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Union Defense Quietly Assembles Talent and Depth

(Photo by Double G Media)

(Photo by Double G Media)

There haven’t been many high profile moves this offseason for the Philadelphia Union but they continue to complement their already strong defensive roster with under the radar additions.

Last season, the Union took home the not-great-prize of being the 17th best defense out of 20 teams. While Keegan Rosenberry and Andre Blake had standout years, the spine of the team did not reciprocate. While this ranking is based on goals conceded, there was a healthy amount of positive takeaways regarding inexperienced players that got valuable game time. Yaro, Tribbet, and Marquez are all under 25 and that only bodes well with more maturity.

Having 16 spots ahead of you leaves much room for growth. With another year under their belt, the front office continues to add talent and youth to the backline. In working with a “two man deep” system that the Union are trying to create, they are almost complete having an experienced defender and youth product in each position. At right back Fabinho will be teaching offseason signing Wijnaldum and recent homegrown signing Real. Gaddis and Rosenberry will hold down the right side while Blake and McCarthy will continue to push each other to new heights. As you can see, there is still one slot missing – Center back.

While the position itself is deep with Marquez, Yaro, Tribbet, recent draft pick Elliot, and the other homegrown signing Treaty – it is yet to be seen if this will be the group that stops leaking goals. If the team signed one more experienced and proven center defender, it would be a lot easier to trust in the process. Philadelphia loves to trust in the process don’t we Sam Hinkie? Targets include David Horst from the Houston Dynamo, but recent reports point to him joining RSL instead. Weirdly MLS transfer window does not open until February 14. We may not see our experienced and proven defender until late February a few weeks before the season starts.

Small additions add up and the Union are following a roster strategy that has worked for other teams recently. The evidence points to building through the academy and signing undervalued players. We have seen two additions from the academy already and both are defenders.

One of the most problematic areas we have seen is that Carroll and Creavalle are still protecting the defense from the midfield. If Edu can stay healthy and the Union make one more addition to the center of the team it could be a good year. Not to mention the Union have the 6th easiest schedule of all teams next year. With Minnesota and Atlanta joining the league though, it is hard to say what those games will look like. Only 43 more days until we can start to find out.

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