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James Chambers hired full-time, Marlon LeBlanc among new additions to academy staff

A fan favorite as a player, Chambers is latest in a line of former pros now guiding young talent in the system

Photo by Pat Jacoby

Like Fred, Kleberson and Ryan Richter before him, James Chambers is continuing his post-playing career rise as a coach with a recent promotion to full-time with the Philadelphia Union Academy.

Chambers started working in the pre-academy on a part-time basis while still playing for the Bethlehem Steel FC in USL and continued on despite his time as a player in the organization coming to an end last fall.

“James brings passion, an understanding of the game, a knowledge and he loves the game,” Academy Director Tommy Wilson said. “He’s really impressed me with his ability to relate to young players and to teach them.”

New additions to the academy staff include former West Virginia University head coach Marlon LeBlanc, a New Jersey native who stepped down last winter so he could be closer to his family after they relocated to the area so his son Kellan LeBlanc could join the academy on a full-time basis. LeBlanc coached first team defenders Ray Gaddis and Jack Elliott when they were in college.

“He’s a coach with a lot of experience,” Wilson said. “You look at (Gaddis and Elliott) not even as soccer players but as human beings and you see Marlon’s influence.”

LeBlanc, who played and coached at Penn State, was hired as a staff coach and will work with coaches and players throughout various levels of the program.

Other new hires include Paul Nash, former Rangers FC and Cedar Stars Academy coach, Austin Reynolds, former Oakwood Soccer Club analyst and coach and athletic trainers Sonia Barrad, former Real Salt Lake Monarchs Athletic Trainer and Christiana Orgera, former Swarthmore College Athletic Trainer.

Coaches Matt Poole, Brian Barry, Adrian Heredia and Chris Brewer have all departed along with athletic trainers Karyn Latorre and Jessica Gaburo, and strength coach Eric Gorman.

The staff changes coincide with a reorganization in staffing for the academy, which is aiming to resume after the long layoff from the coronavirus shutdown with a preseason beginning in August. Teams at the U13, U14, U15 and U17 level will be part of a new development league launched by MLS after U.S. Soccer decided to shut down the Development Academy.

Under the new setup, there will be three phases, a junior academy phase for the U9-U12 age groups, a U13 & U14 phase and a U15 and U17 phase leading into the Union II.

The youngest phase is being overseen by Phil Karn, who will also coach the U12 team, and includes Chambers.

The next phase is being overseen by Kevin Coleman, who is also the U14 head coach, along with U13 head coach Jose Kleberson.

Tobias Nubbemeyer and Ryan Richter will oversee the senior phase in the academy and coach the U17 and U15 teams.

Fred da Silva, who was the U14 head coach last season, is now working as an assistant coach with Union II.