute         Chris Donovan (foul)

Atl 2 Statistic U II Atl 2 Statistic U II
12 Shots 10 3 Offsides 0
2 Shots on goal 8 3 Goalkeeper saves 2
7 Blocked shots 0 24 Clearances 22
410 Total passes 199 25 Fouls 16
89 Passing accuracy% 74.4 4 Yellow cards 3
7 Corners 5 0 Red cards 0
13 Total crosses 6
Whistle & Flags

Ref: Shawn Tehini, AR1: Brian Marshall, AR2: Colin Ashley, 4th: Promise Adebayo-Ige


  1. Zizouisgod says:

    Always love the U2 analysis, Tim. Thanks.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Thanks, Tim. I wasn’t able to watch it live and then couldn’t find a replay on Crapple. It would be nice if they made these available.

    • It showed live on YouTube, Andy. It was not on MLS season Pass. It was and the screen said it was on Youtube, which is where I ended up watching.
      I have not looked for replays.
      I have not seen replays available this year when Apple has had the original broadcast.

    • A replay is available on YouTube, at east as of now 1:45 PM Tuesday April 16 ET.
      I searched “Philadelphia Union II vs Atlanta United 2.”

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Thanks, Tim. I had just assumed it was on the season pass. Of course, it sounds like I’m going to have to miss the game completely in a couple of weeks when I’ll be out of town during the game against Huntsville (unless that’s on YouTube too).

  3. Thank you Tim! How did Marcus look? Having only seen him in spots with Union, he strikes me as a person with tremendous potential.

    • This response is just during game eyeball, as it were.
      He and Chris were quite effective pressing defensively. They played at first team pace which took Atlanta 2 by surprise.
      Offensively he was not as effective as Chris. I’m not smart enough to say why.
      And then he came off for what presume was som kind of injury in the 21st minute. Was off for at least a minute or two and then finished half. And of course Davis III came on for him at halftime.
      He is still learning the Union system which is complex and difficult and time consuming to learn.

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