UnionII-Preview-May21

Paxten Aaronson tucked home the winner against Inter Miami CF on Monday and suddenly Union II were within touching distance of first place in MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern Conference. 

A three-match winning streak has rocketed Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc’s side up the standings as a mix of Union II and Philadelphia Union players have melded into a powerful force. 

Though Aaronson’s goal secured the win, Philadelphia Union II’s defensive solidity has provided the platform for their recent success. After giving up three to Chicago Fire FC II, LeBlanc’s group has closed up shop, giving up only two goals in three games while scoring five. 

Importantly, the goals have come from across the group of attackers Union II rolls out. Nelson Pierre and Chris Donovan have both contributed up top and Jose Riasco is waiting in the wings for an extended run to prove he can fill the onion bag as well. 

With so much speed up top, it’s important for Union II to maintain a high line and keep a tight shape in transition. Leadership in back from Matt Freese, Brandan Craig, and Nathan Nkanji has helped the team cut down on the big chances that undercut their strong performances prior to May. 

Now this looks like a team with a solid base and potential breakout stars across the formation. Nkanji’s consistency has been impressive and Bajung Darboe continues to look for spaces to create around the attacking line. 

Maintaining a winning streak during a three-match road trip is, however, not as easy task. Following Rochester, Philly heads to New England and Toronto before welcoming Chicago back to town for a rematch of April’s high-scoring affair. 

On the other side, Rochester NY FC came out of the gates slow but has turned the page in May with back-to-back wins to against FC Cincinnati 2 and 4-1 result against Inter Miami CF II.

Catch the first-ever matchup between Union II and Rochester NY FC at 6:00 p.m. ET on MLSNEXTPro.com with live updates on Twitter at @PhilaUnionII.