Philadelphia Union sign 14-year-old phenom Cavan Sullivan to record deal

The Philadelphia Union have signed 14-year-old phenom Cavan Sullivan to a four-year deal through 2028 for the largest homegrown contract in Major League Soccer history, the club announced on Thursday.

“This is a historic day for the Philadelphia Union. It is not often, in any sport, that you get to sign a generational talent, especially here in Philadelphia in soccer,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said in Sullivan’s introductory news conference Thursday.

Sullivan becomes the youngest player in club history to be added to the first-team roster, and the fifth youngest player to ink a first-team contract in MLS history.

If the 14-year-old midfielder makes his debut for the Union on or before July 29, 2024, “he will become the youngest player to make his debut among the top North American professional sports leagues (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, NWSL) as well as the youngest player to make his debut among the top five European soccer leagues,” according to the Union.

“We’re certainly not afraid of putting him on the field at any time,” Curtin said on Thursday when Sullivan could make his first-team debut. “He’s going to work hard and make it on the field on merit first and foremost.

“I’ll just say it publicly, it’s a lot closer than people may realize. You know, again, our team whatever you need that week, he’s going to be called upon quickly because he deserves it.”

Philadelphia next take the field against Orlando City on May 11.

Last year, Sullivan was named the Golden Ball winner after scoring four goals in the tournament and leading the US to the 2023 Concacaf Boy’s Under-15 Championship – the first time the team has ever won the tournament.

“I’ve been watching my home team, the Union, for as long as I remember and hoped that one day I’d get the chance to play for my city in front of my family, friends, and fans,” said Sullivan. “Being able to not only play for the Union but to be able to play with my brother is a dream come true. I will give everything I have to this club and hope to help bring home some hardware. I’m thankful for the opportunity and hope to make Philadelphia proud.”

Sullivan’s older brother, Quinn, 20, has played for the Union’s first team since 2021.

According to ESPN, Sullivan has a release clause that will allow him to transfer to English Premier League side Manchester City after he turns 18.

“He’s super talented, clearly, otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here having this discussion, but he’s got this attacking mindset that is fearless. He creates goals, he scores goals, he can do it in every facet,” Sullivan’s Union II head coach Marlon LeBlanc said.

“He’s a generational talent, sky’s the limit and we’re just going to continue to help allow him to give him a platform in order to continue to grow.”

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