CHESTER, PA - JULY 20: Forward Christian Hernandez #31 of the Philadelphia Union celebrates his goal during a game against Everton at PPL Park on July 20, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Union won 1-0. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Christian Hernandez's summer proclamation to ESPN Rise that he would be going pro appears to be on its way to becoming true, if clues to the identity of a major New Jersey soccer agency's newest client point in the right direction. Hernandez could become the Philadelphia Union's second ever Home Grown Player signing, and third acquisition of the 2011-12 MLS Offseason.
A reader alerted the Brotherly Game to a tweet by Michael Wheeler of MAE Agency, which is located in Kearny, NJ, that alluded to a NJ high schooler that was set to sign with both MAE and a professional soccer team in the near future.
Soon to be repping a local Jersey kid as he takes his career to next level...have known him and fam for 4 yrs...local roots
Hernandez is local to Wheeler and MAE, as he currently plays for St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, NJ, which finished the fall high school soccer season at 20-0-0, and ranked number one in the nation by ESPN. Excellent play during Benedict's flawless season propelled Hernandez into the top 10 of ESPN's top 150 soccer recruits in the country, a season after Hernandez was named as US Soccer's top under-17/under-18 academy Player of the Year.
The 18-year-old hasn't been in New Jersey his entire life, however. Hernandez originally started his soccer career by joining the Los Angeles Galaxy's youth program, before his family moved to Mexico. Upon returning to the United States, and settling down in NJ, Hernandez became part of the Players Development Academy, which is affiliated with the Union's club-neutral academy system. That would most likely place the Hernandez family in a position to have known Wheeler for the four years that the agent stated, given the proximity between MAE and Benedict's (about 4.7 miles).
If MAE's new client does turn out to be Hernandez, the Union would be adding a creative midfielder to the club, one that showed Union fans plenty of ambition during the team's friendliest against English Premier League club Everton, and La Liga giants Real Madrid. Union head coach Piotr Nowak said on Twitter yesterday that the team wasn't done adding players, and in the past month has made it clear that he wants to have enough players on roster in 2012 to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Nowak's system with the Union would welcome Hernandez, as he's young, talented, has a high ceiling of potential and doesn't demand full time minutes. As seen with Zach Pfeffer, Nowak is not afraid to play even his youngest players if he thinks they've proven themselves to deserve time with the first team in games.