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Jan, 2021

Rush alumnus Mark McKenzie sets record with transfer to Genk

Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union  announced a transfer agreement with Belgium's K.R.C Genk for Rush Soccer alumnus and defender Mark McKenzie. The transfer could become the highest fee ever received for an MLS center back.

Growing up in Bear, Delaware, McKenzie began playing club soccer for the Delaware Rush before joining the well-respected Philadelphia Union Academy. McKenzie attended Wake Forest University before rejoining the Union as a professional.

“Before working towards my goal of playing in Europe I remember sitting in the stands watching my home MLS team, the Union, and hoped that one day I’d get the chance to play for my city in front of my family, friends, and fans. I am so thankful to have been given the chance to do so,” said McKenzie. “I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am and have this opportunity to further my career without my coaches, my family, and the Philadelphia Union fans. I am so appreciative to everyone who has dedicated their time, knowledge, love and put their faith in me. I specifically want to thank God, my family, the club, and the city. The city and the Union will always be a part of me, and the future looks nothing but bright for myself and this club.”

McKenzie made his Union debut in 2018 and throughout his three seasons with the club scored two goals and recorded three assists in 48 matches, 46 of which he has started. This past season, McKenzie was honored as part of the MLS Best XI, was the runner up for MLS Defender of the Year after winning the player vote, and was also named to the MLS is Back Tournament Best XI. Additionally, he made MLS Team of the Week four times in 2020.

video courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

“Mark started at Delaware Rush at 12 years old. It was evident from an early age he was physical unlike anyone I had ever coached,"  former Rush coach Justin Romano told "But what separated Mark and made him the man he is today is his ability to be a leader. His teammates looked up to him and were drawn to him immediately. His mental toughness and ability to lead are put on display every game he plays.”

Andrew Vanover, former Delaware Rush Director of Coaching, added “When Mark first came to us at an early age we knew he had something special. His drive and work ethic was second to none. His values, such as respect and dedication were evident right from the get go. We are proud to be apart of his developmental pathway and to share his journey to the Philadelphia Union and U.S. National Team.”

McKenzie earned his first senior US Men’s National Team call-up in January of 2019 following appearances at multiple levels of the US Men’s Youth National Team setup, including the U-18s, U-20s and U-23s. He was named captain of the 2019 U-20 World Cup team, where he led the team to the quarterfinals, and was subsequently called up once again to the senior team for a pair of Concacaf Nations League matches in October of 2019. He earned his first senior cap in a friendly against Costa Rica (February 1, 2020), where he came off the bench in the 1-0 victory and most recently earned his second cap when he started for the National Team in a 6-0 romp over El Salvador (December 9, 2020).

The 21-year-old will join K.R.C Genk, which is currently in second place in Belgium’s first division. The club has won six Belgian Cups and won the Belgian league in 2019, the same year they qualified for Champions League. The club is known for its impressive development of players like Kevin De Bruyne, Leon Bailey, Alejandro Pozuelo and Kalidou Koulibaly, who is currently regarded as one of the best center backs in the world. McKenzie is set to join the club immediately.

McKenzie's transfer includes a multi-million-dollar transfer fee, as well as additional performance-based bonuses.

McKenzie is one of many current professionals to develop from the Rush Soccer global landscape, including Lindsey Horan (USWNT, Portland Thorns), Christian Pulisic (USMNT, Chelsea FC), Kekuta Manneh (USMNT, FC Cincinnati), Ryan Williams (NC Courage) and many more.

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