A familiar foe is all that stands in the way of the Philadelphia Union Academy U18 team making the U.S. Development Academy championships in California later this month.
Players Development Academy will visit the Training Center in Chester on Thursday at 5 p.m. for a quarterfinal match-up.
Only four points separated the teams in the division standings this season, and the road team each won a game in two regular season meetings.
PDA dominated the Union in a 2-0 win at YSC Sports back in August with midfielder James Murphy pulling the strings against his former team in the midfield. Josh Burnett scored in the first half and Shane Kastl in the second half.
The Union offense was clicking early in their most recent meeting in Somerset on April 30. Joseph DeZart scored just 10 minutes in and Alex Soto found what would eventually hold up as the winner less than a minute later.
Murphy, who spent time with the Union U14 team in 2012-13, cut the lead in half with a goal in the 26th minute but the defenses kept things scoreless the rest of the way. Murphy’s goal was the first conceded by the U18 back line in 2016 after starting the calendar year with six straight shutouts.
PDA also features former Union Academy forward Isaiah Young, who is second on the team this year in goals with 12. The Berlin, New Jersey native will be returning to the club with a trophy after scoring a goal and assisting on a game-winner for the U.S. U20 team in the NTC Invitational Tournament in California.
The tournament was held in the location - outside Stubhub Center in Carson - that the winner of Thursday’s game will get to play a semifinal match.
Several of the players in Union’s U18 squad advanced to the Championships last season with the U16 team after beating New England Revolution in a quarterfinal in Chester.
Raheem Taylor-Parkes had a hat trick off the bench in that game and Alex Soto also scored in the 5-3 win.