Photo courtesy Akron Athletics
Philadelphia Union announced Wednesday afternoon that the team acquired the rights to and signed midfielder Adam Najem. To acquire Najem’s rights, the Union traded their second-round pick in the 2018 SuperDraft to the New York Red Bulls. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
“We are excited to acquire the rights to Adam and sign him as a member of Philadelphia Union,” sporting director Earnie Stewart said in a statement released by the club. “He is a player that has shown his abilities throughout his collegiate career and continued that this preseason. Adam is a player that provides depth for us and we are thrilled to see what he will bring to our club.”
A New Jersey native, Najem played his college soccer at the University of Akron. In four years with the Zips, Najem made 89 appearances, notching 33 goals and 89 assists. Najem earned the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year award in 2016 and was first-team all-conference all four years at Akron. Will Parchman at Top Drawer Soccer called Najem “college soccer’s best player” before the 2016 season.
On a conference call last Friday, head coach Jim Curtin praised Najem’s performance in training camp:
Yeah, he’s been excellent in training. He gets goals and assists, which I already knew about — you just have to look at his statistics to know that he can do that. He’s shown in the short time with us that he can do that at the MLS level. He’s been very strong in each and every training session, and actually has an ability to cover more ground and do the defensive work that we ask our no. 10 to do, even more so than I anticipated. So, high on him, hopefully, we’ll see what’s coming in the next couple of days.
Adam has done everything to show very well, has made it clear that he wants to be a Philadelphia Union player just by being here. Hopefully something can come of that in the coming days. But I’ve been very impressed. Good kid, humble kid, quiet, incredible work rate and ability around the goal to score and set up goals that is special. Guys that are in our league who’s not the biggest, you think of a Mauro Diaz — I think I described him at dinner the other day as a Mauro Diaz-Benny Feilhaber combo. Again, that’s getting ahead of ourselves, but you can kind of think of the attributes of those two guys with the similar size to a Diaz, for a young kid. Again, don’t say I’m calling him the next Mauro Diaz, because that’s a little fast. But he’s done very well, and for the people who maybe don’t know what he’s about, that would be a comp of skill sets that I see.
With Monday’s signing of second-round draft pick Marcus Epps, the Union now have 28 players signed to contracts with the first team. To sign a third goalkeeper, the Union will likely send one or more of their young players on a season-long loan to Bethlehem Steel FC to free up a roster spot.