With a crowd of more than 100 fans who made the drive from New Jersey supporting them, Players Development Academy ended the Philadelphia Union Academy U18 team’s postseason run with an emphatic 3-1 quarterfinal win on Thursday.
PDA took the early lead through Josh Burnett in the 13th minute and never trailed in a game that the Union’s division rivals dominated for long stretches. Yosef Samuel leveled the score before halftime with a penalty kick after a handball was whistled in the box but that was as close as the Union would get playing in front of a home crowd on the training fields outside Talen Energy Stadium.
A penalty call nearly in the same spot of the field as the one in first half early in the 51st minute would prove pivotal for the visitors. After a rare mistake by goalkeeper Andrew Verdi with a giveaway, Rayshaun McGann slid in trying to shut the play down in the box and was only whistled for the penalty after the play was allowed to continue and the shot was fired wide of the goal.
With the Union pressing for an equalizer, PDA forward Isaiah Young, who played for the Union U16 team in 2013-14, took advantage of several counter attack opportunities that eventually led to a goal in the 63rd minute when he slipped past the defense and around goalkeeper Andrew Verdi for an easy tap-in.
Young nearly found the net again on a rocket shot that hit the post - one of three shots PDA hit off the woodwork on the day - and had another chance cleared away near the goal line by defender Matthew Real.
Down a deuce, head coach Chris Brewer brought in speedsters Raheem Taylor-Parkes and Justin McMaster off the bench and the fresh-legged duo nearly made it a game again when Taylor-Parkes sent a perfectly weighted through ball to McMaster in the box. PDA goalkeeper Kevin Silva was quick off his line and McMaster’s shot was pushed wide in one of the few opportunities the Union had in front of the goal all game.
Tiger Graham also subbed in late to try and kickstart the offense, but PDA’s defense held firm in guiding the New Jersey club back to the U.S. Development Academy championship semifinal. PDA, which won the U18 championship in 2013-14, will look to become the first Academy team to win a second title since the Development Academy’s founding in 2007.