Philadelphia Union Academy midfielder Michael Pellegrino is just one of three Academy players who were invited to preseason camp this year with the First Team.
The holding midfielder is also joined by Academy standouts Brenden Aaronson and Tomas Romero.
Since coming to camp, Pellegrino has experienced a new level of higher play. Nonetheless, he's appreciative of the experience and training in Clearwater, Florida.
“It’s been great getting to know all the guys and playing at a much higher level than I’m used to,” Pellegrino said. “It’s been difficult but it’s been a great experience so far.”
As a holding midfielder, it was obvious Pellegrino was going to look up to Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, especially for their leadership skills both on and off the pitch.
“I’ve been looking up to (Alejandro) Bedoya for a while with all of his National Team experience and obviously how skilled of a player he is,” Pellegrino said. “I’ve always looked up to (Haris) Medunjanin too with his skill on the ball, his awareness is just something I’ve envied for such a long time."
In fact, Pellegrino has truly been in awe of watching Medunjanin and has tried to replicate his game.
“I always like to see what they’re doing and taking little notes," Pellegrino said. "Haris is always disguising his pass, cutting it back never really showing what he’s doing so I try to take that and incorporate it into my game."
So far, the youngster expected preseason would not be an easy task but looks to continue giving his all in camp and learning from the experience.
“I expected it to be extremely difficult but really fun and I realized I’m here for a reason," Pellegrino said. "I’m going to try my hardest and do what I can to contribute to the game.”
Pellegrino is also thankful for how far the Union Academy has taken him in his soccer career and has helped prepare him for these surreal moments.
“The main difference is obviously the level of play, but also the Academy is at a super high level, being able to train with Steel and being able to rank up,” Pellegrino said. “It’s great being able to have that support team while trying to get all the way to the top.”
Pellegrino and the rest of the Boys in Blue will take on the University of South Florida tonight in a preseason scrimmage at 7 p.m. at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex. The match is open to the public, but will not be streamed live.