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Rayyan, Zandi not returning to Philadelphia Union II in 2021

Two Union Academy grads among seven players not returning to the club next season

Morgan Tencza

Two of Philadelphia Union II’s key leaders on and off the field — Issa Rayyan and Zach Zandi — lead a list of seven players who were either released or had their options declined by the team for 2021.

While details still haven’t emerged about the new MLS Reserve League Union II will be competing in in 2021, Friday’s news release announcing roster decisions nearly clears the deck of players who were under USL contracts.

Union II has released or declined the options of Saed Diaz, Jamoi Topey, David Rabadan, Steve Kingue, Yomi Scintu and the aforementioned Rayyan and Zandi, who were both graduates of the Philadelphia Union Academy.

Just academy grads Ben Ofeimu, Shanyder Borgelin and Selmir Miscic remain in terms of players who were under contract in 2020.

“Union II will continue to prioritize competition and player development on their pathway to the pros,” Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said in the news release. “As we continue to remain focused on investing in and developing our academy players, the returning and upcoming players on Union II will benefit greatly from a competition format that allows for a streamlined approach and strategy in a completed infrastructure.”

Rayyan, a Michigan native, was signed to a USL deal in February 2019 after winning ACC Freshman of the Year at Duke. Zandi, a West Chester native, was signed in 2019 after four seasons at Villanova University.

Nathan Harriel and Jack McGlynn were both on USL deals in 2020 but will be joining the first team as homegrowns in 2021. Paxten Aaronson, Brandan Craig and Quinn Sullivan will also join the first team roster as homegrowns in 2021.

Dante Huckaby (Louisville), Caden Stafford (Maryland), Danny Flores (Virginia Tech), Ben Martino (Virginia Tech) and Sean Bettenhausen (Penn State) are committed to play college soccer. Axel Picazo, who never signed a contract but earned significant minutes with Union II since graduating from YSC Academy in 2019, is not expected to return.

Mitch Budler, Anton Sorenson and Jack Jasinski are expected to return in 2021 as academy players. Patrick Bohui left to join FC Cincinnati’s academy.