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Substitutes create magic second half moments to secure a playoff berth for Philadelphia Union U19s

Seniors JD Wagner and MD Myers scored the tying and game-winning goals in the final home game of their academy career on Saturday

Photo by Matt Ralph

JD Wagner and MD Myers have been playing soccer together since they were both kids in South Jersey. On Saturday, their second half goals 19 minutes apart against PA Classics secured a playoff berth for the Philadelphia Union U19s in the last home game of their academy careers.

Wagner, a defender from Medford Lakes, N.J. who is headed to the Naval Academy, scored just the second goal of his academy career when he headed home a Nick Blacklock corner kick in the 54th minute to tie the game at 1-1. That came seven minutes after Tonny Temple was sent off with a second yellow with his team down 1-0 on an Antoine Leheron goal in the 45th minute.

Myers checked into the game in the 69th minute and in the 73rd delivered the decisive goal.

“Coming into the game and being able to score the game winner with my first touches was just an amazing feeling,” said Myers, a Delran, N.J. native who is heading to High Point University this fall. “I’m just really proud of the team and how we were able to come together after a rough start to the game. Going on to win the game after going down 1-0 and play short a man really showed our resilience.”

The fireworks didn’t end with Myers’ goal.

Axel Picazo, who was a focal point of the attack in the comeback, set up a third goal with a strong run into the final third and a pinpoint cross to Selmir Miscic three minutes later. Jack de Vries then delivered the goal of the year with a volley in the box off a cross from his Bethlehem Steel FC teammate Patrick Bohui in the 90th minute. The last three goals all came from subs.

“It just shows how dynamic, how resilient the group is,” head coach Kevin Coleman said after the match of the 4-1 win. “You give up a goal when you know you need to win and go down to 10 and then to score four goals is pretty special.”

Nine seniors logged minutes in the game, which was played at Villanova University. That included Nick Blacklock, Colin Davis, Myers, Wagner, Picazo, Kristopher Shakes, Antek Sienkiel, Temple and Kemali Green. The senior class will officially graduate high school later this week from YSC Academy.

“It’s great to see those guys go out on a high note and into the playoffs,” Coleman said.

The U19s ended the regular season with a W-D-L mark of 11-7-4 in third place in the Atlantic Division with 40 points. PDA topped the division with 44 points (14-2-7). They’ll head to San Diego later this month for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs.

The U19s be joined in the playoffs by the U17 and U15 teams.

The Union U17s finished the season top of the Atlantic Division and sixth overall with a 15-3-4 record after a 1-0 win on Saturday (goal by Jackson Temple). The Union U15s finished unbeaten at the top of the Atlantic Division and sixth overall with a 17-4-0 record after beating PA Classics 5-0 on Saturday (goals were scored by Myles Culley, Jackson Gilman, Nelson Pierre and Quinn Sullivan x 2).