Match Report / Match Reports / Union II

Match report: Crown Legacy FC 0 – 3 Philadelphia Union II

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union II

Thursday evening in Mathews North Carolina Philadelphia Union II defeated Charlotte FC’s professional farm team Crown Legacy 3-0 on second half goals from Leandro Soria,  Frank Westfield, and CJ Olney. Andrew Rick had made an outstanding fingertip save against the hosts in the first half to maintain the clean sheet.

The win pushed Philadelphia back into first place in the entire league by one point as Chattanooga were tied by Orlando winning the shootout and North Texas SC was idle with a bye week.

Soria substituted for Edward Davis III at striker at halftime and worked a classic one-two with Sal Olivas in the 65th minute for the game winner. Vice-captain Westfield headed home a corner kick service from defensive midfield substitute and Captain Kyle Tucker in the 84th, and shuttling midfield substitute Olney scored in the 90+4th in stoppage time from midfield substitute Giovanny Sequera to clinch matters.

It was only Crown Legacy’s second regular season home defeat in their two-season history.

In Advance

Since the match occurred during  June’s FIFA international break, neither first team had games adjacent to Thursday’s. Another factor affecting Union II’s roster is that YSC Academy had graduated the class of 2024 six days earlier. Graduated seniors may have already have left for their next steps along their paths. Finally, deep Union reserve and Union II starting single six Sanders Ngabo was suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

Since the Union plays only two days later Saturday night in Chester, Olwethu Makhanya is the third center back in Damion Lowe’s absence with Jamaica for the pending Copa America. Similarly, David Vazquez did not make the Carolina trip and CJ Olney was available only for the last half an hour. Both had played Tuesday night against Uruguay in Uruguay.

Head coach Marlon LeBlanc therefore changed formations away from the narrow diamond to a double pivot, starting Randy Meneses and Jamir Berdecio as his double sixes. Gavin Wetzel slotted in for Berdecio at right back and Carlos Rojas replaced Makhanya at left center back. Cavan Sullivan made his second professional start alongside Nick Pariano as the attacking mids next to the empty bucket with Olivas and Davis were unchanged up top.

First half 

Union II started the match strongly but an older Crown Legacy side quickly asserted control of possession. That assertion allowed Union II to play its preferred counter-pressing counter-attacking style which suited its 4-2-2-2 “empty bucket” shape very well. As mentioned Goalkeeper Rick was active and effective in goal.  The midfield usually contested the Carolinians effectively, and the Charlotte boys had not laced on their shooting boots correctly.

Halftime arrived with the score still knotted at zero.

Second half 

Coach LeBlanc brought on striker Soria at halftime for Davis, and the Argentinian teenager looked more integrated into the system. Click here  for his game winner, a classic Philadelphia quick strike of three passes to create a shot.

In the 72nd  the Union took off young Sullivan and Meneses who is rebuilding fitness after injury for Olney and Tucker. Pariano came off for more recent injury recoverer Giovanny Sequera six minutes later in a like for like midfielder swap, and all three substitutes participated in the next two goals.

Crown Legacy’s tails seemed to drop after Westfield’s header. (Click here.) And Sequera to Olney nailed shut the door. (Click here.) The match illustrates perfectly Union head Coach Jim Curtin’s assertion that the Union’s system is designed to play with a lead.

A note of concern is that goalkeeper Andrew Rick received two yellow cards during stoppage time for time-wasting and will be suspended therefore. Whether Rick’s red card disqualifies him from sitting the Union’s bench as Oliver Semmle’s backup against Miami this Saturday is unclear. Holden Trent has not been listed as injured for the last few matches, so the position should be easily filled.

Cavan Sullivan

If match observers did not already know the diminutive but stocky midfielder was fourteen and a half, they would not have known it from his play.  He fit seamlessly into the 4-2-2-2 “empty bucket” system. We do not know whether the U17s use it, or whether he understands the game so well that adapting on the fly produces few glitches.

The key point is that he increased his game minutes to 72 from 60. That increase follows the conditioning pattern Jim Curtin has often used in preseasons past.  We suspect the younger Sullivan may return to Union II after MLS NEXT Cup and increase his games minutes to the full 90 once or twice.

After that point he might perhaps repeat the same conditioning process in first team games as way opens.

Next Match

Union II has a fortunate bye week during MLS NEXT Cup so Pierre and Sullivan will miss no time, and resumes play Wednesday, June 26 at 6:00 PM at Subaru Park against New York Red Bull II. The New Jerseyites will be smarting from having lost to a rival on their home turf  last time out, 5-1.

Three points plus one
  1. Gavin Wetzel graduated high school six days ago and celebrated with the first pass in the sequence of three that produced Soria’s game winner.
  2. CJ Olney started for the US U19s against Uruguay in Montevideo Tuesday night. That he played only the first 31 minutes there may reflect that he had to play 30 minutes Thursday night.
  3. Kudos are due to the entire Union II team, players and coaches both, for successfully storming and taking Crown Legacy’s home fortress  while missing two defensive starters, … with a clean sheet no less!
  4. Charlote FC homegrown striker Nimfasha Berchimas was also returning from Montevideo and the US U19s’ win over Uruguay, but he had little effect on the match unlike his erstwhile teammate Olney.



Union II (4-2-2-2 “empty bucket”, L-R)

Starters: Andrew Rick (Mike Sheridan 90+6′); Frank Westfield, Carlos Rojas, Neil Pierre, Gavin Wetzel; Jamir Berdecio, Randy Meneses (Kyle Tucker 72′); Cavan Sullivan (CJ Olney 78′), Nick Pariano (Giovanny Sequera 78′); Sal Olivas, Edward Davis III (Leandro Soria HT).

Unused Substitutes: John Andrus, Alex Perez.

Crown Legacy: (4-3-3)

Starters: Nick Holliday; JahLane Forbes (Chandler Young 79’), Julian Bravo, Assane Ouedraogo, Jack Neeley; Philip Mayaka, Filip Mirkovic (Jonathan Nyandjo 59’), Aron John, Cameron Duke (Nimfasha Berchimas 67’), Nicholas Scardina (Brian Romero 66’); Dylan Sing (Amare Lucas 79’ ).

Unused substitutes: Erik Pena, Chituru Odunze, Brandon Parrish, Josue Rodrigues.


PHI – Leandro Soria (Olivas) 65’
PHI – Francis Westfield (Tucker) 84’
PHI – CJ Olney (Sequera) 90’+4’


PHI – Jamir Berdecio (caution) 23’
CLFC – JahLane Forbes (caution) 29’
PHI – Nick Pariano (caution) 48’
PHI – Francis Westfield (caution) 77’
CLFC – Brian Romero (caution) 86’
PHI – Andrew Rick (caution) 90’+1’
PHI – Neil Pierre (caution) 90’+3’
PHI – Andrew Rick (second caution/ejection) 90’+5’

Whistle & Flags

REF: Matt Thompson, AR1: Stephen Milhoan , AR2: Sharon Gingrich , 4TH: William Steffen




  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Makhanya is actually the second option at center back tomorrow night given that Elliott is also out due to the red card against Montreal. I believe he and Vasquez were both held back from making the trip because they are expected to be on the roster for tomorrow’s game.
    While Sullivan looked reasonably good last night, his biggest contribution was giving Rick the chance to shine since he committed the foul that led to the free kick where Rick made his best save (on the only shot on goal either team had in the first half).
    Was Rick’s second yellow card for time wasting? That seems awfully strange and a poor job by the ref given that it was immediately after the third goal before the ball went back into play. I don’t think the card should affect Saturday’s game since it’s not like it’s affecting his U2 availability. I assume he’ll have to miss the game on the 26th and given that the Union’s closest game to that isn’t until the 29th, that shouldn’t be affected either. (Would be a different story if the suspension was for the game on July 6 when both teams play on the same day at overlapping times).

    • Tim Jones says:

      The announcer and the video feed completely missed both Rick yellow cards, Andy, so I have only a guess what caused them.
      The commentator was surprised by the red, and the video only showed Rick’s face as he was leaving the field. It displayed a thunderous frown.
      My comment of uncertainty regarding the impact of Rick’s availability tonight remembers the controversy surrounding Zach Pfeffer years ago when a first-team red meant he went and played for Harrisburg City Islanders his next time out since he could not play with the Union.
      Back then it was unclear whether Pfeffer should have been allowed to play for Harrisburg. We will see whether Rick is on the Union bench against Miami.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I saw the ref holding up the first yellow on the Apple feed right at the start of stoppage time and Rick was lining up to take a goal kick so I assume that one was typical keeper timewasting (although I don’t recall any sort of warning). The second one was definitely not on camera.

  2. Gruncle Bob says:

    I must say it again. “Crown Legacy” is a frighteningly stupid name.

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