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Union Academy U18 and U16 teams close out year at Winter Showcase in Florida

The U18s went 2-1-0 and the U16s went 1-2-0 in their final games of 2016

Axel Picazo
Axel Picazo
Matt Ralph

The Philadelphia Union Academy U18 and U16 teams closed out the calendar year against some of the top teams in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy at the Winter Showcase in Lakewood Ranch, Florida over the weekend.

The U18s won their first two matches, 2-1 over Real So Cal and 3-1 over Sporting Kansas City, before dropping the final match on Sunday 2-0 to Atlanta United.

Tiger Graham continued his goal-scoring form with the game-winner in the 82nd minute to beat Real So Cal and the third goal in the 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. He continues to not only lead the team but also all of the USSDA in goals with 15 at the midway part of the season.

Patrick Murphy scored his first of the season in the first game while Andrew Aprahamian’s first of the season held up as the game-winner to beat Sporting Kansas City and Anthony Fontana found the back of the net for the third time on the year.

With the two wins, the U18s go into the break in first place with a 9-2-1 record in the Atlantic Division based on points per game despite trailing the New York Red Bulls by six points because they have three games in hand.

The U16s opened their showcase with a 5-1 win over Sacramento Republic, but fell to MLS academy foes Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 and Sporting Kansas City 6-3 to end the road trip on Monday.

Axel Picazo had a brace and Brenden Aaronson, Chad Letts and Benjamin Ofeimu scored goals in the U16s first game. Picazo added a third and Seth Kuhn and Jason Aoyama had goals in what ended up a disappointing result on Monday, a 6-3 loss in a game that saw both Ofeimu and Nykolas Sessock sent off.

Picazo, who joined the Academy from Texas ahead of the season, is second on the team in goals with six behind Daniel Bloyou, who has eight.

The losses were the first for the U16s since falling 3-2 on the road to D.C. United to open the season in early September. They sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with a 6-3-3 record going into the break.