Showcasing Philadelphia Union’s Star Academy Prospects: Part 2

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Welcome to the 2nd part of my series of articles highlighting just some of the incredible coming out of the academy in Philly right now. In the previous piece, I covered 3 prospects, Neil Pierre, Jamir Johnson, and Anisse Saidi. This time around I’ll be covering some more prospects that Union fans should remember for the future.

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union Academy Prospects: Part 2

Peyton Presson, Striker, 2008

In the previous article I posted, I covered Peyton’s teammates Jamir Johnson and Anisse Saidi but it’s about time Peyton got some of the spotlight that his teammates seem to always have on them. 

Peyton is as pure of a striker as you can get, a true complete forward who can do anything you want him to do. What stood out the most when I watched Peyton play is his ability to always be involved with the play and his link-up play is just as good as his natural striker skillset of scoring goals and his positioning. 

Peyton has had interest from some of the best academies in the world, so while he’s flying under the radar with a lot of the media, he’s certainly impressing people in world football and he’s definitely considered a top prospect by many in the game.  

It’ll be interesting to see how Peyton continues to progress over the next few years. He’s in a really good place right now with the academy, especially since a lot of the eyes seem to be on his teammates, Saidi and Johnson. 

However, UII currently has a lot of attacking players involved in the squad, so his path to progress is a little blocked right now. It really will come down to a bit of good fortune with timing until we see the best from Peyton on a bigger stage.

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Cavan Sullivan, Attacking Midfielder, 2009: 

You know how I said in the first piece I wouldn’t be covering any names that even the most casual Union fans will know? Well, I guess I kind of lied but you can’t blame me for writing about Cavan, can you? 

I’ve covered and watched youth football for around 7 or so years now and I’ve had the privilege of covering massive tournaments like multiple U21 Euros, U18 Euros, and UEFA Youth Champions League amongst others and I can tell you this, Cavan is one of the best I have ever seen, not just in the US but in the world, especially at his age. 

Cavan has everything you could want and more, ball control, confidence, goal-scoring, passing, his attention to detail, and the way he reads the game. That last one is the key for me, it sets him apart from everyone else on the field and it will for the rest of his career. If you look at the best players in the game, they could read the game better than anyone else and Cavan possesses that exact talent. 

Now, it’s obvious Cavan is one of the biggest youth talents in the world and it basically means he won’t be in Philly for long, so try not to get too attached to him. He’ll have the choice of whatever club he wants when he turns 16. 

Two things are still big questions about Cavan. The first is when he gets his move to Europe, will he be able to stand out from the rest at whichever football giant he chooses to go to, or will he get lost in the pack like so many have before him? The other is where his best position is on the field, being versatile is a huge thing in today’s game but you also must know where your best position is and, at the minute, Cavan can play as a 10, an 8, on either wing, or possibly as a striker.

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Francis Westfield, Defender, 2005: 

Now this name will be familiar to Union fans as he featured in Union’s recent pre-season friendlies and scored a goal too, but he’s someone I’ve watched very closely for the past 2 years and I’ve been really excited by the progress he’s made in that time. 

Francis made his UII debut and became a regular starter in the inaugural season 2 years ago and has kept his role a regular since, making 46 appearances in 2 years, scoring twice and assisting 4 times. 

He started off playing left back in the squad but has since switched to right back and has made huge strides in improving his game. I remember watching him a lot during the first season and being worried about his overall play, he was making mistakes and looking sloppy and lost at times but he’s made serious improvements throughout the season just gone and I’m happy to see he’s been rewarded with some time with the senior team during pre-season. 

Westfield isn’t a modern-day wing-back, he’s not one to run down the wing on overlapping runs and put crosses in like a Kai Wagner but he’s very good defensively and he has improved his passing and creativity a lot in recent games so it’s something he can grow into a lot more. If he continues his progress, then he could see himself as a permanent member of the senior setup in no time at all. 

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