Selmir Miscic, a 15-year-old forward who is one of the Union academy's most-anticipated prospects, is ready for his move to the professional ranks. He signed a contract with the Bethlehem Steel, the Union's minor-league USL affiliate, making him the youngest pro player in organization history.
"I've been very fortunate over my career to work with boys who are game-changers, and that's how I would describe him," academy director Tommy Wilson said.
Miscic likely won't suit up for Bethlehem right away. He'll play more with the Union's under-19 team for now. But he has already trained for a few months with Steel players, and earlier this month practiced with the Union.
"He's still kind of growing into his body and all those things," Union manager Jim Curtin said, "but you talk about an attacking IQ of how to move around the goal, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to finish with pressure on you, Selmir is about as high as I've seen in our academy."
Miscic was born in Burlington, Vt., to a father who emigrated from Bosnia during the war in the 1990s. The father, Sanel, was a pro soccer player in Bosnia and lower leagues in Germany. In 2016, the family moved to Royersford so that Selmir and his twin brother Arnel (who also is a good prospect) could join the Union academy and not be too far from their parents.
"Every day, since the very beginning, he has always pushed me," Selmir said. "He knows how much the sport means to me, and how much I want it. Since the beginning, he has always pushed me and given me advice, because he knows what it takes."
Selmir has already drawn interest from European teams including Bayern Munich, which recently signed 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps phenom Alphonso Davies. It's hard to resist that kind of allure, and like many young players, Selmir dreams of playing in Europe someday.
But the Union persuaded him to stay here. Wilson, technical director Chris Albright, former sporting director Earnie Stewart and his successor Ernst Tanner all helped make the case.
Part of that case was being clear that the team is happy to sell Miscic to a European team in the future. Not every MLS team is that open, but the Union are.
"I think it's an important part of a lot of the most successful clubs," Steel coach Brendan Burke said. "I'd be upset if one of our guys didn't want to go play in Europe at some point, or at the very least be a DP [Designated Player] in our own league here."