CHESTER, Pa. — Jacen Russel-Rowe got on the end of a cross from Alexandru Matan in the 56th minute to score the lone goal for Columbus Crew 2 and hand Philadelphia Union II their first loss of the MLS Next Pro era at Subaru Park on Sunday.
Union II head coach Marlon LeBlanc had arguably his strongest side of the young season so far with nine first team players in the starting XI a day after the first team narrowly defeated the Crew 1-0.
Academy amateur Jackson Gilman started at right back and rookie forward Stefan Stojanovic were the only non-first team players in the starting lineup. Stuart Findlay made recorded his first appearance for the second team and paired with Brandan Craig while Crew 2 had a formidable defensive pair of their own in Josh Williams and Philip Quinton as the center back pairing. Aidan Morris was also in the lineup and was sharp on the day completing 89.3 percent of his passes.
Much like the first team game, the two teams were pretty evenly matched throughout and didn’t concede many clear chances. The big difference of course was that instead of an early goalkeeper miscue, it was the 56th minute goal from Russel-Rowe that decided the match when he headed in a floating ball from Matan at the back post.
Union II ended up with a 7-6 advantage on shots (4-3 on target) but wasn’t able to create too many clear chances while the Crew 2 defense bent but didn’t break in standing up to the Union pressure.
One big chance to find an equalizer did come in the 66th minute for Union II when Chris Donovan pressured a back pass and deflected a clearance by Crew 2 keeper Brady Scott way off his line to a teammate but the shot at the open net was headed away before reaching the goal. Union II had another chance to tie things up with 11 minutes to go but Quinton was able to deny the opportunity with a well timed tackle.
For his part, Matt Freese also did his part to keep the game to a one-goal deficit when he stepped up to make a big save in the 75th minute after the Crew were knocking on the door with a cut back pass from the end line.
Union II is off this weekend ahead of a road trip to Chicago to face Chicago Fire II at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Ill. on April 24, at 7 p.m.
CLB – Jacen Russel-Rowe (Alexandru Matan) 56’
PHI – Jesus Bueno (caution) 16’
CLB – Aidan Morris (caution) 20’
PHI – Carlos Paternina (caution) 88’
Philadelphia Union II: Matt Freese; Matt Real, Stuart Findlay, Brandon Craig, Jackson Gilman; Cole Tuner; Jack McGlynn (Boubacar Diallo 79’), Jesus Bueno (Juan Perdomo 66’); Paxten Aaronson (Ian Abbey 79’); Quinn Sullivan (Carlos Paternina 66’), Stefan Stojanovic (Chris Donovan 46’).
Substitutes not used: Nathan Nkanji, Jack Jasinski, Brooks Thompson, Damian Alguera.
Columbus Crew 2: Brady Scott; Abdi Mohamed, Philip Quinton, Josh Williams (Jake Morris 67’); Mohamed Farsi, Aidan Morris (Isaac Angking 66’), Sean Zawadzki, Will Sands (Coleman Gannon 90+3’); Marco Micaletto (Noah Fuson 67’), Jacen Russel-Rowe, Alexandru Matan (Michael Vang 73’).
Substitutes not used: Quinton Elliot, Stephen Yerian, Jordan Knight.