We’re under two weeks away from the inaugural opening weekend of the MLS Next Pro season and the first game for the Union II in the new MLS development league. With the start of the new season coming up, the Union II have made seven new signings that are officially rostered so far, so let’s take a look at who they’ve added.
Union II: Seven New Signings
1. Nelson Pierre, Striker, USA
This name should stand out to fans of the Union’s senior team as Nelson Pierre has featured a handful of times in their most recent pre-season games. Coming off the bench in almost all of the games, Pierre has been a standout of the Union academy for a long time now.
The 16-year-old striker has been in the Union academy for eight years before joining the Union II. Most recently he scored four goals in five games for the Union’s U17’s side in the MLS Next U17 competition. Pierre has a strong physical presence for someone his age and has honed the technical side of the game over the past couple of years.
He’s got a lot of pace for someone of his size and also possesses good off-the-ball movement to split defenses apart. Pierre could become that all-important illusive homegrown striker that the Union has been crying out for.
2. Stefan Stojanovic, Striker, USA
Stefan is the second striker to be a part of the Union II’s squad for the first MLS NEXT Pro season and is one that really stood out to me on the highlights and film I could find on him. Stojanovic started his college career at Saint Louis University where he appeared in 29 games, 11 starts before transferring to Georgetown University in 2021. At Georgetown, Stojanovic scored nine goals in 18 games and was invited to the US U20’s Men’s National Team training camp in 2020.
Stojanovic’s finishing ability really stood out to me, for a young player (21), his composure and ability to finish in style in 1-on-1 situations was at a high level. There are many times where he’ll chip the goalkeeper in those situations and generally just finish very well. Build-up play seemed good enough for now, in the small parts I saw, but generally, Stefan seemed like a playoff the last shoulder style of striker.
3. Brooks Thompson, Goalkeeper, USA
Brooks Thompson was a highly rated goalkeeping prospect during his three years with Sporting Kansas City II. He was their youngest ever professional signing when he signed a USL Championship contract with them back in the March of 2019. Unfortunately for Thompson, and many young goalkeepers, he found it difficult to cement a starting place with the team and played 12 times for them.
Thompson played in a shortened USL Championship season back in 2020, where he made 26 saves and kept a 1.17 GAA in six matches. It seems there’s a lot of potential with Brooks and it’s just about getting him a proper starting role where he can contribute on a consistent basis to really break that potential barrier he has.
4. Chris Donovan, Striker, USA
Chris Donovan may be a name you recognize if you’re a local college soccer supporter as he spent four years at Drexel University. Donovan was a highly successful goal scorer for Drexel, bagging 30 goals and 13 assists in 60 appearances for the Dragons.
During his time with Drexel, he managed to win a serious number of awards from local Philly critics including Philadelphia Inquirer Men’s Soccer Performer of the Year, Chris Jones Philly Soccer Six Player of the Year, Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, and finally, he made it into the United Soccer Coaches Atlantic Region First Team.
From the tiny amount of film I could find on Donovan, he seems a real threat to the opponent’s defenses. Seemed to do everything at a good level, had pace, could get up in the air and head the ball, and could really trouble the keeper from various places on the pitch. Donovan could be a diamond in the rough if he can step up to this level of competition.
5. Juan Perdomo, Midfielder, Venezuela:
The Philadelphia Union continues their raid of Venezuela for their best youth players as they add another to their youth system in midfielder Juan Perdomo. Perdomo has spent the last three years with the Venezuelan side Deportivo Lara, which should be familiar with Union fans as it’s the same team the Union signed current senior squad member Jesus Bueno from.
Perdomo plays a very similar role to Bueno and it seems Lara has a certain way of coaching that position as Perdomo and Bueno are very similar players. I love Bueno and I truly think he’s set for great things so I hope Perdomo can follow in his footsteps. Juan has great composure on the ball, has a good passing range, presses very well, tackles smartly, has great breakaway speed. He could be groomed into a similar style to Jack McGlynn, where he’s more of a box-to-box midfielder over a holding midfielder.
6. Nathan Nkanji, Defender:
I couldn’t find too much on our next player, which is almost always the case with any youth footballer around the world but Nathan Nkanji has been on the Union’s radar for quite some time. He started out playing for MLS NEXT founders Chargers SC before joining UPSL side Florida Premier.
When he was playing with Florida Premier, they had a friendly with the Union II back in February where Nathan impressed the Union coaching staff. He was offered an initial trial with Philadelphia and they’ve now signed him to an MLS NEXT Pro contract.
7. Maike Villero, Midfielder, Venezuela:
We’re back to the Venezuelan youth players now for our final player of this article. Unfortunately, just like Nathan Nkanji, I couldn’t find too much out about Maike Villero. He’s spent the last three years with Venezuelan side Atletico Venezuela, scoring and assisting once in 30 appearances.
It seems Villero could play a similar role to Union II’s other Venezuelan Juan Perdomo, in more of a holding midfield role rather than anything further up the field. Time will tell though as we approach closer and closer to the start of the Union II’s MLS NEXT Pro season.
I’m sure there will be more signings that the Union II will be announcing over the next week or two and don’t worry, I’ll have you covered for any signing the Union II officially announces. I’ll also be doing my best to cover everything Union II-related during the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season which starts on March 27th!
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire