When Andre Blake and John McCarthy went down injured in training on May 6, the Philadelphia Union were in trouble. The club that had been the butt of jokes for having too many goalkeepers suddenly had none. The Union were able to get Brian Sylvestre - a player they had cut in preseason training camp - on a short-term loan from the Carolina Railhawks. Sylvestre filled in admirably in a 3-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, which was more an indictment of the defense in front of him than it was on the goalkeeper. Sylvestre then posted back-to-back shutouts in the club's first winning streak since September of 2014, and played very well in the Union's 2-1 loss to D.C. United. Sylvestre then had another clean sheet against the Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday night.
But Sylvestre is still only a loanee, and that loan is scheduled to expire in early July. At some point the Union are going to have to make a decision on his future. The Union already have three signed goalkeepers on the roster - Blake, McCarthy, and Rais M'Bolhi (who will be dealt during the summer transfer window we hope). There's also the matter of Zac MacMath, how as of this writing has exactly zero minutes in goal with the Colorado Rapids this season.
I asked the Brotherly Game staff the question "Knowing what we know now about our goalkeeper situation (M'Bolhi is being shopped around for a summer transfer, Blake is recovering from his second meniscectomy, and McCarthy went from 'local kid does good' to punchline, should the Union attempt to sign Brian Sylvestre from Carolina once his loan ends?" Here are their responses:
Heather Reppert: Yes. His instincts seem better than McCarthy and we can develop him.
Andrew Stoltzfus: No need to buy him. Try to extend the loan to a full year and re-evaluate in the offseason. I'd prefer not to buy yet another keeper.
Colin Campbell: Keep him till we get Zac back. We need a keeper to last us this year because we can get back our star who should have never been loaned out in the first place.
Barry Evans: If by July we can get back in to the playoff hunt for real, and the last four games are not a fluke, then no. I'd go out and bring someone in with more experience. If we fall back out of contention then I would give him an extended run until the end of the season to see what he can do.
Jared Young: I'm oddly okay with the three-headed question mark of Blake, McCarthy, and Sylvestre. I'd rather not sign a different goalkeeper this year. They should ride the hot healthy hand. I'd like to see Blake get into the act as the season progresses. So if that means they have to sign Sylvestre to keep him all year then go for it. If they can extend the loan all year I'd prefer that.
Justing Feinberg: While competent, the Union can and should be able to upgrade from Sylvestre pretty easily. Just because he is better than two of the worst goalkeepers in MLS does not mean he is a long-term answer.
Do the Union sign yet another goalkeeper in Sylvestre? Do they hope Blake and McCarthy can stay healthy and return to good form? Take the poll and let us know in the comments section below!