Union re-up contracted players before singing new ones

MLS has announced its season dates, and the preseason is fast approaching! For the Philadelphia Union, there have been few reinforcements added to the roster. Other than promoting new homegrown players to the first team, there has been little rumbling or rumor of a new signing. Instead, Ernst Tanner and the front office have turned to the current roster. The Union re-up contracted players before signing new players ahead of the 2021 season.

Union re-up contracted players
Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

Union re-up contracted players

Since the Union’s 2020 season came to an abrupt end they have sold their two MLS best XI homegrowns (Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie), picked up the options on six players (Andre Blake, Anthony Fontana, Ilsinho, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo and Ray Gaddis), and restructured the contracts of three players (Cory Burke, Jose “El Brujo” Martinez and Kai Wagner). It is clear that there is an emphasis being put on re-upping contracted players.

The men that helped the Union secure their first trophy are being rewarded with contracts and opportunities to show that they can continue this type of success in future years. Honestly, this is very refreshing to see the Union show this commitment to these players. Every player who had their option picked up or got a new deal was vital in their roles in 2020. Specifically, Burke, Martinez, and Wagner, who will have even more to prove now with contract extensions.

While these moves are a show of good faith by the Union, it also has implications on the clubs ability to eventually sell those players in the future.

re-upping to eventually sell?

Now that the Union have successfully sold players that were developed through their first team, theres no reason the same can be said of some of these re-upped players. Players that play at a consistently high level in MLS are now drawing interest all over the world. Who’s to say that one of the players who had their option picked up, like Anthony Fontana won’t ball out in 2021 and draw transfer interest?

The more likely scenario, and one that the Union are likely banking on is that Cory Burke, Jose Martinez or Kai Wagner play well in the first year of their new contracts and then can be sold for a major profit in later seasons. Wagner was already drawing interest at the end of the 2020 season from teams across Europe. El Brujo is another player that could have another breakout season and draw similar interest.

The structure of those contracts seems intentional for the future of the club and the players. All in all, it looks to be a win-win situation. While it’s great that the Union have sured up their current roster, will we see new players added to the roster soon?

When will those new signings come in?

This has been a major question mark so far this off-season. There have been a few rumors, but no new players added to the Union’s roster. with the current issues between the League and the Players Association this could cause major problems to this.

While international transfer windows are still open, a possible lockout in MLS means no players could come in before the transfer window closes. MLS has pushed their deadline to negotiate with the MLSPA to Midnight EST on Feb. 4, where the lack of agreement could mean lockout.

For Ernst Tanner and the Union, they will really need to try to get some business done inside of this week to add some more talent to the roster. If not the bench could be a bit thin when the club plays matches inside of the CONCACAF Champions League.

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