The Philadelphia Union Academy U18 team conceded its first goal of the calendar year but still held on to win their seventh straight game and avenge an early season loss at Players Development Academy on Saturday.
PDA midfielder James Murphy, who spent time with the Union U14 team in 2012-13, scored in the 26th minute to snap a six-game scoreless streak for the visitors but by then the Union had already gotten the goals it needed to secure three more points in the race to catch first place New York Red Bulls in the Atlantic Division standings.
Joseph DeZart and Alexander Soto, who both played in central New Jersey before joining the Union Academy, scored in the 10th and 11th minutes to provide the offense. Soto now has goals in each of his last three games and four on the season. DeZart's goal was his third of the season.
The game marked a U18 debut for Kalil ElMedkhar, who came off the bench in the 85th minute. Forward Justin McMaster picked up his first start for the U18s after making his debut off the bench last week.
The trip to Somerset, N.J., was the final regular season road match for the U18 team, which has four games remaining in the season - two to be played at the Union Training Center in Chester and two at YSC Sports.
The Union (15-3-4) still trail the New York Red Bulls (14-3-3) on points per game in the standings but lead the division on points with 49.
The U16s prevailed 4-2 in a match that saw four goals scored in the final 20 minutes.
Issa Rayyan and Darius Lewis scored 10 minutes apart in the first half and Seth Kuhn's first goal of the season appeared to have put things out of reach when he made it 3-0 in the 72nd but PDA fired back with a goal in the 74th minute from Thomas DeVizio to make things interesting.
The intrigue didn't last for long.
Brenden Aaronson restored the three goal leads moments after subbing into the match and John Murphy ended the flurry of goal-scoring in the 80th minute to bring the home side back to within two.
Rayyan's goal was his eighth of the season to put him second on the team in goals behind Justin McMaster's 13. Lewis moved into third on the team in goals with his seventh.
The win was the third straight for the team, which hasn't lost since a 2-1 defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps on December 7. Union (14-3-5) are on even on points with New York Red Bulls in the Atlantic Division standings, but the Red Bulls have two games in hand.
The U14s extended their win streak to nine with a convincing 3-0 win over PDA.
Jason Aoyoma scored for the fourth straight game and Anthony Cousins picked up the winner 11 minutes in. Nicholas Blacklock scored his 12th of the season in the 34th minute. Kristopher Shakes picked up the clean sheet making his third start in goal.
Aoyoma now leads the team with 15 goals and has scored five times in the last four games.
The U15 team beat PDA 1-0 on Saturday and NJCSA 2-1 on Sunday, the U13s topped Cedar Stars Academy and the U12s beat FC Europa to give the Union a perfect seven for seven weekend sweep.
The U18 and U16s teams host Richmond United on Saturday at YSC Sports. The U18 game is at 11 a.m. followed by the U16 game at 1 p.m. The U14s host NJCSA that night at 7 p.m. The U13s host Lehigh Valley United at 3 p.m. The U15s visit PDA on Saturday, May 14 and the U12 team visits PDA on Saturday at noon after a midweek game against Continental FC Dortmund.