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Chris Nanco signing with Bethlehem Steel completes draft class

Former Syracuse star inks a USL deal, becoming the fifth 2017 SuperDraft pick to sign with the organization

Matt Ralph

While the Philadelphia Union didn’t have a first round pick in January’s SuperDraft, Earnie Stewart and company still managed to put together a decent draft class while also acquiring one of the top college prospects via a trade with New York Red Bulls.

The signing of former Syracuse star Chris Nanco to a USL contract on Wednesday means all five draft picks have made it through training camp to sign with the organization.

The speedy forward from Brampton, Ontario was initially thought to be a first round talent, but after the Combine slipped to the third round, where the Union selected him with the 55th overall pick.

“Chris is an attacking piece and brings pace to the field which is something as a coach you are happy to have as they can impact the game in so many ways,” head coach Brendan Burke said in a news release. “I expect Chris to be a positive influence on the group and bring his experience from Syracuse into the team.”

The former FC Sigma youth scored 21 goals and added 7 assists in 84 games over his four-year career at Syracuse, which included the program’s first-ever trip to the College Cup in 2015. Prior to college, he scored the game-winning goal against Trinidad and Tobago to secure the Canadians spot in the 2011 FIFA U17 World Cup.

“It feels good to be here and a part of an USL team that has an MLS atmosphere,” Nanco said in a news release. “I’ve managed to develop friendships quickly since joining the team and there are a lot of great athletes on Steel FC. It’s a good place to be and I’m happy, comfortable and feel that this is a place where I can grow as a player.”

The 22-year-old initially spent time with the first team in training camp and in the pre-USL era would have had nowhere else to go in an organization that is already deep at his position. But he’s stuck with Bethlehem Steel and performed well enough in preseason to warrant an extended look. He joins fellow draft pick Santi Moar on the USL roster. Moar was the first member of the draft class to sign when he inked a USL deal at the end of January.

Marcus Epps, Aaron Jones and Jack Elliott have all signed first team deals, but will likely spend time in Bethlehem on loan. Adam Najem, whose homegrown rights were acquired from New York Red Bulls for a second round pick in 2018, is also likely to spend time with the team on loan.