The Philadelphia Union is currently one of the top teams in Major League Soccer. One of the keys to their success is their homegrown talent. Star player Brenden Aaronson is a product of Real Jersey FC, and his younger brother Paxten Aaronson signed a homegrown contract on August 19, 2020. The clubs left back Matt Real started his youth career at Lower Merion SC, and in the 3-0 win over NY Red Bulls on September 6, 2020, it was the first time the club saw two homegrown players score in the same game with Real and Aaronson both on the score sheet.
Under the MLS squad, is Philadelphia Union II who is competing in the USL Championship, where the club is able to groom their stars of tomorrow. One of those players who recently started training with the team is Academy product Jackson Gilman. The 16 year old joined the clubs academy in 2016 and has grown into a top prospect, Gilman joined the Union with Ekow Asomaning as both players were with West-Mont United Soccer Association.
Gilman joined West-Mont United through the clubs Intramural program at age 3. He then joined the clubs pre-academy program, before joining the travel program at 9 years old. After playing travel for a few years. Gilman was identified by Union Juniors scouts during a camp, and was asked to join the clubs academy. Gilman said yes to all opportunities that came his way, and was always pushing himself to become a better player. As he was open to different opportunities, he challenged himself in different ways, allowing him to find new levels of success.
“Jackson Gilman was a pleasure to work with during his time spent at West-Mont United. My first interaction with Jackson began in 2018, Jackson would always come to the coaches for advice and reflect on areas to improve in his game. A true professional throughout his career at the club, showing respect, leadership and work ethic. As a club, we felt that it was in Jackson's best interest to be pushed at the professional soccer level. Jackson took that among himself to challenge and push his limits. After a number of years at the Philadelphia Union, he is known to be the Talisman of the academy and I'm fully aware of his ambition to push for the Men's program. Lastly, I would like to add that the club wishes Jackson Gilman all the best. A very humble athlete with a fully committed family that have been very loyal to West-Mont United.”
— Dennis Squires, Zone 2 Director West-Mont United SA
This summer has been no different, as Gilman is again open to new opportunities when he was asked to train with Philadelphia Union II. After 20 weeks off due to COVID-19, the club returned in July with Gilman being one of four players from the 2004 birth year included in the squad. Being one of the youngest players in training, Gilman has used the opportunity to improve his game, and is looking forward to breaking into the squad.
“My time at West-Mont United helped me in so many ways to get me where I am today. I played several years of intramurals, then pre-academy, and 4 years of travel soccer. The West-Mont coaches helped me with my love of the game, worked on advancing my skills, and helped with the work ethic that I have now. I was always wanting more and the coaches provided me with every opportunity that suited me. I will always be thankful for the time I spent at West-Mont and have formed bonds with coaches that will last forever.”
— Jackson Gilman