Jack Elliott was the definition of a no-name player when the Union picked the centerback out of West Virginia in the fourth round of the 2017 draft. But he is far from unknown now, having played over 5,700 minutes across 65 Union games since turning pro.
So there was little surprise that the Union rewarded Elliott, 23, with a new contract, and certainly no doubt that he earned it. The 6-foot-6 London native is a rock of the back line, with terrific passing skills and a defensive acumen that has constantly grown. His new deal runs through 2021, with a club option for 2022.
Elliott also surely got a raise, which is also well-earned. He made just under $60,000 last year, according to the MLS Players Association, not far off the league minimum. The MLSPA pubishes salaries leaguewide a few times each season; this year’s first release should come within a few weeks.
“I’m delighted that I get a chance to play with this team for another few years,” Elliott said after Tuesday’s practice. “It shows that they believe in me, and it helps me feel comfortable.”
This season, Elliott ranks second on the team in interceptions per game (1.3), first in clearances per game (3.9) and third in blocks per game (0.7). His 81.6 percent pass completion rate is the best of any centerback with regular playing time. His average of 37.8 accurate short passes per game ranks No. 4 on the entire team, and his average of 5.6 accurate long balls per game ranks No. 1 among regular field players.
“Jack is really evolving and improving,” sporting director Ernst Tanner said. “He is like a modern centerback should be: He has great skills in forward passing, but, over the course of last and this season, he also developed quite an intelligent defending, trying to steal balls in front of his opponent, really defending forward, putting a lot of pressure on the opponent.”
In addition to a new deal, Tanner would also like to give Elliott a green card. Elliott still doesn’t have one yet, despite being in his third pro season in the U.S. (and with three years with the Mountaineers before then). So he still takes up an international roster spot.
Tanner has to wait for the government, though, as the Union know all too well by now. He confirmed that the process of getting Elliott a green card “is already running.”
Once that's settled, Elliott will be able to enjoy the security of a team that wants to have him, and that he wants to play for.
And, for the record, he doesn’t think much of his unusual rise through the ranks, even if everyone else does.