Philadelphia Union Academy kicked off their final official matches of 2017 today, with the U17 and U19 squads participating in the Development Academy Winter Showcase outside of Tampa, Florida.
Both squads drew top quality competition with all matches counting towards the Development Academy standings, and U17s' match against Seattle Sounders FC will be streamed on YouTube.
Philadelphia Union Academy were fortunate enough to be hosted by Tampa Bay Rowdies, and train at their stadium prior to the kickoff of the showcase. Both teams are performing well in their respective leagues, but don’t come in overconfident.
Today, in a matchup versus Real Salt Lake, the U19s earned a convincing win with a 4-1 victory featuring a brace from midfielder Brenden Aaronson.
“You’re never quite sure of how the players will play on a bigger stage, as this is," Academy Director Tommy Wilson said of the event. "There’s an additional pressure that comes with a showcase or Generation adidas Cup. When Michael Pellegrino and Brenden Aaronson played at Tampa with Bethlehem Steel, their composure reflected that of their previous performances at the Showcase. In such a way you find things out about players at big events when there is additional pressure.
This is part of the process," Wilson continued. "Players get comfortable at home and playing in the Development Academy, so you want to see how they will perform outside of that comfort zone. For example, if you look at our first team’s match at Atlanta, the environment was very intimidating. The opposing fans seemed to be willing the ball into the next, and the team seemed to be playing with 12 men. Matches with that heightened pressure are critical for our players’ development."
While Coach Wilson has joined the squads for the showcase, the U12 through U15 teams will feature in friendlies against NYCFC and D.C. United.
"I'm very pleased with the progress of our U12 through U15’s," Wilson said. "The results have been extremely positive, but they’ve also won without losing their style. Their style of play is keeping with our club’s philosophy. The U15s demonstrated this at Generation adidas Cup, as have their four players named to the U.S. U15 National Team.
"The U13’s and U14’s performed exceptionally well versus MLS Academies at the Fall Showcase," he continued. "Players played with flair and style, and deserve credit. We have younger staff at these age groups as well, and they’re doing very well in competing with teams who are increasingly desperate to beat us as our reputation continues to grow."
U17 Showcase Schedule:
- 12/1: Sockers FC, 9:00 AM
- 12/2: Seattle Sounders, 11:00 AM (Stream)
- 12/4: Sporting KC, 11:15 AM
U19 Showcase Schedule:
- 11/30: Philadelphia Union 4 – 1 Real Salt Lake
- 12/1: Sporting KC, 1:00 PM
- 12/3: Kendall SC, 1:15 PM