Early Thursday (Jan. 7, 2021) morning, Mark McKenzie’s long-rumored move to Belgian side KRC Genk was made official. First reported by Genk, and later confirmed by the Union, McKenkie’s multi-million-dollar move is official!
McKenzie’s multi-million-dollar deal
Mark has been with the Union for his entire professional career. He was another academy standout to go to the second team and then progress quickly to the first team. He made his Union debut on April 13, 2018, and played for three seasons in Philly.
In total, he played 48 matches starting 46 of them. McKenzie also racked up impressive goals and assists for a center back over three years scoring twice and tallying three assists. Now he’s off to KRC Genk in a deal that the Union says “could become the highest fee ever received for an MLS center back…” While no figures have come out yet, this is yet to be seen.
Now that we have seen the last of McKenzie in a Union shirt, questions have to be asked, is he the Union’s best center back in team history?
Best center back in team history?
Mark McKenzie came into the first team and quickly became a player that head coach Jim Curtin could count on. His ability to slide into a backline that had previously been shaky at best, and lock it down, is one of the reasons the Union won the Supporters Shield in 2020.
The way he was able to shutdown attackers one-on-one and chase down defenders made him good; his ability to intercept balls and then create attacks made him great. His presence on the field was terrific, and it’s something Jim Curtin noticed from an early age:
“I’ve been able to coach and watch Mark develop firsthand since he joined the Union Academy, and his trajectory since then has been nothing short of impressive, Mark has been a reliable and skilled center back, one of the best defenders in our league this year. His dedication to training, learning and drive to improve paired with his passion, moral grounding, and personality off the field, makes him an invaluable member of any team and locker room. He will most certainly be missed at the Union, but I am so proud of him and have no doubt Mark will excel with Genk.”Jim Curtin on Mark McKenzie’s transfer to KRC Genk
Mark is easily the best center back the Union has had in their now 12-year history. It may take some time before we see another like him. But one thing we all know for sure is that he will be forever Philly!
The Union now has a clear formula on how to develop homegrown talent, win on the field, and then sell homegrown talent for huge profits! Mark McKenzie is just another example of that. He will forever be remembered by Union fans for helping the team winning its first-ever trophy.
Now he will move on to European competitions with Genk, and will also likely feature in the plans of the USMNT in their crazy 2021. Best of luck to Mark!
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.