Previewing the Union’s starting 11 for 2017 season opener: Outside Backs

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The Union actually have depth at the outside back position this season. One of the most successful offseason’s in team history saw the Union address areas of need. Depth at the outside backs was a major need. The Union had MLS all-star Keegan Rosenberry on the right. He’s coming off an unprecedented rookie season on the right. They also had the Brazilian veteran Fabinho on the left He’s coming off a season where he defied the laws of time looking like a much younger/consistent player. Ray Gaddis was the only back up for both right and left back in 2016. Luckily, Rosenberry played every regular season minute at RB last season. There was no point of panic last season due to the lack of outside back depth. The Union brought in-depth, so who starts the season?

Giliano Wijnaldum was brought in to compete with Fabinho for the left back spot. The Right side is a competition too, Keegan Rosenberry, Ray Gaddis, and draft pick Aaron Jones have been battling for the right side. Five players competing for two spots. Adding two players to the outside back ranks creates tough decisions for the Union coaching staff. Lets start with left back.

Looking back at the preseason, Fabinho looks ready to build on his successful 2016 season, while Wijnaldum looks to be getting used to MLS. Comparing the two players, Fabinho is tenacious, but tends to think offense first; Wijnaldum is brooding, and is good at moving with the play. Wijnaldum was brought in to become the starter, but it’s looking like that won’t happen at the start of the season. Fabi’s strong preseason, and Wijnaldum’s adjustment period point to Fabinho being the 2017 starter. He was the starter in all of the preseason games, and was even said to be the starter by head coach Jim Curtin. So, Fabinho should be the left back starter in Vancouver on Sunday night! Now let’s move to the right side.

The right back spot looked to be a two-man race between Rosenberry and Gaddis. Aaron Jones seems to be coming along nicely, signing with the first team; however, he will not be in the running for first team starter. Rosenberry and Gaddis both had good preseason campaigns. Gaddis looked particularly strong, and seemed to push the coaches to consider him for the starting spot. However bad blunders against Montreal saw Gaddis slide. His last action of preseason saw him do this:

Because of this bad sequence, and the consistency of Keegan Rosenberry, The Union will go with Keegan as the starter. He will be able to add off of his impressive rookie year in Vancouver on Sunday.

The Union have more depth at their outside backs than they did last year. This could create harder decisions for the coaching staff moving forward. However, for the start of the 2017 season, the Union will lean on their outside backs that played very well last year.

Here’s the lineup so far, with the outside backs added. The Union’s defense will rely heavily on the play of their outside backs. next to predict are the center backs! Come back to Philly Sports Network to see who the starring center backs will be! Until then, peace out Union fans!

 

Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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