Four years ago today, the Philadelphia Union played its first ever games as a full-fledged youth development academy in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy league.
Suiting up that Saturday in 2013 at YSC Sports in a triple-header against the Richmond Kickers, were a number of players fans will immediately recognize. In the U14 game, won 3-1 by the Union, Matthew Real started and Anthony Fontana came off the bench while CJ dos Santos started in goal the next day against Richmond Strikers. In the U16 game, a 3-0 win to the Union, Isaiah Young started and scored a goal and Auston Trusty came off the bench in the 74th minute.
All five players have since signed professional contracts - Young with Werder Bremen in Germany, dos Santos with Benfica in Portugal and the others with the Union organization.
Derrick Jones, who was known back then as Derrick Amaniampong, wouldn’t make his debut with the U16s until March 2014 against Continental FC in Conshohocken while Bethlehem Steel FC midfielder Yosef Samuel first joined the academy for the 2014-15 season.
Otherwise, looking back on the original academy class - the academy prior was a part-time training environment for top players from local youth club affiliates - six of the seven future pros were there in that first season.
Even though the Union can’t take much credit, youth club affiliates in the pre-DA days have produced an even longer list of professionals who trained with the Union, from Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic (PA Classics) to Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zach Steffen (FC Delco) and Sheffield Wednesday midfielder James Murphy (Players Development Academy).
The Union began its fifth year in the Development Academy last weekend and has grown from the three original teams to teams at the U19, U17, U15, U14, U13 and U12 levels. A second U17 developmental team is also new this year, bringing the total to seven teams. The Pre-Academy has also been started for players ages 8-11.
Below is a video from that first U14 game at YSC Sports.
And here are the starting lineups from all three games that day:
U18: Cameron Keys, John Schroeder, Will Campbell, Pat Berneski, Ryan Talbot, Tyler Skwara, Noah Snyder, Brandon Levano, Matt Greer, Zach Zandi, Neicko Williams
U16: Andrew Verdi, Chris Gomez, Nick Jachwak, Garrett Keys, Cody Wax, Freeman Dwamena, Morgan Hackworth, Robert Campbell, Isaiah Young, Abu Winter
U14: Mike Kalpokas, Matthew Real, Isaiah Holquist, Kyle Gruno, Pat Murphy, Andrew Aprahamian, Josue Monge, Kurtis Orrson, Ryan Trapp, Brenden Aaronson, Colin Brezniak