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Union Academy duo on United States U18 roster for tournament in Czech Republic

Axel Picazo and Kris Shakes are part of 21-player roster

Matt Ralph

While their peers are preparing for the upcoming Development Academy season back in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Union Academy teammates Kris Shakes and Axel Picazo are in the Czech Republic for a tournament through August 26th.

Shakes, a goalkeeper from Florida, and Picazo, a winger from Texas, are among 21 players called into the United States Under-18 team by head coach Tab Ramos.

They begin play today against the United Arab Emirates, play Bulgaria on Wednesday and finish group play against the hosts on Friday. The U.S. won the Vaclav Jezek Youth Tournament in 2014 (with Union Academy alums Sebastian Elney and Sean Wilson) and 2016 (with current first team defender Matt Real).

Shakes was named to the Best XI for the Eastern Conference for his standout play for the Union U17 team last season and has been a regular in training with Bethlehem Steel. Picazo scored 10 goals in 19 league games for the U17s last season. Both were also key contributors to the team’s Generation adidas Cup campaign.

The DA season opens on September 1 with the Union hosting New York City FC at YSC Sports. NYCFC has two players with the U.S. team in defender Nico Benalcazar and midfielder Justin Haak.


GOALKEEPERS (2): David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.), Kristopher Shakes (Philadelphia Union/Bethlehem Steel FC; Coral Springs, Fla.)

DEFENDERS (7): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), Nico Benalcazar (New York City FC; Wilton, Conn.); Nathan Harriel (Chargers Soccer Club; Oldsmar, Fla.), Julian Hinojosa (FC Dallas; Garland, Texas), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC; New York, N.Y.), Stuart Ritchie (FC Groningen; Schoolstraat, Netherlands), Leonardo Sepulveda (LA Galaxy; Corona, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Taylor Booth (Unattached; Eden, Utah), Justin Haak (New York City FC; Brooklyn, N.Y.), Aidan Morris (Crew SC Academy; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.); Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas); Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas; Little Rock, Ark.), Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa F.C.; Savannah, Ga.)

FORWARDS (6): Roberto Hategan (Sacremento Republic F.C.; Chicago, Ill.), Ulysses Llanez (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Axel Picazo (Philadelphia Union; Chester Springs, Pa.), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Gabe Segal (Bethesda SC; Bethesda, Md.), Folarin Balogun (Arsenal FC; South Ockendon, England)