Philadelphia Union Academy had a massive weekend with the U13s and U14s traveling to Winston-Salem for the U.S. Soccer’s Eastern Regional Showcase, and the U15s, U17s, and U19s competing with New York Red Bulls. Competitive matches against elite foes abounded, but the the Academy’s adherence to style-of-play shone through. The younger squads in the Academy, U13-U15, showed special quality, combining for a perfect 7-0-0 record, with five of those matches versus MLS Academies.
U19s: 3-1 Loss at New York Red Bulls
The eldest Union Academy team played a highly competitive match at New York Red Bulls, losing 3-1 after a free-kick in the 95th minute doubled the lead for the home team. Fullback Nyk Sessock put in an admirable performance with consistent defending, and Jeremy Rafanello tallied his ninth goal in six matches on an excellent header off a cross from Seth Kuhn. While the result didn’t go the Union’s way, Coach Jeff Cook expressed his pleasure the developmental opportunity derived from high-quality competition such as New York Red Bulls.
U17s: 1-0 Loss at New York Red Bulls
The U17s lost 1-0 at New York Red Bulls in a closely contested affair. Despite the loss, the Union backline was a highlight. Ian Graham lead the charge with solid distribution and intelligent positioning sensing danger, while his defensive partner J.D. Wagner organized and defended well, especially aerially. Fullback A.J. Cousins contributed with meaningful movement upfield and his switching of play, and Cole Turner managed well getting on the ball and switching fields.
U15s: 4-2 Win at New York Red Bulls
The U15s continued to score in droves as they defeated the New York Red Bulls 4-2 on the road. Striker Patrick Bohui scored his first for the Union in his first match, Selmir Miscic grabbed a brace, and Nick Pariano rounded out the scoring. Overall, the performance was lauded by Coach Chris Brewer, noting that no player had to take on the game themselves as the team performance stood out. The squad was able to hold on to the lead with composure despite finishing the match a man down and with a few players playing out of position. Harmon Riley especially took well to the match in playing out of position at fullback.
U14s: Three wins in two days
Union U14s had a great experience going on the road, playing and defeating three talented teams in NYCFC (3-0), North Carolina FC (1-0), and Atlanta United (5-2) in two days. The boys exhibited a professionalism both on-and-off the field in their approach to nutrition, behavior in restaurants and hotels, proper hydration, game prep meetings in the hotel meeting room, and regen sessions in the swimming pool. The Union Academy asks a lot of these 12 and 13-year-olds, and they handled themselves extremely well.
This event provided the players that have been playing up with the U15s (Quinn Sullivan and Brandan Craig) an opportunity to play in their own age group. This encouraged a confidence boost for these players as the club looks to challenge them in the U15 age group, but also find the right games for them week in and week out. One player playing up, Nelson Pierre, continues to impress with his size and speed, but has additionally shown significant improvement in his game understanding and ability to finish. Ryan Lau and Brandan Craig, as outside backs, consistently won their individual 1v1 duels while contributing to the attack by scoring and setting up teammates. Quinn Sullivan controlled play in the middle of the field and showed his ability to play box-to-box. Sullivan's creativity and desire to try things is something the club hopes our environment continues to encourage.
The club was especially well represented this week in the U14s style-of-play against Atlanta United, where the boys were aggressive and fearless going forward, while also defending with a toughness the city could be proud of against a robust attack. Despite giving up a goal three minutes in, the team’s grit and toughness assured that the squad could retake control of the match. The team reacted with more desire, and answered back with a great goal from Brandan Craig to Nelson Pierre. It was something of the quality which you see in a first team match, and was the boost the team needed. All and all, the 5-2 victory was a great team performance that showed the boys understood their roles within the system, and they executed under pressure in a big
These are vital experiences and stepping stones for these young inspiring professionals. They are crucial learning opportunities as they continue along the pathway to the first team.
U13s: Three wins
The U13s ran the table in Winston-Salem with victories over NYCFC (2-1), Concorde Fire (3-0), and New England Revolution (5-0). The squad controlled large chunks of each match, using the ball well and playing creatively, scoring quality goals while defending resiliently. The weekend’s results revealed the progress the side has made this year, evidenced by the speed of ball movement, combination play, off-the-ball movement, and the capitalization on the opportunities created. Like the U14s, the U13s were similarly highly complimented for their off the field demeanor and professionalism throughout the trip. The side will get to test their mettle again with a match against New York Red Bulls this upcoming weekend.
National Team Call Ups:
Philadelphia Union U15s have had a blistering start to the season, highlighted by their Generation adidas Cup matches outscoring three MLS teams 14-1 on aggregate. These performances have caught the eyes of U.S. Soccer, as four U15s have been called up to the next U.S. U15 National Team Camp. Midfielders Paxten Aaronson, Selmir Miscic, Nick Pariano, and defender Dante Huckaby have all been invited to join the Youth Nats.
Union U19 and Bethlehem Steel goalkeeper Tomas Romero similarly will get an opportunity to represent his country next month as he joins El Salvador’s U18’s yet again, after being featured between the pipes throughout U17 World Cup Qualifying.