Villanova midfielder Zach Zandi, a Union academy product who led the Wildcats in scoring this past fall, turned pro on Tuesday and signed a contract with the Union’s USL team Bethlehem Steel.
A West Chester native with a box-to-box skill set, Zandi had seven goals and three assists in 2018, and won All-Big East second team honors.
“He is an excellent player who had a great career at Villanova University, and we’ve followed his progress closely during his time there,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement. “We look forward to getting him started with Bethlehem and fostering an opportunity for him to continue his development in a professional environment.”
In 2017, Zandi was the Philadelphia Soccer Six (the six local Division I schools) player of the year. In 2016, he helped the Wildcats reach the NCAA men’s soccer tournament for the first time in program history.
Along the way, Zandi trained with Bethlehem a few times during summers, and played for well-regarded regional amateur team Reading United — including in some early-round U.S. Open Cup games.
Zandi’s coach at Reading, Stephen Hogan, is now an assistant at Bethlehem.
“Zach was a vital part of Reading's success over the last three seasons, has exceptional ability on the ball, is a very intelligent player in between the lines and consistently caused opponents problems with his decisions,” Hogan said. “He definitely has the work rate off the ball that we need, and we are very excited to see him develop.”