The Philadelphia Union Academy U18 and U16 teams both earned points in the first game of the group stage of the U.S. Development Academy playoffs in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday.
The U16s had a hard luck 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake while the U18s picked up a 2-0 win over Beachside SC.
Brenden Aaronson opened the scoring for the Union U16s in the 14th minute with a goal off a corner kick and the Union had a chance to double the lead when Issa Rayyan was taken down in the box but Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Preys saved Kalil ElMedkhar’s penalty.
Union goalkeeper Carlos dos Santos kept the Union in front with a save of his own early in the second half, but Nykolas Sessock was whistled for a penalty in the box and Aristotle Zarris buried his chance from the spot to tie the game and give Real Salt Lake a share of the spoils.
With Vancouver Whitecaps beating Kendall SC 3-0 in the other Group A match, the Union enter Friday’s match against Kendall SC needing a win. Only the top seed in the group advances to the knockout round. Vancouver is the third overall seed in the tournament while the Union are 12th.
Playmaking midfielder Josue Monge scored his third goal in 10 games for the U18s in the 21st minute and goalkeeper Andrew Verdi registered his 13th clean sheet of the season to give the Union a key three points in the opening match of Group G.
Joseph DeZart added a goal in the 33rd minute to give the U18s a plus two in goal differential and put them into first place in the group (first tiebreaker is goal differential, second is goals scored).
Defending champs Chicago Fire also won by a 3-2 score over Kendall SC to keep pace with the Union. The two teams meet on Friday for a game that could ultimately decide who wins the group and advances to the knockout round.
The U18 team, in the playoffs for the third time, has never advanced out of the group stage.