Philadelphia Union lockdown centerback Jakob Glesnes; could he be heir-apparent to fan favorites McKenzie or Elliot?


The Philadelphia Union acquired Norweigian centerback Jakob Glesnes on Friday afternoon. He’ll be a Union player for the next two seasons (2020 & 2021,) with club options for 2022 and 2023. The 25-year-old was brought in using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

Jakob Glesnes was at preseason training Friday morning.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Jakob Glesnes has a strong demeanor and qualities. His leadership and ability to play in a similar style to Philadelphia’s caught Ernst Tanner’s eye.

“To become a captain of a club at 25-years-old is a remarkable feat for a young player and what attracted us to Jakob in addition to his strong aerial presence and front-foot defense. Coming from a club with a similar style of play, Jakob will be able to easily transition into our system, making him a valuable asset to our defense and club.”

Philadelphia Union Sporting Director, Ernst Tanner

That is some very high praise from the master of finding diamond’s in the rough. Glesnes could be just that for the Union. A player of his quality being added to the group puts head coach Jim Curtin in a spot he likes to be in, making hard decisions about who will be in the starting 11 and who will not be.

Union now have three starting-caliber Centerbacks

The penciled in starters at centerback for the Union are Jack Elliot and Mark McKenzie. However, the presence of Jakob Glesnes will push those two to their limits. Jakob’s addition is great for competition and provides depth at the centerback position that the Union have not really had for a long time. We know Mark McKenzie will be with the US U-23’s for the Olympic qualifiers in March. While McKenzie will only miss two Union matches, the Union can now rely on Glesnes in his absence. We could even see him feature sooner than that.

We’ve seen over the last few years that the centerback pairing that we think will start the season, is not always what we actually see come week one. Glesnes could come in and take a spot from either McKenize or Elliot and open the season against FC Dallas. If that is not the case, then who’s to say that Glesnes won’t be Jim Curtin’s first choice over McKenzie after the US international comes back from the Olympic qualifiers? We’ll have to wait and see.

Glesnes’ quality alongside McKenzie’s and Elliot’s could make the Union shift how they want to lineup. If they test out a 3-5-2 formation in the preseason and it works well, we may see all three centerbacks in certain matchups in 2020. I don’t think it’s likely that this does happen, but for the first time in a long time, it feels like this could actually be an option. Only time will tell where Glesnes will feature, but he seems to be in the Union’s longterm plans.

Will Glesnes replace McKenzie or Elliot should they be sold?

This signing does more than just bolster the backline. The addition of Glesnes to a multi-year deal means the Union could potentially listen to offers for the young rising-star centerbacks they currently have.

What if Mark McKenzie takes off in 2020? If he continues to show an upward trajectory, and balls out in MLS play and in the Olympic qualifiers for the USA, maybe some teams from abroad come a-knocking in the Summer transfer window. The same can be said about Jack Elliot.

Will Jack Elliot play so well he has other teams interested in his services? If the young British centerback continues his strong run of form that he had in 2019, then maybe there are teams from his homeland that will want to take a chance on him.

Philadelphia is now closer to being the team they want to be, in that, they could potentially sell a highly rated player, while not losing major production in that position!

Who knows how 2020 will turn out. We could see this new centerback push the Union’s current starters for minutes, we could see all three of these centerbacks on the pitch at the same time, or we could see this newcomer take the place of McKenzie or Elliot should either be sold this coming June. No matter what happens, it’s been really nice to see the Union thinking about their future with this type of move. Everyone say hi to the Union’s newest signing, Jakob Glesnes.

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Union II, and other soccer content!

Follow our writers & contributors on Twitter:

Tim Lovenguth | Jeff Green | Matt McClain| Matt Nissenfeld | El Parcero Philly

Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union