Academy notebook: An awesome April, GA Cup sights and sounds and learning from the best

News and notes from the Union's youth academy system

Jeff Cook with U-16 academy

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

April was a good month for members of the Union’s youth academy.

All three divisions ended the month on a high with the U18 and U14s coming off wins at the weekend in Baltimore, while the U16s defended their title at the annual Generation adidas Cup final held this year in Frisco, Texas.

What is the GA Cup exactly?

Each year, in conjunction courtesy of a lucrative partnership with adidas, Major League Soccer holds this annual elite youth tournament for U-17 academy teams. The tournament, sponsored by adidas, focuses on player development and showcases the best teams in the country and in many cases, some of the League's the future stars.

As the youngest team to compete in the event, the U16s of the Union academy finished with six points in their group in the final stage. The Union, who won the Cup back-to-back in 2012 and 2013, had to compete in a pair of regional qualifying events before even competing in the national event.

“For me the week was a very good experience, for the squad I was pleased with how we performed,” Union U16 head coach Jeff Cook recently told philadelphiaunion.com.  “I think it gets them use to having to prepare and compete at a high level on a consistent basis.  One of the most difficult challenges was the number of games in a short space of time, so getting yourself kind of up for each game was not easy, from a perspective of preparation, recovery, focusing on the next game, dealing with results good or bad.  Trying to prepare yourselves to play, I think the guys really represented the club very well over the course of the week, in particular on the youth and development side we look at individual performances before we look at results, it was encouraging I think we had some standout performances over the course of the tournament.”

More on the sights and sounds of the GA Cup later…

The U18s enjoyed an undefeated month, tying area club Continental FC, in the beginning of the month and then capturing wins against Virginia Rush (6-1) followed by a 2-1 result over Baltimore Bays Chelsea. As for the U14s, it was much of the same as an undefeated also arrived with the group finding the back of the net an astounding 14 times over three matches this month.

May is the last month of U.S. Soccer’s Developmental Academy season and ending with on a high is the only goal.

“One of the good things is that the group is starting to grow a familiarity and anytime you have a group that knows each other’s tendencies and feel comfortable playing as a group then you can expect positive results,” U14 coach Chris Brewer told philadelphiaunion.com.

Generation adidas Cup: The Social Story

We could tell you the story of how this month’s GA Cup ended up for the Union U16 group but the Academy’s Twitter feed: @PhilaUnion_Acad did a phenomenal job of doing that for us. So we bring you some of the best tweets from a week that saw many of these players play three matches in an eight-day span.

And finally…

Earlier this month, members of the Union Academy’s staff sat in a guest lecture series from founder of the famed Burke Mountain Ski School Warren Witherell. Witherell, 90, told the story of how he founded an institution set on creating world class athletes, students and ambassadors for their community. The roundtable was designed to provide insight on how the newly minted YSC Academy can do much of the same with not just the roughly 40 student-athletes that attend the school, but for the athletes within the Union’s academy system.

Academy founder and part Union owner Richie Graham, who attended Burke Mountain, was also a part of the discussion and noted that many of the ideals wished for YSC Academy derived from the values of a school that has produced 29 Alpine ski Olympians, most recently Michaela Shiffrin, who captured gold in the slalom in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

“It’s important from the start that a child feels welcomed and accepted into a larger community and the way to do that is to let that child know right off the bat, from their first day at our school that they are a leader,” Witherell told the group. “A student that feels that they are equally as important as everyone else and are vital to the makeup of our school and its values instinctively feels as though they need to hold themselves to a higher standard. It becomes engrained. That’s what not only makes a successful athlete but in the long run in my opinion a successful person in life.

Want to learn more about the Union Academy? Visit philadelphiaunion.com/academy

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com