Likely the next player to travel the pipeline from the Philadelphia Union Academy to Bethlehem Steel FC to the first team, 17-year-old midfielder Anthony Fontana could be in line to play for the first time this Saturday in a friendly against Swansea City AFC.
Head coach Jim Curtin said it is “a possibility” when asked specifically about the rising high school senior in a press conference on Wednesday.
“It’s something that we’ve discussed and thought about,” Curtin said. “He’s a guy that again we’re high on, has done a good job in games for Bethlehem, young kid who fits the mold of what we want a Philadelphia Union midfield player to look like.”
The Newark, Delaware native was in training with Steel on Wednesday afternoon.
MLS Roster Rules allow for players from USL affiliates to be loaned up to the first team for friendlies, as well as U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches.
Derrick Jones made his first team debut while still on a USL contract with Steel FC in a friendly against Crystal Palace FC last July. He signed a first team contract two weeks later.
Fontana could be following a similar path whether he sees the field at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday or not (Steel FC also play on Saturday with a kickoff at Goodman Stadium scheduled for 5 p.m.). His performance in USL and in preseason camp with the first team and history of playing up an age group in the academy ranks all point to that happening sooner rather than later.