Union Academy Update: Academy Playoffs Preview

This week marks the start of the Developmental Academy playoffs, where the best youth clubs travel to Westfield, Indiana to decide the best Under-18 and Under-16 teams in the nation.

This week marks the start of the Developmental Academy playoffs, where the best youth clubs travel to Westfield, Indiana to decide the best Under-18 and Under-16 teams in the nation.  The field includes the academies of several MLS clubs and several independent powerhouses such as Bethesda-Olney and the Somerset, NJ based club Players Development Academy.  Both the Under 18 and Under 16 qualified for the playoffs as wild card teams, finishing with one of the highest Points Per Game in the country.  Let's take a look at the chances each team will advance far into the tournament.

U17/18s

The Philadelphia Union were placed in Group G with Carolina Rapids, Colorado Rush, and Oakwood Soccer Club.

Team: Philadelphia Union
Location: Wayne. PA
Final Standings: 4th in Atlantic Division, 29th Nationally (10th Wild Card)
Season Record: 10 Wins, 4 Losses, 11 Draws
Points Per Game: 1.64
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 60/33
Player To Watch: Matthew Greer (Top Drawer Soccer Ranking: N/A) - a talented forward headed to Penn in the fall who lead the team with 10 goals this season.

Team: Carolina Rapids
Location: Cornelius, NC
Final Standings: 1st in Southeast Division, 5th Nationally
Season Record: 26 wins, 6 losses, 4 wins
Points Per Game: 2.28
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 91/45
Player To Watch: Tanner Roberts (TDS Ranking: 81st in Class of 2015) - Combined with David Lozano, the two strikers amassed a whopping 46 goals scored combined this season.

Team: Colorado Rush
Location: Littleton, CO
Final Standings: 2nd in Frontier Division, 11th Nationally
Season Record: 18 Wins, 6 Losses, 3 Draws
Points Per Game: 2.11
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 49/27
Player To Watch: Miguel Jaime (TDS Ranking: 86th in Class of 2014) - One of the best midfielders in the West, Jaime returned from a Nottingham Forest trial to lead the Rush to the playoffs.

Team: Oakwood SC
Location: Glastonbury, CT
Final Standings: 4th in Northeast Division, 21st Nationally (2nd Wild Card)
Season Record: 13 Wins, 4 Losses, 6 Draws
Points Per Game: 1.96
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 52/27
Player To Watch: Matthew Vasquenza (TDS Ranking: 134th in Class of 2014) - The Xavier-bound forward was the team's second leading scorer with 11 goals in 22 appearances.

Group Outlook: Carolina is the crown jewel of this group, and their 4-1 thrashing of the Union Monday morning was proof of this.  The Rapids accumulated a nation's best 82 points (Sidenote: the Rapids played 10-12 matches more than most teams in the country because they play during the winter).  The Union will have to grind out results against the defensively-minded Oakwood SC and Colorado Rush.   In December they failed to grab a win against San Jose, Montreal, and De Anza (the latter two will also feature in Indiana) during the Winter Showcase.  They'll be lucky to grind out a result or two, but I'm afraid this team doesn't have the talent to steal a final spot in the Round of 16.

U15/16s

The Under-16s were placed in Group E with Kendall Soccer Club, Chicago Magic PSG, and Albertson SC.

Team: Philadelphia Union
Location: Wayne. PA
Final Standings: 6th in Atlantic Division, 27th Nationally (8th Wild Card)
Season Record: 13 Wins, 7 Losses, 5 Draws
Points Per Game: 1.76
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 47/26
Player To Watch: Cameron Keys (TDS Ranking: 35th in Class of 2015) - one of the nation's best goalkeepers in his age group, the Whitehall, PA native has played for the U15 Boys National Team.

Team: Kendall SC
Location: Miami, FL
Final Standings: 2nd in Southeast Division, 8th Nationally
Season Record: 23 Wins, 6 Losses, 7 Draws
Points Per Game: 2.11
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 77/42
Player To Watch: Jordi Avila (TDS Ranking: 23rd in Class of 2017) - Talented defender who was selected to the Academy's select teams (reserved for some of the best players in the country) during the Winter Showcase.

Team: Chicago Magic PSG
Location: Chicago, IL
Final Standings: 3rd in Mid-America Division, 15th Nationally
Season Record: 17 Wins, 9 Losses, 1 Draw
Points Per Game: 1.96
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 65/45
Player To Watch: Kendall Stork (TDS Ranking: 39th in Class of 2016) - Lead the team in scoring with 18 goals.  Stork was called up to the U18 MNT earlier this year.

Team: Albertson SC
Location: Long Island, NY
Final Standings: 3rd in Northeast Division, 17th Nationally
Season Record: 12 Wins, 7 Losses, 4 Draws
Points Per Game: 1.74
Goals Scored/Goals Conceded: 60/46
Player To Watch: Kyle Perno (TDS Ranking: 90th in Class of 2016) - A defender who has played for the U15 Boys National Team.

Group Outlook: This Union Under-16 side has more talent than their record would indicate.  Not only do they have academy stars Isaiah Young, Morgan Hackworth (yes he's still there), and Cameron Keys, but highly rated prospect Sean Wilson who has played for the Union senior team in friendlies and reserve matches can also contribute.  This group is a lot more in the air than the Under-18's draw.


Congratulations to both squads (and the Under 14s) on their debut USSDA seasons!

**Update**: The Under 18s drew yesterday with Colorado Rush and need to defeat Oakwood SC on Thursday to advance to the knockout rounds.  The Under 16s opened their tournament yesterday with a 3-0 loss to Kendall SC.
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