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Union Academy teams split games against NYCFC in first day of GA Cup

The U17s dropped their game 1-0 Friday morning, but the U15s exploded for four second half goals in a 5-0 win in the afternoon

Matt Ralph

Generation adidas Cup qualifying for the 2019 edition of the annual MLS youth competition kicked off Friday at the Power Training Complex with an uncharacteristic performance from the Philadelphia Union U17 team and a blowout from the U15s.

In the U17 game, it was New York City FC grabbing a 1-0 win that could have easily been a 4 or 5-0 drubbing while in the U15 game the score could have been even more lopsided than the 5-0 final.

Playing a little over a month after the Union opened the season with a 3-2 win for the U17s and a 4-1 win for the U15s, NYCFC enacted a bit of revenge in the first game of the day when they forced their U17 counterparts into their worst performance of the 2018 campaign.

Normally so reliable in their midfield — and bolstered in their attack with Bethlehem Steel FC midfielder Selmir Miscic returning to the team after making his U19 debut last weekend — the U17s lacked the fluidity that has given them a 4-0-0 start in league play. Turnovers in the midfield and miscues in the back led a number of chances for the Pigeons.

Union goalkeeper Lukas Burns, who has been a regular in training with Steel, did well to cut down a few of NYCFC’s better chances and some poor finishing kept the game scoreless longer than it deserved to be. NYCFC’s winner came late but it wasn’t undeserved.

“It was a very timid performance,” head coach Gary Lewis said after the match. “It’s a disappointing start really but we’re not going to qualify this weekend, we’re not going to get knocked out this weekend so it’s important we get back on it.”

The rhythm the U17s never managed to find in their opening match really kicked in during the second half of their game against NYCFC. The Union took a 1-0 lead into the break through a goal from Million Evans that Nelson Pierre helped create, but took over the game with a well executed high press and lethal restarts from Brandan Craig.

Pierre finished with a brace and Quinn Sullivan and Sam Fenton added goals. Craig set up a strong headed finish for Pierre off a corner kick and Fenton’s goal off a a free kick from the right flank.

“I thought we played really well against a New York City team that’s on fire recently,” Craig said after the match. “I think we just played our style and we used our speed up top to our advantage.”

Head coach Chris Brewer was pleased with the way his group executed their game plan.

“We were good finishing, I thought we pressed very well and broke their rhythm a lot,” Brewer said. “It’s a long tournament, but it’s a good start.”

GA Cup regional action continues today with the U17s taking on New England Revolution at 10 a.m., followed by the U15 game at 12:30 p.m. New England won their U15 game 1-0 over Atlanta United and picked up a 2-2 draw and an extra point with a penalty shootout win on Friday.