The Philadelphia Union Academy is highly respected in the US Soccer World. After producing stars like Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, the question becomes “who is next?” Unfortunately, the Union is losing a big piece of the Academy’s near future.
Marcos Zambrano, who turns 18 in January, had Union fans very excited. Zambrano helped the Union U-17s to an MLS Next Cup and featured in the MLS Next All-Star game. However, Zambrano has recently revealed that he and his younger brother Matteo are leaving the academy.
While the reasoning is unknown, it is no doubt this is a hit to the Union’s academy and their future MLS plans.
In October, Zambrano was called into the USMNT U-20s as they prepare for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
How Big of a Loss is This?
Zambrano may have been one of the higher-profiled names in the academy. However, his departure will not sink the Union’s development academy. There are still plenty of young talented players making their way through.
The loss will still be felt. However, Zambrano likely was not making his senior-level Union debut soon. Which may have been the deciding factor in his departure.
Zambrano being a center forward would have made his journey to quality playing time difficult. Just look at Quinn Sullivan right now. Sullivan is more than talented enough to be out there. Unfortunately, there are just more players in front of him.
It is unfortunate that we won’t be able to see what Zambrano can do for the Union at the top level but he was not due to be a main roster stay for a few more years.
The Biggest Loss is Depth
The winter transfer window is upon us and the Union has been fairly quiet. It is still unknown how much the team will lose of their MLS runner-up roster.
Nonetheless, with a very busy schedule in 2023, the Union need all the depth they can get. Not only for the MLS season and US Open Cup but for their return to the CONCACAF Champions League. On top of all that, the new revamped Leagues Cup. It is a busy 2023 season.
While Marcos Zambrano may not have gotten many quality minutes. He very likely would have been a key piece of depth as the Union worked their way through all the games.
Ernst Tanner will need to have his eye on depth now that Zambrano is gone.
It Could Work for Everyone
At the end of the day, the Zambrano family is well within their right to leave the Union academy. Whether it was due to a contract dispute or a lack of opportunity. Marcos Zambrano was a top prospect of the academy and it hurts to see him go.
Nonetheless, we wish him and his family the best in the future. Once you wear the Union badge, you are forever a member of the Philadelphia Union.