By signing a pro deal with Bethlehem Steel and a pre-contract with the Philadelphia Union, Maryland native Cole Turner became the fifth former academy player recruited from outside the tri-state area to turn pro within the organization.
The 18-year-old midfielder from Churchville, Md. will be under contract for remainder of the USL Championship season and will join the first team roster in January 2020.
“We are very happy to have completed the signing of Cole Turner,” Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said in a news release. “He has a strong knowledge of the game and a sharp awareness — the type of player who always seems to be in the right position in central midfield. He is an exciting young prospect and we are looking forward to helping him grow as a professional.”
While the four previous players recruited to the academy from outside Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware — Issa Rayyan, Ben Ofeimu, Selmir Miscic and Shanyder Borgelin — were brought in from areas that don’t have a local MLS team, Turner hails from an area in between both the Union and D.C. United. Churchville is 80 miles from Audi Field and 50 miles from Talen Energy Stadium.
Turner joined the Philadelphia Union Academy in 2014 from Baltimore Celtic and was in the residency program up through his junior year of high school. He commuted from Maryland during his senior year of high school at YSC Academy.
Turner has played primarily as a central midfielder, but has filled in at center back this season at times, including in preseason when he played center back for the first team in a scrimmage. He made his Steel FC debut earlier this season and has made 11 appearances and eight starts for the season.
By turning pro, Turner is no longer part of the incoming freshman class at the Naval Academy but the Union organization will still be represented in Annapolis this fall with academy grad JD Wagner and both Zach Wagner and Jason Aoyama are committed to the program for 2020.