It didn’t take Philadelphia Union Academy standout JD Wagner long to mull his decision about where to go to college.
The 16-year-old from Medford Lakes, New Jersey, made an official visit to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland on Tuesday and announced his verbal commitment two days later on Twitter.
“The coaching staff was extremely welcoming and the campus was beautiful,” Wagner said. “My grandfather served in the Navy, and serving my country is always something I've wanted to do.”
Attending the recent Army-Navy Cup at Talen Energy Stadium also played a factor.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable,” he said. “I could see myself playing in that game someday.”
One of the leaders of the Philadelphia Union U17 team this season, Wagner is a fierce defender with a strong work rate. He’s also versatile, having played both as a holding midfielder and in central defense this season. He had a particularly strong run of form in the U17 team’s three games in the Generation adidas Cup east regional earlier this month, pairing with Ian Graham to anchor the defense.
Wagner joined the Union Academy from Real Jersey FC in 2015, making 23 appearances in his first season with the U14 team and has played in 27 league games for the U17 team in the past two seasons. He scored his first development academy goal on September 30 against Empire United.
The Midshipmen have struggled in recent years with a third straight losing season this year after hitting double digits in wins in 2013 and 2014. Wagner’s commitment to the program is the first from the Philadelphia Union Academy in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy era.