Noe Uwimana, a 2005-born outside back from Richmond United, is the latest player recruited from outside the area to join the Philadelphia Union Academy.
“Noe is a talented prospect who will be a great addition to an already talented and diverse U17 player pool,” said Jon Scheer, director of talent identification for the Union Academy. “We tracked Noe over the past year at Richmond United and regardless of what age group he was playing in, his talent and potential was always apparent. Noe has many attributes that fit well in our style of play at the Philadelphia Union, however, what impressed us most during the recruitment process was Noe’s character and genuine desire to improve as a student athlete.”
Uwimana’s time at Richmond United was somewhat limited due to the pandemic. He joined the club after relocating to the Richmond area in 2019 with his family from New Orleans, where he played for a Chicago Fire affiliate youth club. He was being scouted and recruited by multiple clubs, but ultimately chose the Union for many of the reasons past recruits have: the clear developmental pathway.
“I can see myself really growing there,” Uwimana, who turned 16 last week. “It’s an environment that really encourages people working hard, getting better. I can really see myself, if I work hard enough, making the first team.”
Though he’s played as more of an attacker in his youth career to date, Uwimana will slot in as a right back in the Union system, which asks a lot of outside backs pushing up on the flanks. He’s living in residency with other players from outside the area and attending school at YSC Academy.
“Everybody has been super welcoming, the residency players, all the players, the coaches,” he said. “I truly appreciate it.”
Uwimana is the first player to join the Union from Richmond United and the first from Virginia since U17/Union II center back Sam Jones was brought in from Virginia Beach City FC in 2018. Current Union homegrown Jack de Vries was initially brought to the academy from Beach FC in Virginia Beach.
Richmond United is the former club of Chris Durkin, who played for DC United and is now with Sint-Truiden in the Belgian first division.
“I’m thrilled for Noe and the opportunity for him to take the next step in his career with the Philadelphia Union Academy,” Richmond United U16 head coach Will Bates said. “Noe is an attacking-minded player who is able to beat players individually and also provide service to set up teammates to score. I hope the Philadelphia Union family will enjoy watching him play and develop as much as we have in Richmond.”
The Union U17s are currently in preseason and will resume the 2020-2021 MLS Next season in March.