A three match winning streak came to an end last weekend but Union II proved once again that a young side with so much talent can struggle for consistency in a back-and-forth match. A red card to Rochester just past the hour mark could have given Philly the impetus to even the scoreline, but a penalty on Brandan Craig just after the sending off put Marlon LeBlanc’s side down two and they couldn’t build a comeback. 

New England enters this match with a very similar record to Union II. Contributions from homegrowns like Damian Rivera have led to appearances in the first team and prevented New England Revolution II from finding consistency. 

A Friday match, then, means these two teams are likely to be very limited in how they can use their talented MLS homegrowns. At most, the Union’s homegrowns that have moved between Union and Union II this year — Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, and Jack McGlynn — will contribute 45 minutes (though Matt Freese may be available in goal for LeBlanc)

Given these variables, LeBlanc will look to his young attacking corps to make a big impression. Bajung Darboe, Nelson Pierre, and Jose Riasco are brimming with potential but haven’t found a rhythm this year. Chris Donovan has been a consistent threat and will need to find his scoring touch up top as well. 

Union II had seven corner kicks against Rochester NY last weekend, and in Brandan Craig they have one of the best dead ball deliveries in US soccer. Converting some of those set plays into chances will make an enormous difference as LeBlanc’s side looks to take control of the phases of the game that create marginal gains. 

Tune in on Friday, May 27th at 7:00 p.m. on MLSNextPro.com as Union II and Revolution II meet for the first time in MLS NEXT Pro action.