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Philadelphia Union Academy U18 and U16 teams pick up critical playoff wins

Both teams inched closer to a knockout round berth with big wins in the U.S. Development Academy playoffs in Frisco on Friday.

Alexander Soto
Alexander Soto in a game earlier this season against PA Classics
Matt Ralph

The Philadelphia Union Academy U18 and U16 teams each picked up crucial victories in their U.S. Development Academy playoff group stage matches on Friday night in Frisco, Texas.

Facing a must-win situation after a draw on Wednesday, the U16s edged the Miami-based Kendall SC on a second half goal by Michael Pellegrino. The U14 captain came on as a substitute in the match after playing in two of the U14 team’s three showcases matches in Frisco.

Goalkeeper Carlos dos Santos made a big save in the first half en route to recording his seventh clean sheet of the season. Defender Brandon Golden also made a critical intervention late in the game to preserve the shutout and keep the team’s chances of advancing to the knockout stage alive.

To do that, they’re going to need to win their final Group A match against third overall seed Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday and get some help in Kendall SC’s match against Real Salt Lake AZ.

The Union enter the final match even with Real Salt Lake at the top of the group on four points, but the Arizona-based club have a better goal differential after beating Vancouver 2-0 on Friday. The Union have a plus one in that category, which is the first tie-breaker. Kendall SC were eliminated with the loss to the Union.

U18s

The U18 team control their own destiny after a second straight 2-0 win in Group G play, this time over defending champions Chicago Fire.

Goalkeeper Andrew Verdi recorded his second straight clean sheet the hard way, saving a penalty kick for the second time in three games moments after the Union took the lead through a Yosef Samuel finish on a cross from Josue Monge.

The Fire saw another potential equalizer clang off the crossbar early in the second half and substitute Alexander Soto put the game out of reach with a stunning free kick goal late.

With the win, the U18s enter the final group match with six points and a healthy goal differential of plus four. A draw in either game Sunday will be enough to put the Union through to the knockout stage.

Kendall SC edged Beachside SC in the other Group G match Friday night to draw even in the standings with Chicago Fire on three points. Kendall SC has a zero goal differential and the Fire are minus one.