From London Amateur to MLS Professional: Interview with Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliott

The path between European football and Major League Soccer has become a well-trodden one in recent years, with Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Kaka among those who have crossed the Atlantic in the latter stages of their career.

It isn’t just high-profile stars in their 30s who have made the move stateside, though. Philadelphia Union centre-back Jack Elliott was born in London but has only ever played professional football in the US, having been scouted while representing an amateur team in his hometown. It’s safe to say the switch from Sunday League to MLS, via the West Virginia University team, has been a surreal one for the 22-year-old.

“It was a crazy experience playing against them,” Elliott tells The Set Pieces, referring to opponents such as David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, all of whom the centre-back locked horns with in his debut campaign of 2017.

“Luckily I started off easy playing my first start at home against David Villa! But it was amazing. He’s one of the toughest strikers I’ve played against. His movement and speed are still world class, making him a difficult opponent to play against.”

Trying to keep a World Cup winner quiet is a very different challenge to marking a hungover centre-forward on a mud-caked pitch in south London, but Elliott owes plenty to his experiences in the English capital’s amateur divisions.

“I played for Fulham academy for a year when I was 12, but I got released and then mainly just played Sunday league and school football. As I got older I moved into men’s football, where I was spotted by a coach [Dan Stratford] from West Virginia University – he was playing in the same game. He asked me if I wanted to go and play over there, and I had no second thoughts about it.”

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Jack Elliott named to MLS Team of the Week

Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott is off the races in 2018, as he was named to MLS Team of the Week honors. This is the second time in two performances that Elliott has been recognized by the league and been selected to their Team of the Week.

Elliott was instrumental in the club’s shutout performance on Saturday against Columbus Crew SC. The defender from London, England touched the ball 97 times in the draw, the most by any Union player on the day. Elliott made six total clearances on against the Crew, the most by any Union player and was all over the pitch with 10 recoveries. The defender also made 87 passes in the contest with an accuracy of 82.8.

Elliott has been a mainstay for Head Coach Jim Curtin and the Union on the backline, starting in 31 consecutive MLS regular season matches. Last year he started every match at center back that set a club record for consecutive matches without giving up a goal. This season, Elliott and the Union defense has not allowed a goal in their first two matches of the season.

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Auston Trusty and Jack Elliott Centerback Pairing; Dominate in Backline

Philadelphia Union have found quite the duo on the backline to start the 2018 season. The youthful center back pairing of Jack Elliott and Auston Trusty has proved to be a healthy combination early in the season. It was a combination that was strong in preseason and has translated from Clearwater to Chester. In two matches so far, the Union as a team has yet to surrender a goal.

For Elliott, the consistency early in the season is a pattern that was shown in his rookie year. The 22-year-old has now started in 31 consecutive MLS regular season matches, while last year he started every match at center back that set a club record for consecutive matches without giving up a goal — helped his case as he finished the season as a Rookie of the Year finalist.

In 2018, Elliott has continued that form and has now been named to MLS Team of the Week for the second time in two matches played this season.

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Jack Elliott Selected to MLS Team of the Week

The goals continued in Week 3 of the 2018 MLS regular season, but some defenses around the league got into form, something reflected in the Team of the Week presented by Audi.

Among the strong defensive performances were those from Real Salt Lake, which posted their first shutout of the season, and the scoreless draw between Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew SC. But the biggest result was probably from the Montreal Impact, which had three of the XI on the Team of the Week, along with one on the bench, after a 1-0 win over Toronto FC.

Audi Player Index Spotlight

The spotlight player this week is FC Dallas winger Roland Lamah, who scored two goals and an assist in a 3-0 win over the Seattle Sounders. Lamah picked up the Audi Player Index Performance of the Week, earning 1,019 points, best in MLS. He scored on 66 percent of his chances on the day, and picked up 570 points for his two goals inside the box, and another 238 points for his assist. In addition, he won 66 percent of his aerial duels.

Team of the Week: Josef Martinez (ATL), Alberth Elis (HOU), Ignacio Piatti (MTL), Roland Lamah(DAL), Mauro Diaz (DAL), Saphir Taider (MTL), Maxi Moralez (NYC), Rod Fanni (MTL), Jack Elliott(PHI), Graham Zusi (SKC), Nick Rimando (RSL)

Coach: Patrick Vieira (NYC)

Bench: Evan Bush (MTL), DaMarcus Beasley (HOU), Felipe Gutierrez (SKC), Julian Gressel (ATL), Jesus Medina (NYC), Sam Nicholson (MIN), Luciano Acosta (DC)

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Brotherly Game: Jack Elliott Named Man of the Match

Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott made the MLS Team of the Week this week and also finished on top of our reader rankings.

Elliott, a Rookie of the Year finalist in 2017, didn’t exactly stand on his head but didn’t need to in a game where the Union had a man advantage from the 25th minute on and a two-man advantage in the final four minutes.

He did make a key clearance inside the six and proved a reliable partner for Auston Trusty to have in his MLS debut while anchoring a back line that started off the season with a clean sheet.

The London, England native finished with 91.9 percent upvotes (114 up, 10 down), just edging out David Accam, who had just over 91 percent (122 up, 12 down).

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Jack Elliott named to MLS Team of the Week

Philadelphia Union earned three points on Saturday night in their 2-0 victory over New England Revolution at Talen Energy Stadium. A big reason for the victory was the performance of the back line and Jack Elliott who was named to MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi.

The second-year man from London, England had a big opening night pitching in defensively to help secure the shutout. Elliott was all over the right side of the pitch containing the New England attack.

Elliott was also a force on the ball for Philadelphia, where he controlled possession and attempted 97 passes in the match, completing over 90 percent of those passes.

The defender sent in a long ball that led directly to the Union’s second goal of the night and 10 statistical long balls on the evening.

Elliott and the rest of the Union will be back in MLS action on March 17 when they host Eastern Conference foe Columbus Crew SC at Talen Energy Stadium.

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Jack Elliott Selected to MLS Team of the Week

Week 1 of the 2018 MLS regular season was full of thrills, and big performances in big wins led the way in the MLS Team of the Week.

Columbus Crew SC led the way with three players named to the Team of the Week after the 2-0 road win over Toronto FC, followed by the Houston Dynamo and their 4-0 thrashing of Atlanta United, with two players and coach Wilmer Cabrera earning recognition for the performance.

Audi Player Index Spotlight

The spotlight player this week is San Jose Earthquakes forward Danny Hoesen, who scored a brace in a 3-2 win over Minnesota United. Hoesen had the Audi Player Index Performance of the Week, earning 1257 points in the match, best in the league. Hoesen scored one goal outside the box (327 points) and one goal inside the box (303 points), as well as tallying the eventual game-winner (175 points). He also completed 18 successful passes in the opposition half in the match, and tallied a key pass.

Team of the Week: Alberth Elis (HOU), Danny Hoesen (SJ), Alphonso Davies (VAN), Federico Higuain (CLB), Justin Meram (ORL), Jesus Medina (NYC), Lalas Abubakar (CLB), Jack Elliott (PHI), Philippe Senderos (HOU), Milton Valenzuela (CLB), Tyler Miller (LAFC)

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Countdown to 2018 Home Opener: Rookie of the Year Runner-Ups

Union defender Jack Elliott proves that you can find talent in all rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

Elliott was chosen in the fourth round, with the 77th-overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. The product out of West Virginia University made 30 appearances last season in his rookie campaign, starting in 29 of those contests.

Elliott was also a staple on the backline when he started in each match during the club’s record four-game shutout streak.

August was quite the month for Elliott, as he was able to record a goal and an assist. He scored his first MLS goal on Aug. 19 against San Jose Earthquakes and tacked on his first assist a week later against Atlanta United. Elliott would ultimately finish as a finalist for the 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

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Jack Elliott to build off rookie season

Jack Elliott, selected by the Union in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, made an impact in his rookie season for the club last year.

After beginning his professional career with Bethlehem Steel FC, he made his first MLS start against New York City FC on April 14 and continued in the Starting XI for the rest of 2017. This season, Elliott is working hard to build off his rookie campaign with the Union and contribute to the backline as effectively as he did before.

“(My goal is) to just keep playing the way I play and don’t let anything get to me too much,” Elliott said. “I’m just looking forward to playing football again.”

As the team heads to Clearwater, Florida for two stints of preseason training, Elliott is just happy to be back with the team and doing what he loves most.

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