For the second day in a row, the Philadelphia Union Academy U16 team held a top Mexican club scoreless for an hour on Wednesday but this time held on for a 1-1 draw against a team that had outscored opponents 16-2 through the first five games of the LIGA Bancomer MX International Tournament.
As they did against Club Tijuana on Tuesday, the Union struck first when newcomer Liam O’Brien hit home a low line drive corner kick from Seth Kuhn while falling down in just after halftime. The goal was the first for the former Match Fit Academy forward in a Union jersey.
Goalkeeper Kristopher Shakes made a couple of key saves for the Union to keep Pachuca’s offense in check, but was unable to cut down a long through ball when he came off his line in the 60th minute. Armando Leon caught up to the pass in stride and calmly slotted the ball into the net after beating Shakes to it.
With the score tied going into extra time, Pachuca’s frustration started to show as a yellow card was shown for a takedown, and a red card was shown two minutes later just before the whistle was blown.
While the Union were already eliminated from advancing to the championship game, Wednesday’s result did keep leave open the possibility of advancing to the third place game. It was also a hard fought result against a team that had been cruising through tournament play.
The U16s play FC Dallas at 1:10 p.m. eastern time today in need of a win to advance. FC Dallas is in second place in the MLS group with six points and the Union are in third place with four points. LA Galaxy has already clinched a spot in the championship with 10 points and will play the winner of the LIGA MX group. Club Tijuana leads that group with 15 points and Pachuca trails them by one point.
The Union’s starting XI for Wednesday’s game in a 4-2-3-1 formation was O’Brien up top; Nicholas Blacklock, James Simpson and Jason Aoyama as attacking midfielders; Carter Emack and Michael Pellegrino as defensive midfielders and Seth Kuhn, Rayshaun McGann, Benjamin Ofeimu and Oluwa Ogunwale in front of Shakes on the back line.
Issa Rayyan (35’), Brendan Aaronson (38’), Chad Letts (46’), Iverson Brisma (46’) and Guei Bla (61’) came off the bench.