Previewing the Union’s starting 11 for 2017 season opener: Center backs


The Union had a centerback conundrum in 2016. Marquez made the left center back spot his own, but what about the right side? Two rookies were thrust into starting roles, whilst dealing with learning the league and injury. Josh Yaro and Ken Tribbett alternated the 2016 season. The growing pains of learning on the job meant moments of inconsistency, with bits of brilliance sprinkled in between. The end of last season brought the rise of Yaro, coming off of an injury, and the decline of Tribbett for silly mistakes in big moments. This season was supposed to be the year of Yaro, with Tribbett as the back up, and a new mentor  joined the group.

Oguchi Onyewu was signed in the offseason, the veteran center back was brought in to cover the center back position in case of injury, and coach the young core of center backs the team already has. Unfortunately Josh Yaro suffered a set back injury during preseason. The front-runner for the starting right-center back went down, and a battle for the starting spot emerged between Onyewu and Tribbett.

During the last phase of preseason, Onyewu shocked the coaching staff with his fitness level for a player who hadn’t played competitively in two years. His positioning has been good, and the coaching staff loves his experience. They love him more than Tribbett, whose tendency for mistakes has been carried over from last season to this preseason. Because of Onyewu’s vast experience, and the coaching staffs infatuation with his fitness gives Gooch the edge over Tribbett. He should be the starting right-center back in Vancouver. Now on to left-center back, which should come to no surprise.

Richie Marquez is the longest tenured player on the Union’s back line. His consistency last year sometimes goes forgotten. He played in all but one game of the Union’s 2016 campaign. This spot is his, and according to coaches, Richie and Gooch have developed a good bit of chemistry together. They will need to be spot on in Vancouver. They looked sloppy in the first half of the last preseason game against DC. But did find success on the offensive end! Hopefully these two get it together and play well off each other this Sunday, and maybe produce another beauty like this.

Here’s wha the Union lineup will look like with their center backs added! Come back to Philly Sports Network tomorrow for a look at the Union’s six, eight and 10. Until then peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports