USSDA Playoffs Quicks Hits: U16s enter as group favorites

Season Recap

The Philadelphia Union U16’s season has been a tremendous success thus far. The team has dominated regular season competition this year with an overall record of 21-3-2 en route to the second seed in the US Development Academy playoffs. In doing so, the U16s have finished second in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference rankings behind the New York Red Bulls U16s, who have amassed an equally impressive record of 23-1-2.

Philadelphia has counted on both a stout defense and electric offense in their playoff push. The team is rock solid at the back in allowing only 0.69 goals a game, good for 3rd best among all Development Academy teams. This defensive effort was backstopped by goalkeeper Andrew Verdi, who also participated in the 1st team’s preseason this winter at YSC. He has managed 11 shutouts in his 18 starts as the team’s number one goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, the Union offense has put up an incredible 2.77 goals per game (also 3rd in the league) off of efforts from Alexander Soto, Tiger Graham, and Justin McMaster who have scored 9, 10, and 11 goals respectively. While the three have stood out, they only make up a small portion of the team’s 18 total goal scorers.

Notable Players

Andrew Verdi: The U16s first choice goalkeeper has enjoyed a tremendous year thus far, starting with a call up to the Philadelphia Union’s preseason roster this winter. The youth national team participant and University of Michigan commit has earned 11 shutouts in his 18 starts thus far and was recently named the 44th best player in his recruiting class by College Soccer News.

Justin McMaster: The Jamaica native has moved over to the Union Academy after featuring for Reggae Boyz U15 and U17 national teams. Since his inclusion on Philadelphia’s roster, he has been called up for the US U16 National Team.

Alexander Soto: The attacking midfielder joined the Union after leaving the NJSA Academy in 2014 having been named to the U16 Eastern Conference best 11 by the US Soccer Development Academy. He joined Andrew Verdi as College Soccer News’s 50th best player in the 2016 recruiting class.

Matthew Real, Andrew Aprahamian: The two defenders represented the US U16 Boy’s National Team for an international camp in Paris, France during the fall of 2014.

Mark McKenzie: McKenzie was named to the US U16 Boys’ National Team domestic training camp during early June.

Playoff Preview

After enjoying such a dominant season, the U16s have been hard at work in preparation for the USSDA playoffs. As the tournament’s 2nd seed, they will be playing in Group F along with 14th seeded Houston Dynamo and two wildcard teams in Everton FC Westchester and Weston FC.

The tournament’s format involves eight groups of four teams each, with the winner of each group advancing to the knockout rounds. In the quarterfinal round, the four higher seeded teams will host their opponents on an undetermined date, with the winners going on to play in the tournament’s semi-final and final rounds in the LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center from July 16-18.

Schedule

Tuesday, June 23: vs Everton FC Westchester

Wednesday, June 24: vs Weston FC

Friday, June 26: vs Houston Dynamo

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