Union II

Match report: Philadelphia Union II 0-2 FC Cincinnati 2

Photo courtesy of Union II


Philadelphia Union II came into this match atop of the Next Pro standings with 26 points (7-1-3), and were named the MLS Next Pro Team of the Month for May.

Midfielder CJ Olney was called up to the US U-19 training camp following his recent good form. Since the match against Huntsville FC on May 5th, Olney has scored or assisted in every game, most recently putting up a one goal two assist performance against Crew 2 on June 2nd.

FC Cincinnati 2 head coach Tyrone Marshall was named as MLS Next Pro Coach of the Month after leading his team to a 3 win – 1 loss record in May. 

Cincinnati sit 4th in the East on 19 points (6-4-1).

First Half

It was a young summer day that just bordered on hot. The stands were surprisingly filled for a Union II game, and especially for a weekday. Certainly many fans were coming in the hopes of seeing the young prodigy Cavan Sullivan make another appearance. Unfortunately, it all was in vain as Union II would fall 2-0 to FC Cincinnati 2 after only putting up one shot on target.

Despite dominating early, Union II ceded possession and control of the pace of play to Cincinnati. Cincinnati had the better opportunities from closer positions to goal but were unable to capitalize despite clear chances. After battling their way back into the game, Cincinnati had a great opportunity on a 3v2 counter but it ended poorly. The ballcarrier took on the chance himself, ignoring his open teammate and Rick made an easy save. 

While Union II had better build up play and were able to win more fouls in their final third, they were unable to truly challenge Paul Walters in Cinci’s goal. The Union’s two clear shots in the first half were both long range efforts from Sal Olivas. While shooting was the correct decision, both were off target. 

Head coach Marlon LeBlanc was not pleased with some of his team’s decision making in the first half. He was heard shouting instructions to the players on the field likely due to a breakdown in defensive coverage and some less than inspired passing movements.

Second Half 

LeBlanc opted for some changes at halftime, Nick Pariano and Ed Davis entered the game for Carlos Rojas and Leandro Soria. Conversely, Tyrone Marshall made a change in the 50th minute but his pair of subs in the 64th were what won him the game.

At first, it looked like Pariano was going to take over the match. His initial burst of energy and creativity led to good passing sequences and a few dangerous crosses and shots from range. However, after about 15 or 20 minutes he petered out. Perhaps this was due to his injury layoffs which may have hampered his fitness and form or maybe Cincinnati 2 was able to adjust.

The only shot on goal from Union II came from Westfield. The attack minded full back was sent through on the left wing but Walters stood tall and made the save. 

Cavan Sullivan checked into the game in the 62nd minute to a big round of applause from the fans. In the 64th minute Moises Tablanta and Kenji Mboma Dem subbed on.

In the 70th minute Tablanta skinned Jamiro Berdecio with a shimmy and squared a pass into the box which was finished first time by sub Kenji Mboma Dem. Subsequently, Berdicio was subbed for academy player Gavin Wetzel.

In the 88th minute, Cincinnati 2 found the dagger. Tablanta again was the playmaker. After stripping Gavin Wetzel and blocking Pierre’s attempted clearance, he played another squared pass to Mboma Dem who scored again. Following that, even with 7 minutes of added time, Union II were unable to find a consolation.

Despite an early period of sustained attack, galvanized by the halftime subs, Union II were unable to get on the board and ultimately gave up two goals to lose. Much of their play was disjointed and it seemed like players were lacking in communication leading to mental errors and passing in-accuracy 

Three points

  • Setting the Benchmark: Cinci’s subs were instrumental in their victory. Tablante had two assists after subbing on in the 64’ and Kenji Mboma Dem was the reception of those passes as he finished with a brace after also subbing on in the 64’. Head Coach LeBlanc has never been afraid to use his bench, and he wasn’t on the night but, the Cinci’s subs were able to take their chances. Union II never worked out a truly clear cut opportunity.
  • Disjointed: Throughout the game, Union II’s play was marked by disjointed movement and inaccurate passing. LeBlanc was not pleased with the performance on the day and could be heard shouting instructions from the sideline. Perhaps the team was missing the skill on the ball that CJ Olney brings but they have played several matches without him at the start of the year. While Kyle Tucker ended with 3 key passes, he completed 20 passes with only a 60% accuracy rating. He was far from the only player making mistakes but a player in his position and with his experience can do better. 
  • Shooting Blanks: Union II ended the game with just one shot on target by Frankie Westfield. It was a good one but it’s no wonder the team lost if their left back was the only player to place an attempt on frame.


Officiating Crew

Referee: Muhammad Hassan

Ast. Referee 1: Max Smith

Ast. Referee 2: Robert Cordrey

Fourth official: Adam Mitchell



Philadelphia Union II (4-1-2-1-2): Andrew Rick; Frank Westfield, Olwethu Makhanya, Neil Pierre, Jamir Berdecio (Gavin Wetzel 73’), Alex Perez (Cavan Sullivan 62’), Carlos Rojas (Nick Pariano HT), Sanders Ngabo, Kyle Tucker, Leandro Soria (Ed Davis HT), Sal Olivas

Unused Subs: Randy Meneses, John Andrus, Mike Sheridan, Antonio Horozglou, Ryan Zellefrow

FC Cincinnati 2: Paul Walters, Isaiah Foster (Moises Tablante 64’), London Aghedo, Kipp Keller (Gael Gibert 50’), Brian Schaefer, Stiven Jimenez, Peter Mangione (Jesus Castellano 81’), Malik Pinto (Kenji Mboma Dem 64’), Amir Daley, Guilherme Santos (Benjamin Stitz 81’), Nicholas Benalcazar

Unused Subs: Hunter Morse, Alejandro Guido,, Juan Machado, 



CIN – Kenji Mboma Dem (Tablante) 70’

CIN – Kenji Mboma Dem (Tablante) 88’


Disciplinary Summary

PHI – Sanders Ngabo (caution) 28’

PHI – Neil Pierre (caution) 83’

CIN – Nicholás Benalcázar (caution) 85’


Player Highlights

Kenji Mboma Dem (CIN): 2 SOT, 2 Goals, 1 Key Pass, 27 mins

Moises Tablante (CIN): 2 Assists, 2 Key Passes, 1 cross, 27 mins

Sanders Ngabo: 2 Shots, 53 passes, 86.9% Passing Accuracy, 1 Key Pass, 6 Fouls Suffered, 90 mins


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    In addition to Olney being away with the U-19 team, Vasquez was away too. Being without both weakened the team considerably.

    Union2 definitely had major issues in the final third as every promising opportunity was killed by either a poor pass or holding the ball too long. On the other hand, both of Cincinnati’s goals were after passes to a wide open player in the six yar box.
    Shortly before the first goal, Berdecio had his foot stepped on and was limping after that. I think the sub was more injury related than the fact that he was beaten.
    Sullivan didn’t really seem to add much to the game when he came on and both goals were scored while he was on the field.

    • George Diamond says:

      Definitely feel like UII could have used Vazquez and Olney on the night.

      I tend to think Berdicio has played quite well this year (even getting called up to the Bolivian national team) but yes, between the knock, and playing 78 mins on Thursday, he didn’t have his best game.

      Sullivan had some good deliveries into the box but nothing came of them on the night.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    The conclusion I drew is that Sal Olivas was not yet ready to play at the top of his game for 90 minutes on the fourth day after playing the previous match. He wasn’t sharp. By memory I don’t think he had played the full 90 against Columbus, but I may be wrong
    The other point I would make is the difference in philosophy between FC Cincinnati 2 and Philadelphia Union II. Moises Tablante played for Orlando B for the previous two years. He wasn’t;t ever going to make their first team. He was a very good player for their farm team. Niko Benalcazar was the same for an even longer period of time with NYC FC. FC Cincy 2 went out and got players for their farm team that are unlikely o ever make their first team.
    Philadelphia has taken other teams’ discards rarely. WE cannot say never, because there was a former Red Bull II left back last year, and there was going to be a former Dynamo 2 left back this year until he got hurt before they even got to Florida it seems. Kyle Tucker is unlikely o ever get a look from the Union itself. But otherwise older players who are discards do not come to mind.

    • George Diamond says:

      Worth mentioning that Cinci 2 was the only other loss in Union II’s season so far. For whatever reason be it tactics or personnel they have the Unions number this year

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Hopefully they have August 2 circled on their calendars for the chance at redemption.

      • By August 2 the team almost certainly will be very, very different.
        At least some of the graduated seniors will be gone, and more of the current U16s and U17s will be competing for roles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *