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Philadelphia Union Academy season reopens with derby matches against Continental FC

The local rivals (and some classmates at YSC Academy) face off on Sunday

Matt Ralph

The Philadelphia Union Academy teams will have their shortest road trip of the season this weekend when they visit local rivals Continental FC at The Proving Grounds in Conshohocken.

Six local derby matches will be played on Sunday between the two clubs, beginning with the U14s and two U12 games at 1 p.m. and ending with the U16s kicking off at 5:15 p.m.

The U18 teams are separated by 16 points in the Atlantic Division standings as the second half of the season kicks off for both teams. The Union top the standings with a 9-2-1 record based on points per game but they’re six points behind New York Red Bulls, which have played three more games and boast an 11-3-1 record.

The first meeting between the two teams wasn’t close. Tiger Graham had four goals in the match and Dawson McCartney and Josue Monge both added goals in a 6-1 win. Temple commit Alexander Hajj scored the lone goal for Continental (3-7-3).

Graham is among the league leaders in goals with 15 on the year. With Bethlehem Steel FC’s season in full swing, the Union should have a bit of a different look with guys like Monge, Nykolas Sessock, Mark McKenzie, Anthony Fontana and Justin McMaster spending time in USL. Goalkeeper Matthew Freese, who has made just one appearance since joining the academy since he elected to play his senior season at Episcopal Academy, will be a player to watch in the back half of the season.

Only separated by one point in the Atlantic Division standings, Sunday’s game between the U16s promises to be another tight and entertaining affair.

The rivals played a wild game in the fall that saw eight total goals between the two teams and the Union storm back in the second half after facing two goal deficits twice in the first 50 minutes of the match.

Daniel Bloyou had a hat trick and Brenden Aaronson and Carter Emack added goals for the Union (6-3-3) in the game while Continental’s three first half goals came courtesy of Matthew Harridan, Jeremy Rafanello and Jalen Weatherspoon. Continental enter the match with a 6-5-2 record.

U12: Two games at 1 p.m.
U14: 1 p.m.
U13: 3 p.m.
U18: 3 p.m.
U15: 5 p.m.*
U16: 5:15 p.m.

* The U15 teams compete in the Northeast Pre-Academy League, but will be joining the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in 2017-18