Beyond the shake ups of the beginning of the season, the outside backs of choice for the Philadelphia Union were Ray Gaddis and Fabinho. Heading in to 2016 it is looking like most of the same.
1. Ray Gaddis
Since being drafted in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft, Gaddis has gone on to log the fourth most minutes of any Union player behind only Sheanon Williams, Sebastien Le Toux and Brian Carroll. With Le Toux and Carroll looking to take more backseat roles this year it isn't far fetched to expect him to make a serious push for the top overall spot on the list.
When Sheanon Williams was traded away last season, leaving Gaddis as the sole owner of the right back slot, his form took a major dip. Some believe the lack of competition resulted in his negative form, but that shouldn't be an issue with the new addition to the outside back corps for this year.
2. Keegan Rosenberry
Jim Curtin is very familiar with Rosenberry after his time in the Union Academy, and Curtin proved just how highly he rated the youngster when he used the 3rd overall draft pick to claim him for the Union. Common opinion was that Brandon Vincent, who was training with the US Men's Senior National Team would be the easy pick for Curtin, but Rosenberry was seen as too good to risk any farther.
How much playing time Rosenberry gets this season is a complete mystery, but reaching so far ahead of where he was expected to be drafted is a real sign for Gaddis to be watching his back. Curtin has a man he trusts waiting in the wings for any dip in form. If early pre-season form is any tip of the hat towards what to expect, Rosenberry seems serviceable at worst.
3. Ryan Richter
While Richter is slated to be a starter with Bethlehem Steel FC, he would most likely be a bench option for the first team had it not been for Rosenberry. Richter had been a starter in the league, starting 12 games for Toronto FC in 2013. He's tall and strong - characteristics usually found in center backs - but is positionally aware enough to not get beat one-on-one very often. Should Gaddis and Rosenberry flounder, there are worse options to have at right back
At one point Union fans expected to see Fabinho packing his bags and on his way to some other stop in his career. However, Curtin unexpectedly protected the Brazilian in the last expansion draft and Fabinho went on to turn in to a major contributor in 2015. While his defending skills were not the most highly rated of his attributes, 2016 was a more reassuring time in comparison to the start of his time with the Union when he was considered by most fans as more of an attacking wing back at best.
Despite Stewart preaching competition in every position, the Union seem to be headed into 2016 without any competition at left back. The veteran is the only true player at the position and if anyone would push him for minutes or need to step in due to injury or suspension they would be playing out of position. Curtin and Stewart are putting a lot of trust in him to hold down the role and stay healthy.
2. Ray Lee
Lee was drafted by the Union in 2015 and made one appearance for the first team. Unfortunately it was in the debacle in Kansas City where the Union conceded twice in stoppage to lose to Sporting Kansas City. He was cut from the team, however has re-emerged with BSFC this year. To judge Lee on his one MLS appearance is inherently unfair - he was put into a position where all but the highest rated rookies would struggle mightily. He now has the opportunity to hone his craft in Bethlehem and then who knows, perhaps he'll get the opportunity at redemption at the MLS level.
3. Taylor Washington
The 23rd pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft is behind Lee in the depth chart solely due to his lack of pro experience. He will probably get minutes with Bethlehem Steel FC, however a friendly or Open Cup match is not out of the question. While a project for the future, Washington has the potential to develop into a solid player.