The Philadelphia Union U15s are going to the Generation Adidas Cup final! The Philadelphia Union U17s are going to the Generation Adidas Cup final! After defeating Orlando City and Los Angeles FC respectively, Philadelphia’s U15s and U17s advance to take on two Texas teams in the final.
Union U15s and U17s are on to the GA Cup finals!
Before we get to that, though, let’s look back at how the day’s semifinal matchups unfolded for the teams affectionately referred to as the Baby Snakes.
U15s- First Half
Much like the game against Real Madrid, the Union’s high pressing, direct style of play was pitted against a more possession-oriented team, this time in the form of Orlando City. The first half saw a few chances for both teams but didn’t kick off until time was winding down (or more accurately, up) towards the halftime whistle.
First, Orlando was awarded a dangerous free kick, which in turn led to consecutive corners, but the Union defense held firm. Philadelphia quickly earned a corner of their own, but, while it dropped kindly for the Union after the Orlando keeper punched the initial cross, they were unable to apply the finish.
U15s- Second Half
It didn’t take long into the second half for the Union to fire themselves into the lead. A fantastic through ball from Mateo Gallegos was cleverly dummied by Cavan Sullivan, which opened up an acre of space for Nehan Hasan to take a touch and apply the finish, putting Philadelphia up 1-0.
The Union was lucky to avoid conceding a quick equalizer when Orlando had a goal called back for a Philly handball at the beginning of the play. They were understandably unhappy with the decision, but the referee had spotted a handball on Orlando’s goalscorer that negated their advantage, hence the whistle. The resulting free kick was blazed over, and the Union could stop holding their collective breath…
…at least until another Orlando free kick in the final seconds of the game. They sent everyone forward, even the goalkeeper, but Philly’s own keeper Alex Smith managed to smother the ball before Orlando could get off a shot. The final whistle pierced the air and Orlando’s hearts, sending them out and the Union U15s on to their first GA Cup final!
U17s- First Half
The U17s looked to follow the younger squad’s example by coming out on the front foot against LAFC. The first chance of the game came in the 6th minute. Only a poor final touch at the crucial moment prevented the Union from capitalizing on a one-on-one with, at the very least, a good shot.
Both teams generated plenty of chances throughout the rest of the first half, and the breakthrough finally came for Philadelphia in the 17th minute. CJ Olney Jr. was given space on the edge of the box to pick his head up, and he took advantage by playing a perfectly weighted chip toward the far post for Sal Olivas to head past the diving LA keeper. Not to be confused with the other kind of diving in soccer: falling over in an attempt to draw a foul. More on that kind from LAFC later.
LAFC had a few chances to equalize as the first half came to a close, but a combination of good defending and luck kept the score at 1-0 heading into halftime.
U17s- Second Half
Four minutes into the second half, LAFC finally made their pressure pay off. The Union’s luck ran out as a save from Philadelphia keeper Andrew Rick rebounded off a defender and into the net.
Philly didn’t waste time bemoaning their misfortune after conceding the equalizer. It took only three minutes before they went ahead again, early substitute Diego Rocio burying the ball in the back of the net off a ball from Edward Davis.
The final ten minutes of the match consisted of nearly constant LAFC pressure, punctuated by brief Philadelphia counters that generated a few chances. Every LAFC attack seemed to end with a corner kick to continue the pressure. The only exceptions were a couple of goal kicks after LAFC attackers decided to treat the Union box like a swimming pool and try some diving of the other kind.
Despite 5 minutes of stoppage time stretching the game out unbearably for Philly players, coaches, and fans, the Philadelphia defense held out against the barrage, with a final, well-placed header from LAFC drawing a fantastic save out of Rick. The ref finally blew his whistle, canceling swim practice and confirming the Union U17s would join their younger teammates in their own bracket’s final.
It’s Philadelphia against Texas in tomorrow’s Generation Adidas Cup finals. First, Philly’s U15s take on Austin FC at 12:00 pm ET. Then, the Union U17s face FC Dallas at 5 pm ET. Both games are available to watch through the MLS Season Pass from Apple TV.
Win or lose the actual game for either team, having both age groups in the final has to be seen as a win for an organization that is cementing its place as the top youth academy in the United States.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire, Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire.