The 15-year-old midfielder agreed to stay with the Union organization yesterday and became the youngest signing in Steel FC’s brief history. Miscic is now the fourth Union Academy player to sign a USL contract with Steel FC following in Derrick Jones, Matt Real, and Yosef Samuel’s footsteps.
Selmir Miscic sat alongside his new head coach Brendan Burke late Tuesday afternoon as they both fielded questions from media members via a conference call to announce Steel FC’s newest player. With a stroke of a pen, Miscic became the youngest player ever to sign with Steel FC and he will now begin what some are calling a very fruitful professional soccer career.
About three years ago, Miscic’s parents realized the only way for Selmir and his younger brother Arnel to fulfill their full soccer potential was to move from their home in Vermont to Royersford, PA. From there, Selmir joined the Union Academy and began impressing everyone.
“At the age of 12, we thought we must move in order to reach our full potential. My parents, which I’m extremely thankful for, they made a huge sacrifice as well as Arnel and I. We left everything we knew, our friends. At the end of the day, it’s all paid off,” explained Miscic.
Yes, it has paid off for the youngster.
The 15-year old garnered interest not only from Steel FC technical staff but the midfielder gained global attention – including from clubs in Europe. His skills on the pitch and maturity off it helped him gain notoriety and as a result his first professional contract.
“Obviously, Selmir’s parents would’ve played the biggest part [in Miscic’s development] and it’s important that they’re recognized for the way he handles himself in our environment,” said Burke Tuesday.
Miscic’s father played professionally in his native country of Bosnia as well as Germany which instilled a burning passion for the sport in the young Selmir. “He’s one of the big reasons I started playing soccer,” said Miscic of his father. “But everyday since the very beginning, he’s always pushed me. He knows how much the sport means to me and how much I want it. He’s always gave me advice because he knows what it takes,” said Miscic.
Miscic’s dedication to be a professional was apparent very early on when he first joined the Union Academy at age 13. He already has his eyes set on a career path that will hopefully lead him to Europe. When asked how it felt to gain interest from not only Philadelphia Union but also from clubs across the pond, Miscic said “It’s obviously very special because the angle for me is to one day play in Europe. But the interest that the Union and Bethlehem Steel have showed me is very special and I’m very thankful for that. I just have to show it on the field – how much I appreciate everything they’ve done for me.”
And that appreciation goes both ways. Since he and his family made the move south from Vermont, the Union organization were looking forward to the moment they could show their love by rewarding the loyalty Miscic displayed for the club. “From a mentality standpoint, [Selmir] is one of our best and it’s one of the reason that we’ve pushed for him to stay with us long-term. We want to reward that loyalty that he showed the club with really taking careful steps with his development,” said Burke.
Those careful steps will involve incremental increases in exposure to the next level. Currently, Miscic is a member of the Union U17s where he’s excelled. “He’s proved that he can handle and even dominate U17s games. His recent performance against NYC speaks to that. But the next step is going to be to get games in with the U19s,” said Burke. The performance against NYC granted Miscic a brace and an assist that resulted in a win for his side.
“He’s got a lot going on right now and he’s doing a fantastic job with everything we’re putting in front of him,” said Burke. On Miscic’s plate as of late was a week-long training stint with the first team Union following a few months on the training grounds with Steel FC.
“He’s already been in training with us for months and showed he can handle the level in training,” said Burke. But with the increased workload, comes reasons for concern on the physical demands of the teenager.
“He was training with the first team for an entire week last week, but that can be taxing and can take a toll over the course of a couple weeks or months when you’re just getting started with it,” said Burke. “We want to be conscious about not over-extending him.”
Currently, Miscic is traveling to Bradenton, Florida as an invitee to a week-long training camp with the USMNT U16s. Miscic is no stranger to international play either. During the prestigious Torneo delle Nazioni in eastern Italy and western Slovenia, Miscic and the USMNT U15s earned a third-place finish after recording a game-winning assist against Italy and goals against both Macedonia and Croatia a few years back.
“He’s off to national team camp next, so we want to focus on that and make sure he has a good camp and continues to impress everyone at US Soccer because they’ll also be a key part of his development,” said Burke. US Soccer has been very kind to Union youngsters like Matt Real and Mark McKenzie in recent years. Miscic will hopefully be the next to benefit from continued international exposure.
As for whether Miscic will suit up for Bethlehem Steel FC as their season wraps up. Well that remains highly doubtful. “The logical next step is to start getting games in the U19s on a regular basis,” said Burke.
Last season with the Union U15s, Miscic netted 33 goals across all competitions and became known as one of the league’s top goal scorers. In 2018, he’s tallied two goals with the U17s. The ceiling is high for the 15-year old, yet he remains calm and composed to tackle his future head on.
“It’s a dream come true for sure. My whole life I’ve been dreaming of this moment. But now the work starts so I have to continue working hard and hopefully big things will come in the future,” said Miscic.