McCarthy, Elliott vs. Columbus

Younger players stepping up for the Union

The Union have seen several young players step up to make an impact on the first team this season. Jack Elliott, Derrick Jones and Giliano Wijnaldum are just a few players who continue to make a name for themselves on the pitch.

Elliott has certainly made a statement for his Rookie of the Year campaign. The defender was selected in the Fourth Round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, but found himself in the starting XI for most of the season for his unlikely centerback pairing with Oguchi Onyewu.

Elliott has appeared in 19 games for the Union this season, his first MLS appearance coming into the second half of the Union's match against DC United in April. He got his first start of his MLS two weeks later against NYCFC, and he hasn't left the starting lineup since. 

The defender has seen 1,637 of playing time, making several key plays clearing the net and carrying the team on his back.

Jones is another player who the Union have high hopes on. The Homegrown player has made 11 appearances and eight starts during his first full season with the Union. 

In the Union's season opener against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Jones was named to the starting XI. In doing so, he became the first Union player to start an Academy game, a Bethlehem Steel FC game, and Union game. 

Jones recorded his first goal in a Union kit against Harrisburg City Islanders. His first goal was just another step forward in his progression as a soccer player and continues to be an important piece of the Union's future. 

Jones was later named to the Homegrown Game roster, playing the full 90 minutes in the match. Jones and teammate Auston Trusty became the first players in Philadelphia club history to represent the Union in an Homegrown match after going through the Union Academy ranks as well as playing for USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel.

Wijnaldum is another player who continues to impress the coaching staff. Winjaldum has made nine starts at leftback for the first team this season, and is a player the Union has high hopes for.

In his first MLS debut against Colorado Rapids, he played 90 minutes in the match and made one tackle, one block, two clearances and five ball recoveries. Winjaldum also completed 45 passes in 53 attempts in the match, giving him an impressive 85 passing percentage.

Wijnaldum has started for the Union in the last eight games, playing the full 90 minutes except for the team's match at Columbus, where he played 75 minutes.

Coming off the bench this season has also been Marcus Epps and Adam Najem. Epps has been deployed by the Union both as a starter and as a sub, where he has made nine appearances for the Union. He scored his first career goal to cap off the Union's 3-0 win against Columbus Crew SC. Najem has also been equally important, getting valuable minutes with Bethlehem Steel FC while chipping in from time to time with the first-team.

Younger players are adding a lot of key talent on the pitch for the team, and they will only continue to do so in their careers. 

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