Talen Energy Stadium played host to the three oldest Philadelphia Union Academy teams last weekend in division rivalry matches against a New York Red Bulls program that has had the upper hand in the rivalry since the Union joined the Development Academy five years ago.
But you wouldn’t have thought that in the games played at the stadium on Saturday (the U12, U13 and U14 teams played at YSC Sports). The Union outscored the Red Bulls 10-2 in the three games, starting with a tight 1-0 win in the U15 game, followed by 4-1 and 5-1 wins for the U17 and U19 teams.
The U19s were strengthened by the return of homegrown midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who was making his season debut with the U19s and defender Ben Ofeimu, who became fixtures with the Bethlehem Steel FC in their postseason run that was cut short by Eastern Conference champions Louisville City for the second straight year.
The exposure to professional soccer was evident for both Aaronson, who commanded the offense and Ofeimu, who partnered with Sekou Soumah in the back to hold the Red Bulls scoreless after surrendering an early goal to Samuel Epitime in the 8th minute.
Antek Sienkiel, who had a standout performance in the midfield alongside captain Cole Turner, tied the game up in the 28th minute with his first goal of the season and Axel Picazo put the Union up 2-1 with five minutes left in the first half.
The second half was all Union as Aaronson made it 4-1 with goals in the 47th and 66th minutes and Selmir Miscic tacked on his first goal for the U19s in the 71st minute. Miscic played 30 minutes off the bench in his second appearance for the U19 team.
The U17 team made it six straight wins to start the season with a 4-1 win. Like the U19 game after them, the match started with the Red Bulls grabbing an early lead in the 7th minute from Roald Mitchell.
Julian Anderson’s penalty kick tied the game up in the 18th minute and two minutes later Jack de Vries connected on the first of his two goals on the day to score the eventual game winner. Patrick Bohui made it 3-1 in the 28th minute and de Vries completed his brace with a second goal in the 52nd minute to round out the scoring.
The U15s were stuck in a deadlock with the Red Bulls until the 78th minute (of an 80-minute match) when Zion Scarlett stepped up with the game-winner. Scarlette, who joined the team from Lower Merion SC this season, leads the U15s with six goals on the season.
Back at YSC Sports, the U14s and U13s both also posted wins.
After conceding a goal from Leonard Aviles in the 31st minute Dominic Dubon scored twice to lead the U14s to the victory. Dubon, who joined the Union from Baltimore Celtic for this season, leads the team with 11 goals.
The U13s won 3-1 behind goals from Dylan Falcone, John Andrus and Emerson Kekesi. Andrus, who joined the Union in the offseason from the Maryland club FCUSA, leads the team with 13 goals.
The Union return home tomorrow for games against Players Development Academy, beginning at 11 a.m. and ending with the U19 game at 7 p.m.