Cavan Sullivan Signs Historic Pro Contract

Cavan Sullivan Signs Historic Pro Contract
by Victor Olorunfemi
May 10, 2024
Players featured in this article:
F | San Jose
MF | Phil. Union

On May 9, 2024, Cavan Sullivan, 14, of the Philadelphia Union, signed a homegrown contract in a historic moment for one of the highest-rated prospects in American history. The deal worth just over $500k annually is the most lucrative homegrown agreement in MLS history and makes Sullivan the fifth youngest player to sign a pro contract in league history.

Also in the running is the record for the youngest MLS player ever, as Sullivan would set the mark if he plays in a competitive game before July 29, 2024. That seems entirely plausible, as Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin stated in the celebratory press conference.

“He’s going to work hard and get on the field on merit first and foremost. But I’ll just say it publicly- it is a lot closer than people may realize.”

The attacking midfielder has had a massive rise over the last 15 months. Previously a highly regarded prospect hidden in the Philadelphia Union Academy, Sullivan rose to international prominence last spring with his dazzling performances at the U15 GA Cup, then in the summer as a 13-year-old leading the U.S. U15 national team to the Concacaf title as the tournament’s best player.

From that point, as his social media following grew, so did scouts from the world's best teams, leading to an eventual agreement with Manchester City. Part of the homegrown deal is a built-in transfer for Sullivan to join the global giants upon his 18th birthday in September of 2027.

With that move still years away and Manchester City opting to let Sullivan remain in the States when he could join at 16, it points to the quality of a Philadelphia Union Academy that has grown to be the best in the MLS and among the best globally. Just last month, the Union U17 won a second consecutive GA Cup with Sullivan starring in a team that defeated world-class academies such as Flamengo (Brazil), HNK Hajduk Split (Croatia), Atlas (Mexico), and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea) along the way.

Despite the massive notoriety, "humble" was repeatedly used to describe Sullivan, a term the teenage star embodied during the press conference.

“I know everyone is proud of me, and it means a lot for my family, but to be honest, nothing has happened yet, and the work starts now. I still have a lot to do.”

Sullivan will begin training full-time with the Union first team, joining older brother Quinn, a 20-year-old talent who has already played 89 professional matches and 19 for the U.S. U20 national team.

In the limelight as a global wunderkind, it can be easy to forget Sullivan is still 14, something that came into context when he revealed his off-field activities.

“I’m a pretty boring kid. I don’t do much outside of soccer. Soccer and homework . . . I do like in the summers to go down the shore, but while I’m there I’m usually juggling a ball. And some video games with my brothers every so often.”

Sullivan, ranked No. 1 in the TDS Player Rankings, joins Chance Cowell of the San Jose Earthquakes as the only two from the 2027 class to sign a professional contract.

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