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2017 Philadelphia Union depth chart (so far)

A look at the Union’s options from top to bottom.

Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact Photo Gallery Trey Madara - Brotherly Game

With the 2017 season fast approaching and the Philadelphia Union starting to make moves in the transfer window, I wanted to take a look at the roster and put together a depth chart in hopes it would help clarify what areas needed improvement, and what areas the Union had a good amount of depth at. Bear in mind this does not consider the Bethlehem Steel FC roster, nor does it consider any Union Academy players who may be signed - only players currently on the roster.

Goalkeepers

  1. Andre Blake
  2. John McCarthy

This should be no great surprise. With the transfer rumors that surfaced late last year a memory, Blake’s name is probably already written into the lineup sheets for all of 2017 - except for the ones where Jamaica will be playing. For that, New Jersey native John McCarthy will provide a serviceable backup, splitting time between being in the Union’s 18 and getting minutes with Bethlehem Steel FC.

Left Back

  1. Giliano Wijnaldum
  2. Fabinho
  3. Ray Gaddis

The Union can finally consider left back a position of strength. With the addition of Giliano Wijnaldum, the Union have gone younger at left back over Fabinho. Wijnaldum is largely an unknown in the United States, however Earnie Stewart said that Wijnaldum was brought in to compete for a starting spot. “He didn’t just come here to sit on the bench and warm the bench.” Fabinho will still be a solid option to come in at left back, with Ray Gaddis backing him up in the worst-case scenario. This will be Fabinho’s fifth season in MLS, at at 31 he should have some gas left in the tank.

Center back

  1. Richie Marquez
  2. Josh Yaro
  3. Ken Tribbett
  4. Auston Trusty
  5. Maurice Edu
  6. Warren Creavalle

While the Union have depth at this position, the volume of names is a bit deceiving. Richie Marquez is the only certainty to start. Feeling no sophomore slump in 2016, Marquez will be tasked with leading the defense next to Wijnaldum. At right center back, Josh Yaro has to be the slight favorite barring any signings at the position. Yaro did have his issues in 2016 though, both with injury and mental mistakes that cost the Union goals or resulted in Yaro being sent off. Behind him on the chart is Ken Tribbett, who had moments of being a solid center back interspersed among what could best be described as “teachable moments”. If Tribbett learned from his 2016 mistakes, he could have a solid year. Homegrown signing Auston Trusty is a US U20 regular, however he has very limited professional experience. He looked good with Bethlehem last year, so he may see some minutes with the first team. Behind him are Maurice Edu and Warren Creavalle, both of whom could conceivably be called to play should injuries, suspensions, fixture congestion, or any other circumstance arise.

Right Back

  1. Keegan Rosenberry
  2. Ray Gaddis

This should be no surprise to anyone. Rosenberry got his first USMNT call up, played every minute in 2016, played in the All-Star Game, and should have won the MLS Rookie of the Year Award. If he’s called up to the USMNT during the season, look for Gaddis to fill in. A decent spot starter, Gaddis will be playing in his sixth (!) MLS season in 2017.

Defensive Midfielder

  1. Maurice Edu
  2. Warren Creavalle
  3. Brian Carroll

After missing the end of 2015 and all of 2016, Maurice Edu has hopefully fully recovered from his injuries, and with luck he’ll be the destroyer in the middle of the pitch the Union always hoped he would be. If that’s not the case, look for Warren Creavalle to get the nod at CDM. Creavalle had a decent 2016, seeming to improve every game he played. Behind him is Brian Carroll, who at 35 is still healthy and fit - and perhaps most importantly, has a wealth of experience that still allows him to play at a high level. While not the player he was in 2012-14, he’s still got a lot to offer - both as a player and as a mentor.

Central Midfielder

  1. Alejandro Bedoya
  2. Derrick Jones
  3. Warren Creavalle

While none of these are really palatable options, we can only rate who is on the squad right now. Alejandro Bedoya would be utilized playing higher up the field, either as an attacking midfielder or on the wing. Derrick Jones is still too green to take this position over full time, although I could see this being his spot in 2018 or 2019 (which doesn’t really help the Union in 2017). Warren Creavalle is able to play the position, but his skillset is much better suited to playing at CDM.

Left Wing

  1. Chris Pontius
  2. Eric Ayuk
  3. Fabinho

Chris Pontius’ transformation from rehab project to USMNT player has been well-documented, and it should come as no surprise that he’s a lock at left wing. Behind him is the enigmatic Eric Ayuk, who has shown promise with raw talent but has yet to fully hone that into MLS-level skills. Is this the year that Ayuk will be able to put it all together? Time will tell. Fabinho is listed simply as depth, as having a left back like Giliano Wijnaldum should allow Fabinho to spot start on the wing if absolutely necessary.

Attacking Midfield

  1. Alejandro Bedoya
  2. Roland Alberg
  3. Chris Pontius

Not a bad decision to have to make between Alejandro Bedoya and Roland Alberg. I put Bedoya first because I think he’s better at the position, albeit just slightly. That being said, I don’t think Bedoya will start at this position often in 2017 as his services will be needed elsewhere. Roland Alberg should get the lion’s share of the minutes at CAM, looking to improve on his 2016 season where he had a mind-blowing 1.42 goals per 90 minutes played. Chris Pontius will probably not playe here unless it’s under the direst of circumstances, but it’s good to have a guy like him available if needed.

Right Wing

  1. Alejandro Bedoya
  2. Ilsinho
  3. Fabian Herbers

I could be very wrong about this, but I think Alejandro Bedoya will wind up out on the right for the Union in 2017. I feel like that is the position he can help the Union the most at, and that the Union will most likely facilitate this by picking up a box-to-box midfielder during this transfer window. If that cannot be done and Bedoya has to play elsewhere on the field, look for Ilsinho to get the nod on the wing. He’s had a full year to get fit and healthy, and if he is fit and healthy he can be a real asset on the right. His technical skills are unparalleled in MLS. Herbers proved - especially late in 2016 - that he is a solid option on the right when necessary.

Center Forward

  1. CJ Sapong
  2. Charlie Davies
  3. Fabian Herbers
  4. Roland Alberg

Another area the Union are likely to upgrade before the season starts. Should CJ Sapong regain the form he found in 2015, he would be a dangerous weapon alongside an already formidable offense. It was his form in 2016 however that has brought about calls for a new center forward to be brought in. Even if a new player is brought in, Sapong is a great option to have on the bench. Charlie Davies has the potential to be the 2017 version of Chris Pontius - a player picked up for relatively cheap and allowed to rehab and come back into his own. Herbers is also a good option to have up top, and enjoyed a measure of success there in 2016. Alberg also had minutes at striker, but should only be considered under the direst of circumstances.

Feel free to debate the order of this depth chart in the comments section below!