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Union Academy makes it two for two as U-17s reach final



The Philadelphia Union U-17s took down LAFC Saturday afternoon in the Generation Adidas Cup semifinals at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. After a long week, the Union won through timely scoring and a defiant defense to reach the final tomorrow, where they will face FC Dallas. Dallas beat Columbus 5-4 on penalties earlier in the day after drawing 2-2. The Union now have both teams in finals as the U-15s defeated Orlando City.

LAFC had a few good chances early on, with the second on a roller across the goalmouth that ended up in the side netting. Union striker CJ Olney Jr. countered with a shot from the top of the box that was pushed aside for a corner. LA came back a few minutes later with another shot that Andrew Rick saved.

The Union broke through in the 16th minute when Sal Olivas headed home a beautifully weighted entry ball over the top from Olney Jr to take the 1-0 lead.

The Union almost added a second from Devon De Corte shortly after, but his shot was stopped for a corner. LA had a good look a minute later that was blocked in front by Neil Pierre and had a great chance in first half stoppage time when their outside midfielder curled a shot that missed the car corner by inches.

LAFC came out early in the second half and found the equalizer four minutes in. A lofted cross at the back post found Matthew Evans, who tapped the ball past Rick and over the goal line to knot the game at one apiece. But the Union jumped back on top two minutes later. Edward Davis stripped the LA keeper and settled the ball near the end line. He picked out Diego Rocio in front, and the Union midfielder deposited the pass first-time into the net to give the Union a 2-1 lead.

Union took their time in the Florida heat and tried to stall the game, but LAFC were quick to keep the pace up despite numerous subs from both sides. LA thought they had the equalizer again in the 51st minute, but a fine finish was called back for offside. Jeremiah White had a strong shot stopped three minutes later, but the closing minutes waned as the Union killed the clock and any LA attack with long balls downfield to relieve pressure. LA had a late chance ruled offside and another header off a corner in stoppage time that was pushed away by Rick to see out the game.

Union Starting XI:

Rick, Craig, Wetzel, Pierre, Krueger, Olney Jr., Greer, De Corte, Vazquez, Davis, Olivas

Greg Oldfield is a teacher, coach, and writer from the Philadelphia area. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in Barrelhouse, Maudlin House, Carve, and the Under Review, among others. He also writes for the Florida Cup and Florida Citrus Sports. In 2023, he received an award for Best Column from the United Soccer Coaches for his story "A Philadelphia Soccer Hollywood Story." His work can also be found at

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