That offseason absolutely flew by, didn’t it? After a hell of a playoff run that came up just ever so short, the boys in blue are back at it again for the 2023 MLS season. This team looks pretty similar to the one that we left with last season, but there have been some key additions and departures.
The key arrivals for the Philadelphia Union were:
- Damion Lowe
- Joaquin Torres
- Andres Perea
All three key arrivals were acquired via inter-league trades with Miami, Montreal, and Orlando for various sums of GAM and TAM that the team had built up over the past few years.
The key departures for the Union were:
- Matt Freese
- Paxten Aaronson
- Cory Burke
Matt Freese was traded to NYCFC for around $750k in allocation money. Paxten was transferred to Eintracht Frankfurt for around $4 million plus sell-on percentages and incentives. Cory Burke left via free agency to head up 95 to the New York Red Bulls.
The Union is ready for redemption in 2023
Overall, Philly still looks about the same and is still one of the favorites in the East to win MLS cup. The boys in blue start off their season with a team that they’ve certainly had many a solid battle with over the years in the Columbus Crew.
The Crew certainly have shaken things up a bit in the offseason. Let’s take a look at how they did last year, the changes that this new look Crew made, the X factor to watch out for, and the prediction for the home and season opener in the 2023 MLS season.
2022 MLS Season
2022 was certainly a rough year for the Columbus Crew. Expectations were high as they normally are for one of the usual eastern conference powerhouses. They did not truly live up to those expectations, falling just short of the playoffs. They finished ninth in the east, two points behind Orlando for the final playoff spot.
This cost Caleb Porter his job and the team went into the offseason with a mindset to overhaul things and get back to what they know best which is winning trophies. One of the biggest things that they did to overhaul this team was the hiring of Montreal coach Wilfred Nancy. This news certainly came out of nowhere for most people but it was not a shock that the team wanted to go after one of the hottest coaching talents in the league. Nancy’s stock rose after the season he had with Montreal and the ability to get the most out of a team that was not expected to do that well.
The Crew also made some big roster moves in the offseason. Gone were the likes of Artur, Derrick Etienne Jr, Pedro Santos, and club captain Jonathan Mensah. Arriving were the likes of Jimmy Medranda and Christian Ramirez. This team is certainly going to look to come back to the playoffs after a disappointing season that they had in 2022.
The player that the Union will absolutely need to watch out for is one that certainly took the league by storm in the second half of the season. This player is none other than striker Cucho Hernandez. The Columbian international arrived in the middle of the 2022 season from Watford for a fee just short of ten million.
He nearly propelled the Crew into the playoffs with his nine goals and two assists in sixteen games. What he brings to the Crew attack is his ability to stretch the field and get in behind. He will draw the center backs deeper and allows players like Zelarayan to come in behind and create chances. If the Union is going to win this home opener, they need to neutralize the threat that Cucho brings going forward.
Subaru Park will be rocking for the home opener. After the 2022 season which saw some explosive goals and lockdown defense, the fans know that this year may be their chance to see multiple trophies lifted. The roster is just as deep as it was last season and this team knows that they left a trophy or two on the table last year.
I know that Jim Curtin will have this team pumped and ready to go from the first whistle but I also know that Wilfred Nancy will certainly have his team ready. It will be a very tightly contested game as most of the Union versus Crew games tend to be. I do expect the team to come out firing and certainly be out on the front foot.
Put me down for a 2-1 Union win to start the season. Game time on Saturday is at 7:30 pm. All games this season, with the exception of nationally televised games, can be found on the MLS season pass on Apple TV plus. See everyone Saturday for the home opener. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union