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Union trade Derrick Jones to Nashville SC

Philadelphia Union have traded midfielder Derrick Jones to incoming MLS expansion side Nashville SC for $175,000 in general allocation money, the club announced Thursday night.

The trade will not officially take effect for MLS purposes until Jan. 1. Until then, Jones will be loaned to Nashville, which currently plays in USL, for the remainder of this season. Additionally, should Jones be transferred outside MLS, the Union would maintain a 20% sell-on clause that entitles the club to a portion of the transfer fee.

“Derrick has been through some difficult situations this season, both on and off the field, and both he and the club agree that a change of scenery is best for all parties involved at this time,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement from the club. “All of us wish him nothing but future success with Nashville.”

The trade brings to a close what had once been a feel-good story for local soccer in Philadelphia but which closes for now in a fairly different way.

Jones, 22, was born in Ghana and moved to south Philadelphia with his family seven years ago. The Union discovered him after he joined Junior Lone Star (now known as Philadelphia Lone Star), a local team made up primarily of West African immigrants. The Union signed him in December 2015 to a professional contract with Bethlehem Steel FC, making him the team’s first player, and he joined the Union roster the next year.

Since then, Jones has become a U.S. youth international who has demonstrated loads of athletic talent and potential, notably in the U-20 World Cup but he has failed to crack the Union lineup with any degree of permanence, appearing in 26 games (11 starts) for 1,144 minutes over the last three seasons. Head coach Jim Curtin, who rarely publicizes anything critical about his players, has indicated a frustration with Jones’s lack of consistency in games and training.

On the flip side, Nashville acquires a player with a significant upside who, if he finds the right situation, could be a top MLS player. Jones has played mostly as a box-to-box center midfielder and defensive midfielder in MLS, but he has also played attacking midfielder in USL and, at 6-3, has the size to be a dominant aerial presence if deployed at center back.

“This deal allows us to acquire a young, talented player early in our build up to MLS that gives our coaching staff an opportunity to get to know Derrick and his game before we take the field in MLS,” Nashville general manager Mike Jacobs said in a statement from the club.


  1. Interesting comments from Tanner re:difficulties off the field. I suspected personality things were likely keeping Jones out of the squad more than talent. Hope he does well in Nashville.

    • Kevin Kinkead has been hinting about off the field things for a while with Jones. Such a shame as he has a ton of potential. If the whispers are true he probably never would have lived up to the potential here, hopefully the change can get him back on track.

      • What exactly was Kevin Kinkead hinting about, regarding “off the pitch” difficulties? Curious.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I believe he said something like – “Jones is the only one holding Jones back.” Nothing more specific than that, that I saw. I am thinking maybe he doesn’t work as hard as the coaches would like, was probably told that, and it was an attitude thing? Honestly that’s just a total guess on my part.

      • He has said multiple times over the past few years that he has heard whispers from sources that basically the Union have wanted Jones to grow up and he has basically never listened. Read into that what you want but Kevin hasn’t (and I won’t either) assume exactly what that means. But the organization has seen it as an issue.

  2. HopkinsMD says:

    That’s $575,000 in GAM, plus 100,000 TAM in two days, plus clearing $1.25 million in salary from Accam alone. Not bad.
    All the best to DJ in Nashville.

    • Getting $175k for a player who likely would not break the game day 18, even money from the expansion year bump that new teams get, is a shrewd move from the U. I’m sorry that Derrick did not make it here but I do hope the change of scenery will get him back on track for his career.

    • Jones had to go. The fact that we got $175k is incredible. Might as well use that money to keep Monteiro. I can’t remember 100% but I think the money we got for Accam doesn’t convey until 2020 but that was a nice haul as well.

      • Peanut Gallery says:

        The Jones trade doesn’t official happen until January 2020, so those Garber bucks don’t arrive until then.

  3. Atomic Spartan says:

    For someone from outside MLS, Ernst is a fast learner when it comes to leveraging the funny money. And fearless.

  4. when derrick was one his game he was one of my favorite players on the team to watch. i hope he does really well in nashville

  5. The Truth says:

    Sometimes players plateau, sometimes there’s no place for them in the squad. I saw flashes of quality from the big kid but ultimately, he never looked more than that – a kid. Hoping a change of scenery can jumpstart his career before it’s too late.

  6. Great One says:

    Like Jones a lot but this is another good move that’s best for both sides. Good luck to him going forward, always seemed to be his own worst enemy.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Have to say the trades of Accam and Jones, were both AMAZING pieces of business. For a team that relies on the funny money, this was just really well done. Kudos to all involved.

  8. Wish him all the best. At one point he played for Lower Merion Soccer Club as well, just before he started playing for the Union U16’s or U18’s. Have a nice picture of him in a LMSC Lightning shirt.

  9. Tanner is really impressive! Have the U ever made moves like this before? As the Spartan says..fearless. It will be fun to see what moves are made. Really hope Jones finds some solid ground. Best of luck to him!

  10. It would’ve been nice to see Jones develop here. But in the end, he was effectively out-competed by Brendan Aaronson for a midfield spot. And he still might’ve gotten some minutes as a backup, but Creavalle was preferred.

    Also, I must say that Tanner’s transparency is so refreshing. I mean, I certainly don’t want him to be classless and throw somebody needlessly under the bus — especially someone like Jones who is barely more than a kid. So his allusion to “issues on and off the field” strikes just the right note of letting the fans know what the deal was without airing dirty laundry. And I guess this explains a lot about why we didn’t see him play more.

    I certainly wish him the best, and I’d be happy to see him develop into a good player.

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