Philadelphia Union

Doop Roundup July 16, 2021: Extensions, Green Cards, & DC United

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The Philadelphia Union hasn’t won on the field since the middle of June, but they are winning off the field right now. This week Philly announced contract extensions for their sporting director and starting goalkeeper. Confirmed two players received green cards to remove their international status. The Union will also have the opportunity to return to their winning ways this weekend at home vs DC United. We take a look at all of this in the latest edition of Doop Roundup July 16, 2021

Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH

Doop Roundup July 16, 2021

When it comes to doing business in the middle of the season, the Union has shown that they can get deals done while staying competitive in the field. This is a testament to the organization’s vision. It ensures that the team is competitive in the current season, and enhances those chances in the future as well. Just this week this can be seen with the moves that have been made.

Tanner signs multi-year extension to continue journy as sporting director

On Monday, the Union announced that sporting director Ernst Tanner was signed to a multi-year extension. Tanner has elevated this club’s ability to be competitive in MLS with their budget that is less equipped to spend on big-money players and more accustomed to developing quality youth prospects. Union owner Jay Sugarman had a lot of nice words to say about Tanner and the extension.

Sugarman’s thoughts on tanner

 “We knew when we hired Ernst we were getting a top-tier sporting director who could take our club to the next level. Thanks to his leadership and buy-in from coaches, players, and the entire staff at the Philadelphia Union, we have experienced continued progress and enjoyed the two best seasons in our history. Our core values are player development, a pressing, team-first, never-say-die style of play, and a commitment to innovation…”

“Ernst has helped us turn those values into a winning formula that we believe can be a platform for long-term success. Additionally, Ernst helped us show young players that this club offers a pathway to their dreams of being professional soccer players in MLS and in Europe. We have signed eight Homegrown players to the first team under Ernst and were recently named the best academy in the country. With Ernst continuing at the helm of our soccer operations, we look forward to bringing Philly fans the thrilling soccer they have come to love.” 

Jay Sugarman

This is one hell of a quote from an owner that is usually not one to say much. The Ernst Tanner appointment might have been the best move Sugarman and the ownership group ever made. He is truly the best man to lead this team that is a reflection of the city they play in.  Now Tanner can continue his work, and it keeps the Union in the “win now” mindset for the next few seasons. It’s truly an amazing bit of business, the sporting director, coach, and some vital players are under contract for the foreseeable future.

2020 MLS Goalkeeper of the year Andre Blake extended through 2024

One of if not the most vital player on the Union’s roster will be staying longer as well. Goalkeeper Andre Blake has signed a multi-year contract extension that will keep him in Philly through the 2024 season, with a club option for 2025! This deal was made official Thursday, July 15, and it’s yet another move to keep the Union competitive now and for years to come.

Andre has won the keeper of the year award twice in his first seven seasons in MLS, and he has developed into a player that can give you a great sense of security. If there’s a mistake that leads to the opposition having a chance on goal, Andre has shown he can make the routine Amdahl athletic saves necessary to keep Philly in matches. He’s saved the team from losses and ties en route to keeping more points than if he was not there. Now his leadership and best XI form will be a staple of this club moving forward for the next four years. Newly extended sporting director Ernst Tanner had this to say on the contract extension.

Tanner’s thoughts on Blake

“Andre was the backbone of the best defense in MLS last season and has been a key piece of our club’s success the past few seasons. His high level of play has allowed us to give young defenders such as Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner, and Olivier Mbaizo opportunities to prove themselves at the MLS level. As the rest of the league recognized last year, we have the best keeper in North America, and he is continuously getting better. While his play speaks for itself on the field, his mentality and the leadership role he has taken in our young squad have been equally important. We are thrilled that he will remain with our club for years to come.”

Ernst Tanner

The Union has locked up their coach, sporting director, and locker room leaders in the last few months. This team is going to be good for years to come as a result. Again, it pushes the win-now mentality for the club. They will need to back that up on the field, and the club is now in a spot to do just that through more business that can be done now, and though the play on the field improving.

Przybylko and Wagner receive green cards

First reported by Matthew De George of Daily Times Sports, the Union confirmed that Kacper Przybylko and Kai Wagner are no longer listed as international players and do have their green cards. This is huge news that was teased out over the past few months to be coming by Tanner and Curtin. The designation frees up the Union to be even more active in the transfer window that opened up at the beginning of July.

Could we see another signing come in to help the Union get over the hump to surpass the other teams above them in the east? They now could go out and make two international signings if they wanted to do just that. It may seem insignificant right now, but it allows for options and roster growth moving forward. 

If I were in the position that Tanner is, I’d be looking at possibly bringing in a striker for more competition in that spot. To me, that’s the position of most need, and now Philly has two international roster spots they can use to round it out of they want to. We’ll see what happens with the two international roster spots they now have, but the options are opening and the window so is the window to win now.

Union return home to play DC United

Speaking of winning now, the Union needs to get back to those winning ways. They have taken only two points from their past three matches. All three were on the road, and there were some crucial mistakes that result in points dropped. Now Philly returns home to play a team they have dominated the past few years, DC United.

Philly hasn’t lost to DC in last 15 matches

The last time DC beat Philly in Chester was in 2014, the last league win DC has over Philly came back in 2017. The Union has not lost to DC in their last 15 meetings. Will things be different time around? DC has an interesting team that is looking to punch above their weight. A win for DC could catapult them from ninth place to fourth place should results fall their way. Their squad is solid, but at the same time flawed. They like to play in a 3-4-3 formation and beat you by overloading the wide areas. This is the key to taking a game to Philly.

How can the Union get a much needed win?

The Union loves their 4-4-2 diamond formation. If DC can exploit the wide space vacated by the Union’s shutters, then they may just have a chance at getting a good cross in. Should the Union’s defense slip up as they have been over the last few games one of those crosses just might find its way home. For the Union to win, they have to do what they often don’t like to do, control possession. This will lessen the burden of Joe Bendik, who will start in goal as Andre Blake is at the Gold Cup and Matt Freese is suspended. It will also allow for a player like Dániel Gazdag to dominate in the number 10 position, as he’ll likely start there since Jamiro Monteiro is also suspended. The Union should be able to play this type of game, especially at home and in front of a packed crowd!

The Union’s last win was their last home match vs Columbus Crew almost one month ago. If Philly wants to get back to their winning ways, they have to overcome the players who are out and stop the silly mistakes. The match will be the first home match with full capacity that falls on a weekend. The Soob should be packed and rocking for what MLS is branding as rivalry night. But what will we see?

Match Prediction

I’d expect Philly to lineup this way due to the absences and suspensions:

Bendik; Wagner, Glesnes, Elliot, Mbaizo; Martinez, Flach, Bedoya, Gazdag; Santos, Przybylko.

This lineup will help the Union control the match. DC will have their opportunity to speed the field, but then they push up they’ll be vulnerable to a counterattack. The Union will need to take those moments and make them count, while also choking the game through possession at times. I expect the Union to come out on top of this one in a close contest. They get their first three points since their last home game in a 3-1 win.

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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH

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Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content

A passion for the beautiful game drives me.

Twitter: @Tim_Lovenguth

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