Union U15s dominate Arsenal to reach GA Cup Quarterfinal

Philadelphia Union Academy’s U15 continued to dominate in the 2023 Generation adidas Cup with a resounding 4-1 victory over Arsenal FC on Wednesday morning.

The Boys in Blue imposed their high pressing style from the opening kick, sending a volley to the Arsenal defense that forced a mistake at the back. The Union snuck a shot that was deflected under the pressured keeper but Cavan Sullivan pounced on the rebound to put the club ahead just 19 seconds into the contest.

With the early lead, Henry Apaloo’s side didn’t sit back as they continued to create a trio of scoring chances 10 minutes into the match. Nehan Hasan got in on goal but couldn’t fire off a shot after a touch took it to the on-rushing keeper. Moments later it was Sullivan combining with Hasan on a quick counter attack with a pass out wide but Hasan’s far post shot went wide by inches. The Union were right back on the English side’s 18-yard-box seconds later, intercepting the goal kick with Sullivan cutting to his left for a shot from the top of the box that went wide.

With limited chances in the early going, Arsenal was able to respond on their first real go with English national team call-up Louis Zecevic-John taking a low cross from the wing, battling his defender and sneaking enough power to tie the match up.

Tied up, the Union were right back onto the attack looking to retake the lead and nearly had it in the 16th minute. Hasan intercepted a pass at the center line and quickly sent a pass over the top to send Sullivan on goal. With just the keeper to beat, Sullivan fired a left-footed blast but the keeper made the reaction save.

Goalkeeper Alex Smith was called upon to make a key save in the first half just past the 20th minute of play, making a diving stop off a well-placed free kick from Arsenal.

The Union refused to go into halftime tied after such a dominate opening 30 minutes and made the most of their final build up with Sullivan flicking a pass over the defense to sent Aaron Wesseh into the box. The forward delivered a perfect touch to try and get around the keeper but was taken down with the referee immediately pointing to the penalty spot. Leading scorer Anisse Saidi stepped up to the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way to give the Union a 2-1 lead at the break.

Like the first half, the Union came out of the gates roaring and added a third goal in the 33rd minute. The Union’s attacking trio were once again a major part with Wessah forcing a turnover and getting it to centrally to Sullivan. With Arsenal recovering in the defense, Sullivan took the space allowed and then left a pass out wide to an unmarked Saidi. One touch later and a look up at the keeper, the forward picked up the brace with a far post finish.

Arsenal’s Louis Zecevic-John showed why he is one of the top talents in Florida in the 44th minute, taking on a pair of Union defenders to get to the end line. Cutting up the line, he picked out a teammate in the middle of the box but once again Alex Smith made the big stop to protect the two-goal lead.

The offense kept on clicking and added a fourth goal with some set piece magic in the 51st minute to make it 4-1. Off a short corner, Jamir Johnson collected possession and floated in a cross to the far post where substitute Mateo Gallegos was positioned. Battling his man to get a touch, the fresh legs paid off to win the ball and head it into the back of the net.

Philadelphia Union Academy will face off against Real Madrid, who defeated Valencia C.F. via a 3-0 margin, on Thursday, April 6th at 11:30 a.m. ET.