Now that preseason training has gotten underway, most union fans are probably wondering how the roster looks right now. The team has not made a ton of moves this offseason, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been some roster turnover. With just over a month until the team kicks off the 2022 season against Minnesota United in the Soob, let’s take a look at the position groups and see what the union has available for this season.
This by far is the easiest position group on the team to dissect, as this position has not changed in terms of personnel for a few seasons now. The goalies on the roster are:
- Andre Blake
- Matt Freese
- Joe Bendik
There’s no question who is the undisputed starter in this position group and it’s the Jamaican sensation himself, the two-time goalkeeper of the year, and the minister of defense for the Union, Andre Blake. This is, as I say on the podcast all of the time, a name that is written in permanent marker on the roster sheet unless he is unavailable due to injury or national team callups.
With world cup qualifying going through the first couple of months of the season, I expect Matt Freese to get a few starts here and there, but Andre is the de facto starter.
This is the group for the union that had the most success in the 2021 season. The Union had the 4th best defense in the league in terms of goals against numbers so this is something that the team excelled in last year. With this being said, let’s take a look across the backline and see what changes, if any, have been made in the offseason.
- Left Backs
- Kai Wagner
- Matt Real
- Anton Sorenson*
- Homegrown signing added to the first team roster for 2022
- Center backs
- Jack Elliot
- Jakob Glesnes
- Stuart Findlay
- Aurelien Collin*
- Has not officially signed another contract with the team as of now
- Right Backs
- Olivier Mbaizo
- Nathaniel Harriel
All in all here, not many changes from last year. The only new addition to this group at the moment appears to be the homegrown Anton Sorenson while the only departure is Alvis Powell, who signed with FC Cincinnati. The only question mark in the entire defensive core is Aurelien Collin, who has yet to sign an official contract with the team so it is unknown if he is coming back.
As of right now, I think it is safe to say that if all four of the starters in the defensive group are on the roster come February 26th, then the group of Wagner/Elliot/Glesnes/Mbaizo will stay the same as last season. Given that there will be some qualifiers and potential rotation needed, there will certainly be playing time for Findlay, Harriel, and even Real this season if Kai indeed leaves in the summer as a number of people feel he might.
This is a group that had a youthful injection last season with a number of homegrowns getting some consistent minutes and putting up some highlight-reel moments. The mix of youth and veteran leadership is exactly what Jim is looking for and something that I believe can be built on last year’s success. With that being said, here’s the list of midfielders on the roster.
- Alejandro Bedoya
- Jamiro Monteiro
- Leon Flach
- Daniel Gazdag
- Jesus Bueno
- Jose “El Brujo” Martinez
- Jack McGlynn
- Brandon Craig
- Paxten Aaronson
- Quinn Sullivan
- Cole Turner
- Yet to sign a contract or make a decision on his future
- Jack De Vries*
- On loan at Venezia
- Matej Oravec
- On loan at Železiarne Podbrezová
With the exception of a few players either being on loan, there is not much turnover in the midfield group. Anthony Fontana is out of contract and is currently rumored to be signing with Serie B side Ascoli Calcio 1898 FC. Outside of that, the players that were on loan last season are still on loan, except for Cole Turner who came back for the playoffs last season. Ilsinho has yet to make a career decision, but it is fully expected that he will not be returning to the team this season.
Given the enormity of this group and the multitude of players that can play multiple positions, I fully expect some rotation this season with the midfield as we saw at various points last season. We’ll see if this group can keep the spine of the formation as strong as it was last season.
This group hasn’t had a ton of changes, but it’s had some large ones in the week or so since preseason training began. Here’s where the forward group stands as of now.
- Sergio Santos
- Julian Carranza
- Corey Burke
- Mikael Uhre*
- Not officially on the roster, but according to Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer, he was spotted having dinner with Jim Curtin and others with the medical expected this week and the official announcement coming soon after.
This is a group that, as a whole, performed pretty poorly last season. The team’s leading scorer, Kacper Pryzbylko, was just traded this past weekend to the Chicago Fire for $1.15 million in allocation money. Kacper led the striker group with 12 goals in MLS play and 17 in all competitions. Sergio followed that up with 6 goals and Corey trailed behind with 4 goals.
This is not the type of production that one would expect from a striker pool. With Carranza and the potential Uhre signing coming into this group, the expectation is certainly for the striker pool as a whole to get better and produce more than they have in the past few seasons.
Four weeks ’till 2022 kicks off
This is the state of the Philadelphia Union roster at this time. Given we still have just over a month until the season starts, we could see a couple of changes to this group as Jim has alluded to, but this is likely the group that we’ll see for the season. What do you, the fans, think of this current group? Let me know in the comments and let’s get ready for the 2022 MLS season!
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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH