United States international center back Mark McKenzie was signed to a new contract on Thursday, keeping the homegrown under contract with the Philadelphia Union through 2022 with club options for 2023 and 2024.
McKenzie, who was born in Bronx, N.Y. and moved to Bear, Del. as a kid, came into the Philadelphia Union organization through the Union’s academy and worked his way up the ladder until he signed with the first team in 2018 after a season at Wake Forest.
The 20-year-old was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year in 2018 after making 19 appearance but an early season appendicitis and some other injury setbacks limited him to just eight appearances and seven starts in 2019. He did end things on a high note, beating out fellow homegrown and now former Union defender Auston Trusty for the starting center back spot for the latter part of the season and playoffs.
“As a homegrown player, he exemplifies our commitment to the development of our academy players,” Ernst Tanner, Union Sporting Director, said in a news release. “Mark has become a proven asset on and off the field. Through his development, he’s become a valuable centerback who sees everything in front of him and is an emerging role model in the community.”
McKenzie was recently called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team for his second January camp and has represented the U.S. in various youth competitions, including at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup in Poland.
McKenzie’s contract extension — announced late Thursday afternoon — comes after he had a one-year option for 2020 exercised at the completion of the season. His signing beyond this season gives the back line some stability for at least the next couple seasons and guarantees the Union will benefit from a sale if a bigger club abroad comes calling.
Center back Jack Elliott had his contract extended through 2021 last May with an option for 2022.