Philadelphia Union

Union Striker Target Speculation

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The Union transfer itch is alive and well as fans have been clamoring for another striker signing. The itch was slightly scratched a couple of days ago when Kevin Kinkead of Crossing Broad tweeted about a forward which the Union was, and may still be looking to sign in the coming weeks. This sent Union Twitter into a frenzy with fans playing GM and looking for the striker Kevin’s source could have been talking about. From all the tweets our Union team has come up with five players that we think make a lot of sense for the Union to sign.

Tactical Deep Dive
PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH

Union Striker Targets

In no particular order here are five forwards (within the price parameters stated in Kinkead’s tweet) that would be a good fit for the Union.

1. Loïs Openda

Openda is a 21-year-old who currently plays for Vitesse in the Dutch first division. His goal scoring isn’t at an elite level yet, which I know may be a turn-off for some Union fans including myself. However, regarding Openda I would be ok with a kid who is rapid and scores or assists at a clip of 1 every 148 minutes over the last 2 Eredivisie seasons. This rate is slightly better than what Kacper Przybylko had last season and also an improvement over Cory Burke and Sergio Santos. He would be a great compliment to Przybylko or Carranza in the 442 by injecting Sergio level pace without the injury history/risk.

This transfer is one that could be a stepping stone in Openda’s career which could send him to one of the top five leagues in Europe. The Dutch league is a top-heavy one with decent mid-table competition and then a severe dropoff. I would equate it very much to MLS actually but I think the overall talent level in MLS is going to surpass the Eredivisie if it hasn’t already. The two things that would keep Openda from the Union is the ambition to make the top 5 jump this coming summer in which case it would make more sense for him to stay in the Netherlands. Also, his value is a little more ($4.4 million) than I would imagine Sugarman is willing to spend. Either way, Openda is a name to keep an eye on.

2. Leonardo Mancuso

This would be a more veteran signing as Mancuso is entering the prime of his career age-wise being 29 years old. The Serie A has proven too much for the Empoli forward as he has only tallied 1 goal in 8 appearances. That being said he was a very solid Serie B striker which is far more comparable to the level of the MLS. He is very good off the dribble, a solid aerial threat, and very good in combo play from what I’ve seen of him.

He would be a good fit for the Union squad being a forward who can combine with other forwards and the attacking midfielders which there was a lack of this past season. He’s a little older than what Ernst usually goes for, but with his scoring record in Serie B, and his experience in a league like Serie A, would be huge for the locker room and the youth in the team.

3. Ercan Kara

Kara is an interesting player who has European experience and fits the age and price profile that the Union would most likely be after. Kara currently plays in the Austrian first division (The same league as Brenden Aaronson) where he is a member of Rapid Vienna. He is a complete forward, and from highlights I have seen, loves a goal from distance which would automatically make him a fan favorite at the Soob. He is currently tied for 3rd in goals in the league with 9 in 17 games with 5 assists as well.

The 26-year-old would be an incredible addition to the forward room giving the Union something they haven’t had in a while, if ever really. A forward who can do it all and do most of it at a higher level than most in the MLS currently. The price is perfect, the age is perfect, the player is perfect, but there is one thing that could keep this from happening. That would be a Ligue 1 club looking to sign him as well. There are rumors that Kara could be going to France which I’m sure he would take over a move to MLS. That being said until he is sold he is an option for the Union, and his Greek teammate Fountas (7 goals 4 assists 17 games) could also be a good option at 26 years old as well.

4. Mikael Uhre

Uhre is another name to keep an eye on. He was floated about quite a bit on Twitter as one that would fit into the Union’s system as well as their budget quite well. The 27-year-old currently plays for Bröndby IF in the Danish first division where he has 11 goals and 2 assists in 16 appearances this season. Over the last two seasons (including playoffs) he is averaging a goal or assist every 122 minutes.

He is an opportunistic and pacey forward who has a real nose for the goal inside the penalty area. Uhre has the ability to get in behind the backline as well as provide an aerial threat and create goals off the dribble. He does however lack a bit in the combination side of the game, but having him up top next to someone like Carranza could prove fruitful for the Union attack. MLS would definitely be a step up in terms of competition for Uhre and he seems like the type of forward the Union would sign. Keep your eye on Uhre if the Union does indeed bring on another forward during this offseason.

5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

This one is just a bit of fun. There isn’t much I could say about Ibra that people don’t already know, but this would be awesome. This will never happen but he is a perfect fit for what Philly portrays themselves as. Underdogs that don’t care when people don’t like them. He feels at home in Milan from all indications and he isn’t slowing down despite his age.

The 40-year-old is still contributing at a high clip with a G/A every 109 minutes. This guy is 40 and is doing this in one of the top four leagues in the world. If Philly could convince him to come back to the states (they won’t) I am certain he would tear it up for at least another year and try and break Vela’s record which would be good for him and the Union alike.

Will the Union sign another striker?

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if the Union will sign another striker this offseason. I think they definitely need to, and based on all the info out there I am leaning towards yes they will, but you never know what this front office is thinking. If they do sign a forward, however, don’t be surprised if the one they bring in comes from this list (Not Zlatan 😂).

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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH

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