Philadelphia Union loan 18 year old Nelson Pierre to Swedish side Skövde AIK for the remainder of 2024

Nelson Pierre, Union
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

On Thursday afternoon Philadelphia Union announced that 18-year-old Homegrown Forward, Nelson Pierre has been loaned out to Skövde AIK of the Swedish Second Division, the Superettan, through the remainder of 2024.

The press release by Philadelphia Union did not mention of any sort of buy-option

Pierre’s youth in Philadelphia

After spending 8 seasons in Union’s academy – scoring 5 goals in 11 matches for Union’s U17s, and 5 goals in in the MLS Next U17 tournament in 2021, Pierre became the first player to be signed to Union II, Philadelphia Union’s MLS NEXT Pro Affiliate. In Union II’s inaugural season, the 17-year-old made 20 appearances and contributed 5 goals, helping the team reach the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.

On February 21st, 2023, Pierre became the 20th player in Philadelphia Union History to sign a homegrown contract with the club, keeping the YSC graduate in Philadelphia through the 2026 season, with a club option for 2027. In 2023, his second season with Philadelphia Union II in MLS NEXT Pro, he started in 15 of his 28 appearances, 8 more starts than the year previous, but chipped in just 4 goals and 4 assists throughout the campaign, struggling to improve on his goal-scoring from the season prior.

What’s Pierre’s temporary club all about?

After 3 consecutive relegations, Skövde AIK plummeted all the way to Division 5, the 6th Tier of Swedish football in 2005. Since then they’ve climbed their way up to the second tier and have seen relegation just once in the previous 21 seasons.

Skövde AIK was close to achieving promotion to the top flight of Sweden’s pyramid with a 5th place finish just a couple of years ago, only to follow it up with a 13th place finish the following season – avoiding being sent down by winning relegation playoffs.

Is this a worthwhile loan for the young forward?

Skövde AIK’s 3rd consecutive campaign in the Superettan is set to kick off on the 3rd of February, so Pierre doesn’t have much time to get acquainted with his new teammates and I’d expect it might take a bit for him to get caught up to speed and make his debut for the club. But I do think the move to Sweden seems like a decent one for the 18-year-old, who currently sits behind a number of players up front on Union’s First Team including Mikael Uhre, Tai Baribo, Chris Donovan, Quinn Sullivan, and for the time being, Julian Carranza.

As I said previously, Pierre struggled to take a big step up in year 2 for Union II, so maybe a change in environment will do him well. Skövde AIK saw one of their 3 forwards depart in the off-season, so hopefully, Pierre gets a chance at some consistent playing time and can continue his development while away from his home club.

While I can’t confidently say how much better or worse the second tier of Sweden’s football pyramid is in comparison to MLS NEXT Pro, at the very least, Pierre will get to spend a season playing for a club that seems to have a pretty passionate fanbase in intimate, cliche-looking European stadiums, as opposed to the echos of screaming parents in almost empty stadiums that MLS NEXT Pro matches often have. I

really hope it works out for the kid and he can come back to Philadelphia ready to make the next step in his career in 2025.