The Philadelphia Union didn’t have a first round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft but still managed to land one of the top players in college soccer in University of Akron star Adam Najem.
Najem officially signed with the Union on Wednesday after joining the club as a trialist when the preseason kicked off last month. In exchange for the midfielder’s rights, the Union sent the New York Red Bulls their natural second round pick in the 2018 SuperDraft.
“We are excited to acquire the rights to Adam and sign him as a member of Philadelphia Union,” Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said in a news release. “He is a player that has shown his abilities throughout our preseason. Adam is a player that provides depth for us and we are thrilled to see what he will bring to our club.”
While primarily a No. 10, the North Jersey native spent most of his senior season as a deeper lying playmaker. Over four years in Akron, he had 33 goals and 29 assists in 89 appearances and led the Zips to the College Cup in 2015.
Najem first flirted with turning pro after the Zips 2015 College Cup run, but never did reach an agreement for a homegrown contract with the Red Bulls and after missing the spring semester and spending three weeks training with La Liga club La Coruña he returned to campus for his senior season.
When his senior campaign came to an end, the Red Bulls reportedly didn’t improve their minimum salary offer ($51,500) and rather than let him enter the SuperDraft pool decided to shop his homegrown rights instead.
The Red Bulls loss is of course the Union’s gain here as they pick up a promising 22-year-old who will certainly have extra motivation to make the club where he starred in high school regret its decision to let him go.
“It’s been just a great couple weeks here with the Philadelphia Union,” Najem said in a video on PhiladelphiaUnion.com. “I’m extremely honored to be part of this club.”