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Philadelphia Union teenager on emulating Brenden Aaronson & Liverpool ‘dream’

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It may have taken him 37 games, but Jack McGlynn’s first senior goal for the Philadelphia Union was well worth the wait.

With his side holding a 1-0 lead over the Houston Dynamo heading into the final minutes of the first half, McGlynn stood over a free-kick about 30 yards out and dead center. German left-back Kai Wagner stepped back as if to prepare a run-up, but it was McGlynn who quickly dispatched a left-footed effort over the wall and beyond off-guard Dynamo goalkeeper Michael Nelson.

McGlynn scored his first senior goal in style.

McGlynn scored his first senior goal in style. / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

McGlynn’s teammates quickly rushed to congratulate him on a goal that’s been a long time coming but was finally delivered in spectacular fashion.

«All my teammates have been getting on like, ‘oh, when are you going to score? When are you going to score?’, because I’ve been so close on a couple different occasions. So, to see the ball finally go in, it was a special feeling for me,» McGlynn told 90min in an exclusive interview.

«Everyone was really happy. My family was really happy for me and my brother who only scores really good goals was like, ‘it’s about time you joined the family’. So, it was just a really good feeling.»

For outsiders, McGlynn’s goal may have felt like a bolt from the blue by a player only just starting to make waves for the Philadelphia Union senior team.

But in recent weeks, especially, McGlynn has started looking every inch as talented as those famous Union academy products that have come before him, like Brenden Aaronson now of Leeds United and Mark McKenzie, who plays for Belgian giants Genk.

The 19-year-old has started in each of the Union’s last three games, more than coping with the challenges of MLS.

«These three starts, I feel like I’ve shown myself really well in just showing my qualities to both the coaches, my teammates, the fans. So, hopefully, that continues throughout the season,» McGlynn said of his recent form.

Philadelphia has become famous as a breeding ground for young soccer players in recent years and for the generation coming through now, like McGlynn and teammates such as Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan, having role models that have already come through the system certainly helps.

«I’m good friends with both of them and they’re like role models to us,» the youngster said of Brenden Aaronson — who sent a congratulatory text to McGlynn after his goal — and McKenzie. «They’ve been on the same path as us and they show that anything’s really possible when you perform here. So it’s just that they’re good role models to look up to because we’re good friends. We know them, so it’s possible for us.»

The Union’s focus on youth development is part of an ethos that runs right through the club, but none of it would be possible without head coach Jim Curtin, who will back emerging players to an extent far beyond anything else seen in MLS right now.

«He’s a great coach for all the young guys,» McGlynn said of Curtin. «He gives us chances, no matter what the score is, he trusts us. He has his blind faith in us. So that’s something as players, you can’t take for granted and you have to earn the trust and then show the trust when you get on the field, that there’s a reason he trusts you.»

Of course, with just three starts this season and plenty of development still to go, McGlynn’s focus remains on improving with the Union and helping his teammates with their goal of winning MLS Cup.

However, like any young American player coming through in the league right now, Europe is the aim. Heading across the Atlantic and proving yourself against the world’s very best talent.

«I’m not in any rush to go over there. I want to prove myself here first, but it is a goal of mine that I want to do in my career at some point,» McGlynn said.

And although McGlynn hasn’t had that conversation with the Union yet, he’s certain that he’s at the best club to make his vision a reality, given their track record.

«I’m sure they know that’s my aim. I haven’t gone and spoken to them about it, but I’m sure they have a good pathway for me because they just want what’s best for me,» the teenager added. «Like with Brenden and Mark, they sent them to great clubs for them. So, I’m not focused on Europe right now at all, I’m focused on here. That’s just my mindset.»

Fellow US prospect and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina recently secured a big move to Chelsea, while for Ricardo Pepi it was the German Bundesliga, and Serie A for Gianluca Busio.

So, where is McGlynn’s dream destination and how confident is he that he’s capable of cutting it at that level in the future?

«Well, growing up I’m a huge Liverpool fan. So I mean, I would obviously love to play there. I think everyone would,» McGlynn declared. «I’m a really confident player, so I’d back myself anywhere I go really.»

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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