A first look at possible offseason targets for the Philadelphia Union

Brazilian A 2017, Santos X Avai
SP – Santos – 03/12/2017 – Brazilian A 2017, Santos X Avai – player Matheus Jesus do Santos disputes bid with player Pedro Castro of Avai during match at Vila Belmiro stadium for the Brazilian championship A 2017. Photo: Daniel Vorley / AGIF (via AP)

The Union’s off season is in full swing, even if it seems like the club is doing nothing. As 2018 is just a few days away, the Union know that now is the time to start reviewing players who could help solidify their squad. More money is at the disposal of the front office this offseason; More TAM/GAM is available, and owner Jay Sugarman has expressed his willingness to spend more for the right players. So who could the Union go after? Here’s a first look at possible off-season Union targets.


The players on this list are just possible targets. No source told Philly Sports Network of any potential deal between these players and the Union. All Player information was acquired from Transfermrkt. The quick scouting reports are from watching highlights and reviewing the players traits.

Transfer Rumors? Maybe:

It’s been a while since there have been rumors of player signings, but these two may fit that category.

Jaroslaw Jach:

Position: center back
Nationality: Poland
Club: Zaglebie Lubin–1st tier in Poland
Age: 23
Value: $1,000,000
Contract ends: June 30, 2019
Height: 6’4”
Alternate position: left back

Quick scouting report: Fast and agile for a defender. Strong presence. Decent passer. Has some trouble with positioning. Good marker, and tackler.

This interesting target is the only on this list that has any kind of actual press about it. A Polish report named the Union as a potential bidder for Polish center back Jaroslaw Jach. This move would be interesting. Jach would be a big money signing for the Union. He would help solidify the Union’s back line. His pairing with Jack Elliot would be solid. However it would also mean that young/promising players Yaro and Trusty are back ups once again.

Jach can also play left back, so maybe the Union are looking for him to be the starter at that position leaving room for their young center backs already on the roster. There are no extensive highlights on Jach, but here is a clip of him scoring a nice goal!


Nicolas Martinez:

Position: central attacking midfielder
Nationality: Argentina
Club: Olympiacos–1st tier Greece
Age: 30
Value: $700,000
Contract ends: June 30, 2019
Height: 5’6”
Alternative Position: central midfielder, left winger

Quick scouting report: Decent attacking position, and vision. Good passer, has speed and agility. Offensive playmaker.

Nicolas Martinez was linked with the Union last summer in the greek tabloids. He however went on loan to a Cyprus first division side Apollon Limassol. His loan ends this coming June, but that hasn’t stopped the press from talking about the Union’s interest in him. Martinez is a decent playmaking number 10 that the Union desperately need. However he doesn’t check every box.

Martinez lacks the defensive prowess to be the Union’s number 10. He is a weak defender. The Union count on their CAM to help defend when needed and then transition to being the playmaker on the offensive side. This shortcoming, plus the extra money that would need to spent to get him out of his loan quicker, make this rumor a long shot. Even so, here’s some highlights of Martinez.

Herolind Shala:

Position: central attacking midfielder
Nationality: Kosovo
Club: Lyngby BK– 1st tier in Denmark
Age: 25 years old
Value: $400,000
Contract ends: December 31, 2019
Height: 5’10”
Alternate position: central midfielder, left winger

Quick scouting report: Agile, speedy, good acceleration. Very aggressive. Decent passer, and dribbler. Okay positioning and vision. Former teammate of Union winger Fafa Picault.

A few weeks ago a picture from Union player Fafa Picault sparked Union fan’s interest. He posted a picture of he and Herolind Shala training together. The two are former teammates. Shala would be a decent signing for the Union. His ability to create would benefit a team that was inept at times last year.

He has the traits to be a good attacking threat for the Union, and is in the moneyball price range. He shows the aggressiveness that the Union like to have in their attacking players. Using that on both ends of the ball would make him a good fit for the Union. Here’s some of his highlights.

Taking a look into possible Moneyball options:

The Union have made a living playing moneyball to get bargain players to fill needs. This has produced both good and bad. Here’s a look deep in the abyss that is moneyball players the Union could be after.

Pedro Castro:

Position: central attacking midfielder
Nationality: Brazil
Club: Avaí Futebol Clube (SC)–1st tier, Brazil
Age: 24 years old
Value: $800,000
Contract ends: December 31, 2017
Height: 5’ 11”
Alternate position: left and right-winger

Quick scouting report: Good in small spaces, great short passer. Decent speed, and acceleration. Good vision, and okay understanding of positioning.

Castro would be a decent option for the Union. They’d have to spend a little more for him, but the Brazilian’s skill would be worth the cost. His ability to create offense with minimal touches is a great asset. He could be comparable to younger and more agile Ilsinho.

The only downside to this player is his ability to get out of position at times. He has the ability to drift wide to help create offense, and then not move back to help create better spacing. This also hurts the team defense, but his playmaking offense makes him a viable option. Take a look at what he offers.


Alvaro Ampruero:

Position: left Back
Nationality: Peru
Club: Universidad San Martín de Porres–1st tier in Peru
Age: 25
Value: $350,00
Contract ends: December 31, 2017
Height: 6’0”
Alternate position: left-winger

Quick scouting report: strong defender, creative moving forward. Good crosser, little offensive production. Has good speed and acceleration.

One position that has been a need for many years now is left back. The Union have found success in the veteran Fabinho, but they need to find another option that stays in Philly for more than a year. One player that would fit the bill would be Alvaro Ampruero.

Ampruero is a young, affordable South American left back. He’s a strong defender, and is very creative moving down the wing. He provides good service, but will provide little offense when given the space to create for himself. With the affordable price tag and skill set, this player should be on the Union’s radar. Here’s a look at him.


Spending for the perfect fit:

Adam Maher:

Position: central attacking midfielder
Nationality: Netherlands
Age: 24 years old
Value: $3,000,000
Contract ends: June 30, 2018
Height: 5’9”
Alternate position: central midfielder, right-winger

Quick scouting report: Outstanding ball control, great dribbler. Amazing passer (short and long), good crosser. Decently fast, good acceleration. Good vision and positioning.

If the Union want to bring in someone who check all there CAM boxes, then they’re going to have to spend money to get him. In the ever-increasing market in MLS, spending more than one million dollars is a necessity when getting a quality attacking player. The player the Union should break the bank for is Adam Maher.

Maher does everything that Stewart and the Union coaching staff love. He creates offense, keeps the ball, is a great passer and has the vision and position-sense the Union needs. He’s aggressive enough to help out on defense. The problem is the price tag.

Are the Union willing to spend upwards to three million dollars for a player that would help fix their inept offensive build up? If they want to actually get out of this perpetual rebuild mode, then they will have to. Maher is the player they should spend for. Take a look at what makes him a difference maker.

Only time will tell if the Union will spend more than they usually do on players this off-season. If not then they will sign the more affordable question marks that could pay off, like a Tranquillo Barnetta, or could be a bust, like Jay Simpson. Either way. All we can do is be patient, and wait to see what the front office decide to do.

Coming Soon:

  • A look at how Philly Sports Network’s Union coverage will be expanding in 2018.

Until then, peace out Union fans!



Mandatory Photo Credit: Daniel Vorley / AGIF (via AP)