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Philadelphia Union U17s beat LA Galaxy in penalty shootout to repeat as GA Cup champs



Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union U17 team is returning home from the Generation adidas Cup in Bradenton, Florida with another trophy in their carry-on baggage.

After playing LA Galaxy to a 2-2 draw through 70 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of extra time, Sunday’s final at IMG Academy was decided in six rounds of penalty kicks.

As they did in the second half after falling behind on two quick goals after halftime, the Union had to come from behind in the shootout after Owen Pratt stopped Cavan Sullivan’s attempt in the second round of kicks. A save from goalkeeper Gavin Atkinson brought them back on level terms and sent the shootout into sudden death where Atkinson watched as the final kick in the tournament sailed over the bar.

Atkinson was one of seven players on last year’s GA Cup championship squad to feature in the run to a cup repeat. Andrew Craig missed the tournament this year due to injury but was with the team and took part in the post-game celebrations on Sunday. Diego Rocio, Neil Pierre, Zach Greer, Henry Bernstein and Zach Mastrodimos lifted their second trophy.

Many of the players from this year’s cup win were part of a U15 final last year that ended in a penalty shootout loss to Austin FC. Cavan Sullivan, Jamir Johnson, Anisse Saidi, Peter Doran, Jordan Griffin, Gavin DeHart and Nehan Hasan all featured in their second straight final.

Sullivan scored the second half equalizer off a feed from Johnson. Rocio opened the scoring in the first half when he buried a chance off a poor clearance for his fifth goal in three games.

The win puts the Philadelphia Union U17s in rarified air for a tournament that launched in 2007 as just the third club to win GA Cup trophies in back-t0-back calendar years. DC United won three of the first four GA Cups in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and River Plate won in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Seattle Sounders won in 2019 and 2022 at the U-17 level after the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 and 2021 editions. The Union are the first to have repeat winners since the competition added a U-15 age division in 2022.

The U17s will now turn their attention back to league play in MLS Next as they prep for a shot at a double with the MLS Next Cup in Nashville in June.

As an academy, the Union can now claim three Generation adidas Cup trophies and an MLS Next Cup won at the U-17 age group. The academy trophy cabinet also includes a U-12 Generation adidas Cup won in December 2019 and a U13 Concacaf Champions League title won in Costa Rica in August 2019.

Starting Lineups:

Philadelphia Union: Gavin Atkinson (GK), Lennon Harrington (Nehan Hasan), Neil Pierre, Gavin DeHart (Matheus De Paula), Jordan Griffin (Zach Greer), Zach Mastrodimos, Henry Bernstein (Kellan LeBlanc), Jamir Johnson (Peter Doran), Cavan Sullivan, Diego Rocio, Anisse Saidi (C)

LA Galaxy: Owen Pratt (GK), Harbor Miller, Jose Magana, Enrique Martinez, Gustavo Gonzalez, Gabriel Arnold (C), Mateo Tsakiris, Dylan Vanney, Adam Dunbar, Ricky Moreno, Mathis Albert

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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