Our Philadelphia Union Academy teams hosted DC United this past weekend, with another opportunity to test themselves against top notch competition.
The Union Academy U-18's, coached by Jim Curtin, put together an extremely impressive 4-0 victory over DC United's U-18's on Saturday afternoon at YSC. In what was a complete, all-around performance, we enjoyed success on both sides of the ball against a very good opponent. Over the last eight weeks, our coaches and myself have continued to stress the importance of attacking and defending as a team so it was extremely encouraging to see the players' hard work and commitment pay off.
Offensively, the Union U-18's were led by Darius Madison, who scored three goals and also added the assist on Cam Alexander's goal. The U-18's were also given a major boost with the inclusion of Zach Pfeffer into the lineup, as he played all 90 minutes, registered two assists, and helped control the tempo of the game. Melvin Snoh was also extremely effective working on the flanks and playing as an outside midfielder.
Defensively, Todd Pratzner captained the team once again and led the back four to another solid performance. In goal, Zack Steffen made big saves whenever called upon to earn the shutout.
This performance from the U-18's helps to build off the standard that was set a few weeks ago, as we continue to strive to get better each time we step on the field. To enjoy this type of success against a team as strong as DC United only helps reiterate the importance and benefit of training in a professional environment on a consistent basis.
It gives me great pride to know that we are headed on the right path with our youth academy system. Although development is by far the most important facet of our training program, a fantastic result against a strong opponent is always great reward for the work all the players and staff have put in.
Our Union Academy U-16's took on DC United's U-16's in the second match of the day and got off to a great start with Colton Amidon's first half goal. However, DC United answered back with two goals of their own from Christian Rodrigues and Cristhyan Najar to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.
The second half was extremely entertaining, with both sides pushing to score and creating numerous opportunities. In the end, DC held on to earn a 2-1 victory. The Union U-16's received strong performances from Amidon, Mike Desiderio, and Cameron Keys. Once again, it was another valuable experience for all our players to play against top level competition. With each game, our youth players gain knowledge of what playing at a high level is all about.
Overall, it was an extremely positive weekend that was capped off with the first team's victory in Seattle to claim first place in the Eastern Conference.
MLS Cup champion and two-time MLS All-Star Alecko Eskandarian serves as Philadelphia Union's Youth Technical Director. Follow him on Twitter at @Alecko11.