The Philadelphia Union have been fortunate with the success and productive growth of their academy and USL affiliate players that have made an impact with the first team. Some of the most prominent players that have started their careers appearing for the Philadelphia Union academy team and Bethlehem Steel FC before signing a contract with the Philadelphia Union include Derrick Jones, Auston Trusty, and Anthony Fontana. Within the past two years, these three players have all notched a start for the Philadelphia Union as Trusty and Fontana were the most recent homegrown players to do so in the team’s 2018 home opener against New England. Jones has made 13 total appearances for the Union.He also came on as a sub in last week’s season opening 2-0 victory over the Revolution. Jim Curtin and his staff will look to effectively groom these homegrown players into skillful athletes that will make a positive difference toward the club’s success moving forward.
Midfielder Derrick Jones signed with Bethlehem Steel FC to start the 2016 season and he became the club’s first-ever signing. In his time with Bethlehem Steel, he scored five goals and made a total of 26 appearances with the USL affiliate. Then on July 27, 2016 Jones signed an MLS contract with the Union as a Homegrown Player. Derrick Jones’ hometown is Philadelphia, PA. Jones made 12 appearances for the Union in his first full season with the team and also earned two starts for Philadelphia in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as he scored his first competitive goal in the fourth round of the tournament. Jones has also made an appearance for the United States U-20s on October 5, 2016 against Germany. Jones’ highest accomplishment has been making the final USA squad for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup as he notched four appearances throughout the tournament and helped USA win Group F. Jones has plenty of potential and can certainly make a positive impact for the team now and in the future.
Centerback Auston Trusty signed a Homegrown Player contract with the Philadelphia Union on August 10, 2016 and became the second homegrown signing for the team in 2016 along with Derrick Jones. Auston Trusty grew up in Media, PA. Trusty made his club and league debut by starting for the Union in this season’s home opening win as he helped the defense earn a clean sheet. Trusty also made the U.S. squad in the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup and scored a goal just minutes after being subbed on in his first appearance with the team. With this feat, he became the first active member of the Philadelphia Union to score a goal at a FIFA World Cup which is truly impressive. Some notable stats that Trusty achieved while with Bethlehem Steel include his 24 regular season starts along with a start in the playoffs and the two assists acquired. Trusty will look to solidify his spot at center back as he and Jack Elliot can continue to improve and fortify the backline for many more years to come.
Center attacking midfielder Anthony Fontana developed his skills at the Philadelphia Union academy and fought his way through Bethlehem Steel FC as an academy player. Fontana made his professional soccer debut for Bethlehem in July of 2016 at 16 years old. He would go on to make eight appearances that year for the Steel in their inaugural season. Fontana then notched an additional 11 appearances for Bethlehem in the 2017 season for a total of 19 appearances. On July 17, 2017 Anthony Fontana signed a homegrown player contract with the Philadelphia Union and would officially become an active player for the team on January 1, 2018. Anthony Fontana’s birthplace and hometown is Newark, DE. Fontana earned his first start for the Union in their 2018 home opener and also scored a goal in his debut with the team. For the 18 year old, that is a great way to start off an MLS career and things are looking positive for the future star, Fontana. Fontana will look to continue his success for the Union and take advantage of the many opportunities to come. Video on Twitter via @MLS
Here is Anthony Fontana’s first goal scored for the Philadelphia Union. It only seems fitting as his fellow academy friend and young defender Auston Trusty is the first one to jump in and celebrate with Fontana in the corner. Via Twitter @PhilaUnion #DOOP
Some other homegrown players that recently signed with the Union in the offseason were Matt Real and Mark McKenzie. Real and McKenzie both signed a contract with the Union on January 18, 2018 as Homegrown Players. These two players have yet to make an appearance for the Philadelphia Union but made two appearances as subs in the 2018 Rowdies Suncoast Invitational preseason tournament. Matt Real made 17 starts for Bethlehem in 2017 while adding a goal and assist in that season. Mark McKenzie made a total of eight appearances for the Steel throughout the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. McKenzie also played in 16 matches for 685 minutes as a freshman at Wake Forest University on his way to helping the team attain a tremendous 19-2-2 record. The Union coaching staff looks to groom these players for the next few years by helping them improve their skills through training and playing time with Bethlehem Steel.
Moving forward, the Union organization is in a great place with their current homegrown players as they plan to successfully develop and integrate them into the starting lineup on the first team. The team is also in a great position with three of their Homegrown Players having already seen game action in the MLS. The Philadelphia Union are on the rise as their homegrown players can only improve upon their skills and talents moving forward. As for this season, Jones, Trusty, and Fontana will look to take advantage of every opportunity given to them as well as form a winning culture in the locker room and in their promising futures with the Union. DOOP!
All stats and insight found on philadelphiaunion.com and wikipedia.com
“Photo: Philadelphia Union Twitter/@PhilaUnion”