Bajung Darboe, who turns 14 in November, will be joining the Philadelphia Union Academy after spending last season on Minnesota United’s U17 team in the Development Academy. Darboe’s departure follows Minnesota United’s decision to drop their full-time academy teams and go to a club and country model (not unlike the Union had pre-2013).
“Bajung is a gifted attacking player with impressive natural talent and potential,” said Jon Scheer, director of talent identification. “We look forward to helping him achieve his goals as he begins this new chapter with the Philadelphia Union and YSC Academy.”
Numerous other MLS academy teams were recruiting the young prospect, who plays as a forward and attacking midfielder, but he ultimately made the decision to join the Philadelphia Union Academy’s residency program after a recent visit.
Union Academy director Tommy Wilson said everyone from the ownership to Sporting Director Ernst Tanner and the first team technical staff was involved in the recruiting process.
“He’s got all the necessary attributes to make an impact within our program,” Union Academy Director Tommy Wilson said. “He looks like a young boy who is a student of the game.”
Wilson said he expects him to be available to play in MLS Next league play possibly as soon as next week and says he will fit in with the U17 team, which is the Union’s oldest age group competing in MLS Next.
The Union will be the third MLS academy for Darboe, who is from Madison, Wisconsin. He joined Minnesota United in 2019 after spending the 2018-19 season with the Chicago Fire’s academy.
Darboe’s addition comes after an already fruitful recruiting season that saw the academy add a number of promising players from area clubs and bring in USYNT prospect Alex Perez from Las Vegas. Darboe brings the number to 14 additions since last season to the academy.
His addition is also good news following the departure of 2006 midfielder Aaron Heard, who left for family reasons and was regarded as one of the top unsigned players in the Union’s system last season.
“Players (from Minnesota United) have ended up all over the country but I think Bajung was probably the most highly sought after so it’s a real feather in our cap,” Wilson said.