May 9, 2024 - Sports

Philadelphia Union land historic deal with 14-year-old Cavan Sullivan

Cavan Sullivan rushes toward a soccer ball while wearing a blue penny over a white jersey.

Cavan craze is coming to Philly. Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

A 14-year-old soccer phenom is looking to cut his teeth in Philadelphia before potentially heading to the Premier League.

Why it matters: Cavan Sullivan on Thursday signed the largest homegrown contract in MLS history to play for the Philadelphia Union, an organization he's grown up with and with whom his family has deep connections.

State of play: While specific terms of the deal weren't disclosed, Sullivan's agreement calls for him to spend the next four years with the Union before joining the English Premier League's Manchester City, considered by many the world's best club.

  • Man City is expected to shell out up to $5 million for Sullivan when he arrives, per the Inquirer.

The intrigue: The dynamic playmaker hasn't yet made his MLS debut — sweating it out with the Union's reserve squad.

  • If he plays before July 29, Sullivan will become the youngest player to appear in MLS, surpassing Freddy Adu (once billed "America's Pelé"), per ABC News.
  • Sullivan's debut is expected soon, though the team hasn't shared a date.

Fun fact: He's also the 24th player in Union history to rise from the youth ranks to the pros, demonstrating the organization's prowess at developing players, per the Inquirer.

Zoom in: Soccer is seemingly a birthright for the Sullivans. The young phenom's parents, Brendan and Heike, played for UPenn men's and women's soccer teams in the 1990s.

  • Sullivan's older brother, Quinn, is a Union midfielder, and his younger brothers are in the team's youth academy, per the Inquirer.
  • Union manager Jim Curtin played for Cavan's grandfather, Larry, at Villanova, so those built-in relationships were handy when luring Sullivan to start his pro career in Philly.

What they're saying: It also made sense for Sullivan to stick around Philly since his family has lived for generations in Bridesburg.

  • "This is the best city in my eyes, in terms of just the fans, the culture, the energy that the fans bring and the city brings," Sullivan told the Inquirer. "I wouldn't want to start anywhere else."
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