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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Friday, September 16, 2016

Making sense of the Kevin Kratz signing

Kevin Kratz, left, from his days with Eintracht Braunschweig
playing against Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga in 2013,
seems an odd fit for the Union. (AP)
Usually when the Philadelphia Union make a personnel move, this space is reserved for figuring out how he’ll fit in the team. Today, the objective is simpler: Make sense of what in the world Kevin Kratz is.

The Union signed Kratz Thursday, hours ahead of the MLS roster freeze. Already with 28 players on the roster, they’ve loaned Cole Missimo to Bethlehem Steel for the rest of the season to accommodate Kratz. Where they are on internationals, who knows? It’s a moving target.

Anyway, back to Kratz, who’s played in 277 matches in Germany. The plurality of those came in the 2.Bundesliga (108), most recently with SV Sandhausen. He has 14 games and one Bundesliga goal in Eintracht Braunschweig’s one top-division season in 2013-14. In short, he’s got a CV similar to what Walter Restrepo’s could look like in a few years. Or, honestly, a slightly improved Kai Herdling. 

Kevin Kratz 2015-16 Sandhausen (Bundesliga 2) from Justin Stone on Vimeo.

All that would be fine if not for:

1.) The glut of midfielders the Union have;

2.) The fact that Maurice Edu’s presumed return would put both Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle on a bench that would also feature either Tranquillo Barnetta or Roland Alberg and now Kratz (Also, judging by this exhaustingly curated marketing video that for some reason brought this to mind, he’s also played out wide a fair bit, another area of Union strength);

3.) Its connection to the news that Barnetta could be returning to Switzerland after the season.

The Barnetta news wasn’t exactly shocking this morning; his contract is up at the end of the season and while he’s earned his money in Philadelphia, there’s no stopping him if he wants to go home. It’s not the first time most of us that cover the team have heard that sentiment in some form or another.

But unless Earnie Stewart really knows something the rest of the soccer world doesn’t, Kratz isn’t the second coming of Barnetta. For instance, he’s got three goals in over 100 2.Bundesliga games. Barnetta has five goals this year. He’s got three just from the run of play.

It sounds like Kratz was about to embark on the rounds of MLS/NASL camps, having dropped in to Minnesota United previously. He’s probably not fit to go at the moment, coming off an extended offseason. He brings versatility in midfield, athleticism and could be a serviceable player.

Here’s the bottom line: The Union have Barnetta for five more games this season, plus playoffs. Enjoy it while he’s here, and then spend some time later figuring out where Kratz fits into the mix.

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