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)
The Philadelphia Union will sign their third ever Homegrown Player, and second in the past three months, by the end of the week, a source close to the situation told the Brotherly Game. Cristhian Hernandez is one of the few non-contract players still with the Union in Florida, but he's set to end that distinction over the next couple of days.
Currently well into their 2012 preseason, the Union have been slightly more open than previous years in regards to non-contract players and trialists in the team's camp. Both Chase Harrison and Chris Konopka have been revealed by the team as trialists, and Hernandez has routinely made appearances in the Union's photos and write-ups.
The 18-year-old was named the 2011 U-18 Academy Player of the Year by the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA). Hernandez also starred for New Jersey high school powerhouse St. Benedict's Prep, alongside fellow Union academy member Christiano Francois.
Hernandez will count as an international player this season, as the midfielder is a Mexican citizen, according to the source. The Union recently acquired a 2012 international roster spot from the Galaxy in a trade that sent midfielder Kyle Nakazawa to Los Angeles.
Based upon his recent Twitter account handle name change (from @easydoesit_10 to @C_Hernandez31), Hernandez will wear No. 31 in 2012. He joins Zach Pfeffer and Jimmy McLaughlin as current Home Grown Player signings on the Union.
A comment he made to Sheldon Shealer, ESPN Rise's high school soccer reporter, in late October started speculation about Hernandez's future last year. The high school senior informed Shealer that he intended to pursue a professional career instead of heading to college at the end of the scholastic year.
In December, a tweet by MAE Agency's Michael Wheeler declared that he was close to representing a local soccer talent. MAE Agency is located well within driving distance of St. Benedict's Prep and Newark, leading the Brotherly Game to speculate about the possible connection between Wheeler and Hernandez.
As of right now, there has been no confirmation of Hernandez signing with Wheeler from either party or the Union.
Last summer's Union friendly against Everton, an English Premier League club, marked the first time that Hernandez played in a game with the Union's first team. The creative midfielder scored the only goal of the game, besting Slovakian international Jan Mucha from inside of Everton's box.