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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Roster math makes for a boring February for the Union

Bosnian midfielder Haris Medunjanin is the latest
in a flurry of Union moves that comes close to completing
their roster. (AP)
MLS doesn’t adhere to the Deadline Day hysteria gripping the rest of the soccer world (or at least England, the only jurisdiction that really matters) every Jan. 31, but Philadelphia Union sporting director Earnie Stewart has given the impression that it’s a significant milepost.

By Feb. 2 or so, depending on some paperwork, the Union’s roster could be close to complete at 28 players and solidly structured for a season of MLS rigors. Stewart’s motivation certainly isn’t an artificial deadline, though he subscribes to the idea that the sooner you get guys in, the better. Hence the flurry of recent moves that have brought in Haris Medunjanin, Oguchi Onyewu and others.

On that account, the Union are making deals more quickly than in the past. Steven Vitoria, you’ll recall, didn’t join until the second week of February two years ago. Roland Alberg was Feb. 4 last year. Ilsinho was in camp but not signed until late February. The sooner guys like Medunjanin and Fafa Picault start training, the better.

The Union have 26 players under contract. The 27th is reserved for a third goalie. The 28th appears to be the only open one, pending an outflow (either by transfer or loan). That means diminished possibilities for the five rookies in camp, among others.

(Something to remember: Bethlehem Steel works like a traditional hockey or baseball farm team only in one direction; anyone playing for the Union would have to be among the 28. Essentially, if there’s any chance of a player getting into MLS games, they’ll be signed to the Union roster and loaned down, not the other way around.)

With that in mind, here’s a rough sketch of the Union’s depth chart at the moment. Where each player stands relative to each other is to be determined in training and matches, so I’m not trying to predict starters. But assuming a 4-2-3-1 formation, here are manager Jim Curtin’s options at each position.

That’s a solid degree of depth. The one area of weakness, the No. 10 role, is understandable given the fact that the most likely occupant of roster spot No. 28 is Adam Najem. (It also helps pour cold water on the report of Alberg being linked to a transfer to England on Deadline Day.) Fabian Herbers can also play there, especially since he’s unlikely to be used up top. If ever the Union needed a roster spot cleared, a season-long loan of Auston Trusty or Derrick Jones to Steel might make sense. They could also move a redundant asset like one of those central midfielders.

But for the most part, it’s very possible that the Union’s 2017 roster is mostly set, at least for the first part of the season.

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Anonymous sans said...

Your lefts and rights are mixed up – and Rosenberry is going to pair with Ilsinho/Herbers on right, while Fabi/Wijnaldum will be with Pontius on left.

But, yes, I think you are spot on!

February 1, 2017 at 2:21 PM 
Blogger Unknown said...

This blog is all types of fucked up tbh, Simpson is going to start and Bedoya will be at CAM, not playing CDM..

February 1, 2017 at 6:29 PM 

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