Philadelphia Union II

Bethlehem Steel signs Union Academy midfielder Derrick Jones

Bethlehem Steel announced its first-ever signing on Thursday, Philadelphia Union Academy midfielder Derrick Jones.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic to have a player of Derrick’s caliber join our club and we can’t think of a more fitting player to be our first signing,” Bethlehem Steel head coach Brendan Burke said. “Over the past few years, he’s shown us his great potential both at the Academy and at First Team training, and we couldn’t be happier to keep him within our organization to continue his development. As we begin to build a competitive team for next season, I think this move speaks to our commitment to serve as the vital connection between our great Academy and the Philadelphia Union.

Jones has spent a good deal of training with the senior Philadelphia Union squad, joining the team in Florida for the 2015 preseason, along with forward Yosef Samuel.

Union head coach Jim Curtin said in February, “He absolutely has a chance of making the team. You can’t coach 6-foot-3 and having good feet. He has ability beyond his years. Derrick has moments with our first team where he can dominate, and then Derrick is a young player so he also has moments where he makes a silly mistake.”

The attacking midfielder, whose full name is Derrick Jones Amaniampong, emigrated to the US from Ghana in 2012. The former Ghanaian U-15 international, played for local side Junior Lone Star before joining the Union Academy, and was a fulltime student at the YSC Academy.

Union Academy director Tommy Wilson said, “We discovered Derrick when he played in a friendly match against our U-18s for Junior Lone Star. My recollection was that he was the best player on the pitch that day and we decided to take Derrick in on trial and quite quickly realized that here was a boy with great potential. He also joined our school and now shows a passion for learning both on and off the field. Derrick’s father and grandfather are from Ghana and entrusted us with Derrick’s future and development. I am proud that the faith they had shown in us has come to fruition and he is the first pro signing from the Philadelphia Union Academy. My hope is that Derrick can fulfill the potential that he’s shown, perform well for Bethlehem Steel and in the fullness of time, make the next step to the First Team.”

In February, Curtin described Jones as a “quiet, shy kid.”

“He’s a Philly kid, though,” Curtin continued. “He doesn’t live too far from where my family is, and I think it’s a great thing to see a kid who maybe didn’t take the pathway that a lot of our young players do coming up through the Philly club teams. Everybody’s road is different, but he’s gotten himself here and shown that he belongs.”


  1. Hopefully the first of many.

  2. i’ve never seen him play but i was really happy to see this, i feel like this dude gets talked about a lot

  3. old soccer coach says:

    February ’15 memories are hazy, at best. I think he saw the field in the game that had three separate teams on the field in three 30 minute segments. He did not stand out either positively or negatively within that vaguely organized relative chaos, but few people did. My guess was that Jim Curtin had promised that everyone would get more or less equal field time, and he did.

  4. Saw him play many times when he played for Lower Merion Soccer Club after just getting here. He was huge (much bigger than those his ‘age’). Won’t matter now; wish him all the best and hope he’ll make it to the first team!

  5. Good that they made a first signing. But lets speed the process up a bit you have 2 rosters that need filling before March and preferably you should have the entire rosters ready before then. Some urgency please so we can get these guys learning what the plan and style of play is.

  6. Derek Jones who plays with u 18 academy 17 year olds is finally playing with guys his own age graduated from high school in West Philly 3 years ago, a joke, not a accomplishment, ringer

  7. Another introvert here… I never post comments on blogs, but I want to join the "read what you want, where you want, on your own time, alotu&qeon; party.

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