CHESTER, Pa. – Bethlehem Steel FC announced on Wednesday the club had signed defender Ben Ofeimu to a USL Championship contract, bringing the 18-year-old defender from West Bloomfield, Michigan into the professional ranks ahead of the new season. Ofeimu joins Steel FC from the Union Academy, and the signing is pending league and federation approval.
“We are very excited about signing Ben to the Steel,” said Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner. “Ben has a big, physical presence on defense and is very technically skilled on the ball. His addition will strengthen the core of our backline and be a real asset to us this season. We feel that Ben has proven himself well at our Academy and look forward to continuing his professional development with the Steel.”
Ofeimu’s signing marks the first professional signing of a player that has completed the Union Academy’s Residency Program, but the youngster follows in the footsteps of predecessors including current Union midfielder Derrick Jones and defender Matthew Real, both of whom entered the professional ranks with the USL Championship’s Steel FC. Ofeimu previously competed for Bethlehem as an Academy signing a season ago making 12 appearances that included nine starts and scoring one goal.
“Ben has emerged over the last 12 months as a very mature and hard-working prospect,” said Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke. “He has good feet for such a big guy and he communicates very well. He will be a key figure in our 2019 season and we are so happy to be welcoming another Union Academy graduate to the Steel on a permanent basis.”
Ofeimu appeared in 63 matches (56 starts) for the Union Academy and scored three goals across four seasons. Ofeimu started all 25 matches in the 17-18 Academy season, scoring one of his three goals.
“Ben is a shining example of what can be achieved when you ally attitude and commitment with talent,” said Union Academy Director Tommy Wilson. “Ben and his families’ commitment to our program have now been appropriately rewarded and we wish him the best of luck as he embarks on the next step of his journey.”