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Home Grown Hopefuls: Union Reserves Draw With Toronto, USSDA Playoff Races Heat Up

Brendan Burke coaches the Union Reserve Team in addition to being the manager of Reading United AC. (Photo courtesy of Reading United AC)

After the Philadelphia Union's 6-2 demolition of Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon, the two teams faced off again in Reserve League action. The Union came into the game with one win and one loss so far in the season.

The teams created numerous chances on goal, but in the end the match finished scoreless. The Union were left with four points from their three games. This put them in third place in the East Division, behind DC United, who have nine points from three games, and Columbus, who have nine points from four games.

Once again, FC Delco midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin featured in the Reserve team lineup. He took up his usual outside midfield slot and went the full ninety minutes. McLaughlin's Delco teammate, goalkeeper Zach Steffen, also was in Toronto with the reserve team as he sat on the bench to back up Zac MacMath. Two players from Reading United, Matt Baker and David Rodriguez, were also in the Union's lineup.

Meanwhile, FC Delco and PA Classics continued their push to make the playoffs in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Each team played powerful Baltimore Bays Chelsea over the weekend, and then the two Union affiliates faced off against each other on Monday. The results from those games and an update on the playoff race can be found after the jump.

On Saturday, FC Delco took on Baltimore Bays Chelsea, a high-powered club that actually features a Union Academy member at striker in Chris Somerville. He was not on hand for this U-18 level game, as he was called up to the U-18 US national team and was also nursing minor injuries. Delco was missing McLaughlin and Steffen, who were away with the Union Reserve Team. Their lineup still featured Union Academy midfielders Ryan Dodds and Michael Gonzalez, as well as defender Colin O'Neill. Gonzalez was part of the Union Reserves loss to DC United a few weeks ago.

In the end, the Delco U-18s managed to eke out a 1-0 win from a goal by Ben Maurey. Later in the day, the Delco U-16s collected a 1-0 win of their own as talented striker Brett Campbell knocked in his 16th goal of the campaign, an astounding feat.

The following day, it was PA Classics' turn to play against Baltimore Bays Chelsea. Union Academy members Kelton Cheney, Ryan Bertrando, and Jon Kumher were all in the lineup for the Classics U18s. They followed the trend as they got a 1-0 win themselves off a goal from Cheney, his eighth tally this season.

The Classics U16s were the only team to falter in their game against the Bays U16s as a team featuring the Union Academy's Christian Kaschak and Jonathan Wenger fell 2-1.

On Monday, the two teams faced off against one another. The U18 game was a dramatic affair, as McLaughlin returned to FC Delco and even scored a goal to put his club ahead in the 36th minute. But in stoppage time PA Classics' Owen Griffith scored a late equalizer as the game ended 1-1.

The U16 game saw further contributions from Union Academy members. Colin O'Neill scored in the 46th minute to cancel out an early Classics goal only for Christian Kaschak to bag a winner in the 78th minute as PA Classics got the 2-1 win over Delco.

So where do these results leave the teams in the various playoff races? In the U16 age level, the teams are looking good. Classics and Delco are in first and second, respectively, in the Mid-Atlantic Division which puts them both in line for playoff spots if the season were to end today.

In the U18 level, PA Classics once again lead the way but Delco have some more work to do as DC United currently occupies the second spot in the Mid-Atlantic. In the wild card race, Delco also would be on the outside looking in as they sit  in 15th out of the 15 teams eligible to get wild card berths. Delco must either move up to the second spot in the Mid-Atlantic or move up to at least 12th in the wild card race in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each team has four games remaining at each age level.

Be sure to keep coming back to Home Grown Hopefuls to stay up-to-date on the pipeline of new talent that could one day wear a Union uniform.

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