Union’s roster for 2022 already taking shape

The Union has already started making decisions on what their roster will look like in 2022, just days after their 2021 ended in the eastern conference final. On Wednesday evening, the Union announces their 2022 roster decisions for players. This is where the club announces what contract offers they’ve picked up, which players they’re sending offers to, and which players are out of contract, or had options declined. Let’s take a look at which players are under contract, and which ones might not be back in Philly in 2022.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union via Twitter

Roster for 2022

As of right now, the Union’s roster stands at 25 players deep after the club made its decisions ahead of the 2022 season. Here’s a look at where the roster stands

  • Goalkeepers (3): Joe Bendik, Andre Blake, Matt Freese
  • Defenders (6): Jack Elliott, Stuart Findlay, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, Olivier Mbaizo, Kai Wagner
  • Midfielders (13): Paxten Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya, Jesús Bueno, Brandan Craig, Jack de Vries, Leon Flach, Daniel Gazdag, José Martínez, Jack McGlynn, Jamiro Monteiro, Matej Oravec, Quinn Sullivan, Cole Turner
  • Forwards (3): Cory Burke, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos

The Union’s roster is rather solid with a full offseason ahead of them. This has to do with Ernst Tanner sure ing up contracts of key players during the regular season, and just as this announcement came out. Just yesterday, Glesnes signed a contract extension that will keep him in Philly until the 2024 season. This Union team is strong and has the majority of the pieces that have seen them become a power in MLS. Let’s break down the in’s and out’s of these decisions that has Philly’s roster looking this way early in the offseason.

Players under contract for 2022

20 of the 25 players on the Union’s roster for 2022 had contracts already ahead of the 2022 season. This again speaks to how Ernst Tanner does business constructing this Union roster. Here’s a list of those 20 players:

  • Paxten Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya, Andre Blake, Jesús Bueno, Cory Burke, Brandan Craig, Jack de Vries (on loan to Venezia), Stuart Findlay, Leon Flach, Matt Freese, Daniel Gazdag, Jakob Glesnes, Nathan Harriel, José Martínez, Olivier Mbaizo, Jack McGlynn, Jamiro Monteiro, Matej Oravec (on loan to FK Železiarne Podbrezová), Quinn Sullivan, Kai Wagner

The most notable names on this list have to be players whose value is at an all-time high after the 2021 season. Players like Jose Martinez and Jamiro Monterio jump off the page. Could another team be reaching out to the Union for the services of one of these players? It’s not outside the realm of possibility.

If these types of players were to transfer out of Philly it’d open up spots for players like Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, Jack McGlynn, and Jesus Bueno to fill. On top of players like that, you see players on this list currently on loan like Jack de Vries and Matej Orav Oravec. Could either of those guys come back to Philly and find their place in 2022?

This list of contracted players makes up most of the roster, but there are a few other players who had club options following the 2021 season that will be back for Philly in 2022.

Options Exercised

The Club has picked up the 2022 options for five players that were on the roster in 2021. Those players are:

  • Joe Bendik, Jack Elliott, Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos, Cole Turner

Three of these five players have been very important players for Philly in years past. Jack Elliot is a huge piece to the Union’s backline. His partnership with Jakob Glesnes has helped the Union make their deepest run in playoff history.

Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos have been the club’s top-two strikers for the last three years, and now they will be a part of the Union in 2022; that is, unless they look to move one or both of them this offseason to make room for a DP striker that Tanner is rumored to be on the hunt for. Cole Turner and Joe Bendik are good bench pieces to have on this team. Their inclusion will help the Union sure up their depth ahead of 2022.

While these five players had their options picked up, there were other players who are now out of contract, and the club might not be negotiating with them to return.

Players out of contract

There are three players from the Union’s 2021 roster who are out of contract. They are all veteran players who made an impact on this club. Those players are:

  • Aurelien Collin, Ilsinho, Alvas Powell

Of the players on this list, the one fans might be the saddest about is Ilsinho. Ilsinho was the club’s super-sub that took the league by storm in 2018 and 2019 with his ability to change a game. He was injured for almost all of the 2021 season and did more streaming on his Twitch than he did playing on the field. Could the club work with him to bring him back for more season, maybe, but I wouldn’t say it’s a definite.

The same can be said about Aurelien Collin. Collin didn’t play one minute in 2021, but started and played really well in the eastern conference final when his team needed him. He was a great leader and mentor to the young players on the roster, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was not back in Philly in 2022.

Alvas Powell is a different story. He had some spot starts in 2021, but was the consistent starter in the first two Union playoff games. He was a very good depth piece that has a winning pedigree. Out of these three, I’d expect the Union to at least talk with Alvas about the possibility of him coming back as a depth option at right-back. Philly also had two players out of contract, but they offered bona fide offers to those two.

Bona fide offers

The Union is trying to make quick work of re-signing two players who are out of contract. Both are homegrowns and both have been in Jim Curtin’s proverbial dog house in 2021. Those two players are:

  • Anthony Fontana, Matt Real

This is such an interesting turn of events. Fontana and Real are two of the older homegrown players on the Union’s roster. Both of them didn’t have the best relationships with the Union at the end of the 2021 season. Fontana is a number 10 who has been beat out for that role by both Aaronson brothers over the last three seasons. He was the Union’s super sub, a la Ilsinho, in 2020. Would he want to sign a contract with Philly if he continues to relegated to a super sub, or even a player that doesn’t make the gameday roster? Matt Real is in a similar, but almost worse situation.

The homegrown left back was not even able to make the gameday roster for the eastern conference final, when the Union only had seven players on their bench. Real was the only back up left back on the Union’s roster in 2021. Leon Flach can play that position, but is a midfielder by trade. The Union most likely want to sign Real to keep being at least two-deep at every position. If for some reason they cannot sign Real, expect Philly to sign Anton Sorenson to a homegrown contract. He’s been with Union 2, and could be the next guy to make a jump to the first team.

Of all the players from the 2021 roster, only one had their option declined.

Option Declined

The Union took a gamble in the middle of their season bringing in striker Matheus Davo on loan from Corinthians. The striker only featured once for the Union as a substitute in his almost half a season in Philly. He is the only player to not have his option picked up for the 2022 season.

  • Davó (on loan from Corinthians)

It was clear from the first few matches that Davo was on the team that he wasn’t seen as a viable option to play for this Union team. When the Union were without Cory Burke and Sergio Santos multiple times in 2021, Davo had a hard time making the bench for the Union, and if he did make the bench, he never came on the field. This was a move that seemed doomed from the start. Davo was another player not on the gameday roster for Philly in the conference final when the team was short handed. This decision makes a lot of sense.

Now silly season begins!

Now the the Union has made its roster decisions, it’s time for silly season to begin! The offseason is now in full swing, and soon we’ll get transfer rumors of players that might be coming to Philly, and possibly players on the Union’s roster that might transfer out. It’s a fun time of the year where anticipation mounts for the new season. The 2022 season is only 79 days away now!

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union via Twitter