Breaking News / Press release / Signing News / Union

Philadelphia Union sign academy product Cavan Sullivan in record Homegrown signing

The 14-year-old Union Academy product and YSC student, joins Union as youngest signee in club history; Concacaf U15 Golden Ball Winner signs largest deal for Homegrown player in Major League Soccer history

CHESTER, Pa. (May 9, 2024) – Philadelphia Union announced today that they have signed midfielder Cavan Sullivan through 2028, in a Major League Soccer record deal. Sullivan, who joined Philadelphia Union Academy at 10-years-old, becomes the youngest player in club history to be added to the first team roster, and the fifth youngest player to sign a first-team contract in MLS history.

“Cavan is undeniably a rare and extraordinary talent. At just 14-years-old his natural skill and vision are far beyond his years,” said Ernst Tanner, Philadelphia Union Sporting Director. “His advanced soccer IQ, paired with his ability to read plays, advance the ball, and score, show just how high his ceiling will be. We are incredibly pleased to have come to an agreement to have Cavan join the Union on his first professional contract and have no doubt on the impact he will make with the club.”

“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 Cavan 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 joined the Union Academy in 2020 and has quickly progressed through the Pro Player Pathway. He has featured for Union Academy’s U15 MLS NEXT team, U17 MLS NEXT team, and Philadelphia Union II MLS NEXT Pro team, making a name for himself both with the Academy, as well as with United States Youth National Teams. In the 2023 Generation adidas Cup, Sullivan, who was just 13 years old at the time, helped the Union U15 squad reach the finals, beating academy powerhouses such as Valencia, Arsenal, and Real Madrid, with Sullivan scoring one minute into the match against Arsenal. With his outstanding play, he was named to the tournament’s Best XI. This year, Sullivan joined the U17 squad where he contributed to the team winning their second-consecutive GA Cup championship. Additionally, in 2024 Sullivan featured for Union II, where he’s appeared twice and added an assist in the game winning goal against New England Revolution II.

Last year Sullivan led the US to victory in the 2023 Concacaf Boy’s Under-15 Championship, marking the first time the US has ever won the tournament. The youngest player on the team, Sullivan’s four goals scored earned him the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.

Should Sullivan 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.

TRANSACTION: Philadelphia Union sign midfielder Cavan Sullivan through 2028.

Name: Cavan Sullivan
Position: Midfielder
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 150 lbs
Born: September 28, 2009
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hometown: Norristown, Pennsylvania
Citizenship: United States

Acquired: Philadelphia Union sign midfielder Cavan Sullivan on May 9, 2024.


  1. Think he’ll actually wear the number 6?

  2. Not that this actually matters at all but I thought it was interesting how this is the TOP news story on CSN Philly this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Union story get top billing like that.

  3. Tim Jones says:

    As I type, the Cavan Sullivan signing fills the 31st first team roster slot.
    At the moment, the roster has no room for more additions.
    That means further additions must be balanced by further subtractions.
    The next roster announcements will be loans away, sales, or cuts.
    Tanner cannot sign Jose Riasco if he still intends to do so until someone leaves.
    Further signings from the Academy U17 group or 2024 graduates must be to Union II without corresponding first team departures.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      How are people on loan counted? Looking at last week’s article on the roster, there were 27 players not on loan. Adding in Rick and C. Sullivan that would make 29. Do the two Senior spots on loan (Odada and Torres) count against the 31?

      • Eric Boyle says:

        After reviewing the article, it is clear as mud! There is a footnote indicating that having an international player on loan qualifies for roster relief.

        However, Cavan fits into a U22 initiative spot as does Riasco according to that article and there were two open spots for those players.

      • Eric Boyle says:

        After I posted I realized that’s Tim’s article! What does roster relief mean? Do they have extra slots for the U22 Initiative players?

      • Tim Jones says:

        1. The roster relief referenced is only for International slots.
        I almost titled the earlier roster article as “For Roster junkies only.” because I suspected that without continuous attempt to decipher the situation, no matter what I did the piece would lose people. Sorry I couldn’t figure out how to make it more clear.
        I have never seen any statement of where Cavan Sullivan’s salary actually fits. HE could be a U22 player. That does not mean he is.
        Since he signed to MLS, but after April 15, only if past practice is followed by the players union, NOTICE the CAVEAT please, we will know nothing of his salary until the Fall Salary Guide is released by them.
        WE have only the Union’s and the league’s statement about his deal, and notice that there is always the adjective “homegrown” attached. It is the richest homegrown contract, not the richest contract.
        WE will have no idea of how much until September or October.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    Just to put things into perspective, Cavan was born over a year and a half after the official announcement of the team’s existence (and my down payment on season tickets).

  5. So the Union has signed a future Messi, welcome Cavan.

  6. To me the coolest thing, was seeing his brother, Quinn, in the front row with his brothers and he is videoing the whole thing. You would have to wonder about jealousy, but wow, they showed all of us how supportive they are of each other. That comes from great parents.

    • Vince Devine says:

      Quinn was posting hype videos of Cavan two years ago and has probably been one of Cavan’s biggest supporters/promoters. Nothing but brotherly love. Hope to see them on the pitch together someday.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Quinn was there in full force cheering him on when Cavan made his debut with Union 2.

  7. Pretty good to know that he will be playing here for a while. Hopefully he won’t burnout under the pressure! Can’t wait to see him live with big brother on the home field!! Really hate how complicated the roster rules are. Bless anyone who can decipher them for the rest of us!

  8. Tim Jones says:

    As of Thursday, May 9 Cavan has only played 58 minutes at the MLS NEXT Pro level.
    He is expected to start for the Union U17s in the MLS NEXT Flex tournament that starts tomorrow, Friday the 10th.
    He will then play for them in June to try to win MLS NEXT Cup with the U17s.
    He has to acclimate to the second team in its games, over time and he may or may not start that process before August. Of the current crop of Union II academy players, only Eddie Davis forewent a break after the 2022-2023 season was over.
    The idea that he would debut with the first team in any meaningful waybefore July 29 strikes me as unlikely in the extreme. Two minutes on the pitch in stoppage time would be grandstanding, and that does not strike me as the organization’s style. Maybe if Messi comes for July 15th, but I doubt he will because of Copa America. That would fulfill a boyhood dream, and that I could see being accommodated. Otherwise, he’s got to prove it in MLS NEXT Pro before anyone talks seriously about a meaningful Union debut.

  9. If Cavan grows into his brother’s body by 18….

  10. paulcontinuum22 says:

    Will Curtin or Tanner even be here when this guy makes the first team, and does anyone have confidence he’ll be as advertised by decade’s end?

    • OCTinPHL says:

      From the WSJ: “ In Sullivan’s case, Curtin doesn’t plan to wait long. He promised on Thursday that his first top-tier appearance was “a lot closer than people realize.” Should it come before July 30, the 5-foot-7, 150-pound Sullivan would, at 14, be the youngest player to make his debut in any of the major North American sports leagues.”

  11. Just hope a more emotionally mature player and coaches along the way become a mentors to him. He is 14 still growing physically and emotionally. Freddy Adu was the next coming of Pele and he regrets not having a mentor. He has plenty of time as long as he has guidance at each step.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *