The Philadelphia Union gladly embraced Jack Elliott as he rejoined the club recently after a multi-week absence due to green card paperwork and processing. Elliott is entering his fourth season with the club and now is a proud recipient of a US Green Card.
Jack Elliott played every single minute of every single match in 2019 for Philadelphia Union Head Coach Jim Curtin. He solidified his starting spot along the back four and excelled in his role at the center back position utilizing his size and passing abilities to good use.
His high level of play earned him a well-deserved contract extension and impressive pay raise in May which guarantees him a spot with the club through the 2021 season with a club option for the 2022 season. His salary jumped from the base rookie salary of $60k to roughly $250k. He tallied two goals and earned Team of the Week honors in week 8. He did all this while holding an “international roster” spot.
Now, Elliott is a US Green Card holder and can proudly say he has earned the right to live and work in the USA on a permanent basis.
But that process wasn’t a simple one. He was forced to miss over two weeks of pre-season training camp in order to jump through all the needed hoops in order to earn his green card. It’s a process that may seem overly complicated to some, yet Elliott completed each step required and is better off for it.
“It’s a good feeling and it helps the team out a lot,” said Elliott in a phone conversation with PhillySportsNetwork.com this week. “It’s a relief to have it done now rather than having to go during the season.”
The process is tedious. And Elliott acknowledged that. But thankfully for him and other players, the club and its legal personnel facilitate much of the heavy lifting that’s required.
“They sorted everything out for me and helped me through the process,” said Elliott when asked whether this process is solely placed on his shoulders alone or if the team provides assistance. “I just have to physically show up a few places.”
One place Elliott went was back to his native country of England.
“Two weeks ago, I had to go back to London for an interview at the embassy. They took my passport and had to run it through all the administrative processes. When you get there you have to do a little interview,” explained Elliott.
After checking that box off his list, Elliott was then scheduled to fly back to the US and once he arrived he conducted yet another brief interview in order to finalize the Green Card process.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem too daunting of a process. But there are many requirements placed on a player in order to achieve permanent visa status, like “filling out things online” in a timely fashion and taking care of required “medical testing”. Yet Elliott seems to have taken it all in stride, keeping his mind focused on the bigger picture, one that involves him no longer holding a coveted international roster spot with the club.
For a player to miss the first two weeks of pre-season training, it may be a fair assumption to think he may be a step behind his teammates. And it may be fair to be extra worried about Elliott considering the club recently brought in 25-year old Jakob Glesnes to openly compete for a starting center back spot along with the always competitive Mark McKenzie who is fresh off his USMNT debut.
But Elliott hasn’t missed a beat.
“Being away for a bit longer than a week is tough with not having a chance to play,” admitted Elliott. “But I think I’m in the swing of things now. I feel fit and ready to go.”
The addition of Glesnes to the group has been a positive for not only the club but Elliott himself. One may think to add new players may ruffle feathers, especially those of players who’ve solidified their starting spot in past years. But not Elliott.
“He’s a good player and I think he definitely fits in well with the club,” said Elliott of Glesnes. “I think we have a lot of similarities between us. It’s good competition and any competition will make you better and the team better.”
For now, Elliott is remaining focused on improving his game while trying to stay hungry for a starting spot once more in 2020. He also noted some improvements the team overall should be focused on with the new campaign just a little over a week away.
“I think overall, conceding less goals for us would an important improvement,” said Elliott. “Remaining more organized [defensively] is something that we’re working on.”
For himself personally, Elliott wants to get on the score sheet more often, hoping to use his height and aerial skills to contribute a goal here and there on set pieces. If he can continue to excel defensively while bolstering his goal-scoring abilities, there is no reason not to roll Elliott out with the starting XI each week.
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