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)
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.
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.
Labels: Adam Najem, Auston Trusty, Bethlehem Steel, Earnie Stewart, Fabian Herbers, Fafa Picault, Giliano Wijnaldum, Haris Medunjanin, Jay Simpson, Jim Curtin, Oguchi Onyewu, Philadelphia Union, Roland Alberg