After a three-week break that saw players scattered in Texas for the Generation adidas Cup, in Canada with Bethlehem Steel FC and in Dallas and France for U.S. youth national team duty, the Philadelphia Union Academy resumes its U.S. Development Academy schedule this Sunday against local rival PA Classics.
The U18 team game kicks off at noon. Forward Michael Swift, who is no longer with the team, scored in the 80th minute to lift the Union to a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture played on the Training Ground at Talen Energy Stadium back in October. Bethlehem Steel FC midfielder Derrick Jones started at center back in that game.
The win was the second for the U18s in five games against PA Classics since joining the U.S. Development Academy in the 2013-14 season. The other three matches, dating back to November 2013, have ended in draws.
PA Classics is coming off a two-win weekend with wins over BW Gottschee and NJCSA on March 19 and 20. Forward Robert Miller, who leads the team with 12 goals, was named the U.S. Development Academy player of the week for his efforts in the win over previously unbeaten BW Gottschee. Miller scored an 88th minute game-winner in the game. Midfielder Braden Kline had a brace in the 2-0 win over NJCSA.
The Union have outscored opponents 13-2 over a four-game unbeaten streak to move to within one point of New York Red Bulls for the Atlantic Division lead while PA Classics are riding a three-game winning streak and are in sixth position eight points behind the Union in the standings.
Forward Isaac Hollinger scored two first half goals to lead PA Classics to the 2-1 win the last time these two teams met in Chester last October. It was the second win in the fixture dating back to November 2013 and evened the overall record between the rivals to 2-2-1.
The PA Classics U16 have hit a recent skid with a 2-1 loss to BW Gottschee and a 1-1 draw with NJCSA in back to back games March 19 and 20, but are still in third place in the Atlantic Division behind the Union, winners of three straight.
Many of the regulars for the Union are fresh off a Generation adidas Cup trip that saw them finish with a respectable 2-1-2 record despite failing to advance out of their group in the Premier Division of the annual U17 competition.
Goalkeeper Carlos dos Santos had a strong tournament, earning a pair of clean sheets against Colorado Rapids and Houston Dynamo and leading his team to a penalty shootout win with a big save against the Dynamo.
The U16 games kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The U14s have never lost to their age group counterparts at PA Classics and have also never conceded a goal in the fixture in four games dating back to March 2014. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The Union are unbeaten in seven games dating back to October and have outscored opponents 11-1 in their last three matches. PA Classics have gone in the opposite direction of late with a five-game losing streak dating back to November.
The U14 games kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The U13 and U15 teams play PA Classics on Saturday, April 2 in the Northeast Pre-Academy League. The U13s play at noon followed by the U15 team at 2 p.m.