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Jamir Johnson goal lifts Philadelphia Union U17s into GA Cup quarterfinals



Photo courtesy of Major League Soccer

Jamir Johnson scored a late goal to lift the Philadelphia Union U17s into the quarterfinals of the Generation adidas Cup with a thrilling 1-0 win over a resolute Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors side from South Korea.

Johnson and company had been knocking repeatedly on the door but it was after a flurry of chances that finally fell into place when substitute Lennon Harrington sent a failed clearance back in to the back post where Johnson was able to stay onside and play the hero for a team looking to repeat as champions at the U17 age group.

The breakthrough would not quite seal the deal with five minutes of stoppage time being added on to the 60 minutes. Jeonbuk pushed for the equalizer and had a legitimate complaint for a handball that went uncalled in the closing minutes. Goalkeeper Gavin Atkinson came up with a key stop on a tantalizing chance to secure the clean sheet. Holding mid Zach Mastrodimos made some vital plays to keep the Union from falling behind and center back Neil Pierre’s commanding presence was key in holding back a strong Jeonbuk attack.

The Union had numerous chances to open the scoring and as the game inched toward penalties the intensity was turned up a few notches (so too the chipiness). Cavan Sullivan had a couple of chances denied by good goalkeeping and Pierre connected on a header off a corner kick that was also parried over the bar. Forwards Diego Rocio and Anisse Saidi were threats to find the back of the net while right back Matheus Depaula was able to find favor pushing forward into the attack.

The U17s will be back on the pitch tomorrow at 5 p.m. against HNK Hajduk Split of Croatia, which secured their quarterfinal spot via a penalty shootout win over New York Red Bulls.

While the U17s are still on track to make a return to the GA Cup final for the second straight year, they won’t have company this year if they do.

The U15 team was knocked out earlier in the day on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire.

The Union is looking to be the first academy to repeat as GA Cup champions since River Plate won three straight years from 2015-2017 and the first MLS academy since DC United won it in 2009 and 2010.

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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