Started in the fall of 2017, Philadelphia Union Academy launched an innovative new program for selected young players up through U11, serving as an extension of Philadelphia Union’s renowned Union Academy, which starts at U12. Today, the Union Junior Academy program features three full-time teams for selected boys in the U9, U10, and U11 age groups.
Philadelphia Union are proven thought leaders in youth development in North America, and once again have been setting an MLS standard with an Academy-level program for players as young as age seven. The Union Junior Academy is in turn supported by regional clubs and related feeder programs, including Philadelphia Union Youth (featuring camps, clinics and summer select teams) and The SWAG (inner city training for players from U4 through U8).
Philadelphia Union’s culture and methodology are key pillars of Union Junior Academy. The Union Academy coaching staff have introduced players into a holistic, experiential, game-oriented and player-centric environment at Union Youth Development’s home complex, YSC Sports.
The Union Junior Academy’s coaches are members of Philadelphia Union Academy’s staff, and are provided with extensive coaching education programming and all of the resources available to the program to ensure that our Junior Academy players learn in an incomparable developmental environment. Our staff consists of a group of the most ambitious and dedicated coaches in the region, many with prior experience as professional players.
The Union Junior Academy program includes not only a soccer schedule, but also multisport sessions, a first for U.S. professional soccer youth teams. Union Junior Academy players participate in basketball and other multisport activities, which sports science suggests are beneficial for the athletic and coordinative development of the under-12 athlete.
Philadelphia Union is passionately committed to providing our rich local talent pool every opportunity to play a starring role for the club, and believes that our “Pathway to the Pros” will be a key ingredient to the Union’s future successes.
With the Union Junior Academy, the ultimate goal is to produce an environment that develops a sustained love for the game. That love will drive some boys through the “Pathway to the Pros,” ultimately leading to a professional debut as a Philadelphia Union Homegrown player. Notably, the Union have become a leader in bringing young talent to MLS, with Brenden Aaronson, Mark McKenzie, and Anthony Fontana starring for the club. Five additional Union Academy products joined the Union's MLS roster in 2021.