The Union’s Norwegian Viking, master of long-range rockets, and lock-down centerback, Jakob Glesnes, signed a contract extension Wednesday (Dec. 8, 2021.) This extension will see Glesness in blue and gold until at least the 2024 season. Here’s a look at what this means for a Union team that is looking to take the next step toward winning MLS Cup in 2022.
3 more years
Glesnes has been a part of the two best Union teams in MLS history. His inclusion in 2020 was meant to be as a depth signing, but he played his way onto the field early in the season. After that, he helped Philly win the supporters shield in 2020. In two years Jakob has had two centerback partners, and both of them have been different but stellar next to him.
In 2020 Mark McKenzie was en route to a Best XI selection and an eventual move to Belgium’s Genk. Glesnes paired well with McKenzie as the Norwegian was able to stay home while McKenzie was able to be aggressive and use his attributes well. Fast forward to 2021, and Jack Elliot came back into the squad. Elliot has some similarities to McKenzie but is a bit better with the ball at his feet. Glesnes’ steadiness allowed Elliot to come back into the Union’s starting XI and become one of the best centerbacks in the league alongside Glesnes. This speaks to Glesnes’ importance, and its clear sporting director Ernst Tanner thinks highly of Jakob.
Ernst Tanner’s thoughts on Glesnes
Tanner has been a mastermind when it comes to finding players who embody the values of the Philadelphia Union. Tanner and Jim Curtin created a value they look for in players called the Philadelphia Union Value (PUV) Glesnes checks all of those boxes. Tanner had some great things to say about Glesnes when his contract extension was released.
“In his first season with the Union, Jakob proved he was capable of becoming a top player in Major League Soccer, and in his second season he has delivered on his promise and is now one of the best defenders in the league. His front-foot defense and ability to progress the ball out of defense have been crucial to the team’s success over the past two seasons, as the backline allowed the fewest goals in the league in 2020 and remained a top unit in 2021. His development on the pitch and natural leadership abilities have solidified the importance of keeping him in Philadelphia.”
Tanner is showing the importance of having Glenses with this Union team now. The foundation that the Union can now build around Glesnes is one that could help Philly compete for an MLS Cup in the next few years. That importance cannot be understated.
The importance of Glesnes
On Thanksgiving, I wrote about Glesnes’ importance to the team. This importance was not lost on Tanner or the Union as they have now extended Jakob’s time in Philadelphia. The centerback is seen as one of the best in MLS, and there’s no reason why he won’t keep that stellar form going in 2022.
Could we see Glesnes and Elliot enter a backline that is structurally sound for a third year in a row? There’s no reason to think otherwise after 2021. Jakob could go down as the best defender in Union history after his time in Philly is done. In his first two years alone, the Union won their first trophy and went on thier first playoff run. Heading into 2022, Glesnes should be on a shortlist for best XI and defender of the year, could he also anchor a team making a run toward MLS Cup in 2022? After this season there’s no reason why not!
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire