Home Grown Hopefuls: Area Clubs Back In Action

FC DELCO midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin had a weekend to remember. Seen here in training with Great Valley High School. Wait, that's where I went to high school. Go Patriots! (Courtesy of Amy Dragoo, Daily Local News)

For the first time since December, FC Delco, PA Classics, and Players Development Academy took the field this past weekend along with several other area clubs. It was their first action since opening the season late last year when they played three games each at the Reach 11 Complex in Arizona as part of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Showcase. These are the three Development Academy clubs that are Youth Development Affiliates of the Philadelphia Union.

Another Youth Development Affiliate of the Union, Penn Fusion, was also in action this past weekend, but is not a member of the USSDA. They took part in the Annandale Premier Cup, a high-level annual tournament that takes place in Virginia.

The Jefferson Cup, one of the country's largest annual youth soccer competitions, also took place over the weekend, and several area clubs sent squads to participate, including YMS and Penn Fusion.

After the jump, we'll take a look at the results in what was a big weekend for the Union's affiliate clubs. FC Delco and PA Classics got good results out of their trips up to the Boston area, including a hat trick from a prominent member of the Union's U18 squad, and Penn Fusion impressed in the Annandale competition. And of course, we'll see how the Union's YDA clubs fared in the Jefferson Cup.

The U.S. Soccer Development Academy is the highest level of youth soccer in the country, and so that's where we'll start with this weekend's results. PA Classics and FC Delco, who each contribute several important members of the Union U18 team, were both in action this weekend as they headed up together to the Boston area for a pair of games each. On Saturday, Classics' U16 and U18 teams took on the New England Revolution's equivalent teams.

The U18 game was a thriller from a neutral point of view, but a disappointment for Classics as they fell 4-3. Union Academy members Ryan Bertrando (MF) and Jonathan Kumher (DF) both went the distance, with Kumher getting on the scoresheet. Fellow Union academy defender Troy Barr missed the game. In the U16 game, Classics got a 2-0 win, with Union academy players Jonathan Wenger (DF) and Christian Kaschak (MF) both participating. Despite playing with the Classics U16s, these two players have actually participated with the Union U18 side. Another Union-affiliated player, Bryce Cregan, was not with Classics for the game as he was at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles taking part in a training camp with the United States U-15 Boys National Team.

FC Delco took on FC Greater Boston on Saturday, which interestingly enough is the club that produced Union defender Sheanon Williams. The U18 game ended in a scoreless draw, but Union U18 players Jimmy McLaughlin (MF), Ryan Dodds (MF), Mike Gonzalez (MF), and Colin O'Neill (DF) were all in the starting 11. The U16 game finished as a 1-0 win for Delco; Union MF Connor Ryan went the distance and DF Nick Hutchinson came on as a sub in the 40th minute. GK Zack Steffen, who played with the Union at the SUM Cup and is eligible for either the Delco U18s or U16s, missed both games.

On Sunday, the teams switched opponents. Classics played against Greater Boston. The Classics U18s lost 2-0, and unfortunately lineups are as of yet unavailable, but it's highly likely that Kumher and Bertrando were in the lineup. The U16s also lost, by a score of 1-0. Wenger and Kaschak went the distance once again.

Delco had much more success on Sunday, as they locked horns with the Revolution. The U18s got a hard-fought 3-2 win, including a sensational performance from Jimmy McLaughlin, the Union U18 captain. He scored a hat trick, lighting up the Revs defense and making a strong case to eventually succeed Zach Pfeffer as the next Union Home Grown Player. McLaughlin is a high school senior and will attend Colgate University in the fall. O'Neill, Gonzalez, and Dodds all went the distance for Delco, and Steffen was actually in goal for this one. The Delco U16s drew 1-1 with the Revs U16s. Hutchinson played the entire match, and Connor Ryan was subbed off in the 65th minute. Diego Fagundez, the Revolution's latest homegrown signing, actually took part in this one, playing the full match. He didn't play in Saturday's game against Classics.

One other Union-affiliated club was in action Sunday, but not Saturday. Players Development Academy of New Jersey took the field against Baltimore Bays Chelsea. The U18s got a 4-2 win. The PDA lineup actually didn't include any Union academy players; however, Chris Somerville, who used to play with FC Delco, now plays with Baltimore Bays Chelsea and started for the Union at FW in the SUM Cup. In fact, he scored the Bays' two goals against PDA in this match. The Brotherly Game understands that Somerville, who will play at the highly ranked University of Virginia, is still eligible to eventually sign as a homegrown with the Union despite leaving Delco, and he has a high chance of doing so. The PDA U16s beat the Bays' U16s by a 1-0 scoreline. Jacob Schenk, who was the Union's starting GK at the SUM Cup, was on the bench for this game.

That wraps up the USSDA action, but two other area clubs played in important competitions as well. YMS and Penn Fusion took part in the prestigious Jefferson Cup. Penn Fusion sent their U18 team ("Coppa 92") but struggled in the "U18 Elite" level, taking just 1 point out of a group that included Jersey United, Delaware United FC, and CASL. YMS also sent their U18 team ("Thunder") and competed in the "U18 Championship" level. They performed well, winning a group that included TSF Academy, SAC United, and Soccer Plus Academy. This win moves them to the 3rd overall ranking of U18 clubs in the country according to gotsoccer.com.

PA Classics and FC Delco also sent lower-aged squads to the tournament, including their U17s. FC Delco Black finished 2nd in Group A of "U17 Superior" while PA Classics 93 Elite finished in last place in Group C of "U17 Elite."

Finally, Penn Fusion 93 Celtic, which includes several of the Union U18's most talented players, took part in the Annandale Premier Cup in Virginia. Melvin Snoh (FW), Joe Raymond (DF), and Benji Kennel (DF) all form part of this Penn Fusion team, which is basically a U17 side. They reached the final of the tournament, earning a win and two draws in the group stage games before winning their semifinal against the host, Annandale United FC. The championship game has not yet been played, but stay tuned for the result of that game when it is available; it's actually possible that Penn Fusion just ends the tournament as co-champions with Regional Football RFC of Virginia, the other semifinal winner.

One other player who also played with the Union in the SUM Cup, forward Darius Madison, also took part in this tournament with Philadelphia SC 93 Coppa. They finished in second in their group but didn't qualify for the knockout stage.

So that's it for this week's action from the Union's affiliate youth clubs. As you can tell just by the length of this article, it was a heavy dose of games for the young kids coming up through the pipeline. I'll leave you with this wonderful video from last week's U16 training session at YSC Sports. It takes a look at the goalkeeper warmups, and features Cameron Keys of Lehigh Valley United and Pablo Sisniega of FC Delco's Pre-Academy team.

Philadelphia Union U16 Academy - Goalkeeper Session (via YSCSportsTV)


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