The Next Phase of the Philadelphia Union Project

By Charles Bohm – WASHINGTON, DC (February 24, 2022) American Football Players – As season openers loom, coaches and fanbases around MLS tend to engage in roster arithmetic. How much talent and productivity has disappeared? What reinforcements have arrived? What missing pieces still need to be added to the equation?

Usually, the sight of a club’s top scorer, as well as its second-best assist, heading for the gate would be alarming. This is the situation of the Philadelphia Union, which begins its 2022 schedule at Minnesota United on Saturday afternoon.

Over the winter, they traded forward Kacper Przybylko for Eastern Conference counterparts Chicago Fire FC and sent point guard Jamiro Monteiro to the San Jose Earthquakes, two of the best players paid from the team, for decent stacks of allowance money.

Head coach Jim Curtin even called Monteiro, a Cape Verdean international, “among the best players I have ever worked with in my short coaching career”. Still, there hasn’t been the kind of outcry one might expect from discerning Philadelphia supporters. This is because the Union model is so established that these measures are intended to increase the potential ceiling of the team rather than limit it.

Philadelphia Academy continues to produce quality prospects. As a result, Homegrowns should take up a good chunk of Monteiro’s minutes. It starts with Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan, a trio who have shown huge potential in their first-team appearances so far. Then there’s Daniel Gazdag, a creative Hungarian international who arrived last spring on a seven-figure transfer fee and found his feet in the 2021 season.

“When you lose a player of the quality of Jamiro, we’re no better,” Curtin told reporters earlier this month, although Union decisions suggest they think they can get away with it. improve sooner rather than later, perhaps even to the point of their most talented team. never. “He’s a guy who meant a lot to the club, he won a lot of games with us and now will certainly be an opportunity for others to replace him.”

Up top, Philadelphia replaced Przybylko with Mikael Uhre, a Denmark international with UEFA Champions League experience that cost them a record fee of nearly $3 million. In their preferred two-forward setup, he will often be joined by fellow newcomer Julian Carranza. A $6million acquisition by Inter Miami three years ago, the Argentine moved to Philly on loan amid his parent club’s restart following heavy penalties imposed for their wage budget violations and list guidelines.

It is not uncommon for ambitious teams to strengthen their attacking corps in this way. What is striking about the Union movements is that they are already paid in advance, and more. After raking in more than $16 million from transfer sales of older Paxton brother Brenden, defenseman Mark McKenzie and deals like the Przybylko transfer, Philadelphia is in a strong financial position.

The idea of ​​a team “recharging” rather than “rebuilding” has become a sporting cliché. In the case of the Union, they are justified in using the expression. They truly believe that rising generations can and will eclipse the veterans they follow.

“You can see the depth of the roster,” Curtin said in January. “We have competition, and healthy competition, in all places.”

By helping to implement minority investor Richie Graham’s long-term vision of an academy-centric philosophy, Curtin and athletic director Ernst Tanner have steadily increased their credibility with principal owner Jay Sugarman. With the size of the war chest Philly has amassed and its steady rise to the East’s top flight, highlighted by the 2020 Supporters’ Shield and the deepest playoff run in its history last fall, it doesn’t is not difficult to understand why.

“If you go back to when Ernst came on three years ago and you look at the last three seasons, I’ll just say I think we did a pretty good job, and we did it in a unique way. and smart way,” Curtin said. “I think the ownership has gained confidence, and I think they’re seeing it now.”

confectioner told the Philadelphia Inquirer after the groundbreaking 2020 campaign, “The financial commitment was very, very big, and we had to bet on that idea, but I think you’re starting to understand why we made that bet.” It took a while for the vindication to materialize, but a focus on the grassroots eventually paved a self-sustaining path to victory.


Charles Boehm is a Washington, DC-based writer and the editor of The football wire. Contact him at: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/cboehm.

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