Union II

Youthful Union II rally for 2-1 win over New England Revolution II


Philadelphia Union II saw six debuts in their comeback victory over New England on Sunday night with Sal Olivas getting the match winner for a memorable first professional goal.

Just like a week ago, Union II found itself behind in the first half after the visitors opened the scoring early but the Boys in Blue battled back with Kyle Tucker’s cross deflecting off Revs II defender Hesron Barry. The final half saw four members of Philadelphia Union Academy make their club debuts with Cavan Sullivan setting up the game winner with a perfectly placed pass to spring Olivas in the 81st minute for the far post finish.

Prolifically one of the youngest teams in MLS NEXT Pro, Union II continued that run in their second league match with seven players in the Starting XI under 20 years old. That translated to a fast start for the home side with Union Academy midfielder Alex Perez going for goal off a free kick in the fourth minute that forced a save as the ball snuck under the wall. A few moments later the Union were back in the attack with a quick counter seeing Kyle Tucker send Jamir Berdecio into space on the right side for a crossing opportunity. The Union right back picked out Eddy Davis near the penalty spot but a quick turn and shoot resulted in a Revolution II save by goalkeeper Max Weinstein.

Despite the early scoring chances for Union II, the opening goal came from New England as they made the most of their first chance of the afternoon. After earning a free kick, the visitors went quick to get the ball out wide to Marcos Dias who connected with Alex Monis for the one-time finish in the ninth minute.

New England nearly doubled its advantage in the 19th minute after a long spell of possession saw space created outside Union II’s defensive area. Collin Smith raced into the attack for a blast into the upper corner that was denied by a leaping stop by Mike Sheridan in his professional debut.

Union II continued to pressure the backline with the attack earning a free kick chance at the half hour mark. Captain Kyle Tucker turned to a play off the training ground going short to Frank Westfield before getting the ball back out on the left side. With the defense resetting its position, Tucker fired in a cross that hit off a defender and into the back of the net to level the match at 1-1.

Both teams pushed for the lead going into the break with Union II having the first attempt early on in stoppage time as Sal Olivas and Eddy Davis combined in the box but were unable to beat the keeper as he came off the line. On the other end, New England  attempted to create chaos in front of the Union II goal but strong defense from Randy Meneses and Westfield snuffed out the scoring chances inside the box.

Just like last weekend, Philly came out of the half looking to turn up the pressure to create scoring chances. Just minutes into the second half, Sal Olivas gained possession at the top of the box and blasted a right-footed shot but curled just over the crossbar. Giovanny Sequera forced an interception in the 53rd minute and quickly got the ball to the feet of Davis for another Union II counter. Leading a 3v2 charge, the Union Academy forward beat his man with just the keeper to beat but the inside out shot was stopped.

Head Coach Marlon LeBlanc made his first change of the contest in the 56th minute of play with the MLS NEXT Pro debut of Cavan Sullivan in place of Perez. Philly continued with its aggressive forward passing with a threaded ball from Nick Pariano sending Westfield into the box but again left denied by the keeper.

With the hosts dominated early on in the final half, chances were hard to come by for New England. Sheridan remained ready with two big saves in the 61st and 66th minute with perfect positioning to make difficult stops look easy.

Two more MLS NEXT Pro debuts occurred with 20 minutes remaining in the contest as Kellan LeBlanc and Diego Rocio took to the pitch at Subaru Park in place of Giovanny Sequera and Eddy Davis III.

Union II finally broke through in the 81st minute when Sullivan took possession and ripped a forward pass toward the box for Olivas. With one man to beat, the Union Academy product hit a perfectly placed ball to beat the keeper and lift Union II into the lead.

Trailing by a goal with such little time left, Revs II threw everything they had at the young defense but the hosts kept their composure to maintain their perfect start to the 2024 league season.

Philadelphia Union II hits the road for the first time in 2024 when they take on Chicago Fire II on Thursday, March 28th. Kick off from the Windy City is set for 7PM ET with coverage on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.