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Philadelphia Union’s Depth in Defense

Here’s how I see Union’s order of preference in their back line

Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact Photo Gallery
The Returning Defensive Starters
Trey Madara - Brotherly Game

When last the Philadelphia Union lined up, in their MLS Playoff match at BMO Field in Toronto, their back line consisted of Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, and Keegan Rosenberry. 2017 has brought changes to the roster and changes in health status, therefore changes on the depth chart. Two of these men are sure to be starters come March 5th (health issues notwithstanding, *knocks on wood*), but two of the spots will likely have a different starter than the last time the Union were in Canada.

I’ll start with the obvious answers: Keegan Rosenberry is the Union’s number one at right back. He played every minute of the MLS league season last year as a rookie, cementing his status at the outset of his sophomore campaign. His backups in this role will be Ray Gaddis and Aaron Jones. At 27 years old, Gaddis is entering his sixth season with the club. Ray provides speed, but not as much tact in his ball-handling as Rosenberry. Jones, a 22-year-old Englishman who played his collegiate soccer at Clemson, was a 2017 MLS SuperDraft second-round pick.

The other obvious starter is Richie Marquez. The only match he didn’t start last season was the opener at FC Dallas. His physicality and deft timing with his slide tackles are the staples of his game, and are crucial components to any success this unit will have. Right now, I’d say his primary backup would be Auston Trusty. In a pinch, and if healthy, Maurice Edu could be used in this role as he has before with the Union.

Philadelphia Union Defensive Depth Chart

Left Back Left Center Back Right Center Back Right Back
Left Back Left Center Back Right Center Back Right Back
Fabinho O. Onyewu O. Onyewu R. Gaddis
R. Gaddis A. Trusty K. Tribbett A. Jones (Unsigned)

The other two positions will have different starters for different reasons. Joshua Yaro was the favorite to be the starter in Vancouver until he needed surgery on his shoulder which will keep him out several months. Newcomer to the team Oguchi Onyewu started the preseason match versus Orlando City, and with his vast experience at high levels of the game, he will likely be the main starter until Yaro’s return to fitness. Second year man Ken Tribbett will be fighting for minutes, as Onyewu turns 35 in May and is coming off of two injury-filled years devoid of much soccer.

The left back position should also change from the end of last year. New signing Giliano Wijnaldum should unseat the incumbent Fabinho. The 24-year-old Dutchman had previously played for AZ Alkmaar when the Union’s Sporting Director Earnie Stewart was Director of Football Affairs there. Fabinho is entering his fifth season with the blue-and-gold. The team knows what they will get from him; lots of crosses from the left wing, decent passing and movement when joining the final third, and occasional lapses in defensive coverage. He’ll be 32 in a month’s time, so a replacement is probably warranted and it may very well be here. Ray Gaddis can also play on the left, in an emergency, but would be third in line on this side.