While the Philadelphia Union Academy was a shell of what it is now in 2012, a team of players pulled together from local youth club affiliates brought back hardware from the Pacific Northwest when they won the Generation adidas Cup.
Back then, the GA Cup was a U17 competition with only MLS youth teams competing, but it was still cause for celebration and optimism when the Union defeated Toronto FC on penalties to capture the trophy.
Five years later, that promising collection of local youth soccer stars includes only one who has suited up for the Union and a head coach (Jim Curtin) whose seat is getting hotter as losses pile up to start the 2017 campaign.
In fact, the only two players on the roster in MLS are teammates with Eastern Conference rival Columbus Crew SC.
The first, goalkeeper Zack Steffen, was the hero of the 2012 final with a pair of saves in the shootout. The Downingtown native and former University of Maryland and SC Freiburg keeper signed last summer with Columbus Crew and earned the starting job this year after playing for Pittsburgh Riverhounds on loan the latter part of last season.
The other, Connor Maloney, signed with Columbus after being drafted out of Penn State in January. The Harrisburg native converted from forward to right back with the Crew and has made one 45-minute appearance off the bench so far in his rookie campaign.
Of the other 16 players on the roster, 11 are currently in college soccer, one is a former professional without a club, another plays college football and the status of three others is unknown.
Penn State placekicker Joey Julius was one of the stars of the Union’s GA Cup team and was initially committed to play college soccer at SIU Edwardsville before backing out of his commitment to try his hand at American football as a walk-on in State College.
Zach Pfeffer, another star of the cup run, was already on the books with the Union at the time as their first homegrown signing in 2011. He was traded to Colorado Rapids last season and after a pair of loan stints to Charlotte Independence and Colorado Springs Switchbacks appears to be out of soccer altogether.
As the college players go, Drew Skundrich is the most decorated, having won back-to-back national championships with Stanford, playing on the back line in 2015 and in midfield last season.
Zach Zandi and Max Kroschwitz play locally at Villanova. Kroschwitz will return for a fifth year this fall after missing all of last season with an injury.
Kenny Lassiter and Brian White will both be seniors this fall at ACC programs Syracuse and Duke while Will Campbell will enter his sophomore season after redshirting his first year at North Carolina.
Matthew Greer will be a senior this fall at Dartmouth, Austin Kuhn a senior at Penn and Conlan Kemmerer a senior at George Mason while Ian Davies will be a sophomore at Philadelphia University and Kyler White a junior at Rowan University.
Defender Billy McConnell finished his career at Indiana and was invited to the MLS Combine back in December, but went undrafted in the January SuperDraft.
Rounding out the roster, Leandro Lemache played one season at William Patterson in 2013 and Kazari Trought last played at Montclair State in 2015.
2012 Philadelphia Union GA Cup Roster
|Zack Steffen||Downingtown, Pa.||Columbus Crew (2016-present)|
|Kylier White||Haddon Township, N.J.||Rowan University (2016-present)|
|Zach Pfeffer||Dresher, Pa.||Colorado Rapids (2016)|
|William McConnell||Richboro, Pa.||Indiana (2013-2016)|
|Brian White||Flemington, N.J.||Duke (2104-present)|
|Will Campbell||Wallingford, Pa.||North Carolina (2015-present)|
|Ian Davies||Upper Darby, Pa.||Philadelphia University (2016-present)|
|Conlan Kemmerer||Montgomery, N.J.||George Mason (2014-present)|
|Austin Kuhn||Wyomissing, Pa.||Penn (2014-present)|
|Zachary Zandi||West Chester, Pa.||Villanova (2015-present)|
|Andrew Skundrich||Lancaster, Pa.||Stanford (2014-present)|
|Kenneth Lassiter||Narberth, Pa.||Syracuse (2013-present)|
|Kazari Trought||West Orange, N.J.||Montclair State (2013-2015)|
|Connor Maloney||Harrisburg, Pa.||Columbus Crew (2017-present)|
|Joey Julius||Hummelstown, Pa.||Penn State kicker|
|Matthew Greer||Chadds Ford, Pa.||Dartmouth (2014-present)|
|Maximilian Kroschwitz||Pipersville, Pa.||Villanova (2013-present)|
|Leandro Lemache||Carteret, N.J.||William Patterson (2015)|