Montreal Impact’s strong academy was the big test for Philadelphia Union’s young stars last weekend.
The U13s battled to an even finish against an opponent determined to hit them on the counter. In the first half, Philly was the stronger side but could not finish off the chances they created. While this may be a tad frustrating, the ability to go on these longer road trips and still execute up to the final finishing moment will be something head coach Phil Karn will see as positive growth to build on going forward. Playing with possession always means the chance that one errant pass or touch opens you to counterattacks, and the U13s were hit by good transition attacks. They showed excellent mental strength to remain focused and pour on pressure late, and that allowed Henry Bernstein to produce a left-footed volley to the far corner in the dying moments of the match.
In a tight U15 battle, the Union and Impact traded goals on either side of halftime. Head coach Chris Brewer was proud of how his team fought given the long travel.
The Union’s U16/17s team took on a talented Impact side and worked hard to play through an effective high press throughout the first half. With Dante Huckaby and Zach Wagner distributing out of the center back positions, Montreal failed to create much offense out of their aggressive pressure. In the second half, the Union focused on building through their midfield and began controlling the match by pushing the Impact deep. Tianshuo Yang broke through for Philly in the 77th minute and Patrick Bohui added another as the match wore down.
The Union’s U19s pitched a shutout, and more importantly they continued creating opportunities with their front four. Nicholas Blacklock had both goals — two minutes apart in the first half — and the rest of the team executed the game play well against a tough opponent. They will look to continue refining their understanding of the club’s zonal pressing cues going forward.
The academy doesn’t have scheduled matches this weekend, and a full slate of games resumes on October 20 when they face FC Continental DELCO at YSC Academy.