The final phase of Union preseason is now underway. The first two phases brought depth at the positions that needed it. It also gave us a first look at how this team will play in 2017. What does this final phase have in store? With only 21 days until the Union kick off their regular season in Vancouver, there are still a lot of speculation surrounding this team. Let’s look at some of the events, and questions that still need to be answered in these 21 days.
Curtin: Medunjanin is getting his physical right now
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) February 13, 2017
The Union’s newest midfielder has yet to show up in Philly, until today. Reports from Jim Curtin today, that the Bosnian got a physical today, and will travel with the team back to Florida tomorrow. He may be asked to step right into a game situation on Wednesday, in a scrimmage against Orlando City. Medunjanin has two weeks to win a spot in the now crowded Union midfield. He isn’t the only central midfield player who hasn’t been a part of the team in preseason.
Edu is coming off of another injury, so his absence was expected. However, reports were floating around saying he’d be ready to play in the season opener. With two weeks until the start of the season, it seems unlikely that the team’s captain will be able to get to full match fitness in time. Although, if he does start being a full participant in these last two weeks, he could be a part of the 18 for the opener. He needs to come back when he’s 100%. Since Philly has more depth at Edu’s position, they can afford to let him get to full fitness before he returns to the pitch. Mo would have to battle for his spot in the side if he came back right now, as do many other players on this Union team.
The only positions that are sure locks for the March 5th are Andre Blake in-goal, Richie Marquez at left-center back, Keegan Rosenberry at right back and Alejandro Bedoya at either the eight, the 10 or the wing. That leaves eight spots up for grabs; left back, right-center back, both central midfield spots, both wing spot, the 10 and striker. With the depth added to almost every roster spot, the Union will have a difficult time picking the starters for the season. Philly Sports Network is going to give a crack at predicting the starting lineup in these coming weeks, so stay tuned for that. The position battles could be fought and won in the last preseason games.
Last 4 preseason games:
The Union have four remaining preseason games. These games are a part of the Suncoast Invitational. Two are this week, and two are the following week.
This week Philly takes on Orlando City on Wednesday Feb. 15th, at 1PM, and they play Tampa Bay Rowdies Saturday Feb. 18th, at 5PM. These games will see the Union be as close to their full strength squad since signing all their players. They will have every signing with them, and will hope to make evaluations on who stands out the most against quality opponents.
Next week, the Union face Montreal on Wednesday Feb. 22nd, at 7PM, and finish preseason against DC United on Saturday Feb. 25th at 5PM. The final tune ups before the season opener present two eastern conference playoff teams. These will be tight contests that will show, whether or not, the Union can keep up with two teams that finished above them last season.
The last four preseason games will be previewed and reviewed by Philly Sports Network. Let’s see if the Union can get good results against quality opponents.
This last phase of preseason will help to answer important questions. Who is going to play, and how will this team play in 2017. With the team at full strength, playing against quality opponents, the Union should find the answers. It’s going to be a busy 21 days! Be sure to follow all of the action on Philly Sports Network. We will cover the games, and predict the starting 11 for the Union for this coming season. Until next time, peace out Union fans.
Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports