The Philadelphia Union Academy is partaking in the 2015 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase this weekend in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The Union U18s and U16s are going up against some of the biggest academy clubs from around the country, as each team will play three games to round out their Fall 2015 schedule.
The tournament will be held alongside U.S Under 15 Boys’ National Team friendlies. The Winter Showcase features teams like the L.A. Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps, Houston Dynamo, BW Gottschee, Chargers Soccer Club, and Georgia United. This gives the young players a great opportunity to show their hard work.
“This is a great way to feature all of the hard work these clubs have put forth in the first half of the academy season,” Philadelphia Union U16 Head Coach Jeff Cook said. “It’s also a great platform for kids to come together from all over the country and, for us, to represent our academy on a national level.”
The highlight of the weekend will be the Union U16s playing L.A. Galaxy on Saturday in a match that will broadcast live on U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel at 3 p.m. (you can find that link here). Cook raved about the opportunity for his team to play in front of a live internet stream.
“It’s an endorsement of the good things going both at the academy and at the club.” Cook explained. “From the U10s all the way to the First Team, there are a lot of great things going on here and I really think being selected for the broadcast is really a nice recognition and a good endorsement of all the good people we have here at the Club.”
The U16s opened play on Friday with a 2-0 win over FC Golden State. Daniel Bloyou and Anthony Fontana scored the goals for the Union. After Galaxy, their final match of the tournament will take place on Monday at 9 a.m. against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The U16 team has been in good shape this season coming in to the weekend with a 7-3-2 record. Forwards Issa Rayyan and Kalil ElMedkhar have been the leading Goalscorers for the team scoring 5 goals each.
“One of the strengths of this team is our depth. It’s the depth and quality of whole squad, not just the 11, and it will be tested this weekend with three games in four days,” Cook said about his team. “We’re going to give guys opportunities this weekend and they’ll be tested in an elite performance situation. But I think that’s a very important part of the development process. “
The U18s have already played two of their three matches in this tournament, splitting a pair of games on Thursday and Friday.
Although they lost their first match on Thursday to the Houston Dynamo, it was a hard fought match. After letting up a goal to Houston, the Union answered right away when Frederick Gil linked up with Manny Perez to tie it up. The teams fought until the very end, under a heavy amount of rain, and Houston were able to pick up the go-ahead goal in the last seven minutes of the match. The final score was 2-1, and the Houston Dynamo U18 team was able to keep their undefeated streak alive.
The second match was played earlier today against Georgia United in which the team was able to get a positive result. The Union opened the scoring when Matthew Real crossed the ball to Captain Auston Trusty, who coolly headed it in. Georgia United were able to tie it back up in the second half, but the Union were looking to win. Super-sub Joseph Dezart took the ball in to the box and slotted in the winner in the 81st minute. The score was 2-1.
For the 18s, Trusty has had a great year thus far, his first season with the team. The centerback started both games this weekend, and has already been featured nationally, when he was called up to U.S. Under-17 Boy’s National Team back in October.
Trusty, the goalscorer on Friday, took an assist from left back Matthew Real, who is also in his first season with the U18s. Real was called into the Under-16 National Team last year.
And there’s also Derrick Jones for the U18s who played both matches so far this weekend. Jones became the first official signing of the Philadelphia Union USL affiliate club Bethlehem Steel FC on Thursday.
Thursday, Dec. 3
Houston Dynamo 2, Union U18s 1
Friday, Dec. 4
U18s 2, Georgia United 1
U16s 2 vs. FC Golden State 0
Saturday, Dec. 5
U16s vs. L.A. Galaxy, 3 p.m. (live stream)
Sunday, Dec. 6
U18s vs. FC Dallas, 11:15 a.m.
Monday, Dec. 7
U16s vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 9 a.m.