Pfeffer trained with the Union first team since August.
Greg Carroccio

Union, YSC to unveil academy structure

Chester, Pa. (November 18, 2010) – Philadelphia Union and YSC, the Union’s Official Youth Development Partner, will unveil an innovative youth development program for the region’s top players ages 8-18 on November 23rd at 6:30 p.m. at YSC’s brand new state of the art training facility in Wayne, PA. The Union/YSC Model is unlike any youth soccer development program in the United States, providing free training and competition opportunities for elite youth players under a “club-neutral” format.

“We have a deep passion for developing youth and the model that we’ve created with our partners is extremely innovative, collaborative and barrier-free for every player and every club,” said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner of Philadelphia Union. “We felt it is more important to work with the existing youth soccer infrastructure than compete with it in order to add value and inspiration to the players and partner clubs.”

The Union/YSC Model provides the Philadelphia region’s most talented youth “a path to PPL Park” and the opportunity to pursue the dream of professional soccer. In April of 2010, Step I, the YSC Union Juniors program (ages 8-12), was launched. The program has been an overwhelming success with over 550 of the area’s top youth players receiving training at YSC. Now, the Union and YSC are simultaneously launching Steps II & III of the program, Union Juniors Academy (ages 13-14) and Union Youth Academy (ages 15-18). This unique program enables Philadelphia Union and YSC to work in conjunction with local youth clubs to share in the process of developing players. The club-neutral format enables gifted youth players to remain registered and playing with their local club teams while receiving free supplemental training and competition opportunities when “called up” to represent Philadelphia Union.

“At YSC, we are committed to player development,” said YSC founder Rich Graham. “Our partnership enables Philadelphia Union and YSC to positively impact youth players ages 8-18. We are honored to be able to provide this one of a kind program to the area’s top players in conjunction with the Union.”

Perhaps the most innovative element of the Union/YSC Model is Step III for ages 15-18. The Union and YSC have formed a Youth Development Affiliation program open to all clubs that meet certain technical criteria (i.e., coaching staff qualifications, curriculum plan design, etc.). The founding Youth Development Affiliate clubs include both U.S. Soccer Development Academies (FC DELCO, PA Classics, and PDA) and non U.S. Development Academy clubs (Lehigh Valley United, Penn Fusion and YMS). This unique program provides selected players a direct and authentic link to the professional game, while offering affiliate clubs oversight and guidance from the Union/YSC Technical Staff on player development best practices. As the final step before the pro game, the 15-18 age group is a critical phase for developing players and identifying who has the talent to make the leap to the pros.

“The aim of our program is two-fold,” said Philadelphia Union Coach/Youth Team Coordinator John Hackworth. “First, we want to improve the soccer environment for all youth players in the Philadelphia area. Secondly, we want to create a realistic and progressive path for the elite players in this area. We feel like this partnership with YSC and our affiliate clubs will enable us to begin the long-term process of creating a better learning environment for Philadelphia’s young soccer players.”

The fourth and final step of the program is a spot on either Philadelphia Union’s First or Reserve Teams and/or one of their professional affiliate partners Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-PRO) or Reading United (PDL).


Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC, is the ownership group of Philadelphia Union and is comprised of Chairman/Owner Jay Sugarman, CEO and Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz, Christopher Buccini, Robert Buccini and David Pollin, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group.  The group launched the Philadelphia Union's inaugural season on March 25, 2010 and opened PPL Park, the brand new $122 million soccer specific stadium on the Chester Waterfront, on June 27, 2010.  PPL Park, the home of Philadelphia Union, holds approximately 18,500 seats and will host various events throughout the year. For more information about Philadelphia Union, visit


YSC is a “club neutral” soccer training center committed to youth development. YSC’s primary emphasis is on programs for young players in their “golden learning years” of 8-14.  YSC was founded with the objective of elevating the level of play in our region by providing all clubs, coaches and players a high quality, supplemental resource for youth soccer development. YSC staff include top level soccer trainers led by Academy Director, Iain Munro (UEFA Pro License), as well as a full time Sports Science team (including a PhD in Physiology and PhD in Sports Psychology) dedicated to developing best practices in youth development.  For more information about YSC please go to


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