The GA Cup is a place for young Union players to make their mark on a big stage, and some of the academy's top talents got on the scoresheet Friday but neither the U15s or U17s could make a victorious start on Day 1.
Aaron Heard, the Golden Ball winner in the ScotiaBank Concacaf U13 Champions League in Costa Rica earlier this year, opened the day's scoring with deft control and a powerful finish off a Dylan Lacey assist. Real Salt Lake pulled one back before Dylan Aiman put Philly back in front off a set piece from Million Evans that Logan Oliver knocked down. Once again, though, RSL returned fire and the Union ended up falling on penalties.
The U17s ran out to a 2-0 lead against RSL but could not hold on as the visitors took advantage of their size on set pieces to score a trio of second half goals.
Brandan Craig has been unstoppable from dead balls at every level, and he proved that it's no different with the U17s when he scorched a low drive into the far corner to open the scoring. Quinn Sullivan's deft chip across the box put in Nick Pariano for a calm finish that had Ryan Richter's group in a comfortable place heading into halftime.
As the Union threw on substitutes, RSL found more space in midfield and repeatedly looked to go over the top of Philly's defense, earning corner kicks that they turned into scrums. Those scrums became goals and by the end of the match the visitors had pulled ahead 3-2.
Both Union sides are back in action today against New York Red Bulls. The U15s take the pitch at 12:30pm and the U17s return at 3:00pm. You can livestream both match -- along with every other GA Cup regional qualifying match -- right here on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.