Philadelphia Union Academy and Bethlehem Steel FC amateurs Brenden Aaronson, Tomas Romero and Michael Pellegrino are in sunny Florida getting a chance to impress with the first team in preseason camp.
Romero, a goalkeeper from Cherry Hill, N.J., is no stranger to the first team, having spent time in preseason with the Union last year and in training throughout the season.
Aaronson, of Medford, and Pellegrino, of Wenonah, both made their first professional starts in the midfield for Bethlehem Steel FC in Florida back in October in a game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
All three preseason invitees won’t graduate high school until 2019. Aaronson has verbally committed to Indiana University while Romero has verbally committed to play college soccer at Georgetown University.
U19/U17 goalkeeper Kristopher Shakes and homegrown midfielder Anthony Fontana were with the first team in the preseason last year. Yosef Samuel, who recently signed with Atlanta United 2, was an academy invite in 2016.
The Union left for the first of two training stints in Florida on Tuesday.
They have scrimmages scheduled at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex against the New York Red Bulls (Saturday, February 3, at 11 a.m.), the University of South Florida (Tuesday, February 6, at 7 p.m.) and the Chicago Fire (Thursday, February 8, at 11 a.m.).
South Florida has a pair of academy alums in midfielder Josue Monge and defender Fred Gil. NCAA rules restrict amateurs from playing against college teams so it’s unlikely the current academy players will play against their former teammates.