Major League Soccer released their annual 24 under 24 shortlist of seventy-five players under the age of twenty-four. The Philadelphia Union boasts five of the seventy-five. For a club that has stated its intention is to build from within using a young nucleus of players, seven-percent of the total isn't bad when you'd expect a five percent rate.
Just name the USL team Bethlehem Steel FC already
The USL team is going to be called Bethlehem Steel FC. You know it and I know it. I don't pretend to be a detective here, but it's pretty plain to see.
Eric Ayuk - It's easy to forget that the electrifying Cameroonian forward is only eighteen years old. He's played almost 1100 minutes this year, and scored two goals and two assists in his 24 appearances. He's also been the go-to right wing option in the event of injury or suspension. He's as well known for his speed down the flank as he is for his celebratory handsprings and flips.
Richie Marquez - Injuries and suspensions have propelled the 23 year old from future project to starting center back. His most recent partnering with Steven Vitoria has earned him high praise from Union fans who openly wonder if the emergence of Marquez means a return to the defensive midfielder slot for Maurice Edu. Whatever adjustments needs to be made to the Union to keep Marquez on the field surely must be under consideration.
Brian Sylvestre - At the start of the season, the 22 year old Sylvestre was named the starting goalkeeper - for the Carolina Railhawks of the NASL. The implosion of Rais M'Bolhi and injuries to Andre Blake and John McCarthy set the stage for Sylvestre to get signed on loan and save the Union's season. In twelve appearances, Sylvestre has five shutouts and a 1.58 goals-against-average, and the question of keeping Sylvestre as part of the Union's goalkeeper rotation is one that Jim Curtin and company will have to answer at the end of the season.
Fernando Aristeguieta - The 22 year old Venezuelan was the Union's starting striker at the beginning of the year, however a string of injuries and the emergence of CJ Sapong has kept the Young Designated Player as an option off of the bench. If he's to remain with the Union at the end of the season, he'll need to make the most of whatever opportunities are presented to him during the remainder of the season.
Zach Pfeffer - This was supposed to be the season that the Union's first Homegrown Player became a first-team fixture, however the 20 year old midfielder hasn't fit in to the Union's 4-2-3-1 formation. Pfeffer has 20 appearances, but only 10 starts and just over 900 minutes on the season. The Union's addition of Tranquillo Barnetta during the summer transfer window means Pfeffer has fallen even further down the depth chart.
Who do you think will make the final 24 man list? Was there someone who was left off of the list from the Union's roster? Let us know in the comments section below!