The Philadelphia Union are readying itself for a busy 2023 where they’ll play in four different competitions. With under two months from the first kick of the ball, Philly has some work to do to fill out the roster for next season.
Union will need a deep roster to compete in ’23
With just 60 days until the start of the 2023 season, Philadelphia will likely be sellers and buyers on the player market. The team’s core is intact, but major players could be on the move if a profitable offer is made.
Reigning Sporting Executive of the Year, Ernst Tanner is a master at getting good deals for outgoing transfers and also Moneyball’s his way into finding diamonds in the rough to bring to the club.
Tanner has been on the record saying that the club will be in the market for defenders, midfielders, and strikers this offseason. whether or not that means we see a plethora of new faces on the team in the coming months is unclear, but the team will need to be bolstered if they want to achieve their goal of playing 50+ matches this season.
Here’s a look at the potential changes we’ll see happen this off-season!
The potential for a changing backline
It’s that time of year again, the Kai Wagner rumors are heating up. Potentially losing the best left back in MLS would make for a hole in the best backline in the league. The rumor has much thinking that some players linked to MLS moves could be a replacement.
Christian Cappis is a versatile left-back who can also play left-mid, and D-mid. He’s a quintessential Ernst Tanner type of signing (think Leon Flach) and could greatly benefit this team. There’s no guarantee that Wagner will leave, but if he does, look for the Union to find a player that could play multiple positions to possibly fill out the roster.
Tanner also mentioned finding more depth signings for center backs. A nice veteran presence would go a long way to help the young backups learn the ropes. We’ll see if any change comes about for the backline this winter.
Bolstering the midfield
The Union’s midfield is the workhorse of the team. As the midfield went, so too did the rest of the team. It was clear that captain Alejandro Bedoya is the most important player in the midfield; his ability to be a box-to-box player contributed to the attack and could put out fires in defense. His injury at the end of 2022 showed that Philly needs more two-way true box-to-box midfielders, an area they will look to address this offseason.
The addition of Andres Perea could be the very two-way box-to-box player Philly will look to utilize in their busy 2023 season, it also shows that the team now has a plethora of central midfielders all of who have different skillsets that can be used in different matches depending on the matchup.
Odada, Bueno, Martinez, Flach, McGlynn, Parea, and Bedoya are seven midfielders who will carry the burden of setting the Union’s pace of play in 2023. Will this group be enough to propel Philly to some silverware in 2023, or will Tanner bring in more midfielders to help get over that hump?
Incoming strikers; outgoing prospects
The Philadelphia Union will need to strengthen its striker depth in 2023. Their starters Julian Carranza and Michael Uhre are under contract but lost Cory Burke in free agency. A lot thought that the Union would look to their academy for their backup strikers in 2023, but some big prospects are actually departing the team.
Marcos Zambrano is one of the top academy strikers in MLS. At 17 years old, many thought he’d make the jump to being a contracted Union player, but he is leaving the Union and appears to be heading to Portugal. He’s linked with Benfica and could be making the jump to Europe before even making the first team. The same is happening for Bajung Darboe. The club has been trying to sign him to a first-team contract, but he is choosing to test out Europe amidst an MLS territory rule curfuffle which is keeping him off the Union’s roster.
While Philly won’t get those promising prospects on the first team, they could still look toward Union II prospects to fill out their roster. Nelson Pierre, Stefan Stojanovic, and Jose Riasco could make the jump to the first team if needed to fill out the roster. If they aren’t on the move this winter, then Tanner will likely look for a diamond in the rough to bring to Philly to be the third-string striker.
We’ll see which ways Tanner chooses to use the resources at his disposal. He’s already made an in-league move, and drafted players in the SuperDraft! Now we’ll see what he can do with preseason beginning in less than a month and the season kicking off in just two short months!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych