CHESTER, Pa. — For years, the Union have yelled from the rooftops about their youth-first mentality and plan to win through player development.
On Saturday night, that plan finally came to fruition.
"It's a big step for us," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "The fact that some homegrowns weren't just on the field but left huge impacts on the game, it's special."
Anthony Fontana, 18, Auston Trusty, 19, and Derrick Jones, 21, all put their stamp on the Union's 2-0 season-opening win over the Revolution.
Fontana, hailing from Newark, Delaware, and who played 66 minutes at attacking midfield, opened up his MLS account in the 43rd minute when he gathered a tipped ball from C.J. Sapong and placed a confident shot past Matt Turner.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play here at this club,” Fontana said. “To be able to actually help the team today feels good.”
His teammates also couldn’t be happier. That includes Union and former U.S. Men’s National Team captain Alejandro Bedoya, who took Fontana under his wing throughout the preseason.
“I’m so happy for him,” Bedoya said. “He’s a good player so I hope he takes a good step this season. Not a bad way to start his debut, to score a goal. It’s just the beginning for him, he’s got a bright future.”
For Trusty, it was all about the clean sheet. Pairing with Jack Elliott on the left side of the Union defensive line, Trusty had the unenviable job of shutting down the Revs’ most potent option, Juan Agudelo.
“It means a lot, but it’s also the challenge,” Trusty said. “The coach put me up to it and our organization put me up to it and they believe I can do it. I just set out to fulfill my role, do my task and keep the clean sheet and just play my role on the team.”
At one point in the first half, Agudelo beat Trusty and moved in on a breakaway, only for the rookie to catch up and steal the ball back.
“He made a couple key tackles in the box, won a lot of aerial duels in the box, did a lot of the things that don’t show up in the stat sheet for center backs,” Curtin said. “But the thing that makes me most proud is there was a zero at the end of the day. That’s what is most important. That means Auston did the job.”
And while the win was a productive introduction for the Union’s crop of talented prospects, it was also an unforgettable experience for the local kids.
“It’s amazing,” Trusty said. “Imagine growing up in the Philadelphia area, being a little kid and coming to see these guys play, to be on the same field. I remember buying a ticket and coming to see these guys play and always dreamed of playing for the Union. For it to actually happen is amazing. It’s very humbling. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”