U.S. Soccer has named Philadelphia Union academy member Christian Hernandez the U-17/18 Development Academy Player of the Year after the midfielder scored 16 goals in 26 appearances for his club team, Players Development Academy (PDA).
PDA is a Youth Development Affiliate of the Union as part of an innovative "club-neutral" academy structure.
Hernandez, who entered as a substitute in the 79th minute of the Union's first-ever reserve match, helped PDA to a 7-2-1 divisional record, which was enough to seal the top place in the Liberty Division and No. 6 seed overall in the playoffs. Hernandez will be a key part of the Players Development Academy team as its moves through Finals Week from July 9-16 in Milwaukee, Wis. Hernandez was also named to the U-17/18 Development Academy Starting XI and East Conference Starting XI.
Additionally, two other members of the Union academy system, FC Delco midfielder Jimmy McLaughlin and PDA defender Matt Jeffrey, were named to the Development Academy East Conference Starting XI. McLaughlin started and played 90 minutes against the New York Red Bulls in Philadelphia's first reserve match, followed by 45 minutes against D.C. United in the club's second reserve contest.
The Development Academy has honored players and coaches with post-season awards since its inaugural season in 2007-08. Past Players of the Year include FIFA U-20 World Cup veteran Dillon Powers and current Major League Soccer forwards Ruben Luna (FC Dallas) and Soony Saad (Sporting Kansas City).