Union making in-house acquisitions before bringing in new blood


It’s been an eventful few days for the Philadelphia Union. Tuesday, the home opener and new TV partner deal was announced. yesterday, three players were resigned, and today a Bethlehem Steel player has been promoted/signed by the Union. Philly has a clear off-season plan. December is time for in-house acquisitions; January and February is time to bring in new blood to finalize the team.

It’s obvious the Union won’t contend with the big spenders in the early stages of the off-season, so they have turned their attention to what needs to be done in their own backyard. Here’s a look at the few in-house moves the Union have made over the past two days.

Herbers, Fabinho & Ilsinho return:

Fabian Herbers, Fabinho and Ilsinho have all been re-signed by the Union. In a perfect world, all three of these players should likely be competition to push bigger off seasons acquisition. However they all could be significant players should the Union decide not to spend big. Here’s a bit of what each of these guys brings to the table.


Fabian is a young versatile player. His ability to play the nine, 10 or on the wing make him a great guy to have. His consistent play in 2016 and early in 2017 made him a promising player. However, an injury kept him out for much of last year. If his injury bug is behind him, and he is thrust into the starting 11 again he will do fine. He’s an even better option off the bench, but if the Union fail to secure a new winger or 10 then he will have to perform like he did in the past.


Filling a real concerning area for the Union, Fabi is a solid veteran left back. His pace, and ability to create offense makes him a great option for the Union. Couple that with the failed experiment with Gilliano Wijnaldum, his value is even greater to the Union. He is on the older side, which means he likely won’t be able to play the whole season. Nor should he, since the Union are going to add another younger option, right? Fabi is a great safety net, and a great leader for the Union, but should be more of a mentor now than a 30 game starter.


The Union were able to bring back the skillful Brazilian after he took a pay cut. This is a great re-signing, just like the others, as long as it’s not just a quick fix. Ilsinho’s skill, and play making ability at the 10 and on the wing are great. However, he should not be relied on as the only option unless injury occurs. He is a special player, who can be a magician on the ball, but his age could hinder his output. He’s a great player to put on at the 60th minute to create offense when the opposition has tired, but asking him to go 90 minutes for more than half a season doesn’t make much sense.

Basically all three of these players are role players. They’re great fill ins/bench players who know the club and can add quality when called upon. The Union still need to bring in new blood with some more of that money that owner Jay Sugarman has promised to become real contenders.

Corey Burke added from Steel:

Adding to the quality depth/versatile players the Union have, Philly called up Corey Burke from their affiliate club Bethlehem Steel. Burke is the leading goal scorer for Steel, in the team’s two year career. He also played a crucial role for Jamaica in last summer’s Gold Cup. His ability to be a fast winger, and a strong striker make him a great asset to the Union.

Corey won’t be competing with CJ Sapong for the starting spot, but he is similar in stature and in play to come off the bench. I’d love him to be striker two over Jay Simpson, and make the Union’s 18. He may have a shot at doing this because of his ability to be that striker, or a winger. His physical stature out on the wing adds a different dimension. He’s tall, but fast. He could help grind out games from either position, and shows the commitment of development, bringing players from Steel to the first team.

Again the Union are only adding depth with this type of move. It’s now up to Burke to show that he can make any kind of impact with the team. Now it’s time for the Union to solidify their team.

What still needs to be solidified:

The Union should be in the market for a starting 10, winger and left back. These are their major positions of need. Now that the role players/ depth have been added in-house, it’s time for Earnie Stewart and the rest of the front office to go out and spend on DP/TAM level players. A true play maker 10 is the number one need, and has been for some time. That addition should be on the DP level to create a true contender. The next DP should be either the winger or left back. It’s up to the Union to prioritize which is worth more money.

If the Union do this, they will be on the level of contending for a mid-level eastern conference playoff spot.

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Union content:

  • Tim goes in-depth on how Earnie Stewart turn the Union around again.
  • Matt discusses what he would want from the Union as a holiday gift

Until then, peace out Union fans!


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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