As rookies in soccer go, Kyle Tucker is anything but typical as a 24-year-old with a mechanical engineering degree playing on a Philadelphia Union II team of mostly teenagers.
After officially joining the team in July, the Phoenixville native quickly earned the nickname “Uncle Tuck” because of the age gap.
“I’m embracing the nickname and sharing the wisdom I have from playing but also learning from them,” Tucker said in a recent interview. “They’ve been in this environment longer so we’ve been learning a lot from each other.”
Though he’s been getting his first taste of professional soccer the past couple months, Tucker has rejoined his Drexel and West Chester United teammate Chris Donovan on the pitch and in his first game at Subaru Park faced up against one of his earliest club teammates in New York Red Bulls goalkeeper AJ Marcucci.
Tucker and Marcucci, who is from West Chester, started travel soccer together at age 8 and won a couple state cups together as kids. Back in July, Tucker and Marcucci were opponents swapping jerseys on the pitch after a Union II win.
“U9 we were the two fullbacks on our 8v8 team and now he’s a professional goalkeeper and I’m playing in the midfield against him,” Tucker said. “We’ve stayed in touch over the years so it was just really awesome.”
(Left to Right) Kyle Tucker talks to his dad, Roger Tucker, after a game at Subaru Park, Kyle Tucker during training with Union II in Chester and Tucker and AJ Marcucci after a game at Subaru Park.
Tucker went on to play academy with FC Delco in high school but returned to Penn Fusion for his senior year. For both Tucker, Marcucci and another Penn Fusion teammate currently playing professionally in Aiden McFadden, the journey to professional soccer has been a patchwork of different experiences and environments.
“I've been in the club soccer world, the academy world and high school my senior year and then in college and amateur,” Tucker said. “All of those experiences have made me the soccer player I’ve become.”
Tucker started to garner serious attention from the Union staff while on trial in the summer after returning home from captaining West Chester United to the Hank Steinbrecher Cup trophy in Arizona. The U.S. Adult Soccer Association competition is held annually as a “championship of champions” event. In between winning a national title and signing a pro contract, he graduated from Drexel.
“It was a crazy couple of months, that’s for sure,” Tucker said. “Almost like a dream.”
Tucker has made 10 appearances since joining Union II, half of those starts and logged 459 minutes. He was a key sub in their 2-1 win on Sunday helping to close out a much-needed win in the playoff hunt. The win put Union II over the MLS Next Pro playoff line with a game Sunday at Red Bulls II left on the schedule.
“I’m really enjoying my time,” Tucker said. “Just the opportunity to focus on soccer and to be part of this team and to have the coaching, the individual film sessions and everything has been incredible.”