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Where should the Rais M’Bolhi money be spent?

With Rais M'Bolhi - and his gargantuan salary and wasted international slot - firmly in the past, the Union have several options available to them.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Rais M'Bolhi is gone, replaced with $350,000 of salary cap space and an international slot. Even though the international transfer window has closed for the year, the Union still can acquire players by signing free agents (see: Tranquillo Barnetta) or making deals domestically until September 15. Aside from that, they'll have to wait until 2016 to make any moves.

But what should the club do? First, they should assess the greatest areas of need. Let's take a look at the Union's depth chart:


Andre Blake, John McCarthy, Brian Sylvestre (loan, injured)

Assessment: This is probably the most fluid position at the club right now, thanks in no small part to the M'Bolhi acquisition. Andre Blake got the start against the Montreal Impact and got the clean sheet, so he has to be the number one, right? US Open Cup hero John McCarthy has played well at times, not so at others. There's also Brian Sylvestre, who was able to cauterize the open wound that was the goalkeeping position for the Union when he came on board on loan from the Carolina Railhawks. Not the Union's strongest position, but not the one most in need.

Prediction: No one has the stomach for another edition of the Philadelphia Union goalkeeper-go-round. No. Just no.

Full backs

Fabinho (left), Ray Gaddis (right), Ray Lee, Andrew Wenger

Assessment: Perhaps the shallowest position, the Union could definitely stand to add a couple of full backs by trade (instead of the "We could use Andrew Wenger in a pinch" kind), however if they're going to use M'Bolhi's money on this position they should not splurge on one player - instead investing in a couple of depth options.

Prediction: Hopefully the Union have been scouting possible acquisitions at this position, as there's no good answer as to what to do should Fabinho or Gaddis be forced to miss a match or multiple matches. Again, there's no need for a high-dollar, marquee name - just someone who can play the position at the MLS level.

Center backs

Maurice Edu (injured), Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria, Ethan White, Warren Creavalle

Assessment: It all depends on what the Union plan on doing in 2016. If they're bringing Steven Vitoria back, there's really not much need at this position as he, White, and Creavalle provide sufficient cover for Edu and Marquez. However, if the Union feel that Vitoria's $400,000 salary is too much (hint: it definitely is), then they may want to consider adding some depth here.

Prediction: Even if Vitoria won't be here in 2016, there are still more glaring holes to fill.

Defensive/Central Midfielders

Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira, Michael Lahoud, Warren Creavalle, Zach Pfeffer, Maurice Edu, Fred, Jimmy McLaughlin

Assessment: Perhaps the strongest and deepest position at the club. There's quality top to bottom, and while there may be some churn during the offseason there's no need to add anyone here.

Prediction: There's zero reason to add anyone at this position.

Wingers/Attacking Midfielders

Tranquillo Barnetta, Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux, Eric Ayuk, Andrew Wenger

Assessment: With the addition of Tranquillo Barnetta and the emergence of Eric Ayuk, this former weakness has become a strength of the Union. Once Barnetta, Maidana, and Le Toux start to click, this could be one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.

Prediction: Unless the Union are going to radically alter their formation and have a guy fall into their laps, there's not much reason to think about adding someone here.


CJ Sapong, Fernando Aristeguieta, Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux, Dzenan Catic, Antoine Hoppenot

Assessment: This all depends on if the Union are interested in retaining Aristeguieta, who is currently on loan from Nantes. If he's in their 2016 plans, there's not much call to acquire another forward even if they abandon the 4-5-1 they currently play for a two-striker formation. If he's not - and it's unclear if his production warrants his DP salary - the Union could opt to either look to add someone now or bide their time until the 2015 transfer window opens up. With Conor Casey's decline and Antoine Hoppenot all but guaranteed to be playing anywhere but here next season, the Union could be as thin at striker as they were at the end of last season.

Prediction: I wouldn't look to add anyone now. If Aristeguieta is to stay, he has until the end of the season to prove himself to the coaching staff, which between he and Sapong limits any minutes a new striker would get. If he's going back to France, the Union will also have his salary (the hit is $200,000 for a Young Designated Player like Aristeguieta is this season) to work with to bring in someone new for 2016.

What would you do if you were the Union? Let us know in the comments below!