Considered by most to be the biggest weakness on the squad. There's uncertainty on who will start next to Amobi Okugo at center back. Ethan White came to the Union from DC United in the Jeff Parke deal, and because of that some say it's his job to lose. Can the kids brought in on draft day beat him to a start?
Not to throw more confusion into the mix, but Sheanon Willliams, who is the elder statement on defense, has in the past played CB and done admirably. Can he bring his veteran leadership to the center, therefore opening a spot for Gaddis to play in his natural side on the right?
The emergence of Okugo as a viable center back was perhaps the brightest spot in last year's campaign. The whispers of a future with the USMNT started to echo his excellent play. His continued emergence will be essential if the Union are to take the defense to level of playoff contender.
Austin Berry (Trade with Chicago Fire for Allocation Money)
Based on resume alone new acquisition Austin Berry earns the spot alongside Amobi Okugo in the center of the defense. Berry was the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year and had 62 appearances in 2 seasons with the Fire. He immediately stabilizes what was considered the team's main weakness. Only time will tell if Ethan White or Richie Marquez can challenge Berry for minutes, but for now Berry's success on the field makes him the starter.
Ethan White (Trade with DC United for Parke)
Last season White started to show the promise that made him a homegrown player for DC United. He is a quick physical player but lacks the ability to control aerial attacks. The question is can White make the jump to full time MLS starter? He showed promise during DC United's US Open Cup run, but expectations are higher as 2014 approaches.
Richard Marquez - Rookie (#6 - 3rd round)
Marquez, the 44th pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft, earned D-III 3rd team All-America honors his Junior year at the University of Redlands. Hackworth told Dave Zeitlin that Marquez will compete with Cope and White for the center back position opposite Okugo. The odds are very long that Marquez will man the middle this year, but hopefully he shines in camp and improves the competition.
If the Parke replacements are not fairing well, Williams could slide over to assist. Gaddis would move from left back to right back and Fabinho would step in on the left. This would not be an optimal solution, but one that might be necessary given the uncertainty currently surrounding the center backs.
Quincy Thomas (Sophomore at Memphis U) (HGP eligible)
Thomas played midfield and defense in his freshman year, but became a mainstay at center back for the Tigers in his second season, anchoring a backline that had five clean sheets.
Todd Pratzner (Freshman at Xavier) (HGP eligible)
Pratzner didn't make his college debut until a month into the season and missed the last game, but started every game he appeared in for the Musketeers. At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, he's an obvious presence in the middle for the Big East team that had five clean sheets, four with Pratzner in the lineup.
Chris Gomez (Class of 2015) (#43 - TDS ranking - Class of 2015) (Academy)
The Syracuse-bound fullback was a star at PDA before switching to the Union academy. He was invited to U.S. Soccer's National Combine last August held at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. as one of the top 64 players in the country between the ages of 15 and 17.
|In a pinch||Sheanon Williams|
This post was updated following the news that 2nd round pick Kevin Cope was cut from the team.
- 2014 Philadelphia Union Depth Chart - Goalkeepers
- 10 Union Academy Seniors Sign to Play College Soccer
- The Forgotten Story of the Tampa Bay Mutiny
- A Look to the Future - Philadelphia Union Formations of 2014
- HOT TOPIC QUESTION: Have the Philadelphia Union Done Enough to Make the Playoffs?
- Much Edu: Will the "E" Make a Difference?