Philadelphia Union 2017 Review
Going winless in the clubs first eight games, the club turned their fortunes around and won four straight in May. Their roller coaster of form throughout the season saw the club land in eighth place in the eastern conference, eight points out from the final playoff spot.
The club had a relatively quiet offseason up to the MLS draft. The club signed their top scorer and Jamaican international Corey Burke from USL side Bethlehem Steel FC.
After that, the Union signed two homegrown players in defenders Matt Real and Mark McKenzie. Both players join the club after growing up through the Unions Academy system. McKenzie will probably find himself back at Bethlehem Steel like last summer. Real will be a real contender to break into the starting 11 this offseason.
During the MLS draft, the Union acquired their most expensive player in franchise history when they traded for Ghanaian forward David Accam. Accam was traded for $1.2 Million in combined GAM and TAM, $200K more expensive than one of his new teammates Alejandro Bedoya. Accam brings explosive attacking talent to the squad with his 33 goals and 15 assists in 3 years with the Chicago Fire. He will slide into the starting 11 immediately.
Expected/Predicted Starting XI Picture
Looking at this lineup, we should expect Accam and Fafa Picault pushing up on the attack and Bedoya pushing up further than Haris Medunjanin in the CDM positions. The defense will be extremely young so expect growing pains in the early parts of the season. The new player name underneath Ilsinho’s is reserved for a new player potentially being brought into the club before the season starts. If no new player is signed, expect homegrown Anthony Fontana or Adam Najem to side in there.
Head Coach Jim Curtin and Sporting Director Earnie Stewart have preached time and time again that the MLS classic 4-2-3-1 will be the formation they build their team around.
Speed is the name of the game for this squad. That’s why players such as Picault and Accam were brought in over the course of two seasons. That’s why you will see Keegan Rosenberry and Fabinho/Matt Real as the starting full backs making over lapping runs. The pace of play in the game will be dictated by the Union all season along
After placing eighth in the eastern conference last campaign and burning out of the Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup in the round of 16, it’ll be hard for them to do much worse. With that being said, this team should have a significant amount more success than in 2017.
The core of the team for the most part stays the same. Names like Chris Pontius and Roland Alberg leaving, the team for the large part stays the same. The addition of David Accam provides a ton of talent to the squad and there is still room for a new number 10.
The defense will be a major talking point as the average age of the projected starting 11 above is 22.5 years old. Rosenberry and Marquez both had down years last year but expect those two to return to their 2016 form.
Closing Fantasy Thoughts
This team is not an MLS Cup winning team just yet. There is still pieces to add and cohesion to take place before this cup makes a deep run into the playoffs. However, that does not mean they won’t be good this year. If they get a new number 10 and Accam continues his MLS success, there’s no reason this team cannot be relevant and make a run for the playoffs.