A full weekend of matches was headlined by a showdown between the Union and New England Revolution at the U15 and U17 levels, and friendlies among mixed-age Penn Fusion and Union sides at the U12 and U13 age groups.
The U17 Academy knocked off a previously-undefeated New England U17 side 4-1 on Sunday. Mexico Youth National Team player Diego Rocio opened the scoring off a high turnover, but the Revs quickly responded. Philly took that punch and responded well, organizing behind the ball and breaking forward to create chances that Luke Zielinski and Danny Krueger finished in the 31st and 44th minute. Rocio was back on the scoresheet in the second half to finish things off as the Union showed their quality at home.
Gavin Dehart’s 6th minute goal wasn’t the catalyst Henry Apaloo’s side needed as the U15s tied 1-1 against New England. A stop-and-start game with lots of physical moments prevented Philly from finding a rhythm on the ball and they leave the match knowing they have another gear they can hit even against quality, more physical opponents. Recent USYNT call-ups Anisse Saidi and Andrei Chirila continue to put in strong performances, and Apaloo will be heartened by the efforts Nehan Hasan and Nicholas Greer provided as well.
The U14s fell 1-0 against an older Penn Fusion team, but they can feel positive about the trouble the more physical side had with them. Willyam Ferreira has been sensational in the playmaking role this season, and Penn Fusion set out to prevent him from seeing the ball or playing it without a strong challenge. Still Ferreira picked them apart at times and Max Karl solidified the spine with a controlling performance at defensive midfield. Squads that can’t physically impose themselves on the 14s will continue to struggle, and this group will be well-prepared to step up to higher levels given how well they handled the physical challenge against Fusion.
A 3-2 loss to Penn Fusion’s 2009s was not a cause for concern for U13s head coach Willy Topp since the older side blitzed his young charges and forced early mistakes. In the second half, the team recovered and found new solutions, displaying a mentality that proves they are developing skills that allow them to adjust over the course of a match. The center backs targeted the space behind defenders and Penn couldn’t deal with the Union’s energy. Two wonderful goals ensued, and the Union U13s could have collected more with a better bounce or two.
Paul Nash’s U12s swept two matches last week, beginning with a 3-0 victory over FC DELCO on Wednesday and concluding with a 1-0 win over Penn Fusion’s U13s. After pouring 40 shots at the DELCO goal, the Union broke through against a well-organized low block. Christian Bracilli punched two in and Cody Sands added a third.
In a new challenge the 12s faced Penn Fusion’s older group in an 11v11 matchup with a heavier ball and larger field than they are used to. Still, the team immediately recognized the space they could attack and shifted the ball then created numerical advantages to keep the opponent’s physical advantage from overwhelming them. Ethan Wirtz tucked home his first of the year for the 1-0 win.
The academy is back in action next weekend with the 17s, 15s, and 14s challenging DC United.