Philadelphia Union: Ronaldo Damus close to deal for MLS move

Apr 14, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union fans cheer during the game against the New York City FC at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union fans cheer during the game against the New York City FC at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports /

Though his time training in Philadelphia is over, the link between Haitian wonderkid Ronaldo Damus and the Union remains actively monitored and is slowly advancing towards a potential deal according to sources.

The buzz around the Philadelphia Union organization for the better part of a month has been the arrival of 17-year old Ronaldo Damus on a trial with their USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel. Just the simple thought of having a “Ronaldo” in blue and gold has had fans buzzing about the young Haitian striker, although it has been recently revealed that his trial had come to an end and had since returned to his current club, Real du Cap.

Yet while he may no longer physically be in Philadelphia, a future return to the United States has taken a step in the positive direction with a potential agreement having been made once Ronaldo reaches the age of 18 on September 12. This would most likely mean that he would fill the international spot left open by Eric Ayuk’s loan spell or Joshua Yaro’s recent green card status being approved and having him develop at the USL level under Steel coach Brendan Burke.

His departure from Philadelphia was directly related to his current club’s involvement in the Haiti D1 finals where he is a consistent starter at the striker position. And even if that were not the case, it is not possible for Philadelphia to sign someone under the age of 18 due to league restrictions. But according to one source close to the Haitian club and league as a whole, Ronaldo’s agent and Union executives seem to be remaining in contact and will continue monitoring each other’s progress until he becomes of age to sign a professional deal.

The story of how Ronaldo Damus ended up in Philadelphia was elaborated on by the source mentioned above who has been monitoring the young Haitian since he was 15-years old. Ronaldo was being monitored and pursued by Real Salt Lake earlier in 2017 but eventually came to notice fellow Haitian international Jonel Desire who was two years older at the time and serviceable at the same position. RSL eventually pulled the trigger on signing Desire which resulted in Ronaldo being placed on the back burner due to a lack of international spots available.

It was the intention of MLS clubs such as Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy and Orlando City SC to either monitor Ronaldo’s status over time and eventually bring him in for a trial once he had turned 18. But it seems the Philadelphia Union were keen on getting him into Pennsylvania quickly to see firsthand what this kid had to offer as an attacking threat. It remains unclear who within the organization pulled the trigger on bringing him in, but his agency, Global Premier Management, seems to be the most likely party that reached out to Philly regarding his potential at such a young age.

So what makes Ronaldo Damus such a sought after prospect in the United States?

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He possesses an ability in front of the net that very few players from Haiti have exhibited over their careers which is a level of calmness. Scouts and media that have tracked his progress accredit a certain demeanor about Ronaldo when working into the box and receiving the ball that is a huge asset for any attacking player. Most notably, a source close to the Haitian national team stated that his hat trick against St. Lucia at the U17 level was something that caused an immediate note to be made that there was something different about this young striker.

Ronaldo has been instrumental in his nation’s success at the youth level providing six goals in the U20 team’s qualifying round for the 2017 CONCACAF U20 Championship. Having won the Caribbean championship both at the U17 and U20 level, he was capped by the senior squad in a World Cup qualifier vs. Costa Rica in September of 2016.

Ronaldo Damus is one of the fastest players at his level and his ability to turn almost effortlessly with his back to defenders is something that cannot simply be taught. It’s instinctual by nature and a weapon that is utilized to free the elusive Haitian into the box and be one-on-one with the keeper numerous times per game. As a testament to his calmness, being surrounded by opposition doesn’t seem to phase him which in turn makes shot selection and placement that much easier to execute.

His pedigree in Haiti is already becoming that of incredible status at the ripe young age of 17. Ronaldo is on track to become one of only a few players to win the D3, D2 and D1 title at the club level in Haiti should his team prevail in Sunday’s second leg of the top flight final after scoring in the first leg Wednesday afternoon. It’s clear to see that something is there that MLS teams want to get their hands on, and the Philadelphia Union may have done enough to lock down the young stirker come September.

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While many months lie ahead and nothing concrete has come to light in regards of an agreement, word around the Haitian league is that Ronaldo Damus will most likely end up in Philadelphia come mid-September despite inquiries from other MLS teams. Should this move go through, the Union will find themselves in possession of a player that could very well make himself known in the Philly and American soccer scene as early as 2018.