While it feels like last season and the U-16 team's incredible run to third place in the Development Academy Championships only just ended, the Philadelphia Union Academy will be kicking off another season today with games against Players Development Academy at YSC.
Many of the players from that U-16 team that had such a banner year for the Union have moved up to the U-18 team this season.
Players like Auston Trusty, Jerren Nixon, Raheem Taylor-Parkes, Mark McKenzie, Alexander Soto, Tiger Graham, Joseph DeZart, Matthew Real and Andrew Verdi will be joining core returners from last year Derrick Jones Amaniampong, Michael Swift, Yosef Samuel, Conor Bradley and Shane Bradley. The Bradley brothers have been part-time in the Academy the past two seasons, playing high school soccer for the Haverford School in the fall.
Newcomers to the U-18s include another Florida import from Sunrise SC in Emmanuel Perez and Maximilien Sakiewicz, who is the son of Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz.
Perez, who has been in the U.S. youth national team player pool, is the latest in a successful pipeline from Florida that has already proven successful with the likes of recent graduate Sebastian Elney and Taylor-Parkes. Sakiewicz last played in the Development Academy with Continental FC DELCO in 2013-14.
Departures from the roster include Jamaican midfielders Ryan Miller and Johann Weatherly. The U-18s play today at 11 a.m.
The U-16 team will have a very different make-up this year with so many moving up, but they will have a solid core of some of the biggest talents in the Academy in forward Justin McMaster and defender Rayshaun McGann. U-14 graduates and U.S. youth national team players Carlos dos Santos (goalkeeper), defender Nykolas Sessock and midfielder Brendan Aaronson will be key additions to the squad. Other notable returners include defender Andrew Aprahamian, midfielders Kalil Elmedkhar, Omar Ayala and Byron Josue Monge.
Newcomers to the team and the Union Academy include Christian Schifano (New England Revolution Academy, Brandon Golden (PDA), Darius Lewis (FC Florida), Issa Ryan (Vardar Academy) and Benjamin Ofeimu (Vardar Academy).
Departures from last season who didn't move up to the U-18 team include Colin Brezniak (DC United Academy), Jack Skahan, Robert Miller, Max Silberg, Jake Silverstein and Ryan Trapp.
The U-16s play at 1 p.m.
Returners to the U-14 team include Nicholas Blacklock, Obafemi Awodesu, Cole Turner, Kenyatta Collins, Maxwell Owens, Michael McKeown, Michael Pellegrino and Antek Sienkiel.
Newcomers to the U-14 team this year include Anthony Cousins, Benjamin Bender, Brendan Hasson, Daniel Bateman, Eoin Gawronski, Evan Lamarca, Guei Marco Obed Bla, Jack de Vries, Jason Aoyama, John Wagner, Liam Cummings, Matthew Myers,
Departures that didn't move up to the U-16 team include Carter Emack, Daniel Bloyou, Blaire Barber, Iveron Brisma, Christian Contreras, Tanner Dail, Kevin Escobar, Vilbert Fortulas, Giovani Jimenez, Nicholas Liddy, Tomas Romero, Aziz Saidi, Andrew Taber, Fimmbar Teah, Tonny Temple and Andres Uribe.
The U-14s play PDA at 3 p.m.