Former Drexel captain dreams of MLS career | The Triangle

Former Drexel captain dreams of MLS career

Photo by Raphael Bartell | The Triangle

The night of April 15 will be one of the most memorable in the life of Kyle Tucker. After a foul just outside the 18-yard box, the 24-year-old captain of the Philadelphia Union II grabbed the ball to take the freekick. He started the runup with a few quick steps and perfectly placed the ball into the right top corner. Atlanta’s goalkeeper, fully stretched, had absolutely no chance. Tucker disappeared in a crowd of Union teammates who celebrated their captain. It was Tucker’s first-ever professional career goal.

Tucker plays his second season as captain for the Union II. It is a big honor for the 24-year-old to be part of the club he has been supporting since he was a little boy. Tucker is a familiar name in the Philly soccer community. He grew up in Phoenixville, PA, and played five years for Drexel’s Soccer Program as well as for the UPSL team Westchester United (3rd US division) before signing with the Union in the summer of 2023. Tucker is now playing primarily alongside talented young players from the Union academy who get the chance to develop their skills playing for the Union II in the MLS Next Pro, a professional senior league. 

The MLS Next Pro is a good opportunity for youth players who are too good for the academy but not ready to get playing time at the highest level of American soccer. Jake McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan and Nathan Harriel are all homegrown players who were part of the Union Academy and Union II before making the step to the MLS team.  The Union II squad is one of the youngest in the MLS Next Pro. Regardless of that, the team is on top with seven wins and only one loss in eleven played games. 

To have a successful team, though, it requires experienced players. One of these is Kyle Tucker. The 24-year-old is the oldest player on the team and wants to lead by example. “With my experience, I can help to guide young players in certain situations that they haven’t been in before,” said Tucker. When looking at Tucker’s career you almost immediately have to think of Chris Donovan, who played with Tucker at Drexel and got drafted by MLS team Columbus Crew in January 2022. He then moved to Philadelphia Union II before signing with the first team in June of 2022. “Seeing his journey showed that if you work hard in training and perform in games there is definitely that opportunity to move up,” Tucker said, who wants to follow Donavan’s footsteps. Tucker has been able to practice with the MLS team, in experiences that were extremely valuable for the 24-year-old. “Training alongside the players I was watching four years ago when I went to Union games myself is so awesome,” said Tucker. The Union II captain knows how to impress on the field this season. The midfielder contributed two goals and one assist so far. 

One of Tucker’s biggest strengths is his set-piece qualities. With Corners and crossing deliveries Tucker consistently causes danger for the opponent team. His free-kick abilities are also noticeably good. Both of Tucker’s goals this season were direct freekicks. 

The first goal in professional soccer was a long-awaited moment for the 24-year-old, especially after a beautiful free-kick goal was disallowed by the referee in the first game of the season. Players of the Union moved in front of the opponent’s wall. “It was tough that the goal was taken away from me. I thought that was my moment,” said Tucker, who has high ambitions for the seasons. After the Union made playoffs two years in a row but said goodbye very early, this year the captain of the Union II has a clear goal. “We definitely want to win some games in the playoffs and make a run,” said Tucker, who is ready to lead his team to the title.