Sean Bettenhausen ’21 makes USL debut

The senior plays for the Philadelphia Union II after graduating the Union Academy

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Joe Lister, Editor-in-Chief

Since he was just 10 years old, Bettenhausen had a path to success. 

That path was the Philadelphia Union Academy, a system in which the Philadelphia Union recruits young soccer players in the hopes that those players will one day play for the first team in Major League Soccer.

“I started when I was 10 years old,” Bettenhausen. “PDP (Player Development Program) is what they called it before we went in the Union juniors.”

Since then, Bettenhausen has played for the Academy, working his way up the age groups until he finally made his way to the Philadelphia Union II, the Union’s lower level team in the United Soccer League.

Bettenhausen normally wouldn’t be able to play with the Union II, however, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Union’s U-19 Academy team, getting Bettenhausen and his teammates a spot in the USL.

The senior finally got his chance to play in early September, when the Union II played Atlanta United II at Subaru Park in Chester. Bettenhausen played the first half before being substituted at halftime.

“During the game, it was a lot different, a lot faster,” he said. “I just had to be more aware of everything around me.”

After spending years playing in the Academy with other players his age and skill level, the bump to semi-pro soccer was a big one for Bettenhausen.

“It’s just completely different than the Academy. I’d say the speed of play is ten times better,” he said. “Everyone’s a lot stronger, faster, and much more physical than we’re used to playing with the Academy.”

Since then, Bettenhausen has come on in two other games, and says he feels more confident in his play.

“I’m definitely more comfortable than the first one,” he said. “Just with being able to get playing at a higher speed has been easier since the first game.”

Bettenhausen is currently committed to Penn State, and hopes that he can return to the Union after his college career.

“Hopefully I’ll come into Penn State and be able to make a difference right away, right from the start. I’m just trying to excel and be a leader on the field,” he said. “Past that I’d like to come back to the Union as a Homegrown.”