With a rare week off, the Philadelphia Union were given much needed rest coming off a US Open Cup victory over D.C. United last week. They enter a relatively slow July against the Portland Timbers this weekend (July 11th, 7:00 PM on TCN) with a squad just starting to find themselves almost completely healthy. The team has been hampered with injuries as recent additions Fernando Aristeguieta and Steven Vitoria along with team veterans Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux have been injured for what seems like forever.
The good news is that everyone is back to training (even Michael Lahoud, although he suffered a mild setback yesterday in training) and the team is looking as healthy as it has been in months. With the schedule turning towards crunch time and the playoff chase looming, this is an excellent time to get everyone back and board ready to play. Maybe an addition or two this transfer window will give the Union a nice push to fight for a possible playoff spot.
The Union doesn't seem to be staying quiet this midseason, despite rumblings that they don't have the money to do literally anything in the transfer window. The Union have brought in a player on trial from Chile named Santiago Dittborn. Likely to be a central midfielder, Curtin mentioned a strong left foot as an attribute and remained mum on getting ahead of himself as Dittborn will remain with the Union until the end of the week. Dittborn has impressed in his time with Philadelphia so far, albeit short, and Curtin alluded to Dittborn being a potential small upgrade to the roster.
While explaining Dittborn's background, Curtin went on a sidebar with the media and said that the Union were looking to make decisions on a couple of younger guys to bring in and a couple of bigger signings this transfer period. It was a little strange peek into the Union's transfer dealings, but then again we have heard the term "bigger signings" floated around before with this team and getting our hopes up would be naïve.
Regardless the Union do seem active in bringing in depth to support this squad moving forward. Curtin understands that his roster isn't the deepest and acknowledged that improving the roster at every position is always a priority and that one position didn't have priority over another (which of course I disagree with, but I would need another article just to explain that).
Deepest Position on the Roster: Outside Back?
Now maybe I'm reading into this statement from Curtin a little too deeply. Maybe Jim Curtin misspoke or maybe in fact he actually believes this. Curtin, in answering a question about roster competition, said that recently over the last ten games that outside back has been his deepest position. I just can't believe I heard that. In a position on the field where the Union have traditionally been the shallowest in, Curtin actually said they've been the deepest.
Is it bad fortune that this is the case due to injuries that Curtin considers a position in which they have three guys rotating in and out of two spots to be its deepest? Probably. Is it also a sad fact? Yes. Don't get me wrong, the play of the outside back, especially constant punching bag Fabio Alves Fabinho, needs to be praised. They've played very well, but to say it's the deepest spot on the roster isn't saying much. This team needs an outside back very badly and playing a natural right back out of position doesn't qualify as depth to me.
With the plethora of attacking options returning, certainly outside back should be filed right back into the most needed spot on the field again. I sure hope it does, or maybe let's just keep Super Fabi playing in his current form? That sounds good.