WHILE MUCH of the speculation about the Union's next homegrown player has centered on teen forward Christian Hernandez, a Major League Soccer source confirmed yesterday's announcement from the Union that it has selected midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin as its next young star.

First reported by the Daily News via Philly.com yesterday, the Union signed McLaughlin, 18, as its second homegrown player; Upper Dublin's Zach Pfeffer was announced last December. McLaughlin, who attended Great Valley High in Malvern, played this year at Colgate, where he was the only freshman to start every game and was named Patriot League rookie of the year.

McLaughlin is an FC Delco product, who along with Hernandez, participated in the Union's July friendly against Everton and made a serious impression. McLaughlin also has been called up to participate in several reserve league matches.

"Jimmy McLaughlin came on and did a fantastic job," Union assistant John Hackworth said after the 1-0 win over Everton. "You wouldn't even know he wasn't a pro the way he played."

Per MLS policy, McLaughlin's contract terms won't be disclosed when the Union announces his signing. But considering this puts McLaughlin out of the running for next month's SuperDraft and already has met the criteria for league approval, it can be assumed that McLaughlin won't be joining the squad at league minimum.

To put it in perspective, Pfeffer, 16, collected $65,000 in guaranteed compensation this past season. The league minimum is $42,000 for players in roster spots 1-20 and $32,600 for players under the age of 25 in roster positions 25-30.

McLaughlin will be the Union's third signing of the offseason. Former Vancouver midfielder Nizar Khalfan signed in November and Costa Rican international Josue Martinez signed last week.

In other news, the Union bypassed yesterday's second stage of the MLS re-entry draft and in turn other teams passed on the only two Union players on the block, midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi and goalkeeper Chase Harrison. Aston native Jon Conway was selected in the draft by the Los Angeles Galaxy. Conway was the starting goalkeeper last season for the Chicago Fire.

WPS to return?

U.S. Soccer unanimously agreed to grant the struggling Women's Professional Soccer league another year of Division 1 status. However, the sanction is contingent on specific guidelines presented to the league but yet to be fully explained publicly by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Late last night, U.S. Soccer released the following statement: "After a positive discussion, the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors approved a plan to sanction WPS as a Division 1 professional league in 2012, subject to certain conditions. Once the Board receives confirmation from WPS that all five teams agree to those conditions, U.S. Soccer will issue a formal announcement."

One source told the Daily News that a main contingency was that WPS must actively expand into different markets annually and must start the 2012 season with a sixth team. Currently, the league has only five, including the Philadelphia Independence.