With the Stuart Findlay signing now being official, the Union is just a few players away from having the same number of players on their roster as they did in their record-breaking 2020 season. Could The Stuart Findlay signing be the first of many important gains for the Union before the 2021 season?
Important gains for Union
It’s clear that Ernst Tanner and the Philadelphia Union have had issues bringing in reinforcements after their Supporters Shield winning 2020 season. After selling homegrowns Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, two starting positions opened up.
After bringing in six players between the new homegrowns and Findlay, and losing seven players this offseason, Tanner has the opportunity to cut all losses by signing one or more players. The Findlay signing and any other that could be made, may not be like for like replacements for starters. However, any more signings made would really bolster this squad. So what could we see?
When the offseason began, Ernst Tanner spoke about replacing Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie. We’ve seen the addition of Findlay, but could there be another signing on the horizon? Will Ernst Tanner look to add an attacking midfielder, and could there be any other depth players added?
Adding a CAM?
It seems very unlikely right now that the Union would add another player from outside the club. But if they do, we should expect it to be an attacking midfield player. Ernst Tanner mentioned a goal-scoring CAM as one of his targets to help reinforce this successful side. There have been little rumblings of that, but with Tanner, you can never say never.
Adding a starting-caliber number 10 would be seen as one of these important gains. A player that is a diamond in the rough would likely require around $800k-to-$1million. While this is something the Union could do with the funds they received for Aaronson and McKenzie, would Tanner be able to get this done before the 2021 season?
The answer to that question is not black-and-white and falls on how Ernst and the Union evaluate players. They use their Philadelphia Union Value (PUV) metric to evaluate players on their roster and players they may want to bring to the club. Do they rate Anthony Fontana, and Paxten Aaronson highly enough through this metric that they would start them over a player that could be brought in? Or would a new player be the best bet? These are all questions Ernst Tanner, Jim Curtin and the front office must ask in this specific situation. But, what about when it comes to having more depth/dench players?
Bench players to fill out roster?
The Union announced they were not bringing back centerback Aurelien Collin and goalkeeper Joe Bendik after the 2020 season as their contracts expired. However, both players would fill important roles on the 2021 squad if they were brought back. Both fill key roles as backups.
Collin would be a veteran centerback and team leader. He’d be fourth on the depth chart but could be used in a pinch if injuries or suspensions happen. The same can be said for Bendik, while he won’t be called upon to play much at all, the Union needs a third goalkeeper. Bendik’s experience in MLS makes him a good choice for the role.
The Union could likely bring back both players on the cheap, assuming both would be comfortable with the roles they’d fill. If not, then the club would have to rely on playing some of the players already on the roster out of their intended position to play centerback in a pinch and add a different third-string keeper.
What should Union fans expect?
Union fans should expect no signings to come in unless Ernst and the Union deem them absolutely necessary. When looking at the current roster, there’s not much difference in personnel from last year to this coming year. Adding a third-string goalkeeper would give the Union the same amount of players that they had for the 2020 season.
However, should Philadelphia want to state their intent on being a club that constantly competes for trophies, then they should make the important gains of signing an attacking midfielder that could possibly start, and adding a depth centerback and goalkeeper. This would give them 28 rostered players, as opposed to the 27 they had in 2020.
Will the Union show this type of intent, or will they roll with the players they already have on their roster heading into the 2021 season? We’ll have to wait and see to find out!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union