U16s conclude IberCup run in the finals


Philadelphia Union Academy's U-16 played seven games in four days but came up just short of the title as they fell in the IberCup Cascais Elite Final to Deportivo Coruna, 1-0.

Deportivo Coruna 1, Philadelphia Union 0
March 31, 2024

The first half saw just why the Spanish side is considered one of the top Academies in the country as they pressed every inch of the turf. The Union held strong despite a lack of possession, relying on their defense and goalkeeper Ali Merhi to keep a first half shutout. Merhi was tested early on as Coruna found an inch of space in the opening minute to rip a shot from outside the box but the keeper made the acrobatic stop. The keeper was called upon again in the fourth minute as the opposition turned to a trick play off a corner kick that targeted the near post but the Union got the stop.

With Deportivo Corona owning the majority of the ball, the Union turned to their direct attack to release the pressure and found a few moments to get the opening goal. Gabriel Wesseh presented the first scoring chance as he raced out front in the eighth minute but saw his shot in the box blocked by a defender. Daniel Dixon followed up in the 19th minute on the right side but saw a defender time his tackle perfectly in the box to prevent the shot from leaving his boot.

With halftime approaching both sides pushed for one final scoring chance with the opposition getting another set piece chance that created a chaotic scramble in front of the Union but the Baby Snakes prevailed. Just before the break, semifinal star Nehan Hassan came within inches of the first goal as he saw his shot crash off the post.

Deportivo’s Leandro Altieri de Leon delivered the opening goal in the 31st minute of play, taking a pass into the box and curling a shot just inside the post for the 1-0 lead.

Facing a side that had yet to concede a goal in the entire tournament, the Union leaned on its defense to create an equalizer. That moment came in the 40th minute as Philly intercepted the keeper’s throw and went right back at the defense. Luis Oliveira got the ball at the top of the box and timed a pass perfectly into stride as Hasan ran into the box. The keeper raced off his line and helped rush the shot just wide of the post.

Philadelphia Union U-16s continue their tour of Europe next week with games against Rayo Vallecano, CD Toledo and Getafe set for April 2-4. All matches will be streamed live with more information available here.

Philadelphia Union 2, Associacao Torre 0
March 31, 2024

After kick off was delayed by 30 minutes, the semifinal kicked off with the opposition earning the first scoring chance of the match in the fourth minute of play. Eager to attack from well outside the box, Associacao Torre ripped a shot destined for the upper corner only to be denied by a remarkable leaping save in net from goalkeeper Ali Merhi.

The Union’s first scoring chance came in the seventh minute of play as Nehan Hasan threaded a ball into the box that sent Gabriel Wessah 1v1 against the keeper who made the stop. The U16s kept battling and found the opener less than a minute later as Hasan chased down a flick into the box that the keeper couldn’t hold onto and curled it around a trio of defenders for the 1-0 lead.

Both sides exchanged half chances throughout the rest of the opening half but at the break it was the Union that held the lead and quickly doubled its advantage shortly after the final 25-minute period kicked off. A long throw in was the catalyst as the ball bounced off the turf and Hasan positioned his body to lean his defender off balance. As the ball bounced by he quickly was into the box with just the keeper to beat and he succeeded with a deft left-footed finish on the turf to make it 2-0 in the 28th minute of play.

The U16s go for the title later today as they'll face a rematch of their only group stage loss in the event in Deportivo Coruna. Kick off for the IberCup final is set for 6:50AM ET and will be streamed for free on the Union's YouTube channel accessible by clicking here.

Philadelphia Union 1, Estorial Praia 0
March 30, 2024

Despite playing their fourth game in two days, the U16s showed little fatigue early on as they pressed their opposition from the opening whistle. With little room to operate, the Union defense kept Estorial Praia pinned on their half of the pitch. The Union took advantage with their first set piece chance requiring a diving stop in the fifth minute to deny Emmanuel Clark’s header as the opening goal. On the ensuing corner, Philly covered with a second effort finish from Luis Oliveira opening the scoring in the Quarterfinal as the forward netted his fourth goal of the day.

The Union effort continued with the high pressure with a 14th minute play from Daniel Dixon nearly doubling their advantage. Dixon gained possession just outside the 18-yard-box and cut inside before ripping a pass tot the back post for Olivera for the tap in but the connection just missed by an inch.

The final half saw the Portugal side push numbers into the box to find an equalizer with a pair of corner kicks putting the defense to the test in the 35th minute. The Boys in Blue held their ground to prevent a shot on goal and gain an extra gear as fatigue set in. That momentum nearly turned itself into a second goal as they turned to another set piece chance for Clark in the 39th minute however it was just off the mark. Estorial Praia get a chance of their own 30 seconds later but goalkeeper Ali Merhi reacted perfectly to make the big stop.

With the win the Boys in Blue will face off against Associacao Torre in the semifinals with kick off from Portugal set for 4:30PM ET. The match will be streamed as always for free on the Union's YouTube channel.

Philadelphia Union 4, Atletico CP 0
March 30, 2024

Philadelphia Union Academy's U-16 began its run in the IberCup Cascais Elite Knockouts with a 2-0 win over Atletico CP in their Round of 16 contest, Saturday in Portugal.

The U16s came out on the front foot from the opening kick off, forcing the Portuguese side to stay on their side of the pitch for much of the first half. After four set piece attempts nearly produced the opening goal, the U16s broke through in the 19th minute as Brett Seemuller whipped in a cross that Luis Oliveira finished at the near post.

Less than a minute after the second half resumed, the Union had doubled their advantage with again a darting run from the right side of the attack. Seemuller took possession after a long switch of possession and threaded a pass into the box between a pair of defenders for Oliveira to score the one-timer on the ground.

The Boys in Blue then erupted with back-to-back goals in two minutes as Oliveria completed his hat trick performance and was promptly followed up by a strike from Daniel Dixon in the 42nd minute of play.

Deportivo Coruna 3, Philadelphia Union 0
March 29, 2024

Hitting the pitch just 90 minutes after their comeback win against K.A.A. Gent on Friday, the U16s faced their toughest matchup of the Group Stage against Deportivo Coruna. The Spanish side lived up to their hype as they entered the match having yet to concede a goal via 2-0 wins over Gent and Atletico Madrid.

Coruna jumped out to an early lead with a goal in the ninth minute with a finish from Leandro Altieri De León. Just before the break, they doubled their advantage to claim all the momentum as Miguel De Labra Tuñez found the back of the net in the 21st minute. With the Union side pushing all their numbers into the attack in order like they had done in their previous two games of the tournament, Coruna hit back with a third goal in the 52nd minute.

The U-16s finish Group A as runners-up in the group and head to the knockout bracket where they'll face off against Portuguese side Atletico CP on Saturday, March 30th at 9AM ET. Like the Union, Atletico CP finished in second place in their group, starting the tournament off with a doubleheader that netted them a win CF Os Unidos by a 2-1 margin and a loss to CD Cova da Piedade by a 3-0 scoreline. In the group finale, the team from Portugal picked up a 2-1 win over Doncaster Elite to secure second place.

Philadelphia Union 2, K.A.A. Gent 1
March 29, 2024

The U-16s started off Day 2 at IberCup Cascais Elite with a 2-1 comeback win against Belgium's K.A.A. Gent.

The U16s faced a feisty Gent team with neither side conceding a single second ball chance. It was the visitors that broke the scoring open first with a 19th minute finish just before the break with a difficult cross to the back post.

The Boys in Blue battled back after the break, needing just 40 seconds to find an equalizer. It was the Union's philosophy on display as they forced a turnover in the midfield and quickly shot a pass forward where Emmanuel Clark was 1v1 with the keeper as he came off his line. The forward got around the Belgium goalkeeper and slotted it into the back of the net for the 1-1 scoreline in the 30th minute. Three minutes later the Union found the winner with a perfectly placed goal kick from keeper Ali Merhi to spring Luis Oliveira free over the Gent defense. 1v1 the midfielder was clinical with a smooth finish for the game winning goal in the 33rd minute.

Philadelphia Union 1, Atletico Madrid 1
March 28, 2024

Philadelphia Union Academy's U-16 began its IberCup Cascais Elite run with a 1-1 draw against Spain's Atletico Madrid.

Playing in Cascais, Portugal, the Boys in Blue were matched up with one of Europe's most prestigious clubs and didn't show any fear as the two sides exchanged scoring chances in the opening half. Neither side gave an inch in the wet conditions with the first half knotted up at 0-0.

A tremendous individual play from Nehan Hasan opened the scoring for the U-16s, as he collected a pass on the left flank and beat four defenders and the keeper for the difficult finish from close range in the 33rd minute of play. Atletico however late in the contest with a half chance finish off a cross that beat the keeper in the 48th minute that saw both sides earn a point.

Philadelphia Union 2, S.L. Benfica 0
March 26, 2024

Philadelphia Union Academy’s U-16 squad opened its European journey on Tuesday afternoon with a resounding performance as they knocked off S.L. Benfica by a 2-0 margin.

Guillermo Hamdan Zaragoza's side turned in a great performance to shake off any jet lag from their long trip across the Atlantic on Sunday evening to put in a strong effort against one of Europe's top Academies.

The Boys in Blue were ready from the opening whistle with Jack Illig scoring the first goal of the trip with a strong finish in the 18th minute. The Union dominated long stretches of the match and were knocking on the door step countless times for an insurance goal throughout the opening half but took only a one-goal lead into the break. The persistence was rewarded in the second half as Daniel Dixon doubled the U-16's advantage late in the second half to give the Union Academy side momentum heading into their IberCup Cascais Group Stage contests.

Philadelphia Union Academy U-16s Europe Schedule
Time (ET) / Result
Streaming Info
March 26
S.L. Benfica (Friendly)
W, 2-0
March 28
Atletico Madrid (IberCup)
D, 1-1
March 29
K.A.A. Gent (IberCup)
W, 2-1
March 29
Deportivo Coruna (IberCup)
L, 3-0
March 30
Atletico CP (Round of 16)
W, 4-0
March 30
GD Estoril Praia (Quarterfinals)
W, 1-0
March 31
Associacao Torre (Semifinals)
W, 2-0
March 31
Deportivo Coruna (Final)
April 2
Rayo Vallcano (Friendly)
1:30 PM
April 3
CD Toledo (Friendly)
12:45 PM
April 4
Getafe (Friendly)
2:00 PM
April 9
Real Sociedad (Friendly)
12:00 PM
April 10
Athletic Bilbao (Friendly)
11:15 AM
April 11
Toulouse (Friendly)
11:00 AM
April 16
Espanyol (Friendly)
2:00 PM
April 17
FC Andorra (Friendly)
2:00 PM
April 18