Philadelphia Union II’s 2023 campaign came to an end on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium after falling to New England Revolution II in the first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs. Despite a valiant second half effort off the bench from Boubacar Diallo and Juan Castillo, Union II lost 3-2.
New England Revolution II gained the lead in the 26th minute with a penalty kick conversion when forward Joshua Bolma drew a foul from Frankie Westfield in the penalty area, earning a chance for his squad. Marcos Dias took the shot from the spot, sneaking past Philly keeper Andrew Rick to make it 1-0.
Union II’s opponent wouldn't relinquish their lead throughout the remainder of the match as midfielder Esmir Bajraktarevic unleashed a relentless second half attack that quickly became a brace. It started in the 55th minute, when he ripped a top left corner shot after a pass from Jordan Adebayo-Smith. He found another less than 10 minutes later off a free kick, extending his squad’s lead to 3-0.
Head Coach Clint Peay replaced the 18-year-old from Wisconsin shortly after in the 67th minute, while Philadelphia’s leader made a game-changing substitution of his own. Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc added in Juan Castillo and Boubacar Diallo, replacing Hugo Le Guennec and David Vazquez.
After 10 minutes on the field, Castillo reclaimed momentum with a 78th minute goal, sparking life into Union II’s attack. Boubacar Diallo followed suit, drawing a foul in the 81st minute that gave him a chance to take a left footed penalty kick from the spot. His shot hit the bottom left corner, minimizing the squad’s deficit to 3-2.
Needing just one more goal to equalize, Union II persisted through the final minutes, but ultimately were unable to find a last chance score. The match finished 3-2, sending New England Revolution II to the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference Semifinals.