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Union Academy teams have mixed results in first GA Cup qualifiers since February 2020

The U17 and U15 teams each won 1 out of 3 matches at the MLS Next Fest in Norco, California

Matt Ralph

After canceling the Generation adidas Cup finals in 2020, the annual competition pitting MLS teams with invited international club teams is back on for 2022. Qualifying for the tournament began during the MLS Next Fest in California last week through Monday.

Playing their first Generation adidas Cup qualifiers since February 2020, the Philadelphia Union U17 and U15 teams each played three group qualifiers over four days this past weekend and each posted a 1-2-0 record.

The Union U17s went 1-2-0 in their three group games against Columbus Crew, Atlanta United and San Jose Earthquakes. They opened play with a narrow 3-2 loss to the Crew (goals from Nelson Pierre and CJ Olney), followed it up with a 2-1 win over Atlanta United (goals from Marcello Mazzola and a winner from Olney) and ended things on a sour note with a 3-0 loss to San Jose.

The Earthquakes were the top scoring team in the competition — the full format for the 2022 Generation adidas Cup hasn’t been announced — outscoring opponents 12-2 in the three matches. LAFC was second in that category outscoring opponents 9-1.

The Union U15s went 1-2-0 in their three group games against Austin FC, Orlando City and Real Salt Lake. They lost 1-0 to Austin FC to open the competition and were on the losing end of a 3-0 score line against Real Salt Lake on Monday to fall six points back of the group leaders. They beat Orlando City 4-1 on Saturday on goals from Cavan Sullivan, Kellan LeBlanc, Anisse Saidi and Stefan Chirilla.

The full format of the 2022 GA Cup hasn’t been released so it isn’t clear what the next step is. The canceled 2020 finals featured two divisions at the U17 level and one division for the U15s.

There were two legs of qualifiers held in 2019-2020 with the Union hosting the first leg in October in Chester before traveling to Salt Lake City for the second leg in February 2020. The Union U17s qualified for Division 2 in 2020 and the U15s did not qualify.

The last finals were played in Frisco, Texas in April 2019. The Union U17s competed in the Premier Division and came up short of advancing to the semifinal while the Union U15s finished third in the MLS bracket for the U15 finals after picking up 7 points in four matches.