MLS Free Agency opened up on Wednesday, Dec. 15. With last year’s agreed-upon CBA, the pool of free agents has grown, and there are a plethora of players who are in the prime of their careers that could join a new club and contribute. Whether it’s as a starter or as a player to join a team as a bench option, there are a lot of players looking for an opportunity to join another MLS club. With this bigger list of experienced MLS players, could the Philadephia Union be looking to pick any players up? I found 10 free agents that the Union should consider taking a look at.
10 Free Agents Ernst should look into
The Philadelphia Union has not been a club that looks to make a splash by adding a big-name player inside of MLS, but that was before MLS free agency included players in their prime. With this pool of players opening up a bit, would Union sporting director Ernst Tanner be willing to pick up a free agent or two that could contribute to this team? There are 10 players that could fill a need for the Union available. Those players are:
- Eriq Zavaleta
- Shane O’Neill
- Alvas Powell
- Sean Davis
- Jay Chapman
- Yordi Reyna
- Albert Rusnak
- Patrick Mullins
- Abu Danladi
- Maxi Urruti
These players are all still available and could either push for starting minutes or fill vital depth positions that round out the Union’s roster. Here’s a closer look at all 10.
Eriq Zavaleta – 29-years-old – Center back
The Union has two of the best centerbacks in MLS. They both will be back in 2022, baring any outrageous transfer offers that Ernst Tanner can’t refuse. After that, the Union has Stuart Findlay who looks like he could make the jump us to a starting role if called upon. Those three are the only centerbacks on the Union’s 2022 roster so far. Eriq Zavaleta has been a successful piece of Toronto FC since 2015. He’s won an MLS Cup, Supporters Shield, and Canadian Championships. Could Tanner negotiate with him and bring him to Philly as a good depth piece? Eriq is rumored to be in talks with LA Galaxy, former coach Greg Vanney is the coach in LA and looks to want his boy back. Regardless of that, this is the type of player Tanner should be looking into.
Shane O’Neill – 28-years-old – Center back
Another centerback in their prime that Philly should look to for good depth is Shane O’Neill. O’Neill has been a part of Seattle for the past two seasons and has been good enough to play 56 matches for one of the best teams in MLS. He is another tactically sound centerback, who would be perfect for a spot start. His veteran status and experience playing around the world could help this young Union side. The 28-year-old is good for at least one goal a season; he can hit bangers, which is a qualification for Union centerback’s these days. Tanner should reach out to O’Neill and see if he’d be interested in coming in and helping the Union reach their goal of winning MLS Cup.
Alvas Powell – 27-years-old – Right back
I know, I know, he was on the team in 2021! But that doesn’t mean that Alvas Powell can’t re-sign a new contract and come back to be the reliable right back that he is! Powell showed that he can start in MLS, and can also be an important player off the bench, or if a team is in a pinch. The Union will roll with Oliver Mbaizo as their starting right back and have Nathan Harriel pushing for minutes in 2022, but Powell is too good to not bring back for depth. His ability to play multiple positions on the backline is also important, as right now the Union only has one left back on the 2022 roster. Powell could even cover at centerback if needed. He’s too good of a fit for Tanner not to negotiate with him.
Sean Davis – 28-years-old – Central midfielder
The Union could lose a vital piece to their central midfield this offseason, as Jose “El Brujo” Martinez will likely be pursued by clubs that watched him have a good 2021 campaign, as well as play well at the Copa America tournament with Venezuela. Could the Union need to look for a quick replacement to their starting lineup, and could a free agent be a good fit for Philly? There’s a really good central midfielder that is now a free agent in Sean Davis. Davis has spent his whole professional career with New York Red Bulls. This might turn some Union fans off, but he is a great leader in the middle of the field and understands a high pressing style. While the Union is stacked in the midfield, and Davis would likely want to be a starter wherever he goes, could Tanner take a shot on this type of player if other players are leaving for the Union?
Jay Chapman – 27-years-old – Central midfielder
Another central midfielder that is versatile, and an MLS veteran is Jay Chapman. Chapman was a champion with Toronto FC, and has spent the last two seasons with Inter Miami. The free-agent midfielder can play four different positions in the middle of the park. This makes him a candidate for the Union to add to their ranks and bring some experience. The Union’s young guns in the midfield can handle the job of getting this team to an MLS Cup in 2022. If Chapman was added as a depth piece he could help show what it takes to win in MLS, and also give some good spot starts for Philly. This is another player that fits the Tanner mold of a good Union player; Chapman is worth looking into.
Yordi Reyna – 28-years-old – Central attacking midfielder
As is the case when a team is good, there is the possibility of losing key players in the offseason. The Union has that risk with midfielder Jamiro Montiero. While Monteiro isn’t necessarily a number 10, he did play there for the majority of 2021. If there’s a transfer offer made for Jamiro, and it allows him to be closer to his family in Europe, it’s likely the Union take that offer. That leaves them a whole to fill in the attacking midfield. Would the Union look in-league to fill this spot? The interesting and versatile Yordi Reyna is available in free agency. Reyna could come in and play one of the dual 10 roles, or even as a second striker at times. Would Tanner add a player like Reyna who has the Red Bull Salzburg connection, would he lean on the Union’s homegrowns, or would he look for more of a sure thing in MLS?
Albert Rusnak – 27-years-old – Central attacking midfielder
The Union will make a jump in MLS when they sign a DP-level striker, but if the shuffling of players does happen for Philly in 2022, and they lose a player like Jamiro Monteiro, they’ll need another player who can be a part of their dual 10 system. A player that could come in and start right away is available in free agency. Albert Rusnak is available in free agency and is a star in MLS. In his five seasons with Real Salt Lake, Rusnak played 142 matches and scored 42 goals. This past season he played all 34 regular season matches scoring 11 goals and assisting on 7. Honestly, I think this should be something Tanner does whether Monteiro leaves or not. Rusnak is a sure thing and would elevate the Union’s attack. Look at his production, and tell me that Tanner shouldn’t be on the phone now to inquire if Rusnak wants to come to Philly.
Patrick Mullins – 29-years-old – Striker
It’s no secret the Union is going to go out and search for a DP-level striker this offseason. This was the one piece missing that could have helped the Union get to MLS Cup in 2021. Philly has done a good job keeping their striker core from last year for the 2022 season; Przybylko, Santos, and Burke are all under contract. However, we have all seen that Philly needs more than four strikers to get to that next level. Could Tanner turn to MLS free agency to add another attacker to have in a pinch or if a striker gets sold in the offseason? Enter Patrick Mullins. He’s in his prime and has shown he can score in MLS. Since he came into the league in 2014, Mullins has played 192 games and scored 32 goals. At this point in his career, he is a good option off the bench and could be a more affordable depth piece for a team that needs to find ways to score more goals.
Abu Danladi – 27-years-old – Striker
Another MLS veteran that is a free agent at the striker position is Abu Danladi. Danladi came into the league in 2017 and has played 97 matches scoring 14 goals. The former SuperDraft pick could bring some flair to the Union’s attacking core, but it would take a disaster, or some really good play from Danladi to start for Philly. With that being said, he is still a quality player entering the prime of his career, while also being a five-year MLS veteran. This is a big low-risk-high-reward type of player that Tanner loves to go after. Will he do it on a player that would likely be near the bottom of the striker depth chart?
Maxi Urruti – 30-years-old – Striker
The only player older than 29 that the Union should consider negotiating with is a proven MLS goal scorer Maxi Urruti. Urruti has had a long MLS career playing 277 games in MLS. What’s more impressive is he’s scored 71 goals since 2013. He’s won an MLS Cup with Portland, a Supporters Shield with Dallas, and has shown he can get a team goal either from the start or off the bench in Montreal and Houston. His ability to put the ball in the back of the net makes him someone the Union should at least talk to. Tanner should be asking what it would take to add Urruti to the Union’s striker core for the upcoming season.
Will the Union take an MLS Veteran?
There you have it! There are 10 free agents the Union should look into this offseason! Now that younger players are eligible it wouldn’t surprise me if the Union were at least considering a few of these players. If they take anyone is a different story. We’ll have to wait and see what happens!
Have a look at the list of free agents and see if can find any other players that the Union should look into, and let me know in the comments who they are!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union