Two Philadelphia Union Academy teams traveled to North Carolina for a U.S. Soccer Development Academy showcase last weekend and returned buzzing from a dynamic showing and six wins.
“It’s great to see the boys in a really competitive environment down there,” Union U14 head coach Kevin Coleman said. “Sunday showed us another level with this group, one that we’ve been hoping for.”
The team went down early in Sunday’s game against Atlanta United on a fourth minute goal from Alex Hernandez but responded right back with an equalizer from Ryan Lau and a beautifully timed header from Nelson Pierre on a whipped in ball from Brandan Craig sent toward the far post in the 17th minute. Pierre got on the end of another ball from Craig in the 37th minute on a corner kick and Ian Abbey and Anthony Derk added goals to make it a 5-2 win.
“It was a tough environment the boys had to adjust to,” Coleman said. “Giving up a goal three minutes in, I couldn’t be happier with the response.”
The U14s picked up a pair of wins a day earlier in 50-minute matches against New York City FC and North Carolina FC Youth North. Pierre, Craig and Quinn Sullivan all scored in the 3-0 win over NYCFC while it was Abbey with the lone goal in the 1-0 win against NCFC.
The trio of Pierre, Craig and Sullivan played with the U15s in Generation adidas Cup friendlies at Power Training Complex three weeks ago. Sullivan and Craig are both 2004s who play with the U15s while Pierre is a 2005 who has split time between the U14s and U15s .
“You talk about a kid who is 12 years old and has the ability to rise to the occasion,” Coleman said of Pierre, who has 9 goals in all competitions this season. “He is driven and the biggest thing is he wants to improve every day.”
The U13s outscored opponents 10-2 in their three games with Jordi Guifarro (pictured in the tweet above) leading the offense with three goals, including a smoothly taken golazo to the upper 90 after collecting a turnover in the New England Revolution offensive third. Marcello Mazzola also had a couple goals for the team, which beat NYCFC 2-1, Concorde Fire 3-0 and New England Revolution 5-1 to improve to 8-0-0 on the season.
Guifarro and Mazzola were listed among the standouts of the weekend by TopDrawerSoccer (paywall). Guifarro was described as a “quick player with deft skills” and Mazzola a “clinical finisher with a quality first touch.”
Four players from the U14 team were named by TopDrawerSoccer (paywall), including PIerre, central midfielder Jason Barragan, center back Andrew Johnson and attacking mid Nicolas Rubio.
“Results are one thing but the way the boys performed, especially in the Atlanta game, is really representative of what we’re trying to do,” Coleman said.
Both teams face another tough opponent this weekend in New York Red Bulls with the U13 game at 1:30 p.m. at the Red Bull Training Facility and the U14 game at 3:30 p.m.