Union Academy / Union II

The U17 GA Cup victory previewed future Union II additions

Photo @PhilaUnion

Late Sunday afternoon in Bradenton, FL, the Union Academy’s U17 team won the Generation Adidas Cup over the LA Galaxy. The final score was 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout, following a 2-2 draw after extra time.

It is the Academy U17’s third time lifting that trophy (see photo). The other two came in 2012 when Jim Curtin was head coach and last year in 2023. Five current Union II professionals played on the 2023 side: Sal Olivas, CJ Olney, David Vazquez, Andrew Rick, and Neil Pierre. Pierre remained eligible this year.

It is the first time the U17 GA Cup has been won in back-to-back years, although Seattle did win it the last year before the COVID-19 hiatus and the first year after the tournament resumed.

Noteworthy players

Since the live stream gave an anticipatory look at eight of the nine prospects Union II communications have listed as possible additions to Union II’s game roster, each is briefly mentioned below (categorized by birth year).


Andrew Craig is a 16.5-year-old defender. He wore a game jersey on the sidelines during the final but was not in full kit. We guess he may have been injured, though he received his medal along with his teammates.

Henry Bernstein is a 17.2-year-old-midfielder who started the final and played the first half. He played centrally, closer to the defensive line than the attack. He served all first-half free kicks and corners.

Zach Mastrodimos is a 17.0-year-old-midfielder who played the entire match (70 minutes, plus 10 of extra time) and scored a shootout PK. He began in the central midfield and ended as an outside back. In addition to his versatility, he covers ground voluminously, quickly, and with intelligence.

Diego Rocio is a 16.5-year-old-striker. He played the entire match and scored a shootout PK. He also scored the match’s opening goal. He has already appeared for Union II as a late-game substitute on March 24 against New England II.


Peter Doran is a 16.1-year-old midfielder who came on as a late substitute.  He did not attempt a shootout PK.

Kellen LeBlanc is a 16.0-year-old midfielder who came on at halftime for Bernstein the day after his 16th birthday and scored a penalty kick in the shootout. He seemed more offensive-minded than his predecessor. He also appeared for Union II, in the same match against New England II as Rocio.

Anisse Saidi, the U17 captain, is a 15.7-year-old striker who played the entire match and scored the first penalty kick in the shootout. He dressed but did not play in the previously referenced Union II match.

Jamir Johnson is a 15.7-year-old winger who was substituted off in the second extra time period. His one v one creative ability assisted the game-tying equalizer that sent the match past extra time to the shootout. Johnson cameoed late for Union II in the New England match.


Cavan Sullivan is a 14.5-year-old attacking midfielder who played the entire match, tapping home the second-half equalizer from Johnson. His penalty kick in the shootout was saved. Goalkeeper Gavin Atkinson’s save and sudden death PK Scorer Neil Pierre rescued him. In Union II’s previously mentioned New England II match, he provided the assist to striker Sal Olivas for the winner.

As discussed earlier on PSP here, and later here, unofficial reports state he will sign a first-team contract as a homegrown player with Philadelphia. Sullivan clearly belongs on the pitch among U17s. His first appearance with MLS NEXT Pro’s young adults made a similar suggestion, but that is only one datum from a game’s final half hour.

Whatever happens with his contract, it is likely he will remain the Academy U17 side’s attacking midfielder beyond the MLS NEXT Flex tournament through the 2024 MLS NEXT Cup (June 15-23). Sullivan probably will make only occasional appearances for Union II until August, fitting them in around his U17 responsibility. We guess he will join Union II seriously in August, not July, because players typically take time off once the U17 season is over. Since Sullivan may be leaving home sooner than most, family time may have an especially high value.

The organization has always respected family vacations for its amateur teenagers. However, once Sullivan signs a homegrown contract that dispensation will most likely end.

Sullivan can only work professionally in soccer within the European Union once he turns 16. Because Great Britain is no longer part of the EU, he cannot work there until he is 18, so he should be in Philadelphia until he turns 16 late in 2025.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    My understanding is that Cavan will only go to Europe prior to 18 if he becomes “too good” for MLS. Assuming that he gets more time with Union 2 than the parent club this year, that means he would really need to tear things up for the Union in 2025, or else he’ll still be in Philly for 2026 (and possibly most or all of 2027). So essentially, he’ll either be with the Union for around 3 seasons, or he’ll be here less time but have significantly helped the team during that time.

    • The point I would add to Andy’s analysis is that sometimes soccer players make plateau jumps in the quality of their play. Cavan Sullivan could plateau-jump, as it were.
      Frank Westfield may be making such a jump this season. It is too early to tell, not enough games observed. The first few have been encouraging.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Agreed on Westfield, especially considering he’s switched sides of the field. Always good to have outside backs that can play on either side.

  2. Zizouisgod says:

    Was a fun watch with lots of impressive talent on display, but came away most impressed by Mastrodimos.

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