There are not many clubs that made as many big moves as the Union did over the summer. The Union were able to add US Youth National Team players at every level of their Academy.
The Union are one of the most forward thinking Academies in USSDA which is what makes them such an attractive spot for some of the country’s top talent.
Florida’s US U18 striker ’97 Sebastien Elney tops the list of biggest off-season acquistions. The powerful forward has been he recent target of multiple professional teams in Europe. That being said he’s made it clear he has not ruled out a college career a move growing increasingly slim by the minute. Elney’s move to the Union might open up the doors to a future Home Grown deal from the Union. I would not be surprised if Elney has the type of impact that fellow ’97 US U18 striker Bofo Saucedo has had with Real Salt Lake over the last few years. Elney’s constantly playing up in age, and this will be the first season in a long while he will be playing against competition mostly his own age. Look for Sebastien to greatly improve his stock at this level.
Elney will be joined by Tennessee-born dynamo Michael Swift. Swift was recently with the highly successful Sunrise Elite 96/97 team that has been so successful over the last few seasons. Swift, like Elney, has all the physical tools to be a top striker in the USSDA. Swift is blessed with top notch pace and ball skills. He will be the perfect foil to Elney.
The Union will also be able to deploy ’96 Mohamed Conde in attack as well. The striker was used mainly as a sub last season making 21 appearances but scoring 6 times. Conde could push Elney and Swift, or combine to make a lethal attacking trio.
Two other names to watch in the Union attack are ’97 Abu Bakarr Winter and ’97 Derrick Amaniampong, both of whom are difference makers when on the field.
Behind Elney and Swift will be the duo of ’97 Kevin Carvalho and ’97 Brandon Levano. The two will provide the creative spark that links Elney and Swift will the ball from the back. Carvalho is the most gifted of the two with the ball at his feet and will likely play in the middle. Levano is a tricky player with a nose for the goal, scoring 9 times last season. Carvalho-Levano have all been teammates on the Union and prior to that with FC Delco. They’ve got a good feel for each other.
’96 Zach Zandi will likely be the third in the Union attacking midfield role. Zandi was a consistent starter at the U18 level last season. Morgan Hackworth is another player who can slip into the middle. He has excellent work rate.
The midfield will be anchored by a healthy ’97 Sean Wilson. The US U18 star finally has his legs under him which is good news for the Union and the US U18 National Team pool. Wilson is a superior defensive midfielder who does not over commit himself. He’s good with the ball but is known for his tremendous ball-hawking skills. Scouts have referred to him as a ‘NFL Safety-Ed Reed’ type of player in the midfield. He reads the game well and will allow the more creative players on the Union to fully express themselves.
The Union U18s will be led out of the back by future North Carolina Tar Heel, ’96 Will Campbell. Campbell started all 25 games last season. He’s a tidy defender who’s mastered the ability to play to his own strengths. Campbell will be joined by Garrett Keys, Zach Perez and likely Nick Jachwak on the starting back line.
In goal will be incumbent U16 goalkeeper ’97 Cameron Keys. Keys was only scored on 26 times in 23 matches, in a league which including the high-flying PDA, DC United, Bethesda-Olney and PA Classics.
The U16s too will be greatly improved by a few US Youth Internationals caliber players and a crop of uber-talented ’99s. Despite the additions the U16s will be hampered by the loss of ’98 Isaiah Young who led the U16s in scoring last year and at times was the squads best player. Young has joined PDA.
2013/14 U16 holdovers Freeman Dwamena, Auston Trusty and ’98 Andrew Verdi will be key players for this squad. Verdi is an excellent goalkeeper and will be tasked with the difficult task of organizing the a brand new back four.
New Union members ’98 US U17 international Raheem Taylor-Parkes, ’98 Jack Skahan and ’98 Alex Soto, join from US Residency, Sunrise Elite and NJSA Academy respectively. PDA’s top defensive prospect ’99 Evan Godfrey also joins the squad.
Godfrey will likely join an all ’99 back-line that will include U16 newcomers ’99 Andrew Aprahamian and ’99 Mark McKenzie, both of whom are firmly in the US U15 National Team pool. McKenzie recently making his debut at the last U15 camp in August. Look for ’98 Dawson McCartney, Trusty or ’99 Jake Silverstein to round out the defense.
’98 US Youth National Team goalkeeper Andrew Verdi will hold down the starting spot for the Union. He has excellent size and was named Top Goalkeeper at the recent MLS 2014 Generation Adidas Camp out in Portland during All-Star week.
If front of the back four will likely be a player like ’99 Omar Ayala. Ayala is versatile to play anywhere in the midfield or the defense. He will be the heart of the U16s.
In front of Ayala look for US Youth National Team attacking midfielder ’98 Alex Soto to pull the strings. Soto joins the Union from nearby NJSA, where he started 20 times bagging 7 goals, and was behind a number of others. Soto will be flanked by some serious talent in ’98 Jack Skahan and ’99 Colin Brezniak. Skahan joins with Michael Swift as key members of the Sunrise Elite program in Florida. Skahan has tremendous technical skills and control with the ball. Skahan has already verbally committed to North Carolina as a member of their 2016 class. Brezniak has been extremely productive for the Union over the last two seasons. His 17 goals was second on the team last season. Colin has all the tools to be a future Union HG signing if he continues to put the work in.
The Union boast a bench of midfielders that would start on most other U16 squads. ’98 Joseph DeZart, ’99 Anthony Fontana and ’99 Matthew Real are big time talents and could very easily displace any of the aforementioned players. As could Costa Rican Josue Monge and Ghana’s Freeman Dwamena, who started over 80% of the matches in the midfield last year.
Up top the Union could put Taylor-Parkes up with U14 leading goal getter ’99 Juan Infante, who’s 20 goals was one of the top counts in the entire division. Infante is a true striker and could really benefit from the tricky play that Taylor-Parkes brings to an attack. Fontana and Brezniak could also likely to see minutes here.
The U14s will struggle to replace the sheer number of talented 99s from last year who gobbled up most of the minutes and experience.
Union U14s will rely heavily on the experiences of ’00 Brenden Aaronson, ’00 Carlos dos Santos, ’00 Nykolas Sessock, ’00 Nicholas Liddy and ’00 Tonny Temple. These four provide a solid base to build off. Aaronson, dos Santos and Sessock were solid contributors last year so look for these three to lead this group.
Temple, who only played in 8 matches, scored 10 goals. It will be interesting to see if Temple can find that kind of form without the support of the talented Union 99s.
In 2013/14 ’01 Michael Pellegrino, got a single call up for the Union U14s, this season he will asked to do much more. Sources close to the Union tell OWTY Pellegrino is a highly ranked prospect.
Like the other levels, the U14s will welcome major contributors to their squad. ’00 US U14 defender Rayshaun McGann from Boca United. McGann was a big time player for the Florida side, and is one of best ’00s in the entire USSDA system.I would not be surprised if McGann see’s plenty of time with the U16s.
’00 Tanner Dail also joins the Union. Like McGann, Dail started a majority of the time last year for USSDA Richmond Strikers scoring 4 times.
Club Captain :: Will Campbell
Impact Player :: Raheem Taylor-Parkes
Club Talisman :: Cameron Keys
Club Star :: Sean Wilson
Defensive Stalwart :: Evan Godfrey
Top Prospect :: Rayshaun McGann
Pro Prospect :: Sebastien Elney