Philadelphia Union Academy’s fitness was tested this weekend with all four MLS NEXT squads facing Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders as they looked to continue their unbeaten runs. With strength in numbers and another strong display of finishing, the Boys in Blue kept their winning ways going in league play with victories in all eight league matches.
The Union U17’s kicked off the busy weekend with a commanding 7-0 performance against the visiting TSF Academy on Saturday morning.. Goals from CJ Olney, Luke Zielinski, Diego Rocio, Jack Andrus and a brace from Edward Davis contributed to the win. The Union backline controlled the tempo of the match with quality in possession and quick distribution, providing the platform for the attackers to put the game away.
On Sunday, the U17s pick up another clean sheet as they blanked Bethesda SC 3-0, with Ed Davis, Diego Rocio, and Andrew Craig finishing second half chances. An organized opponent pushed the Union, and it was only Davis’ goal that opened things up. Rocio continues his hot start to the season as the 17s dropped 10 goals on their opponents between Saturday and Sunday.
The U15s too had a resounding start to the weekend with a 7-0 win of their own against TSF. The Union's club identity was on full display as good defensive work triggered quick counterattacks. The win was a full team effort as seven different players landed on the scoresheet (Johnson, Wesseh, Saidi, Presson, Doran, Dehart, and Sullivan). There is still room for improvement but the team set a high bar they need to continue clearing as the season develops.
The U15s faced a very physical Bethesda Academy side the following day but they pulled out a 5-2 victory by remaining organized and falling back on their principles of play. There were a few difficult moments throughout the game, but the team showed resilience to grind out the win. Braces from Peyton Presson and Anisse Saidi, as well as a solo goal from Cavan Sullivan, powered the win, but holding defensive shape over the full course of the match will be a target going forward. The team pressed well together and were quick to counterpress after losing the ball.
Phil Karn's U14 side flew out of the gates in their game against TSF Academy on Saturday.. The team pressed well together, allowing them to win the ball in the opponent's half and counter with numbers. When they were on the ball, the team maintained possession very well and were able to move the ball with speed in the final third. All of this led to chances that Declan Lannon — twice — and Jackson Novodor finished en route to the 3-1 victory. The U14s defended well throughout the game and will work on keeping their intensity high while ahead.
Academy Highlights | Top Goals of the weekend
A Saturday romp over TSF provided a strong start for the U13s double-header weekend, and a hard-fought 4-2 win over Bethesda on Sunday closed it out as the 13s flashed brilliance and showed they still have a lot of progress to make.
Sully Palazzari continued his big start to the season with two goals on Saturday with Miles Smith, Micah Casey, and Sean Corbett rounding out the scorers. Against Bethesda, a 2-0 halftime deficit created urgency in the latter half and the team responded with the right mentality, tucking home four goals. Mateo Rosko, Liam Holtzman, Hayes Cooney, and Colin Fulham got on the scoresheet, but the consistency in defensive shape made the difference as it allowed the first pass after turnovers to go vertical.
Non-MLS NEXT Results
Noe Uwimana, Ritter Sundby, and Sandu Zama got on the scoresheet in a tight 3-2 win for the Union Development Squad as the hosted New York Braveheart SC in UPSL play. After a relatively straightforward 4-0 victory last week, UDS faced a side prepared to play direct and take advantage of their chances.
The Union U12s looked for another victory against the New York Red Bulls for the second straight weekend after routing their rivals by 6-1 last weekend. The Red Bulls returned highly motivated after the loss and while Paul Nash's side maintained intensity it finished fewer chances than the week prior, with only Mateo Rosko and Evan Roberts on the score sheet in a 3-2 loss.