auston trusty

Union scoring big on international soccer stage

Union scoring big on international soccer stage

CHESTER, Pa. — The Union were having a lot of fun at the end of Thursday's practice, firing shots from the edge of the box and going nuts when an equipment intern ended the session with a perfectly placed blast into the corner of the net.

Perhaps the only Union player having more fun was an 18-year-old about 7,000 miles away. That would be Philly homegrown kid Auston Trusty, who scored a great goal to help cap the U.S. Under-20 team's 6-0 pasting of New Zealand in the FIFA U-20 World Cup round of 16 in South Korea — and then celebrated in style afterward.

Along with fellow Union homegrown Derrick Jones, who's been a starter at the World Cup, Trusty is gaining valuable experience on an international stage. The same can be said for captain Alejandro Bedoya, who joined the U.S. senior national team ahead of two big World Cup qualifiers, as he usually does.

And then there's Bedoya's midfield partner, Haris Medunjanin, who was called into the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team for next Friday's World Cup qualifier vs. Greece.

"I always like to go back and play for my country because I was born there and it's a big honor," Medunjanin said after practice. "I think for anybody to play for their country, it's a dream come true."

If that's the case, Union players have been fulfilling a lot of dreams as the international break approaches. But devotion to the club is important too as Medunjanin decided he wanted to play in Saturday's game vs. New York City FC (1 p.m./6ABC) before meeting up with his Bosnian teammates.

For Union head coach Jim Curtin, that says a lot.

"Haris is a great professional," Curtin said. "He really will do anything for the Philadelphia Union badge. He's a guy who led our group through this good stretch of games … not just because of the goals or the assists but also the little things off the field, keeping the group together. He's a big part of the team.

"If you talk about a guy you want young players to emulate, to look up to for all the things he does on the field and off — he's a true professional."

Medunjanin has a unique national team history, suiting up for Netherlands youth teams before moving over to play for Bosnia, where he's earned over 50 caps and helped guide to its first World Cup berth in 2014. He lived in Bosnia until he was 7 before he fled with his mother and sister at the outbreak of the Bosnian War, growing up in Holland and learning the sport at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar's youth academy. He's since played in top leagues in Spain, Israel and Turkey, giving him quite the pedigree to be a leader on a young Union team.

And even though other European players have been snubbed by their national team coaches after coming to MLS, Curtin believes Medunjanin will continue to be a mainstay for Bosnia and help change the league's perception across the pond.

"On every roster, there's a great European player, a great South American player that plays in this league and goes, 'Wow, there's quality here, it's getting better,'" Curtin said. "The stadiums, the atmosphere, the way we travel, the hotels we stay in — the bar is getting raised. And it spreads quickly throughout the soccer world.

"When Haris talks about it with his teammates when he goes back to Bosnia, it just spreads more and more. And it's really spreading quickly. It's a rapid rise right now. If it was a stock, I'd invest."

Medunjanin certainly believes MLS is a growing league, admitting Thursday that he's been "surprised" by the quality and that it's "better than I thought." And while he's still learning to deal with some of the league's tougher aspects — like the kind of travel and jet lag that doesn't exist in European leagues — he's also trying to use his experience to teach a thing or two to the team's younger players.

One of those guys is Jones, who, with his strong performance for the U-20s, is looking more and more like he could have a bright future both in Philly and on the international stage.

"He has a comfort level on the ball that is unique," Curtin said. "He's brave and sometimes he'll try to dribble out of situations where I cringe on the sideline but he always bounces out with the ball at his feet. Some guys have that; some guys don't. He's one of them. When he goes into a tackle, the ball always comes out at his feet.

"Derrick's fearless. I think he's turned a lot of heads. We're not surprised here back in Philadelphia because he's a special player."

Union's Auston Trusty joins Derrick Jones on U.S. U-20 World Cup roster

Union's Auston Trusty joins Derrick Jones on U.S. U-20 World Cup roster

CHICAGO -- Union defender Auston Trusty has replaced Fulham's Marlon Fossey on the U.S. roster for the Under-20 World Cup.

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday that Fossey arrived at training camp with a groin injury.

Trusty will join his Union teammate Derrick Jones, who made the original cut. Jones was the first active Union player to participate in the U-20 World Cup. Trusty will be the second. 

The Americans open the tournament in South Korea against Ecuador on Monday, play Senegal three days later and Saudi Arabia on May 28.

The revised roster:

Goalkeepers: Jonathan Klinsmann (California), J.T. Marcinkowski (Georgetown), Brady Scott (De Anza Force)

Defenders: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Herrera (New Mexico), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Tommy Redding (Orlando City), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Luca De La Torre (Fulham, England), Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union), Eryk Williamson (Maryland), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal, England)

Forwards: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland), Lagos Kunga (Atlanta United), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake), Emmanuel Sabbi (no club), Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake)

Delco teen Auston Trusty spurns UNC, overseas offers to sign with Union

Delco teen Auston Trusty spurns UNC, overseas offers to sign with Union

CHESTER, Pa. — Like most high school graduates soaking in the last bit of summer, Auston Trusty was pumped to leave the comforts of home and begin a new journey at college. 

Even more exciting, he’d be playing collegiate soccer for the University of North Carolina, an NCAA powerhouse he’d dreamed of being a part of since he was little.

What could be better?

But when the time came to report to Chapel Hill last week, Trusty was absent, remaining home in the Philly area so he could trade one dream for another.

On Wednesday, the 17-year-old center back signed a professional contract with the Union — the club’s second Homegrown signing this summer and the fifth in franchise history.

“It was a hard decision because UNC is such a great school,” Trusty told reporters following his first official practice as a member of the Union on Wednesday. “I love everything about it. I dreamed of going there ever since I was a young kid — full-on dreamed about it. But on the other hand, I also dreamed of turning pro for Philadelphia and representing them in a great way.”

It might seem like a big jump to go directly from high school to the pros, especially when there’s such a great college option in front of you. But the Union have worked hard to build the kind of developmental program in which teenagers can thrive.

Whereas past Homegrown signings like Zach Pfeffer, Cristhian Hernandez and Jimmy McLaughlin floundered off to the side a few years ago, Trusty and fellow 2016 Homegrown signing Derrick Jones can get valuable minutes with the Union’s expansion minor-league affiliate, the Bethlehem Steel. 

In fact, it was Trusty’s performance with the Steel this summer, where he made 13 starts at center back, that convinced the Union they needed to lock him up to a pro contract before someone else did. 

“There was a lot of interest overseas,” Union head coach Jim Curtin admitted. “I won’t hold back on that. A lot. And he chose us over that, and pursuing his dream at UNC. We’re happy to have him on board.”

Curtin, a former youth coach with the Union, has known Trusty for a long time. And he’s marveled at just how far he’s come, watching him transform from a skinny, middle-of-the-road Union Juniors academy player to a supremely athletic, 6-foot-3 defender who’s strong in the air and has been a staple of U.S. youth national teams.

“I had him when he was 10 and he wasn’t the best in the group — probably toward the middle or the bottom,” Curtin said. “He’s a great example for young players. You never know in your pathway when your development is going to kick in or get sped up. He learned a lot and took it in quickly. ... I’m a big fan of the late bloomers because that means there’s a heck of a lot more potential in there. It means they haven’t been told they’re the best their whole life.”

Trusty still vividy remembers his first day as a Union Juniors player with Curtin as his coach, marveling not only at how much he’s grown up since then but also the franchise itself. One of the biggest signals of the club’s rapid growth was the recent creation of YSC Academy, the Union-run high school that Trusty, a Media resident, enrolled in as a senior last year and graduated from in June. (He had previously went to school at Penncrest High and also spent time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.)

“It was absolutely the best time,” Trusty said of YSC Academy, a private school in Wayne which pairs soccer instruction with a college-preparatory education. “The place is like a family. It’s hard to explain to people because you can’t grasp what it truly is. But when they hear about it, they’re amazed because they’ve never heard about anything like it. Everything about the school is truly unique. It’s amazing. I loved it.”

One of the perks of being a YSC Academy student and academy player are the frequent interactions the teenagers have with the Union coaches and players. Over the past year, Trusty said he’s gotten advice from some of the team’s veterans and could lean on them “24-7, if I ever need it.” 

He’ll also continue to lean on his teammates with the Steel, for whom he’ll likely keep playing this season. It's the best way, Curtin said, that the defender can get “90-minute games” and not immediately get thrown into a heated MLS playoff race.

Naturally, Trusty hopes he can make his Union debut sooner rather than later. But even if it doesn’t happen over the final three months of the 2016 season, it won’t dampen any of the enthusiasm he has for getting paid to be a part of his hometown team, just a few miles from where he lives with his family. 

“When I grew up, I was amazed by the stadium,” he said. “I always had a dream of playing here and being a part of Philly. ... It’s just amazing that I can grow up in Delco and be a part of Philadelphia and I’m able to represent [it as] a professional. I’m just honored and it’s a true privilege.”