The 2021 Philadelphia Union Homegrown class are only days into their first preseason training sessions but have already caught the eye of Head Coach Jim Curtin.
Officially added to the squad on January 1, the additions of 16-year-olds Quinn Sullivan and Brandan Craig, 17-year-olds Paxten Aaronson and Jack McGlynn, and 19-year-old Nathan Harriel. With the Union philosophy focusing in playing this homegrown talent, the group stands at 10 with returning “veterans” with the likes of Anthony Fontana, Matt Real, Matt Freese, Jack de Vries, and Cole.
“All of those players showed that they belong already,” Curtin said during his media availability on Wednesday. “For 16 and 17-year-olds to jump in and play against Ilsinho, Przybylko, Monteiro and Glesnes and [play] well speaks for the talent they have.”
Coach Curtin emphasized the strong culture within the team. Most of the guys have been participating in voluntary workouts for the last four weeks, including the new Homegrowns, and showed up to official training in better shape than expected. Having another year of chemistry should benefit the guys, despite the five Homegrown additions.
“There are a lot of new, younger faces, but they’re not unfamiliar faces,” Curtin said. “They’ve been in and around this club for several years while in the academy.”
All five players earned minutes not only with the Union Academy but with Philadelphia Union II last season with Harriel and McGlynn getting to celebrate at Subaru Park as the squad the Supporters’ Shield.
As the attention turns to 2021 and youthful signings leading the way for the club’s offseason signings, the club’s average age has dropped three years from last season according to Curtin.
“It’s what we believe in as a club and it’s been proven through the years if you give these young guys a chance, more times than not they’ll impress you.”
With Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie succeeding in Europe, it’ll be exciting to see which Homegrowns stand out throughout the 2021 season.