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Steel’s Jones Signs as Homegrown Player with Union

By Staff, 07/27/16, 9:28AM EDT


First signing in club’s history has four goals, three assists this season in USL

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union

CHESTER, Pa. – The first signing in Bethlehem Steel FC history, Derrick Jones, was unveiled as the fourth Homegrown Player signing in Philadelphia Union history on Wednesday morning, becoming the first player to make the transition from the organization’s USL club to Major League Soccer.

Jones is the third USL player this season to have signed as a Homegrown Player, following the USL’s leading scorer Jack McBean’s signing with the LA Galaxy, and youngest player in USL history Alphonso Davies signing with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

“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. “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 the First Team.

“This is also a testament to the hard work of Tommy Wilson and his entire staff at the Academy, and I congratulate them for playing such a large role in this signing. 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.”

The 19-year-old Jones is the first homegrown signing to come out of the Union’s Academy, which is based at YSC Sports in Wayne, Pa. The Union’s innovative Academy program launched in 2013 and competes in the US Soccer Development Academy League. Jones joined the Union Academy from local Philadelphia club Junior Lone Star in 2013 and immediately made an impact for the Union's U16s.

Following a stellar amateur career, Jones signed a professional contract with the Steel on Dec. 6, 2015, becoming the first-ever signing for the USL expansion club. Through 20 games at Steel FC this season, Jones leads the team with four goals and three assists, and sits fourth in minutes played.

“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.”

Born in Bantama, Ghana, Jones moved to Philadelphia in 2012 and carries dual national citizenship with the United States and Ghana. He originally joined Junior Lone Star shortly after coming to Philadelphia in 2012, and then moved to the Union U16s in November of 2013. The following year, during the 2014-15 season, Jones enrolled at YSC Academy in August and joined the Union U18s. He played in 26 games with 21 starts, and scored eight goals while helping lead the team to the USSDA playoffs, where they finished second in group play. The following season, Jones played in eight games and scored three goals for the U18s, ultimately earning a contract with the Steel. 

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