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Familiar faces lead PDA into national semifinal

The Philadelphia Union Academy didn't make it to either U16 and U18 semifinal, but some former players did.

Isaiah Young with the ball is defended by Matthew Real in the U.S. Development Academy quarterfinal on July 7. Young played for the Union Academy U16 team in 2013-14.
Matt Ralph

Several players who made up the first Philadelphia Union Academy U14 team will feature in today’s U.S. Development Academy semifinal, but none will be wearing a Union jersey.

That’s because their team, Players Development Academy, beat the Union U18s last week 3-1 to earn a trip to Carson, California and a semifinal date with the Vancouver Whitecaps tonight at 9 p.m. eastern.

PDA forward Isaiah Young is a big reason why. The speedy winger who scored his 13th goal of the season in the quarterfinal against his former team (and hit the woodwork a couple other times) was on the Union Academy U16 team in its inaugural season in the U.S. Development Academy in 2013-14.

While the Berlin, N.J. native is the only player in PDA’s current roster to compete with a Union Academy team in the U.S. Development Academy, he and a host of his teammates were on the U14 team in 2012-13 when it was essentially an all-star team of area players pulled from youth affiliates PDA, Continental FC Delco, Lehigh Valley United, Penn Fusion and others.

Brothers Josh Burnett and Chaz Burnett, who have combined to score 24 goals for PDA this season, were on that U14 team. So too was standout midfielder James Murphy, who has missed PDA’s postseason run to pursue a professional contract in England. Regular starters Joe Bianco, midfielder Jack Casey, defender Michael Luke and goalkeeper Kevin Silva were also in the player pool back then.

That U14 pool also featured a number of players who continued with the Union Academy like Freeman Dwamena, Anthony Fontana and Tiger Graham but also included a pair of players who are over in Europe now in Christian Pulisic and Daniel Barbir.

PDA repeat?

The last time PDA made it this far, they won it all in 2014. Brian White, who spent time with the Union Academy in 2012-13 and is now at Duke, led that team with 28 goals.

To get back to the final, PDA will need to get by a Whitecaps team that has lost only once all year while leading the Development Academy with a staggering goal differential of plus 57.

Incidentally, their only loss came in the second week of the season to Nomads, which will be taking on FC Dallas in the other U18 semifinal tonight at 11:30 p.m. eastern.

How to Watch

All four semifinal games for the U16 and U18 division will be streamed live on U.S. Soccer’s YouTube channel.

The U16 semifinals feature FC Dallas and Chicago Fire at 4 p.m. eastern, followed by LA Galaxy and Real Colorado at 6:30 p.m. PDA’s game will be streamed beginning at 9 p.m. and the FC Dallas game will follow at 11:30 p.m.