14-year-old Cavan Sullivan signs record MLS deal that includes Man City move | Philadelphia Union

Cavan Sullivan shrugs off words like prodigy, phenom or even wonderkid, all things he has been called at the age of just 14. But there’s no doubt Sullivan is talented. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Union formally announced that they’ve signed their academy prospect to a Homegrown contract that will eventually land him with Manchester City.

“I tend not to even listen to what they call me or what they say about me. It’s really just what I think of myself,” Sullivan said. “I don’t really listen to anyone, whether it’s good or bad. So it doesn’t really get to me whatsoever.”

The long-rumored deal – said to be the richest Homegrown signing in Major League Soccer history, although no details were released – allows the Union to continue to develop Sullivan and benefit in the short term from his ability, before profiting when he most likely heads overseas to the Premier League. The deal also allows him to stay at home for a few more years as he matures.

Sullivan is considered one of the best American players of his generation. In an Under-15 match last April between the US and England, he scored both of his team’s goals in a 2-2 draw that the Americans won in a penalty shootout. He was named the best player at the Concacaf Under-15 championships, where he finished with a pair of assists in a 4-2 victory over Mexico in the final. Union coach Jim Curtin recently called Sullivan “a special talent, top talent not only in this country but in the world.”

Sullivan has already made his professional debut, coming off the bench for the Union’s MLS NEXT team last month, logging an assist for the game-winning goal. He’s made two appearances for the team, who are a step below the Union’s senior squad.

The teenager hopes to make his Union senior debut this year. If he does, he’ll join his brother, Quinn, another academy product who has played for the team since 2021.

Sullivan (14 years, 224 days) is the fifth-youngest player to sign a first-team contract in MLS history. If he plays for the Union before 29 July, he’ll become the youngest player ever to appear in a match. Freddy Adu was 14 years, 306 days old when he debuted for DC United in 2004.

“I think Jim Curtin was really integral in getting Cavan here, if I’m being completely honest,” said his dad, Brendan Sullivan. “He called us, he reached out to us, he said, ‘Look, I think he can play for me right away. With a little bit of a little bit of coaching, we think that he’s ready and we’re willing to take that on.’”

Sullivan, a Philadelphia native, is the youngest of four brothers. Quinn, 20, is the oldest. Brendan Sullivan played professionally in the A-League, which eventually became the USL First Division, a tier below MLS. His mother, Heike, played at Penn. Grandfather Larry coached at Villanova from 1991-2007. Sullivan said he first started to get attention by clubs when he was just 10.

skip past newsletter promotion

“I think that’s really when I thought, ‘This is happening.’ It didn’t feel real but definitely triggered something in my mind where I was like, ‘I can do this,’” Sullivan said.

Sullivan can’t play for Manchester City until he is 18. But he holds a German passport that could allow him to move to Europe and play for City-affiliated teams – such as Girona in Spain or Palermo in Italy – when he turns 16.

“I guess my goal is just to become a regular player [for Philadelphia] within the next two years,” Sullivan said. “Then after that I would hope to be a starter. I guess that’s from the 16 to 18 age window. And then right when I’m 18 I hope to be at the level of the Man City first team.”

Because of the collaborative transfer agreement with Manchester City, Sullivan’s deal is unusual. It signals that the Premier League club trusts that the Union can develop an elite player. City will reportedly pay upwards of $5m to trigger a pre-arranged clause in Sullivan’s contract to bring him to the Premier League when he turns 18.

Sullivan isn’t looking too far ahead, though. In many ways he’s a typical teenager, albeit a very gifted one. He jokes: “I’m a pretty boring kid, to be honest.”

“I mean, you can see him. He’s a pretty even-keeled kid,” his mother said. “He really does that on his own. I’m sure we help keep him grounded, but I think he is already grounded, and I think he should get a lot of credit for that.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *