Previewing the Union’s starting 11 for 2017 season opener: number six

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Over the past few years the Union have played a number of different players in the six role. This holding defensive midfield spot has been Maurice Edu’s main position since he joined the team. Necessity moved him to center back for parts of 2014 and 2015. 2016 he was hurt for the entire year opening the position up to players like long time vet, Brian Carroll, and workhorse Warren Creavalle. In Edu’s absence the Union have lacked a ball winning/distributer player who sits deep. They filled that role with Vincent Nogueira, but his departure left the Union with a giant hole in the middle of their formation. The Union needed a player who could sit deep and be their quarterback as their number six. They may have found one for 2017.

The Union signed Haris Medunjanin to be that playmaker for them in 2017. He’s a good central midfielder who can ping a ball anywhere he wants. He’s has the ability to play both the six and the eight. During preseason, he played the six. He sat deep when the Union had the ball. The center backs went wide, pushing the outside backs forward. Haris got on the ball turned and looked to distribute. He does well playing long balls down the wing, or to the target forward. When he does distribute he doesn’t just stay put.

Coach Jim Curtin described Haris’ game as a six who gets forward. Medunjanin loves to get involved in the play going forward. He’s great in possession, playing some give and goes to teammates in preseason. He’s also a force to be reckoned with from far out. He has a cannon of a left foot. If a ball bounces his way twenty-thirty yards from goal, he’ll have a crack at it. Haris ability to hit a good shot, and his amazing passing ability makes him one of the Union key set piece takers.

Haris took the majority of the Union’s corners in preseason. He can play a hell of an in-swinger from the right side with his left foot. The left sided corners saw the Union put Ilsinho on the actual corner and Medunjanin short; The Brazilian taps the ball to Haris and he plays a deadly ball into the box. Medunjanin is alos a good free kick taker. He can shoot or play a good ball in. The Union tried this in the last preseason game against DC.

Haris pinged a ball to Bedoya who put it across the box to find Pontius, who put an effort just wide. With a player like Haris on the pitch the Union can do more of these creative plays. If you haven’t caught on so far, Haris Medunjanin should be the starting number six for the Union’s game against Vancouver.

Carroll, and Creavalle are both good options at this position, and if Edu is healthy he will likely be the six, pushing Haris to the eight. However the Union need their best players on the pitch if they want good results early in the season. Haris at the six helps the Union get that play maker on the ball when the team has possession. His skill at distributing the ball where he wants makes him the obvious starter at the six spot.

The Union’s starting lineup is taking shape. Here’s what it looks like so far. Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more on the Union’s starters for the season opener.

Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

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