Things are coming together! This past week we learned who the Union will face in the Concacaf Champions League round of 16, that MLS has finalized its dates for the 2021 season, and some transfer rumors that could end up being true! Get a refresher on the week that was in this edition of Union update 2/16/21!
Union Update 2/16/21
As we move through these winter months, it can be easy to slip into hysteria. When will roster updates be made, when will the season dates be finalized, will schedules be released soon? Luckily this past week provided some much-needed updates for Union fans ahead of the 2021 season. Let’s take a look at them now.
Union draw Saprissa in CCL Round of 16
We know the Union’s first matchup of 2021, and it’s going to come in the Concacaf Champions League. The Union was drawn against Costa Rican powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa. The two-legged round of 16 matches is set for April 7 and April 14. Leg one will be in Costa Rica, and leg two in Philadelphia.
Saprissa is normally in this competition, but that doesn’t mean that the Union won’t stand a chance. Philly will be up for the challenge as Jim Curtin has said they already started scouting their opponent. Now he and his team will begin preseason preparing for a huge test.
After just firing their head coach, Saprissa is in second place in their league. Once the round of 16 finally comes in April, they will be deep into their season. Could this give them a leg up? Or could the Union’s freshness help focus them on their first opponent of 2021?
Either way, we now have about a month-and-a-half to wait for this historic matchup that should be very fun to watch!
MLS updates season dates again
MLS finally set its 2021 dates for the preseason, the transfer window and the regular season. Or should I say, they set them again. After the newly ratified CBA, MLS pushed back all three of those start dates last week. Here’s a look at those updated dates:
- Preseason: Beginning of March
- Transfer window: March 10 to June 1
- Season start date: April 17
These dates are much later than usual, which could be helpful and/hurtful for some teams this year. Preseason has a few different starts for different teams. Toronto kicks off their preseason the last few days of February to get ready for the postponed Candian Championship. The MLS sides who are in CCL get to start on March 1; while the rest of the teams join in a week later on March 8.
The transfer window being open later will help teams fill their rosters and potentially make deals with players in Europe whose contracts could end at the beginning of June!
As for the start to the season, it is just great to see that the 2021 season will take place. It’s set now, the CBA is ratified, and while there still is a pandemic, at least there will be MLS matches played to help bring a semblance of normalcy.
Philly’s possible transfer rumors and targets
We all know the Union has been less than active in terms of bringing in new players this offseason. Now that the season dates are set, there have been a few rumblings and rumors of players that could be headed to Philadelphia. Some from conversations about players already in MLS and some are from abroad.
A name that is highly recognized in MLS is looking for a new club. FC Cincinnati midfielder, Frankie Amaya has expressed his interest in leaving the club through trade to another MLS side. The former 1st overall MLS SuperDraft pick is a hybrid eight-10 midfielder.
This would definitely help Philadelphia fill the role left open by the transfer of Brenden Aaronson. Amaya, could come in and play at the 10 and also be the heir-apparent of Union captain Alejandro Bedoya. It could be a win-win for Philly if they can find a way to make that trade/transfer happen.
The Union has also been in the tabloids of Scotland as well. Philly has been linked with Kilmarnock defender Stuart Findlay. Findlay is a 25-year-old center-back Celtic youth product, and spent time with English Premier League side Newcastle from 2016 to 2017. He’s spent most of his playing career in Scotland with Kilmarnock recording 144 appearances. He is coming off of an ankle injury, but it looks like he has agreed to a Philadelphia move.
According to Footballinsider247.com, Findlay and the Union have come to an agreement. It was reported that this would be a free transfer, and now that MLS’s transfer window is open, we could see this deal actually go through. Like a lot of this type of reporting, it is a good bet to take the wait-and-see approach. If someone more familiar with MLS reports on this potential move, then it is more likely that we will actually see it.
That does it for this edition of Union update 2/16/21. Be sure to come back next week to catch up on all things Union!
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.