The Philadelphia Union Academy U-16 team played their first game of the 2015 US Soccer Development Academy playoffs today, facing off against Everton FC Westchester.
The Union U-16s are the number two seed in the tournament and came out of the gates playing like it. Starting in a 4-4-1-1 formation, star in the making Justin McMaster played in his preferred number 10 role while Andrew Verdi got the starting nod in goal.
The Union took it to Everton in the opening minutes, forcing a corner and then a save off the line, all before the nine-minute mark. While they played a high pressure system, they had one or two mental lapses on the defensive end that called for Verdi to make some pretty remarkable saves.
The pressure from the Union eventually broke down the Everton defense, with the team scoring their first goal of the tournament through Tiger Graham, who was assisted on the goal by Jack Skahan. The game would go into halftime with the Union up 1-0.
The second half saw both teams come out with renewed energy but it only took two minutes for the Union to break through and score again, this time it was McMaster on another assist from Skahan. Both Skahan and McMaster would be subbed out in the 64th minute but the offense remained for the Union as one of the substitutes, Raheem Taylor-Parkes, scored just two minutes after being subbed on for McMaster.
Everton would go on to get one back but that was the end of the scoring on the day for both teams. Both teams looked tired at the end of the game with chances becoming less and less frequent. The game ended in a 3-1 Union win.
The Union U-16s will be in action again tomorrow when they face off against Weston FC at 2:30.