The Union Academy U15/U16 team has arrived in Florida ahead of a crucial set of games in the Generation adidas Cup regional qualifiers.
Currently sitting in third place in their group with four points after the first leg held in Conshohocken back in October, the Academy side needs at least a second place finish to qualify in the "GA" bracket, a final group stage for the national event being held over Easter weekend in April. The remaining teams qualify to the "ESP" bracket, which isn't really explained on the MLS Generation adidas web page.
The Union's East Region group includes Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls, which both have 9 points, Orlando City (3 points), New England Revolution (2 points) and DC United (0 points).
Orlando City is hosting the event at Seminole Soccer Complex in Sanford, Florida.
The Union will play the first game Friday at 1 p.m. against DC United and play again Saturday against Toronto FC at 3 p.m. Their final game is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday against New York Red Bulls.
The team arrived on Thursday and had gifts awaiting:
In case you were wondering, Sanford is 2 hours and 26 minutes from Clearwater, where the senior team has set up their preseason camp, according to Google Maps.
This is the eighth year of the U-17 tournament. A Union side that included Zach Pfeffer, SC Freiburg goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Penn State forward Connor Maloney won it in 2012, beating Toronto FC on penalties after a 2-2 draw at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington.
Stoke City became the first international side to win the tournament last year, the first year international teams were invited. D.C. United has won the competition three times and Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles Galaxy each have won it once.