Auston Trusty always had a dream to play soccer for the University of North Carolina. That dream, however, was interrupted by another - the chance to be a professional.
So two days before his 18th birthday, Trusty, a 6-foot-3 center-back, became the second homegrown player in the last month to sign with the Union on Wednesday. Last month the Union signed midfielder Derrick Jones as a homegrown player.
"It was always a dream to go to North Carolina since I was a kid but also a dream to becoming a professional," Trusty said. "It was tough calling the North Carolina coach, but he was very understanding."
A resident of Media, Trusty joined the Union Academy at its inception in 2013 and has continued on with Bethlehem Steel FC this season where he has made 13 starts. While he's the fifth-ever homegrown signing for the Union, he becomes the first to have graduated from the Academy.
Homegrown players can be signed by a Major League Soccer club, thus not subjecting the player to the SuperDraft, if he has been a member of a club's youth academy for at least one year and has met the necessary training and retention requirements.
This was also a special day for Union coach Jim Curtin, who says he has known Trusty since he was about 9 years old. Curtin recalls at a younger age Trusty didn't stand out, but he kept working to improve his game and it paid off.
"I would call him a late bloomer," Curtin said. ". . . He has a great family behind him and he really blossomed, stuck with it in the tough times."
Trusty, who has been called up three times this season to the U.S. Under-20s, will benefit from practicing every day with the Union.
"It will help tremendously," Trusty said. "It will be a higher level and I will be playing against some really good players."
And that is why Curtin is so excited. He said that Trusty's game has plenty of room to grow and he feels it will be aided tremendously by competing each day against professionals. Knowing Trusty's affinity for North Carolina, Curtin understands it was a difficult decision to make.
"We know he made the right decision," Curtin said. "We are happy for him."