Philadelphia Union have signed 19-year-old midfielder Derrick Jones as a Homegrown Player, the club announced today. Jones becomes the fourth player to sign with the club as a homegrown, and the first since 2012.
Jones, who was born in Ghana and moved to Philadelphia in 2012, joined Philadelphia Union Academy in 2013 and in December 2015 became the first player to sign with the expansion USL side Bethlehem Steel, which is owned by the Union. This season, Jones played 20 games for the Steel, leading the team in goals (4) and assists (3).
“Derrick’s progression through our system has been quicker than anticipated and it’s evident that he is ready for the next step of his career,’’ Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said in a release. “This is a testament to Derrick’s commitment to his trade, and it should be considered a tremendous accomplishment to become the first player to come through our academy, to Bethlehem Steel, and finally to our first team… Derrick has now set the benchmark for every player in our youth system, that there is a pathway to the professional level, and that it is achievable if you remain committed to your goals.’’
Jones becomes the first signing to come out of the Union academy, which is based at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pennsylvania. He joined the academy back in 2013.
“We have had much interest from the media, U.S. Soccer and MLS, amongst others, regarding our Academy, the School and the programs we have in place. Personally, I have been pleased with this attention but I’ve always felt the acid test for us is the production of Players capable of playing in the First Team,” academy director Tommy Wilson said. “I’m delighted that Derrick is our first and that the work of our staff has come to fruition in this way. This is a proud moment for Derrick and his family. I would like to congratulate them and everyone else who has played a part in his development.”