CJ Sapong’s future with the Philadelphia Union is a little clearer now after signing a contract extension that will keep him with the club through at least 2019.
The new deal for the 29-year-old Manassas, Virginia native includes a club option for 2019.
“It’s good to have some type of security and know that your organization has faith in you so that’s a great thing,” Sapong said in a scrum with media after training on Wednesday. “Personally, given what I’m trying to accomplish here in Philadelphia on and off the field I think it gives me an opportunity to really allocate a lot of time and energy toward that.”
Sapong, who set the team record in 2017 with 16 goals, made $300,000 in guaranteed compensation last year on a deal that was set to expire at the end of 2018. Terms of the new deal were not released but Sporting Director Earnie Stewart hinted that it includes a salary increase.
“We thought it was very important to lock him down for a little bit longer,” Stewart said. “CJ’s done an amazing job for us in the last couple years. He’s progressed as a player and as a center forward and we’re looking forward to continuing that.”
Salary details should be released by the MLS Players Union some time in either April or May.
The Reading United alum was acquired from Sporting Kansas City in 2015 for the 10th overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. Kansas City used that pick to draft Connor Hallisey, who made 30 appearances for them but left the game after the 2016 season. Sapong himself was the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of James Madison University and ended up winning Rookie of the Year in his first season. He went on to play three more seasons in Kansas City but saw his minutes decrease significantly before the trade.
After two bounce back seasons with the Union where he scored 9 and 7 goals, 2017 proved to be a career year when he finished with more goals than any other American-born player in the league. This earned him a look from the United States Men’s National Team in his first training camp invite since 2012 and his first cap back in January. Off the field, Sapong also launched the Sacred Seeds foundation a year ago.
“I owe a lot to Philadelphia in how it’s kind of transformed me as a person and a player so I’m looking forward to continuing that journey,” Sapong said.
Head coach Jim Curtin called Sapong “a striker that means so much to our club, what we’re about” in the opening remarks of his weekly press conference on Wednesday.
“Obviously a key attacking piece for us but also I will stress the first line of defense for our team,” Curtin said. “A guy who has done everything for the badge. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and watch him grow and take his game to another level.”