Academy Round-up: U15's remain unbeaten, U17's at the Generation Adidas Cup

After a dominant September start to their academy schedule, each of the three levels of the Philadelphia Union academy have begun playing some of the tougher youth sides in the Northeast corridor. The strengths and weaknesses of each unit are starting to appear. Let’s see how each youth team fared in the last three weeks.

U17//18s

The oldest of the little Doopers had their first couple of setbacks at home, losing 2-1 to Baltimore Bays Chelsea and drawing 1-1 with the Virginia Rush. Brandon Levano hit a long distance golazo for his fourth goal of the season against Baltimore, and Neicko Williams broke his duck against the Rush.

The defense, led by standout goalkeeper Cameron Keys and defenders Will Campbell and Patrick Berneski, has held firm, allowing the least amount of goals in the Atlantic Division (3). However, despite the strong performances from Zachary Zandi and Brandon Levano, the Under 18s have only managed a goal in each of the last 4 matches. They'll need more offense to defeat tougher opponents like DC United and PDA as they show up at the YSC Sports Complex in the coming weeks.

U15/16s

Ranked 7th in the nation among fellow U16 clubs according to TopDrawersoccer.com, the Under-16s had a busy last few weeks, not only playing a couple of regular season matches but also travelling to Montreal to participate in the second leg of the Generation Adidas Cup. The Union trounced Baltimore Bays 4-0 on September 28th thanks to a brace from leading scorer Kevin Carvalho, but shockingly lost 3-1 to Virginia Rush a week later.

The Under 16s next took a bus trip to Montreal for the annual Generation Adidas Cup, but on the way the Union stopped at the Dartmouth campus for a short training session (managing to avoid some classy Dartmouth bros in the process). 17 MLS clubs are divided into 3 regional divisions, and the top teams from each division qualify for the final round that will be held on Easter Weekend 2014.

The Union finished the first leg six weeks ago with a win over DC United on penalties (wins due to penalties counts as 2 points, losses count as one point) and a 3-0 shut out of the Montreal Impact. This time around, the Union were not as successful. A penalty win against Columbus was followed by a 2-0 loss to our rivals to the North, New York Red Bulls. Needing a win in their final qualifying round match to get to the final round, the Under 16s took a 2-0 lead into halftime against Toronto FC. Unfortunately, Toronto FC managed to score 2 goals in the second half and win in penalties, knocking the Union out of the competition.

While the result is disappointing, the Union fared well in a major academy tournament for a team that was officially created just a couple months ago, and the experience of competing against fellow MLS academy teams cannot be discounted.

U13/14s

The littlest Doopers continued their torrent scoring, tallying three goals against Baltimore and five goals against Virginia Rush. They're the only Union unbeaten group remaining. The Under 14s have managed to score 27 goals in their last 4 matches, and astonishingly haven't allowed a goal since their first match of the season. Juan Pablo Infante, nicknamed Juanito, has already scored eight goals this season despite only starting two matches. These kids especially have a lot of developing to do, so there's very little to take and dissect from their success. But their dominance is a good sign that Union academy Technical Director Tommy Wilson's system is enjoying some success, and hopefully in the future the talent on this team finds its way into the older academy (and possibly senior) levels. The Under 14s are the only academy team playing this upcoming weekend, travelling 140 miles southwest to Rockville, Maryland to take on Bethesda-Olney.

Finally, this is my first article as an official member of the Brotherly Game staff. I'd like to thank William Murphy for inviting me to join, and I hope the Union Academy roundup becomes a weekly feature that all Brotherly Game readers enjoy.

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