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Philadelphia Union Academy U-16 team advances to semifinals

The U-16 team beat New England Revolution 5-3 to advanced to the final four of the U.S. Development Academy Under-16 playoffs in Carson, California.

Raheem Taylor-Parkes, Matthew Real (3) and Justin McMaster (15) celebrate
Raheem Taylor-Parkes, Matthew Real (3) and Justin McMaster (15) celebrate
By Matt Ralph

Second half substitute Raheem Taylor-Parkes scored a hat trick to propel the Union Academy Under-16 team into the semifinals with a 5-3 win over New England Revolution at the PPL Park Training Grounds on Wednesday.

Taylor-Parkes' first goal minutes after subbing into the game came off a perfectly placed cross from Justin McMaster that set Taylor-Parkes up for a tap-in past New England goalkeeper Trey Miller.

The 3-2 lead didn't hold up long as New England responded right away with the second goal of the game from Isaque Couto, whose first half penalty gave the Revolution the 2-1 edge at halftime.

With the score tied 3-3, the game went to overtime as heavy rains started to fall and Taylor-Parkes delivered again with a controversial goal set up by a through ball from Tiger Graham. The Revolution defense and many of the fans who made the trip down from Massachusetts argued that he was offside but the flag stayed down and Taylor-Parkes had what would hold up as the winner. With the goalkeeper out, he walked his third goal in at the end of the second overtime to ice the tightly contested game.

The Union opened the scoring twelve minutes in with a Jack Skahan header off a long cross from left back Matthew Real, who gave the Revolution defense fits with his crosses. The Union had multiple chances off turnovers early in the game and were on the front foot for the better part of the half when Revolution left back Daniel Jones shifted the momentum with a number of dazzling runs down the left side and combination play with Izaiah Jennings that led to a goal in the 21st minute.

An Auston Trusty tackle on Revolution midfielder Aaron James in the box that was ruled a foul sent Couto to the spot, where he converted with a strike to his right past the diving Andrew Verdi to make it 2-1 in the 33rd minute.

After a sluggish end to the first half, the Union came out firing again with the Alexander Soto (pictured above) and Justin McMaster inserted in the lineup and were back on the front foot for the first part of the second half, creating multiple chances that Miller had to put his body on the line to stop (he drew two yellow cards in the game, one each from starting forwards Jerren Nixon and Tiger Graham).

Miller was unlucky when Soto's long range strike hit the crossbar and bounced off him into the goal in the 51st minute to tie things up and set up the dramatic end to regulation and overtime.

Once the Union took the lead in the first overtime, they limited the Revolution chances with time stalling tactics but needed Verdi and the back line to step up to prevent another Revolution come back. A couple clutch saves from Verdi and commanding headers from the skipper Trusty sealed the victory that sends the Union to Carson, California for the semifinals July 16.

FC Dallas beat Beachside SC in one of the other quarterfinals earlier in the day 6-0 to book the first of the final four spots.

Former Union Academy player Zach Pfeffer and senior team teammates Sheanon Williams and Fabinho came out to cheer on the team at the new Training Grounds outside PPL Park. The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. in the stadium but was moved to the new training fields because the stadium field needed to be re-sodded.