Efforts to recruit young players from outside the Philadelphia area have successfully drawn another United States youth international to the Philadelphia Union’s academy from Florida.
Outside back Nathan Harriel, a 17-year-old from Oldsmar, Florida who was part of the U.S. U18 team that won the Vaclav Jezek tournament in the Czech Republic in August, has joined the Union’s residency program and will be eligible to play for Bethlehem Steel FC in 2019.
“Just the opportunity they give young players, (how they) play them in USL games with Bethlehem Steel and sign them as homegrowns to the first team,” Harriel said when asked what drew him to the Union organization. “It’s a big family up there and it’s what sets them apart from other MLS clubs.”
Harriel is the second U.S. youth international to join the Union Academy this year. U17 midfielder Danny Luis Flores joined the Union from Shattuck-St. Mary’s over the summer.
Harriel is the latest in a string of players from Florida to be recruited to the academy and Bethlehem Steel. Current U19 goalkeeper Kris Shakes and forwards Shaynder Borgelin and Leo Afonso are also from Florida and Bethlehem Steel pros Michee Ngalina and Faris Pemi Moumbagna both were signed after spending time at Montverde Academy in Florida.
The United Soccer Coaches Youth Boys All-American has spent four seasons in the Development Academy with Chargers Soccer Club in South Florida. Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, NYCFC defender and Reading United alum Ben Sweat and former Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath are among the notable alumni from the club.
“I give all credit to Clearwater Chargers Soccer Club making me the player I am today,” Harriel said.
He received his first youth international call-up in August and has since spent time with the U19 squad, playing both as a right and left back at the youth international level. He previously verbally committed to play college soccer at Clemson, but has withdrawn his commitment and is focused now on putting himself in a position to sign a homegrown deal with the first team.