Similar to their first game on Friday, the Philadelphia Union Academy U16 team started off strong but had their momentum interrupted by a whistle-happy ref in a 2-2 draw with New York City FC in their third Generation adidas Cup east regional match.
Starting off on the front foot with good movement in the midfield and link-up with the forwards, Issa Rayyan picked up where he left off on Saturday with an early goal to put the Union ahead and then doubled the lead minutes later when he was tripped up in the corner of the box and converted from the penalty spot.
With the lead and the momentum on their side, the Union were whistled for the first of two penalties that ultimately ended the first half on a sour note. Goalkeeper Tomas Romero dealt well with the first penalty, diving to his left and knocking the ball off the post and out for a corner.
The second should have never been a penalty in the first place. Coming off his line to meet Will Sands near the end line, Romero was whistled for a soft penalty when he made so little contact with Sands he didn’t even go down.
Romero stepped up again and got his hand on the ball to save the ensuing attempt, but he was ruled to have left his line early and Gio Reyna buried the second attempt to cut the lead in half.
It was Reyna (yes, that Reyna) who got the play started that put City back on level terms, sending in a corner kick that eventually ended up finding the head of an unmarked James Sands a yard out from the goal line.
The Union had a golden opportunity of their own to retake the lead when Rayyan found a streaking Chad Letts with a perfectly weighted diagonal ball. Letts, who subbed in to start the second half, left the defense few options but to foul him on his way to the goal. But in a foreshadowing of action to come, NYCFC keeper Alex Rando saved Letts’ penalty kick attempt to keep the game tied.
With the game tied at full time and each team earning a point in the standings, Rando’s save on the first attempt in the penalty shootout was enough to give the visitors another point from the penalty shootout as all five of the City kickers converted and won 5-4.
The U16s finished the weekend with four points from three games and face a must-win against New York Red Bulls in November before heading to Orlando City for a pair of games in the second round of qualifying in February.
D.C. United earned a much-needed win and dug New England’s hole even deeper with a 3-0 win over the Revolution on Monday.
Alec Townsend, Bryce Orsini gave United a commanding lead and an unknown player wearing No. 26 (there’s no 26 on their roster) lofted a ball over the Revolution keeper from the right flank late in the game to make it 3-0.
The Revolution came awfully close to getting their first goal of the tournament with a shot off the woodwork late, but instead they left Chester with zero points and a minus nine goal differential.
D.C. United finished the weekend with three points and a minus one goal differential.
Atlanta United 0 New York Red Bulls 0 (Atlanta United 6-5 on PKs)
After scoring eight times in their first two matches, Atlanta United were brought back to earth by the New York Red Bulls, which held the dynamic and athletic newcomer to the tournament field to a scoreless draw.
Atlanta United, which has resembled a U18 squad in appearance, strength and athleticism came out strong with winger Zyen Jones pushes the offense forward, but after the Red Bulls weathered an early storm they showed why they have been such a dominant force in youth development over the years.
Taking advantage of quick counters, pressing the defense into turnovers and creating chances off free kicks, the Red Bulls were the more dangerous side for long stretches of the match, creating opportunities through former Union U15 midfielder Anthony Rovito and forwards Dylan Sullivan, Aziel Jackson and Scott Taylor.
The Red Bulls defense also did well with the tall task of defending Jones and Atlanta United homegrown Chris Goslin, who checked into the game in the second half. Forward James Brighton created their best opportunities to break the scoreless tie with his charging runs and physical play. He came ever so close to setting up Liam Butts with a pretty cross, but Butts’ attempt went wide of goal.
Butts and goalkeeper Tyler Hogan, who did well cutting out free kick attempts and made a couple other vital interventions, would ultimately secure the extra point for Atlanta in the penalty shootout. Hogan’s two saves in the shootout and Butts’ conversion gave them the 6-5 advantage and Atlanta eight out of nine possible points in the first three games.
They top the standings with eight points and a plus six goal differential, followed by Orlando City with six out of a possible six points and a plus four goal differential.
|New York Red Bulls||1||0||1||0||4||2||0||+2|
|New York City FC||0||1||1||1||2||4||7||-3|
|New England Revolution||0||3||0||0||0||0||9||-9|