The Union’s top two men in charge of creating a competitive MLS team, head coach Jim Curtin and sporting director Ernst Tanner, addressed the media at an end-of-year press conference. The two leaders of the Union spoke a lot about the successes in 2021 and how it should be a stepping stone to competing and getting to MLS Cup in 2022!
End-of-year press conference
Curtin and Tanner talked a lot about players that stepped up and the fans that made an impact at home matches in 2021. On top of that, there was a good bit about players that could possibly leave or possibly feature with the Union in 2022. Homegrowns dominated a lot of the conversation too, past, present, and future! There was even talk about not one, but possibly two new strikers! Let’s get into all of what was said!
Homegrowns getting more time.
In 2021, the next crop of homegrowns came up and balled out. They helped the Union get to the semifinals of CCL, and to the eastern conference finals in the MLS Cup playoffs. This group, specifically Sullivan, McGlynn, and Aaronson are on the verge of getting more minutes in 2022. Whether that be from the start of games or off the bench. These young kids deserve it, and they are legit enough to help push this team to be even better in 2022. With that being said, there would have to be some spots in the starting XI open up for them to really get a huge minutes increase. Jim and Ernst talked about that possibility in their presser.
Players on the way out?
Tanner spoke to the possibility of Monteiro and Wagner leaving and testing the waters in Europe, or other leagues, by saying that the market there is dead right now. He expects both players to be back with Philly for the 2022 season, but anything could happen. Losing those players would be a big loss, but would allow room for homegrowns and other players the opportunity to step up and win starting spots. Curtin talked about two homegrowns that might not be back in Real and Fontana. Both have bona fide offers from Philly but haven’t accepted them as of yet. They both could benefit from some starting spots opening up, but would they come back if there isn’t an opportunity to get starting minutes? They’ll want to be starters as they both are veterans at this point. We’ll see what they decide to do. From those veteran homegrowns, we go to one that will get a first-team contract soon!
Sorenson getting a first-team contract soon.
The Union will soon have their pipeline team Union II back in an actual league with MLS Next Pro. From those ranks is rising another homegrown who will soon get a first-team contract. Anton Sorenson an up-and-coming left back will be on the first team in 2022, per Ernst Tanner. His inclusion will mean that the Union will have at least two left backs if Wagner stays as well; if Real stays they’ll have three good options for that position. Sorenson was on the bench for the Union’s eastern conference final as an emergency call-up, and his time to make the jump is now. Will he get a chance to show what he’s got in 2022? We go on from one defender getting a contract to another that could get a long-term extension.
Jack Elliot possible contract extension!
Jakob Glesnes just got a long-term extension to stay with the Union for the foreseeable future, could their other starting center back get a contract extension as well? According to Ernst Tanner that is something he’s looking to get done. Tanner is trying to sign Elliot to a new long-term deal as the blossoming star centerback is entering a contract option year. If the Union could lock up both Glesnes and Elliot for the long-term, then the Union will have a chance to be competitive for many years. When you have good centerbacks, you can win games. If Elliot gets a deserved long-term contract extension, then that just makes the Union’s odds of being competitive go up. You know what else would make this team competitive for years to come?
Ernst Tanner said that he is looking to bring in one, or possibly two strikers this offseason. He also said that he might be able to announce one of those signings soon! The Union is a legitimate striker away from being a true threat to make MLS Cup in 2022. If that is the striker that Tanner is close to coming to an agreement with, then this Union team will be in a great place with 10 weeks to go until the 2022 season starts. Tanner has had some great December signings in the past getting Sergio Santos and Jose “El Brujo” Martinez to commit to Philly in the last month of the year. Could a new DP-level striker be the next December signing to alter the trajectory of this team towards an MLS Cup 2022?
It’s MLS Cup or bust in 2022.
Curtin and Tanner summed up the success of the 2021 campaign and showed a glimpse of what the future will look like in 2022. These two have created a true contender in MLS, and they see that the time is now to push to win it all. They both expressed that the goal is now to reach and win MLS Cup. There are always statements from coaches and GMs that they want to win the league title, but this statement was different from Curtin and Tanner. These two see what they have built, and know that their model can bring success in the form of trophies. It’s MLS Cup 2022 or bust for the Philadelphia Union in their 13th season!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych