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Looking at the Philadelphia Union II depth chart ahead of the MLS Next Pro season opener



Photo by Matthew Ralph

Philadelphia Union II will be kicking off their second season in MLS Next Pro on Sunday when Orlando City B comes to town. As always, the roster for the Philadelphia Union’s second team is a fluid one that includes players on professional second team contracts, first team players and unsigned academy prospects.

Here’s a look at a position by position breakdown of what’s available to head coach Marlon LeBlanc this season. Thirty-two players are listed here but as is always the case with the schedule, form and injuries additional first team players (like Quinn Sullivan and Jack McGlynn) and academy players could be called into the team.


As the third keeper for the first team, MLS SuperDraft pick Holden Trent (22) will certainly spend time getting minutes with Union II. Trent was drafted out of High Point because he has a lot of the attributes the Union look for in a keeper. He’s quick off his line, good with his feet and was a reliable shot stopper in college.

Indiana native Brooks Thompson (20) is back for a second season with Union II. That the Union didn’t sign him as a third keeper but brought him back is probably indicative that they see promise but don’t see Thompson quite at MLS level yet.

Andrew Rick (17) has been one of the Union Academy’s top prospects for a few years now and this season will be a great opportunity for him to really show what he can do at the pro level. Like Tomas Romero (Toronto FC) before him he’ll be given those opportunities to shine at the pro level this season. U17 goalkeeper Gavin Atkinson is getting reps in training and could also be an option.

Center Backs

Though he turns 19 in a couple weeks it’s hard to believe Brandan Craig is still so young given how poised he is leading the back line. He’s shown in his Union II performances that he’s closer to MLS level than he is to Next Pro but he now has three accomplished CBs in front of him with the addition of Damion Lowe.

Gino Portella (22) is healthy and ready to compete for a starting job after spending time with the first team and Union II in preseason. He’s battled injuries the last two years so he’s still an unknown but with Brandan Craig away on international duty and in the first team depth chart he could earn a lot of minutes this season.

Nathan Nkanji (21) was a bit of an unknown coming into the team last year after impressing in a preseason friendly for a UPSL team in Florida. He showed a lot of promise last season but also needs to be more consistent. Center back is such a position of strength in the Union organization so the bar has been set pretty high.

Hugo Le Guennec (23) is listed on the Union II roster on the website but hasn’t officially been announced as an addition to the team. The French center back spent the last four seasons at Rutgers.

Daniel Krueger (17) is one of the top center back prospects in his age group in the country because of his combination of size, quickness and nimbleness at the position. He represented the Union in the MLS Next All-Star Game last year and is in a good place to battle for pro minutes in his last full season before graduating high school. Though I have him listed as a center back he can also play in the midfield.

Devon Stopek (18) has impressed with the Union Development Squad and will be available this season before reporting to Rutgers.

Right Back

Francis Westfield (17) logged a ton of minutes last year (1,504) at right back and is the presumed starter heading into the season. Similar in his game on the right side as Kai Wagner is on the left side for the first team, Westfield will be a player to watch this season both in terms of his development and how he contributes to the team on both sides of the ball.

Noe Uwimana (18) is a Virginia Tech commit who can play as an outside back or midfielder. He’s explosive going forward in either position.

Left Back

With Kai Wagner and Matt Real ahead of him on the depth chart with the first team, Anton Sorenson (20) will have something to prove this season with Union II.

Juan Castillo (20) will be giving Sorenson some competition for minutes at left back after logging 42 appearances in the USL Championship with New York Red Bulls II.

Luke Martelli (17) is staying locally for college at Villanova so he should be able to get an extended look with the second team this season. He’s another player who has impressed with the Union Development Squad and fits the Union model of outside back who can get up and down the lines and contribute on both sides of the field.


Jesus Bueno (23) is probably past the point of playing at this level but with minutes hard to come by in the first team midfield he’ll be able to stay sharp playing back with Union II at times this season. He’s shown his value to the team in his time with the first team in Champions League play and had a standout preseason with the first team in Florida.

Jeremy Rafanello (22) is still awaiting his first team debut so in the meantime he should get a lot of opportunities with Union II again in what will be his first full season with the organization since returning to sign a homegrown deal last year.

Richard Odada (22) is away on international duty with Kenya so he won’t be available this weekend but he will likely be in line to get a lot of time with Union II this season. He’s been promising in the minutes he’s played and is such a commanding presence in the midfield he could be key to their success.

Pedro Alvarez (21) is a newcomer to the team from Venezuela who we haven’t had a chance to see yet with all of the preseason matches unavailable to watch.

Boubacar Diallo (20) was a key contributor to the team last year with 23 appearances and 13 starts, contributing a goal and an assist.

Maike Villero (22) is back after logging 339 minutes last season. Villero’s versatility is an asset and he’ll look to battle for more minutes this season.

Logan Oliver (18) is a tough and reliable midfielder who provides leadership in the middle of the park. He’s headed to Bloomington in the fall to join Indiana but will battle for minutes in Next Pro in the meantime.

David Vazquez (17) is one of the top midfield prospects in the academy right now who recently returned from a standout performance with the U.S. Under-17s in the Concacaf U-17 Championship. He’s a creative midfielder who will look to influence play in the minutes he’s able to earn this season.

Anthony Ramirez (17) is committed to High Point but will want to make the most of his minutes after logging 164 last season.

CJ Olney (16) will look to make an imprint in training and earn minutes this season after a 10-minute cameo last year. Olney is perhaps strongest out wide in the attack and can break down defenders 1v1.

Alex Perez (16) has moved around a bit in his time with the academy since being recruited from Las Vegas. He’s a captain for the U17s right now playing as an attacking midfielder.


Jose Riasco (19) came in with quite a bit of fanfare as a tall No. 9 from Venezuela. After a year adjusting to the team he’ll hope to make a big jump and lead the front line as a goal-scoring threat.

Nelson Pierre (18) recently signed a first team deal but will continue to earn a bulk of his minutes with this group this season. Pierre’s pace and athleticism is off the charts but he’ll want to hone other areas of his game this season as he pushes for Jim Curtin to include him in the first team plans.

Stefan Stojanovic (22) had an up and down first season with Union II but he showed an ability to fit into the model of Union forward that can keep defenses on their heels. If he can be more productive with his chances he could be in line for a first team deal after the Union used a draft pick to acquire his MLS rights.

Chris Donovan (22) has had mixed returns in his performances with the first team and will want to build confidence again when he gets his chances with Union II.

Marcello Mazzolla (18) has been a prolific goal-scorer in his academy years and is a forward (or false 9) who can give you a different look in the attack.

Luciano Sanchez (18) is solid in the air and can be a weapon on set pieces. He’s headed to play at Rutgers with Devon Stopek and a number of other former Union II players in the fall but should get some looks in Next Pro before that time comes.

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

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