Home Grown Hopefuls: FC DELCO U18s Continue Rich Vein of Form

Union Academy & FC DELCO midfielder Michael Gonzalez, seen here with Conestoga High School. He scored a goal on Sunday for Delco. (photo courtesy of ConestogaSoccer.com)

Just like the previous weekend, Philadelphia Union affiliate clubs FC DELCO and PA Classics played a pair of games on March 19 and 20 against the same two opponents. Except this time, the two clubs were able to do so in front of their home fans.

Delco and Classics faced off against Albertson SC and FC Westchester over the two days. Eight games were played in total between the U18 and U16 teams. Delco continued an unbeaten run, while Classics struggled to get results on their home turf. A Union U18 Academy player even got his name on the scoresheet.

Players Development Academy, the New Jersey-based Union affiliate that also competes in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, had quite the topsy-turvy weekend, going from euphoria to dismay in the span of just two games.

The Union affiliates that do not compete in the USSDA were in action as well, as YMS and Lehigh Valley United sent several teams to the MAPS 2011 Spring Challenge. And Penn Fusion experienced an exciting end to their season as they completed play in the U17 Red Division of the 2011 U.S. Youth Soccer National League. After the jump we'll go further in depth with the results from all the Union Academy action from this past weekend.

We'll start our review of the weekend's matches at the highest level of youth soccer in the country at the U16 and U18 levels: the USSDA. FC DELCO's U18 team started off Saturday with a solid 1-0 win over Albertson SC. Union U18 Academy members MF Jimmy McLaughlin (Delco and Union U18 captain), MF Ryan Dodds, MF Mike Gonzalez, DF Colin O'Neill, and GK Zach Steffen all started the game; they all went the distance except O'Neill, who was subbed out in the 79th minute. It's worth noting that O'Neill was born in 1994 and Steffen in '95, which means they are playing above their age level and we should be keeping our eyes on them as potential homegrown signings in the future.

The Delco U16s also took on Albertson, but didn't fare as well as their U18 counterparts. They lost the game 3-0, but perhaps it could be chalked up to the fact that Union Academy members Connor Ryan and Nick Hutchinson didn't start the game. Ryan came on in the 55th minute but couldn't turn the tide.

PA Classics spent the day against FC Westchester (from New York, not West Chester, PA) and the U18s tied their game 1-1. Union Academy DF Jonathan Kumher and MF Ryan Bertrando played the full game. DF Troy Barr is out with a long-term injury. The PA Classics U16s actually performed better, defeating the Westchester U16s by a 2-0 scoreline. DF/MF Christian Kaschak and MF Jonathan Wenger both played the entire match. Bryce Cregan, who plays with the Classics U16s despite only being 14 years old, once again missed the game due to obligations with the U.S. U-15 Boys National Team.

Players Development Academy U18s played their hearts out on Saturday. They demolished NJSA 04 by a score of 5-0, but no Union Academy members took part.

On Sunday, Delco and Classics switched opponents, and Delco's U18s continued the unbeaten streak that they've been on since December. They earned a 1-1 draw with Westchester, and Gonzalez was the goal scorer for Delco. Dodds, McLaughlin, O'Neill, and Steffen all started once again, with O'Neill being the only Union Academy player to not go the distance. Gonzalez, pictured above, was named this year's Main Line Media News men's soccer player of the year and will attend Lafayette in the fall.

Delco's U16s managed to defeat Westchester's U16s by a 2-1 score. Perhaps the introduction of Union Academy members Connor Ryan and Nick Hutchinson into the starting lineup caused an improvement in their play, as both players sat on the bench during the team's 3-0 loss Saturday but were in the starting 11 during the win on Sunday.

Classics took on Albertson throughout the day Sunday. The U18s once again struggled, following up their draw on Saturday with a 1-3 loss against Albertson on Sunday. Kumher and Bertrando were once again involved. The Classics U16s also struggled, losing 0-1 to the Albertson U16s. Kaschak and Wenger went the distance in the losing effort.

Why did I refer to the Players Development Academy U18s' weekend as topsy-turvy in the intro? They followed up their 5-0 win on Saturday with a 2-1 loss to Match Fit Chelsea on Sunday. Like in the first game, no Union academy members took part despite the fact that PDA is a Union youth development affiliate.

In one other note, FW Chris Somerville was also in action for Baltimore Bays Chelsea U18s. He went the distance in both of their games; first, a 0-0 draw with Greater Boston, and then a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution U18s. He scored in the latter game.

That does it for the USSDA action for the weekend. The recent results leave FC DELCO in first place in the U18 Mid-Atlantic Division and PA Classics in 6th place, out of seven teams. PDA are in 3rd place out of 6 teams in the Liberty Division. For the U16s, FC Delco are in 3rd and PA Classics are in 5th out of seven teams in the Mid-Atlantic, while PDA are in 3rd out of 6 in the Liberty. Click here for the full standings. 

The other main action involving Union affiliates was the MAPS 2011 Spring Challenge. The best performances that involve the Union included a runner-up finish by Lehigh Valley United 93 in the U17 MSSL tournament, another second-place finish by YMS Lightning in the U18/U19 MSSL tournament, and yet another runner-up finish by Lehigh Valley United 94 in the U16 MSSL tournament. Click here for the full results. 

And finally, Penn Fusion wrapped up their participation in the 2011 season of the US Youth Soccer National League. The team that concerns Union fans the most is Penn Fusion 93 Celtic, a U17 team that boasts several serious potential candidates for homegrown contracts in Melvin Snoh, Joe Raymond, and Benjamin Kennel. They had a heartbreaking finish to their season, as their 1-0 win over Rush Nike Argonauts of New Mexico was not enough for them to capture their division title and move on to the National League playoffs. Raymond scored the winning goal for Penn Fusion. They ended up just one point shy of the title to Dallas Texans, one of the strongest clubs in the country at all age levels. Click here to see the final standings. 

One final note is that the Union U18s trained as a group today (Tuesday) at YSC Sports in Wayne, PA. YSC should have some pictures up of that session sometime tomorrow, so be sure to check out their Facebook page for those.

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