Inspired by their opening day loss to Philadelphia Union, New York City FC’s U17s came out of the gate strong and picked up a late goal to sneak past the Union in the opening match of Philly’s 2018-19 GA Cup run. NYC was powered by strong play from the back line, and they stuck tight to the extremely talented front four of the Union.
Recent Bethlehem Steel signing Selmir Miscic started for the Union U17s alongside US Boys’ National Team players Dante Huckaby, Danny Flores, and Patrick Bohui. NYC pressed high and hard to prevent those players from affecting the game, doing their best to draw Huckaby — playing in the center of defense — out into wide areas. The tactic was often effective, though Huckaby showed impressive 1v1 defending to stay with quick-footed opponents.
In the center of the park, NYC attempted to separate Philly’s initial pressers from the rest of the team, drawing Flores and fellow central midfielder Adam Lenges (SP!?) out and dropping players into the space behind them. Combined with a very organized press up front, this allowed NYC to control the early phases of the match and keep Miscic and Bohui off the ball.
Union head coach Gary Lewis tinkered with the front line as he sought solutions, moving Bohui up front and pushing Aboubacar Camara to the wing. At times, this allowed the Union to look behind NYC’s defense, but that strong unit was difficult to puncture, and Bohui found himself isolated.
Still, Philly kept NYC off the board, and the frustrated visitors picked up cautions for very hard tackles on both Bohui and Miscic.
In the second half, New York City came out on the front foot again, quickly creating a 1v1. Excellent defense in the chaos that followed allowed Philly to clear the danger and hold onto the even scoreline.
Camara had one of the Union’s better looks on goal moments later when he was found with a high bouncing ball near the top of the box. The attacker lined up a left-footed half volley that spun just wide.
Next, Bohui had an opportunity with a long free kick just right of the goal. He lined up a left-footed strike but didn’t have enough placement to beat the goalie.
NYC responded with a free kick of their own just outside the Union box on the right. The shot was dipping but dropped too late to trouble Philly's goalie.
Off a Union corner, NYC picked up a huge chance with a 1v1 breakaway. Flores was tackled in the center and New York City was first to a loose ball near the center circle. Lukas Burns came out and made himself big, getting down low to his left to swipe the ball off the attacker’s foot.
Jack de Vries entered for Camara and began rampaging up the left. He beat his defender after fine hold-up play from Bohui and centered for the Union striker, but the pass was a step ahead of Bohui’s outstretched foot.
NYC finally broke through late when their captain twisted free of defenders in the midfield and drove forward with the ball, finding a free man in the center. He beat and finished near post for the game’s only goal.
The U17s are back in action tomorrow at 10:00AM when they take on New England Revolution as part of a full day of GA Cup action leading up to the first team’s match against Minnesota United at 7:30 in Talen Energy Stadium.
Philadelphia Union’s U15s built on a messy first half goal to run out 5-0 winners against NYCFC’s U15s side on Friday. Nelson Pierre tallied a brace to lead the U15s as they poured on the goals late in the contest.
The opening half was a back and forth affair, though the Union always looked dangerous along the flanks and solid defensively in the center. Playing as the lone striker, Pierre was a constant threat in behind, and it was no surprise that he and left winger Million Evans were both involved in the opener. On a low cross in from the right, Pierre challenged the goalie and helped pop the ball loose. Evans swooped in at the back post to drive the ball home.
Brandan Craig was a continual threat up the right, moving forward from right back to drive in hard, accurate crosses that asked questions of the NYC defense. Late in the first half, he stuck one behind the back line but nobody could get on the end of it. Then, on a free kick from the left, he lifted a cross with pace toward the back post but the finish went wanting.
New York City’s resistance broke in the second half. Jackson Gilman made a wonderful read and intercepted a pass from his center back position before pushing on into midfield. He played the ball wide to Pierre who then found Nico Rubio for a shot on goal from the center. A great save bounced the ball wide but it was immediately served back across and Pierre poked it home from close range.
Pierre nearly had another moments later after both Ian Abbey and Quinn Sullivan advanced the ball on the dribble deep into NYC territory. Abbey recovered the ball after Sullivan was tackled, played wide left to Evans, and his cross went off the top of a defender’s head and fell to Pierre back post, but the big striker nudged his shot wide.
When he got a chance with his head off a corner kick, Pierre made no mistake. Craig’s excellent delivery meant all Pierre had to do was redirect the ball toward the far corner where it found the back of the net.
The Union’s fourth came off exceptional high pressure that pinned NYC in their own box. A turnover inside the area fell to Sullivan and he easily passed it home.
Sam Fenton finished off the scoring with his own header off a corner kick late in the match.
The U15s face New England Revolution tomorrow at 12:30PM in their second match of the GA Cup regional qualifying at the Power Training Complex next to Talen Energy Stadium.