A turnover in the midfield proved costly again for the Philadelphia Union Academy U16 team in a 2-0 loss to Pumas in the LIGA Bancover MX International Tournament on Friday.
The giveaway occurred just 13 minutes into the game and midfielder Kevin Canchola took full advantage, taking a couple steps with the ball and blasting a shot past Union goalkeeper Kristopher Shakes from about 30 yards out to put Pumas up 1-0.
After the goal, a Union offense with several changes from Thursday’s 1-0 loss to LA Galaxy did manage to maintain some quality possession and create a couple chances. Liam O’Brien, a newcomer to the Union from Match Fit Academy, found himself in space for a long range shot that sailed wide and nearly got on the end of a diagonal ball from Jason Aoyama that went dangerously across the face of goal.
Pumas had chances to add to their lead before halftime, but strong goalkeeping from Shakes - a fingertip save just before halftime was Andre Blake-esque - kept the score 1-0 going into the break.
A second goal did come less than two minutes into the second half (halves are 35 minutes in the competition) thanks to a fortuitous bounce and a piece of skill from Jonatan Vazquez, who connected with a ball while falling down that had been ping-ponging around inside the 18 to make it 2-0 in the 37th minute.
Still looking for their first goal of the tournament, the Union did finish on a high note in the closing minutes of the game, creating a series of tantalizing chances. Issa Rayyan had a shot blocked in the 68th minute, Seth Kuhn had some pretty passes and Iverson Brisma came agonizingly close to scoring a golazo from way out when his shot banged off the crossbar in stoppage time.
Unfortunately, captain Rayshaun McGann, who put in another fine performance anchoring the back line (John Wagner also played well facing relentless pressure from Pumas), suffered an injury on a hard challenge and had to sub out late in the game.
McGann, Wagner, Oluwa Ogunwale and Kevin Escobar started the match in front of Shakes. Brendan Aaronson, Carter Emack, Brisma, Aoyama, O’Brien and James Simpson rounded out the starting XI. Rayyan, Ofeimu, Kuhn, Guei Marco Obed Bla, Chad Letts, Nykolas Sessock came off the bench.
Another quick turnaround means the U16s will be back out on the pitch in Mexico City today looking for their first points in the tournament against Santos Laguna at 11 a.m. eastern time.
Santos Laguna lost 2-1 to Club Tijuana on Friday. Pachuca beat San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 and LA Galaxy beat FC Dallas 2-0 in the other games Friday.