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Union U15s learn valuable lessons from mixed results in first leg of GA Cup qualifiers

After outscoring opponents 29-2 to start the season, the Philadelphia Union U15s had a harder time finding the back of the net in the first leg of the GA Cup qualifiers

After steamrolling opponents with 29 goals in their first five league games of the season, the Philadelphia Union U15 team met their match in the first three games of Generation adidas Cup qualifying over the weekend in Chester.

The U15s settled for a 2-2 draw (and a dropped point in the PK shootout) after twice going in front on Friday — first on an Aaron Heard goal in the first half and again when Beckham Aiman scored off a corner in the second half — and then lost a hard fought game to the New York Red Bulls 2-1 after an unfortunate slip by a defender.

Even Monday’s win, where they appeared to be in total command with a 4-1 lead in the second half got sloppy when they let the New England Revolution back into the game and held on for the 4-3 win.

Dom Dubon, who has 14 goals in five league games this season, had his only goal of the three games off an assist from Heard to open the scoring in the first half and Marcelo Mazzola doubled the lead when he was played in by a beautiful lofted pass from Dubon a few minutes later. After New England cut the lead in half Gael Medrano made it 3-1 off a free kick.

Dylan Lacey headed home a corner from Million Evans to make it 4-1 but the Revs refused to go away with a pair of goals to make things interested in the closing minutes of the match. Mazzola, who is second on the team with six goals in league play this season, scored the loan goal in a 2-1 loss to the Red Bulls and was the only Union player with more than one goal for the weekend.

“Although the results don’t show for it, I think we had a decent performance over the weekend,” said Mazzola, who wore the captain’s armband on Monday. “We came up short in the first two games, but I was happy to see the boys pull it together by the third game versus New England Revolution to grab the three points.”

With the win, the Union are fourth place in the group standings with four points — four behind Real Salt Lake — with two games left to play against Inter Miami and D.C. United in Utah in February. Only the four group winners advance to the final event, an eight-team international competition.

“The whole point of the entire competition is to put the boys in a pressure environment against a really equal level of teams and see how they respond to that,” head coach Chris Brewer said. “From our standpoint we were happy for sure with the effort and the application toward playing our style of play. It gives us a great road map of the next areas of work that we need to do as a group and as individual players.”

The Union U15s will get another shot against the Red Bulls this Saturday with an 11 a.m. game at YSC Sports.