Union II

Union II look strong start for 2024 against Toronto FC II


Philadelphia Union II will embark on their 2024 MLS NEXT Pro campaign on Sunday, hosting Toronto FC II at Subaru Park to open their season. Don't miss the action starting at 3PM free on MLS Season Pass.

After more than two months of training at both the WSFS Bank Sportsplex fields in Chester and Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in Clearwater, Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc is confident his new-look squad is well-prepared for the challenge ahead. 

“The guys have been at it for about 11 weeks now since we brought them back for soft start in early January. We had a fantastic trip down to Clearwater and we were able to play some pretty good opponents over that time period – two or three USL Championship-level teams that we had to finish off in our exhibition schedule,” LeBlanc said, recapping their preseason preparations. “Really pleased with where the group is right now.”

That group, however, isn’t set quite yet – but that’s expected for Union II, as they have historically kept a very fluid roster throughout the season. With coming and going first team players, frequent amateur call-ups from the Philadelphia Union Academy, and potential new signings on the horizon, LeBlanc won’t always send out the same faces and formation each week. Their ability to adjust and integrate new personnel, however, is what he believes makes his squad so special. 

“Because we have this philosophy of building from within and our foundation being our academy, our ability to seamlessly bring guys in and out of our team is a strength,” LeBlanc said.

Giovanny Sequera

New Additions

In the offseason, Union II’s crew was fortified with international experience, adding midfielder Giovanny Sequera and defender Randy Meneses to the group on loan from South American clubs.

Sequera comes from Metropolitanos F.C., where he played in Venezuela’s top tier league making four appearances in FUTVE and two in Copa Libertadores. The 18-year-old has also made 10 caps for Venezuela’s U17 National team. As for Meneses, the 19-year-old joins from Ecuador’s first division, where he played for LDU Quito’s U20 squad starting in 2021. Before that, he played for CD El Nacional’s U20 squad. Internationally, he’s earned five caps for Ecuador’s U20 National Team squad.

CJ Olney and Carlos Rojas

The Pathway 

It’s a new year, but Union II hasn’t wavered in its core philosophies. The team is committed to developing and utilizing talent within. and it has shown as the team announced two signings from the Philadelphia Union Academy since last season’s close. 

The first to put pen to paper in the offseason was 17-year-old  midfielder CJ Olney, who was an offensive force to be reckoned with on the MLS NEXT Pro stage as an amateur in 2023. Olney joined the academy in 2021, and when he signed his professional contract, he became the club’s fifth academy player to earn an MLS NEXT Pro deal. Last season, he started all 23 matches he participated in, totaling four goals and eight assists for Union II.

The next to sign a pro contract was David Vazquez, who started in eight of his 22 second team appearances last year. He tallied five goals and two assists in that time, all the while standing out on the international stage with the USMNT U17 squad. He earned 17 appearances for the United States, standing out most in the 2023 CONCACAF U-17 Championship when he registered four assists on the way to a second-place finish that secured a 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup berth. On November 21, he scored his first goal in the 2023 U-17 World Cup Round of 16 against Germany.

Vazquez, Pariano and Ngabo

First team Contribution

Similarly to the 2023 season, there will be a contingent of first team reinforcements featured in Union II training and matches this year. Nick Pariano, Olwethu Makhanya, Sanders Ngabo, and Jamir Berdecio have all signed Major League Soccer contracts within the past six months, and minutes with the second team will be essential to their development. The first team will likely be missing more than a few players come the spring and summer due to international call-ups and with game-pace minutes under their belts, this group of players will be better prepared should they be asked to step into a bigger role.

“I think my biggest job is to support them and to support them in a role that they're going to have with Jim and with the first team,” LeBlanc said. “The Jack McGlynns, the Quinn Sullivans started with us. Jesus Bueno was with us two years ago and what a breakout season he had last year. My job is to continue to be someone that's there to support them and create an environment that they want to be in.”

Cavan Sullivan

Fresh Academy Faces

There’s a new generation of Philadelphia Union Academy players who will supplement the signed Union II roster this year, and many of those names were part of the U-17 roster that won the prestigious Generation adidas cup in Spring 2023. That group includes USYNT standout Cavan Sullivan, who made his first appearance with the squad during preseason in Clearwater, Florida.

Matchday One

Toronto FC II will come to Philadelphia with a handful of new talent in tow – in the last month alone, the Canadian side signed five new players and re-signed defender Antony Curic and Julian Altobelli from last season’s group. In addition to the pair, Head Coach Gianni Cimini also retained seven players from his 2023 squad, as announced in their year end roster move announcement. Last season, Union II matched up with Toronto FC on three occasions, tallying a draw in April and July, then claiming a 5-3 win in September.

On Sale Now!

On Sale Now!

Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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