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Home Grown Hopefuls: Baby Steps

Union U-17s take on Sounders U-17s in 2010 SUM Cup (Photo courtesy of
Union U-17s take on Sounders U-17s in 2010 SUM Cup (Photo courtesy of

[Note: This is the first in a new, weekly series on the Union Academy. Check back every week for news on the players hoping to one day earn a Home Grown contract with the Union.]

For the first time in the club's history, a large group of youth prospects converged on YSC Sports on Sunday to take part in the first-ever Union Academy U-16 and U-18 training sessions.

While the Union had already put together a U-17 team in Summer 2010 to compete in the 2011 Soccer United Marketing Cup along with 15 other MLS franchises, the team had never held an event like this.

Many players from across the area were "called up" from their respective club teams to take part in the training session. For more information on how and why the Union is allowed to "call up" these players from their clubs instead of simply having a dedicated team, check out this earlier Brotherly Game article.

Out of the 11 clubs that had players called up to the training sessions, three in particular have a special relationship with the Union. FC DELCO, PA Classics, and Players Development Academy are official Youth Development Affiliates, and their players get special opportunities for enhanced training by Union staff. These three teams compete in the U.S. Development Academy. Another three teams (Penn Fusion, Lehigh Valley United, and YMS) also have this special status, but they do not compete in the U.S. Development Academy. Much more after the jump.

The Brotherly Game has learned that for this first training session, players from PA Classics were not present. The U.S. Development Academy season will resume for clubs in the area next weekend, and Sunday was the last chance for the players from PA Classics to train as a team before they head off for a pair of games next Saturday and Sunday in the Boston area, including one against the New England Revolution Academy. Several players from PA Classics were called up and are therefore aware of the club's interest in them; they simply couldn't attend.

FC DELCO will also make this same trip up to New England next weekend, but their players were present at YSC today, including Jimmy McLaughlin, who captained the U-17 team that the Union sent to the SUM Cup. FC DELCO players will have other opportunities during the week to train together, so they did not need to meet today.

Throughout the course of these training sessions, which will occur two times per month over the next three months, Union Academy coaches will attempt to compile a list of the best U-16 and U-18 players, in order to create a roster that could potentially go to compete in major youth tournaments. Most of the players that took part in last year's SUM Cup were on hand at YSC today, so they will have a very good shot at making the U-18 team. But there are still spots open, and the coaching staff will have to start from scratch when it comes to the U-16's.

Be sure to check back every week here at the Brotherly Game for your Union Academy news, as "Home Grown Hopefuls" will become a weekly news series. Use this thread to discuss any Academy-related info during this week!