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Union's Derrick Jones, Auston Trusty selected for MLS Homegrown Game

The Union's prized academy products will join some of MLS' top young stars for an exhibition against the under-20 team of Mexican powerhouse Chivas de Guadalajara.

The Philadelphia Union’s Derrick Jones and the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Alphonso Davies (left) were selected to the squad for the 2017 Major League Soccer Homegrown Game.
The Philadelphia Union’s Derrick Jones and the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Alphonso Davies (left) were selected to the squad for the 2017 Major League Soccer Homegrown Game.Read moreDarryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

Midfielder Derrick Jones and defender Auston Trusty will represent the Union at the Major League Soccer  Homegrown Game on Aug. 1, the club announced Wednesday. The pair will join an 18-player roster of homegrown athletes from across MLS who will face off against Mexican powerhouse Chivas de Guadalajara's Under-20 team.

Union coach Jim Curtin said that the selections represented the club's goal of developing talent close to home.

"We're a club that wants to be at the forefront of youth development in the United States," Curtin said. "It means a heck of a lot to have these two guys that were homegrown, that came up through our academy … get recognized again for their actions on the field."

This is Jones' first full season with the Union, and he has stepped into the midfield with confidence, filling in for captain Alejandro Bedoya when the midfielder is called to U.S. national team duties. He has started in eight of his 11 appearances, and although he hit rough patches — he earned a straight  red card against the Red Bulls in June — Curtin believes the 23-year-old is finding his rhythm.

Jones is a true homegrown player for the Union, becoming the first athlete to work his way from the academy to the Bethlehem Steel to the Union. The recognition is special, Jones said, and he plans to bring his characteristic intensity to the field.

"It feels good to be called, obviously," Jones said. "Maybe they see me as one of the top young players in the MLS and that's exciting. I think it's going to be a very fun game. I'll go out there and treat it the same as an MLS game, play hard and just go out there to have fun."

Although Trusty hasn't played in a Union uniform yet, he has seen valuable minutes for both the Steel and the U.S. U-20 national team. He earned a call-up to the U.S. roster for the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 championship, starting in the team's 2-1 victory over El Salvador to earn the team a berth to the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. On June 1, Trusty became the first active Union player to register a World Cup goal when he scored in America's 6-0 rout of New Zealand in the Round of 16.

Jones was also part of the World Cup squad, and played a key role in midfield throughout the tournament.

Trusty has started all 10 of the games he has played with the Steel this season. In his first season with the Steel, he made 20 appearances and started three times. For the 18-year-old, the "homegrown" distinction is just the next step in proving himself on the professional level.

"It's definitely an opportunity, definitely honorable to be called up and to be recognized," Trusty said. "The players definitely have some quality and I'm excited to match up. It's an exciting opportunity and it's good for all of us as young players in the MLS to take advantage of it."

Chivas' under-20 team captured Mexico's Liga MX under-20 title earlier this year. The team boasted five players on the Mexican U-20 World Cup roster, the most out of any team in the league.

Besides Jones and Trusty, the homegrown team boasts a wide variety of talented up-and-comers. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez will protect the net after making waves by choosing to represent the U.S. national team over Mexico's. Gonzalez could join the U.S. team for the Gold Cup knockout rounds. At midfield, Jones will be joined by Tyler Adams, a leader on the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster.

The  offense will be spearheaded by two Canadians: Alphonso Davies, who became the youngest player to score in the Gold Cup this year at the age of 16, and Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, who has been scouted by Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City at age 18.

In its fourth year, the Homegrown Game is designed to showcase the young talent of MLS academies. More than 150 such players have signed contracts with MLS clubs. The Aug. 1 game will take place at the Chicago Fire's Toyota Park, in Bridgeview, Ill.