The Union added another homegrown player on Tuesday with the signing of 22-year-old midfielder Jeremy Rafanello. The Delrano, N.J. native has signed an 18-month contract with club options for 2024 and 2025.
Rafanello, the 19th home-grown player in the club’s history, has had one of the most unique journeys. He spent one season with the then FC Continental FC (now FC Delco) and graduated from the Union Academy after one season in 2018. He had a breakout season at Penn State, playing in 18 games, scoring three goals and making the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.
From there, he turned professional and spent a year with Helsingborg in the Danish second division, where he did not get a single minute in the first team. He returned to the US for the shortened 2020 season with USL club Indy Eleven, then restarted his career with a two-year stint with New York Red Bulls II. His success there (56 games, 11 goals, seven assists) prompted the Union to push their homegrown claim by adding him to the roster before the summer window closes.
“We are very excited to bring Jeremy back home to the Union. He has been a standout in our academy and after developing his game both locally and abroad, we are confident he can contribute in a variety of roles within our system,” sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a team statement. “He clearly has the mentality we look for in young players and is another example of the strong talent we continue to nurture in our academy.”
In 2018, Rafanello played once for the US U19 national team. The 6-foot, 165-pound right tackle is a versatile performer in center field. He probably plans to play mostly on the right side of the diamond, although he could fill in on the left or at number 10 as a last resort.