Union Juniors Pre-Academy FAQs

Union Juniors Pre-Academy

Why is the Philadelphia Union launching the Union Juniors Pre-Academy Program?

Philadelphia Union is committed to youth development and providing opportunities for our talented local youth. We believe Zone 1 (ages 7-11) is a critical developmental phase for youth soccer players. Our objective is to provide a fun and nurturing program that develops a long-term passion and love for the game.

Union Juniors Pre-Academy program will serve as the primary identification platform for the Union Academy, and our scouting department will be working very closely with the program.

Union Juniors Pre-Academy is the first step on the Union’s “Pathway to the Pros” and will feature an experienced staff of dedicated soccer educators.

We believe the greater Philadelphia region has the ingredients to be the future powerhouse in sport of soccer in the U.S. We are passionately committed to providing our rich talent pool of local youth players every opportunity to play a starring role in propelling American soccer forward.

How do we sign up?

Birth Years 2009 and 2010 (U8 and U9 Boys for the 2017/2018 seasonal year):

  • Open Tryouts will be held on March 19th and March 24th at Philadelphia Union’s youth training complex, YSC Sports, in Wayne, PA.
  • March 19th: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
  • March 24th: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • You can register for the tryouts here.

Birth Years 2007 and 2008 (U10 and U11 Boys for the 2017/2018 seasonal year):

  • Invite-only tryouts will be held at Philadelphia Union’s youth training complex, YSC Sports in Wayne, PA.
  • Note: 2007 and 2008 birth year players will be identified by our scouting network, nomination from a player’s club coach / Director of Coaching, and/or identification from our Union Youth training programs.
  • If you believe your son should be considered for the U10 or U11 program, please ask your son’s coach and/or your club’s DOC to contact pkarn@philadelphiaunion.com.  
  • You can sign up for more information on Union Youth Training Programs here.

Where do we practice and play games?

Training sessions and matches will take place at Philadelphia Union’s youth training complex, YSC Sports, in Wayne, PA.

Note: Our program emphasizes more time on the field and less time in a car. The convenience of a central location can help in this regard. However, we do envision limited additional competition opportunities in tournaments and/or jamboree events against other MLS teams taking place offsite.

How long is the season?

The Union Juniors Pre-Academy program is a 36-week program divided into three seasons:

Fall Season

  • 16 Weeks
  • Starts Aug. 21st 2017
  • Competition Begins: Sep. 9th (11 Matches)
  • Break: Nov. 20th – 26th (Thanksgiving)
  • Ends: December 15th
  • One External Tournament

Multi-Sport Winter Season

  • 10 Weeks
  • Starts: January 15th
  • Ends: March 26th

Note: The Winter Season will feature an innovative multi-sport curriculum featuring basketball, gymnastics, futsal and other activities designed to enhance the athletic ability and coordination of all participants.

Spring Season

  • 10 Weeks
  • Starts: April 9th
  • Competition Begins: April 14th (10 Matches)
  • No Breaks
  • Ends: June 15th
  • One External Tournament

Is there a fee for the program?

Yes, Union Juniors Pre-Academy program does have a fee comparable to those for regional youth soccer travel programs. All Philadelphia Union Academy teams (U12-U18) are free-of-cost.

Why the “multi-sport” emphasis in the winter?

Philadelphia Union believes in the value of a well-rounded athletic experience, especially for kids aged 6-12. Sports science data supports the notion that multi-sport activity develops better, more coordinated, athletes. Those who go on to pursue soccer will do so with a better athletic foundation, which will enable them to maximize their true potential as players. For those who choose to pursue other sports later in life, the foundation of our innovative Pre-Academy multi-sport curriculum will serve them well regardless of the activity they choose to pursue.

To our knowledge Philadelphia Union will be the first professional soccer club in the world that has implemented a focused multi-sport curriculum into its development program.

Who are the coaches?

Philadelphia Union is committing top-level Union Academy coaches to this program, which will be led by Philadelphia Union Youth Director, Iain Munro, a UEFA Pro licensed coach who has been with the Union Academy since its inception.

The staff will feature Union Academy and Union Youth Development coaches who will implement the Union curriculum and methodology as designed by Sporting Director Earnie Stewart and Union Academy Director Tommy Wilson.

Staff:

Iain Munro: Union Youth Director, UEFA Pro License

Gary Lewis, Union Youth Head Coach, USSF National “A” License

Phil Karn: Union Youth Head Coach, USSF National “A” License

Kevin Coleman, Union Youth Head Coach, USSF National “A” License

Mark Lukanski, Union Youth Head Coach, USSF National “A” License

Fred DaSilva, Union Youth Head Coach, Former Union MLS player

Supplemental Staff:

Tommy Wilson, Union Academy Director, UEFA Pro License

Jeff Cook, Union Academy U-18 Head Coach, UEFA Pro License

Chris Brewer, Union Academy U-16 Head Coach, USSF National “A” License

Darren Back, Union Academy U-15 Head Coach, , USSF National “B” License

Who will we compete against?

Union Junior players will play in an internal league created specifically for the Union’s Pre-Academy program called the Union Development League (UDL). Each age group of Union Juniors  Pre-Academy will feature a pool of players, which will be divided into teams to compete against each other in the UDL. Once selections have been made and invitations have been issued, players will be assigned to team in their age group pool and will compete in the Union Development League against the other Union Juniors.

Philadelphia Union may schedule Union Juniors to play in scrimmages with local clubs on week nights as part of training and will coordinate games versus other MLS clubs, but the majority of games for the Union Juniors will be in the UDL.

The rationale behind this approach is because our focus in on a development first and foremost. We believe the UDL will be a very competitive and fun environment, which the boys will love.

Why are you implementing “pools” instead of just one team for each age group?

We believe that among younger age groups, inviting a larger pool of players versus only selecting a small squad of players is the best strategy for the development of the youth soccer player. Neither the Philadelphia Union nor any  other soccer club can know for sure which players in the U8-U11 ages might have professional potential later in life. By working with a broader pool of talented players, the Union increases the likelihood that it will positively influence more players, thereby increasing the chances of one day producing homegrown talents who have the ability to star for Philadelphia Union in MLS.

In addition, if we had chosen to select just one team for each age group, our Union Junior teams (comprised of talented players from throughout the region) would have had to compete against local teams in local leagues, which we believe would not be a healthy learning experience for our players or for the players representing the local clubs.

What’s the competition format and how often do we train and play games?

U8’s

  • 4 v 4
  • Fall & Spring 2x week training + 1 UDL game
  • Winter 2x week + 1 game

U9’s

  • 7 v 7
  • Fall & Spring 3x week training + 1 UDL game
  • Winter 2x week + 1 game

U10’s

  • 7 v 7
  • Fall & Spring 3x week training + 1 UDL game
  • Winter 2x week + 1 game

U11’s

  • 9 v 9
  • Fall & Spring 3x week training + 1 UDL game
  • Winter 2x week + 1 game

Can I also play with my current club?

Yes, however, Union Juniors players will be expected to prioritize Union training and competition, and confer with Union Youth staff when there is a scheduling conflict. It’s actually possible to still play some games and/or tournaments with their local club team. Union Junior players will register with the state soccer association, the EPYSA. They will register with the Union as their primary club, but may register with a secondary club as well. While players will be expected to prioritize Union training and competition, and confer with Union Youth staff when there is a conflict, there will not be uniform restriction from other soccer or sport-related activity.

If you have questions on this please contact youth@philadelphiaunion.com.

How does this integrate with Philadelphia Union “Pathway to the Pros”?

The Union Juniors Pre-Academy is the primary identification platform for the Union Academy, which starts at U12, and our scouting department will be working closely with the program. This is the new first step on the Union’s “Pathway to the Pros,” which begins with the Union Juniors program. The “Pathway” continues with Philadelphia Union Academy, progresses to the professional tiers with Bethlehem Steel (USL), and finishes in MLS with Philadelphia Union.

What does the program include?

The Union Juniors Pre-Academy program includes training sessions, matches in the Union Development League, scrimmages against other local club teams and junior squads from other MLS club, two tournaments, and two tickets for each Union Junior for five Philadelphia Union home matches.

What is in the complimentary ticket package?

Your son’s Union Juniors Pre-Academy membership includes two tickets each to five Philadelphia Union games at Talen Energy Stadium.  The flexible Five Game Plan allows you to select the games you want to attend and watch the pros with a family member or friend!

For more information on how the ticketing program works, visit http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/tickets/5game.  A Union ticket representative will contact you via phone to select your games shortly after being selected.

Any further questions?

Please email youth@philadelphiaunion.com.