Cavan Sullivan’s a professional player, but at just 14 years old, expect Philadelphia to tread carefully


Cavan Sullivan is a player that some have considered among the best in the world at his age, and on Thursday the Philadelphia Union made it official, inking him to a homegrown deal that includes the eventual transfer to Manchester City when he turns 18.

He’s the fifth youngest player in Major League Soccer history, at just 14 years and 229 days old. However, his talent has caught the eye of many around the world, to the point where the Philadelphia Union are winning by even being the first to sign him to a professional contract.

“Cavan is undeniably a rare and extraordinary talent. At just 14 years old his natural skill and vision are far beyond his years,” Philadelphia sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a release “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 about the impact he will make with the club.”

Cavan Sullivan middle with jersey poses with his family after signing his first team contract with the Philadelphia Union

Source: MLS

However, what’s really admirable about this signing for the Union is the team’s intention to bring him along slowly. With his age, he can’t even debut for the club until at minimum mid-late June due to the child labor laws in Pennsylvania precluding him from playing night games. All signs point to him potentially making his debut at the start of Leagues Cup in July. And, with his age, people look to how Freddy Adu’s signing was handled as a blueprint of what not to do.

By signing him to a deal now and giving him several weeks to acclimate to life as a full professional, getting his body and mind ready for the grind of an MLS season already in process, the Union are doing right by Sullivan by bringing him along slowly and giving some time for the hoopla to die down and he can just be one of the guys.

Of course, he would be one of the few guys in the league who gets to play alongside his older brother, Quinn.

Cavan Sullivan right and his older brother Quinn Sullivan left post with their Philadelphia Union jerseys

Source: MLS

Having Quinn to help him as an older brother and teammate will help with the transition from day matches with the MLS Next team to night games on the road against some of the best the league has to offer. Despite the prediction that his star level will rise with each match, he can learn quietly the grind of being just another guy in the locker room who will do his all to help the Union win. And that’s why he’s making this jump so soon: the Union think he can help them get results and compete for trophies in the time he is there.

Sullivan could be the next great phenom, or he could be another really good talent who will eventually head overseas to grow into the player he potentially could become. Regardless, the Union appear to be taking the right steps to make sure his development is done in a controlled environment where no added pressure is placed upon his 14-year-old shoulders.



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