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Philadelphia Union U15s put in ‘sparkling performances’ at GA Cup friendlies

The Union U15s outscored opponents 14-1 over three games

Paxton Aaronson makes a move on the sideline in a game against Atlanta United on October 6, 2017
Matt Ralph

Two shutout wins and a draw is a decent return over any string of three games, but when it comes against tough MLS academy competition over the course of a four-day holiday weekend it’s even more laudable.

After running up against a stellar goalkeeping performance for Atlanta United keeper Vicente Reyes on Friday (1-1 draw, PK shootout loss), the Philadelphia Union U15s were basically unstoppable in 5-0 and 8-0 wins over New England Revolution and Orlando City in the regional friendlies that were part of the Generation adidas Cup regionals for the first time this year.

“The results are fine but the performances were by and large good and consistent, which is one of the challenges with the younger players,” Union U15 head coach Chris Brewer said. “Getting them to play consistently at a higher level and implementing our club style of play is the goal.”

The midfield was particularly strong over the course of the three games with attacking midfielder Paxton Aaronson leading the offense with five assists, Nick Pariano linking play in the middle and Dante Huckaby protecting a back line that conceded only once in the first half against Atlanta United. Huckaby, it should be noted, played center back in the first game Friday.

“I thought we played well as a team; we all came together,” said captain Arnel Miscic, a left back.

Goals came from a familiar place with Miscic’s twin brother Selmir Miscic finding the back of the net four times, adding to the 11 he’s already scored through five games in league play this season.

“I thought it was a good experience,” Selmir Miscic said. “We learned a lot, especially from the first game, even though we lost (the PK shootout) and were able to bounce back.”

Three goals also came from a new face in the lineup, Patrick Bohui.

Bohui joined the residency program from Harrisburg this summer, but the Cotre d’Ivoire native is still waiting for international paperwork to clear before he can compete in league games. Playing up top, Bohui showed strength, skill on the ball and sharpness in the final third.

Also making his debut for the Union was Kléberson Pereira, the son of Brazilian legend and academy coach Kléberson. “Klebby” came off the bench on Friday, converted a PK in the shootout Atlanta United ended up winning to earn an additional point in the standings after a 1-1 draw and also earned some minutes in the second half against Orlando City.

Nelson Pierre, the youngest player in the tournament, made an impact off the bench with a pair of goals against New England Revolution on Saturday. Pierre, who doesn’t turn 13 until March, didn’t look out of place playing two age groups up after making his U15 team debut in a league match in New York on September 30.

Somewhat overshadowed by the play of the offense was goalkeeper Chay Kaplan, who was strong in the shootout and ended up going the final 180 minutes of play without conceding (games were 70 minutes).

Additional goals came from Marco Silva, who chipped in two, and Quinn Sullivan and Nick Pariano, who both scored on free kicks against Orlando City.

The performances not only the eye of Academy Director Tommy Wilson but also Sporting Director Earnie Stewart, first team assistant Mike Sorber and others from the staff who showed up to watch the games and encourage the boys.

“Outside of maybe the first 20 minutes, I thought our 15s controlled the three games they played in. Some sparkling performances,” Academy Director Tommy Wilson said. “(They played) the way I want our teams to play, dominating possession, positive in the final third, creative.”

After their game Friday, Stewart individually congratulated all of the players, who had a chance to interact with several first team players, change in the locker room at Talen Energy Stadium and use the facilities at the Power Training Complex.

“The atmosphere was great, if you scored everybody celebrated, the fields were perfect,” Paxton Aaronson said. “Everything about it was just a great experience.”

The U15s will get to finish their part of the GA Cup in February when they travel to Atlanta United for two remaining games. Before that they’ll play a one-off game to be announced against New York Red Bulls since there are an uneven number of teams (seven) in the competition.

GA Cup East U15 Friendly Standings

Team W L D PK (+1) Pts G GA GD
Team W L D PK (+1) Pts G GA GD
Philadelphia Union 2 0 1 0 7 14 1 13
DC United 1 0 2 1 6 4 3 1
New York City FC 1 0 1 1 5 3 2 1
Atlanta United 0 0 3 1 4 2 2 -
New York Red Bulls 1 1 0 0 3 3 2 1
Orlando City SC 0 2 1 1 2 3 12 -9
New England Revolution 0 2 0 0 0 0 10 -7