D.C. United is reportedly making a heavy push to sign talented youth international Chris Durkin amid potential suitors in Europe and here in Philadelphia.
The 16-year-old Glen Allen, Virginia native, who has played for Richmond Kickers in USL and spent time this year in the U.S. U17 residency program with former Union boss John Hackworth, started for D.C. United U16 team in a recent 5-0 victory over the Union at YSC Sports. He has three goals in eight appearances for the U18 team this season.
Washington Post reporter Steven Goff initially reported that United were "making a serious push" to sign Durkin and SoccerWire.com picked up on the report and added an extra wrinkle about the Union possibly being in play for his services.
Sources tell SoccerWire.com that Durkin was close to joining the Philadelphia Union’s youth system, which is considered one of the most progressive academy structures in the United States and has benefitted from levels of investment that far eclipse what D.C. has provided its own youth arm. But D.C. reacted swiftly to fend off their I-95 rivals’ interest and assert the primacy of their claim.
It wouldn’t be the first time a youth prospect has traded jerseys between the two clubs. Talented forward Colin Brezniak, who leads the D.C. United U16 team this season with 14 goals, played for the Union’s U14 and U16 teams in its first two seasons in the U.S. Development Academy.
Durkin joined the D.C. United youth system last fall from the Richmond Kickers Academy but has only spent part of the year with the team since joining the U17 Residency Program in Florida in January.
Traditionally the requirement to sign a homegrown player has been a minimum of a year training and playing within the club’s youth system (while also living in the region) but a recent announcement about Atlanta United’s homegrown signing of 15-year-old Andrew Carleton may call that into question.
According to the club, Carleton will be added to the Atlanta United roster in 2017 "upon completion of the necessary Homegrown Player training requirements."
D.C. United could probably use the same method to sign Durkin. But then again, perhaps the Union could too - offer him a contract contingent on him spending the year needed living in the area in the residency program and playing for the team.
One can never really be sure what will fly - and whether it will be applied to all teams - when it comes to the homegrown player rule.