GA Cup: Union U-17's impress vs. FC Dallas, fall in penalties
MLS Cup champion and two-time MLS All-Star Alecko Eskandarian joined the Union as Youth Technical Director on June 15. Currently in Frisco, Texas with the Union U-17 academy team for the Generation adidas Cup, Eskandarian checks in after the second day of competition.
Good morning again from Dallas!
After a good win on Monday night vs. the Seattle Sounders, our Philadelphia Union Academy U17's took on FC Dallas in the Generation adidas Cup last night to determine who would be sitting in first place with one game left to play in the group stage.
Coming into this event, I'm pretty sure most people would have picked Dallas as the favorites to win our group since they boast an extremely talented group of players who were members of the US U-17 National Team in the U-17 World Cup.
Last night, after a hard-fought 0-0 draw in regulation, they defeated us 5-3 in a penalty shootout. However, I think our boys gained something much more important than three points: respect.
For 80 minutes, our players had the better of the play and dictated the pace of the game as we put in another great performance against one of the top teams in this competition. Unfortunately, soccer can be a very cruel sport sometimes, and I am gutted for our boys because they deserved something more out of all the effort they put in.
We started five new players vs. FC Dallas, and each one of them picked up right where our starters from last game left off.
Billy McConnell put in a fantastic performance playing alongside Shane Campbell at center back, as the two of them warded off any attack Dallas generated. Keeping an attacking team like Dallas off the scoresheet is an impressive feat and a testament to our back four, the communication of our goalkeeper Zack Steffen, and also the pressure and organization of all our midfielders and forwards, especially Christian Kaschack.
Offensively, we are extremely pleased with our combinations and movement off the ball as we created many opportunities, including a first half goal by Brett Campbell that was curiously called back and Zach Pfeffer's amazing run through the Dallas defense late in the match only to have his shot hit the crossbar.
All of our subs again had a positive impact on the game for us as we earned a tie, and Head Coach Jim Curtin has been very pleased with the effort from all our players thus far.
Regardless of the standings, though, we will look forward to another difficult game vs. KC and exposing our players to top competition. It is not every week that our players have the opportunity to compete against the top youth players in the country from all over the US, so we are taking advantage of this wonderful experience that the GA Cup has provided.
Today, we have planned out a day of regeneration for our players to recover from two tough games and allow their bodies to heal up. We continue to stress the importance of being young professionals and taking care of their bodies in between matches in order to perform at our best.
After some meetings and meals, our team will head over to Pizza Hut Park to watch the MLS All-Star game tonight. All of our players are extremely excited to see Faryd Mondragón represent the Union, along with all the other All-Stars, as they take on Manchester United.
UNION U-17'S TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE & RESULTS
July 25 - Union 1, Sounders 0
July 26 - FC Dallas 0, Union 0 (Dallas wins PK's 5-3)
July 28 - Union vs. Sporting KC - 8:15 p.m.
July 29 - Playoffs
July 31 - Playoffs continued and championship
CLICK HERE for full tournament schedule.
ABOUT THE GENERATION ADIDAS CUP
Formerly known as the SUM Cup, the Generation adidas Cup is the premier youth tournament in the country. Bringing together U-17 squads from 16 MLS Development Academies to compete, the tournament allows each team to see how they stack up against other player development systems from around the league.
The 2011 edition, hosted at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, will see each team advance to the semifinal and final round to ultimately be ranked 1-16. Since there is no elimination, each team will play a total of five games.