Today we're starting a series where we focus on the Philadelphia Union's organizational depth chart by positions.
Zac has had quite the up and down career in a Philadelphia Union uniform. Heading into his fourth season stonewalling for Philadelphia, MacMath find his position as incumbent anything but steady. Last season, he started off weak and seemed uneasy in the back, as the Union defense was the punching bag of the MLS (see a 4-1 loss to LA and a 5-3 loss to Montreal). MacMath and the back line settled in the second half of the season and put together some man of the match performances for Philadelphia. It seems as though Zac has turned a corner due to his form at the end of the season, but the recent acquisition of Andre Blake assuming anything is ill advised. Not known for his decision making in regards to punching vs. catching the ball, Zac's strengths rely on his positioning - he doesn't often need to make spectacular saves due to being in the right spot in front of goal. Starter- Zac MacMath
Andre Blake - Rookie (#1 - 1st Round)
The rookie from University of Connecticut will be entering his first Union season as the back up to Zac MacMath, but that could very well change by March 8th. Blake is the first goalkeeper in MLS history to be drafted #1 overall, and that may very well be warranted. The Union put a lot into moving up (I assume this because of the amount of suitors for the #1 pick at the time right before the draft), and Philadelphia's stake in Andre Blake must be high given the precedent with which he was picked. Don't be surprised if Blake is the starter over MacMath at some point given his projected talent. How he plays in MLS remains to be seen, but if his highlight reel is any indication he is quite the opposite of MacMath. Spectacular save after spectacular save are riddled throughout his college career and if he can carry that in MLS he will thrive. His college coach stated that he had great communication skills which will certainly help him with a young defense in front of him.
Brian Holt - (Signed during training camp)
Holt was brought in this offseason as a move that was only to sure up the depth chart. A standout at Creighton University, Holt set an NCAA record with a .208 goals against average. He seems to have impressed Hackworth on trial at YSC, as he was signed before the team moved to Florida. Holt's acquisition might call for a trade of MacMath, since Hackworth was more than happy to keep only 2 keepers on the roster for the majority of last season, but I don't think that is likely. I wouldn't expect Holt to see the field outside of friendlies or if there are injuries in this position.
Zach Steffen (Freshman at Maryland) (Homegrown Player eligible)
Steffen showed why he's the top prospect in the Union pipeline with his performance in the College Cup for Maryland in his first season. Though he's behind Cody Cropper in the depth chart for the U.S. youth international pool, Steffen is a future star in the making.
Cameron Keys (Class of 2015) (#35 - TDS ranking - Class of 2015) (Academy)
Keys is the top goalkeeper in the Academy system, and he started regularly for the U17/18 team in the fall despite being only 16. He is a former member of the US boys national team and was honored in November as an Academy Player of the Week for his performance in a 1-1 draw versus PDA.