This past Columbus Day weekend, the Philadelphia Union had the honor to host the first qualifying leg of Generation adidas Cup for the Eastern region.
A fantastic display from both the Union U17s and U15s saw both teams finish the weekend on top of their groups, which were comprised of seven MLS Academies. The Generation adidas Cup Finals will be played in Frisco in April.
Academy Director Tommy Wilson said of the weekend, “I was delighted by the quality of the event. both on and off the field. Our teams represented the club with style and flair. We are in full support of MLS in this initiative, and I believe the addition of the U15 division represents major progress. Thank you to Earnie Stewart, the first team coaches, and the facility staff for allow us access. Over the three days of competition 18 matches were played. Throughout our teams performed well, and we had some fantastic individual performances. Special thanks for those who took time off work to support us, and to the parents who volunteered."
Friday, October 6th:
U17s: Union 4 - 0 Atlanta United
Philadelphia Union Academy’s U17 sIDE kicked off Generation adidas Cup with a resounding 4-0 victory over the visiting Atlanta United squad.
Atlanta began the match on the front foot, utilizing their physicality and pace to create opportunities from their high press. Goalkeeper Kris Shakes came up with a few acrobatic saves reminiscent of the Union’s first team goalkeeper to keep the match tied.
Little by little, the Union midfield’s technical ability began to cope with the Atlanta press and create some space. In the 32nd minute, the Union’s Julian Anderson took a cheeky touch to beat his defender, and found Axel Picazo with a cross at the top of the eighteen. Picazo took the pass first time to unleash a volley in to the Upper 90 for a 1-0 lead.
With the goal, the Union found a solid footing in the match. Defender Ian Graham was a steady presence dealing with Atlanta’s speed up top, and midfielders Anderson, Picazo, and Michael Pellegrino began to combine to create opportunities on the counter.
The second half saw the Union strike again in the 54th, as the Union’s own press of Anderson and substitute Mike McKeown won the ball off of the Atlanta center back. McKeown played in Jason Aoyama, who finished calmly to make it 2-0.
The Union quickly made it 3-0 off a McKeown penalty, and rounded off the scoring at 4-0 with Aboubacar Camara scoring off a rebound from another beautifully constructed counter.
U15s: Union 1 - 1 Atlanta United
The Union U15s competed against Atlanta United to finish off the opening day of the Generation adidas Cup East Qualifiers.
The match was even with few chances for either side to start, but Atlanta broke the deadlock about a half hour in, slipping a striker behind the back line for a composed back post finish.
The Union struck back quickly, evening the score a few minutes later. Winger Selmir Miscic, having scored 11 goals in only five matches this season, received a line splitting pass from Paxten Aaronson.
While the Union continued to highlight a dynamic attack, regular time ended with the score knotted at 1. By Generation adidas Cup rules, the match went to penalty kicks. The Union failed to earn an additional point, losing to Atlanta in the shootout.
Saturday, October 7th:
U17s: Union 2 - 0 New England Revolution
The Union picked up right where they left off, with ‘02 Julian Anderson scoring a penalty to take the lead. The balance of the Union’s backline introduced a lot of stability to the side, with technically sound center backs J.D. Wagner and Ian Graham flanked by fullbacks A.J. Cousins and Donovan Wu.
With central midfield stalwart Michael Pellegrino joining Bethlehem Steel after the first match, the leadership of captain Marco Bla was integral to the strength of the spine of the Union side.
A final goal by Obafemi Awodesu brought the result to 2-0 and capped off a confident victory.
U15s: Union 5 - 0 New England Revolution
The U15 side for the Philadelphia Union showed the special quality of their attack in their second match.
Four goal scorers contributed to the final score, with Marco Silva, Patrick Bohui, Selmir Miscic, and Nelson Pierre (2) all finishing. Pierre, the youngest player participating in the U15 age bracket, is now playing up two age groups after a scintillating strike rate with the Union U12’s last season.
Monday, October 9th:
U17s: Union 2 - 2 Orlando City
The Union U17s drew and won an additional point by finishing all their penalties in a shootout, and clinched first place for the first leg of qualifying for Generation adidas Cup.
Axel Picazo finished up a fantastic weekend with another match aggressively taking on defenders from the wing and consistently winning individual duals. Tony Antek Sinkel put the Union ahead with an excellent finished from outside of the box. Jason Aoyama then doubled the lead with a swerving shot, wrong-footing the keeper. Aoyama ended up as the leading U17 Union goalscorer with two for the weekend, with six others scoring once.
Orlando City found two late goals to even up the scoreline.
U15’s: Union 8 - 0 Orlando City
Philadelphia Union’s U15’s were simply unstoppable in their final match, winning 8-0 and finishing the weekend with a 14-1 aggregate scoreline. Selmir Miscic and Patrick Bohui, both attackers who gave defenders fits all weekend, finished with braces. Marco Silva, Quinn Sullivan, Nick Pariano, and an own goal rounded out the scoring.
Midfield playmaker Paxten Aaronson was instrumental in distribution and playing in the dynamic attackers, while the backline proved steady and supportive in overlaps throughout the tournament.
The U15s finished the first leg of qualifying on top of their group with seven points.