Per a Union press release, the club has signed midfielder Derrick Jones as a Homegrown Player. Jones, 19, joined the Union academy system in November 2013 and signed the first ever deal with the reincarnated Bethlehem Steel club. He becomes the fourth player in Union history to sign a homegrown deal and the first since 2012.
Earnie Stewart was quick to praise Derrick. In the release, he said “(His) progression through our system has been quicker than anticipated and it’s evident he’s ready for the next step in his career.”
The Union have struggled with signing people out of their academy system. Many of them opt for college instead of professional soccer. The Jones signing (the first ever to come from their academy system) may encourage others to follow a similar path, from academy to Steel to Union, instead of the more traditional college route American players have taken.
This marks at least the second attempt to sign a player to a Homegrown deal in the last year. The Union attempted to sign now All-Star Keegan Rosenberry as a Homegrown before the last Superdraft but MLS prevented them from doing so, even when Rosenberry wrote a letter to the league imploring them to allow the Union to sign him as such. He was later drafted by the Union.