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Philadelphia Union off-season preview

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A look at the off-season ahead

MLS: Philadelphia Union at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Union’s season has officially come to an end. And while it was a fun ride, Union fans can only look to the future and hope that Sporting Director Ernst Tanner makes the moves he needs to in the off-season. We can expect a lot of moves from Tanner, but here’s my list of what I’d like to see happen.

Attack

Kacper Przybylko obviously stays (his contract option was picked up for 2020 back in August). He’s the best we’ve got right now, and the Union can’t afford to lose him.

Cory Burke is still stranded on an island far, far away, but he has kept up with training and is playing on loan with Portmore United. That being said, it’s probably time for Burke to move. He hasn’t had a lot of playing time with the team as of late, and truth be told, he isn’t quite the striker who will lead Philadelphia to an MLS Cup.

Andrew Wooten is signed through the end of 2020. Wooten hasn’t produced and has looked lackadaisical when he steps on the field. He clearly has the size and speed to make big plays, but he just isn’t putting his talent to use. Hopefully, the Union can find a replacement for him, otherwise, he’ll have to find to motivation to play through 2020.

While he’s considered by many observers to be the odd man out, Fafa Picault should stick around this off-season. Whether he will can’t be for certain but Picault does play a role similar to Ilsinho’s. As a sub, Picault can come in against a tired opponent, and then proceed to run around them. He may not be a solid starter, but coming off the bench is a great place to put him.

Sergio Santos is someone who I’d at least like to see more of next season. Santos clearly has what it takes to succeed, and I’d like to see him show it off. He’s big, fast, and filled with stamina, as he showed Union fans against Red Bull. He still has much to prove, but I’d like to see him have a chance to prove himself.

Generally speaking, the Union need to upgrade their attack. This season just showed us all that no matter who you have in the midfield or back line, you can’t win a championship without goals. And that is the one thing that the Union has lacked at times on the road this season.

Union Academy forward Jack de Vries will be added to the lineup this off-season, and usually academy kids produce fairly well, but just de Vries won’t be enough for this offense. Hopefully, de Vries can produce, but the Union still have to tweak some other spots to make a championship-caliber team.

Midfield

Brenden Aaronson should stay. If you argue the other way, I don’t really know what to tell you. Alejandro Bedoya is another no-brainer. He may not be the most talented on the field, but he is a leader, something this team needs at all times. Haris Medunjamin is incredibly underrated. He starts plays and finishes them. This team wouldn’t be where it was this season without that left foot. The man stays, unless of course he decides to retire.

Ilsinho is still Ilsinho.

Marco Fabián hasn’t proven he’s worth his $2,227,087 salary. The Union just needs to let him go and use that money to build up the midfield and attack.

Jamiro Montiero, I miss you already.

Warren Creavalle and Anthony Fontana are solid backups to guys like Bedoya and Monteiro. But the Union doesn’t need both of them. They have the same job in a place that calls for one guy to have that job. I couldn’t tell you which I’d like to go and which I’d like to stay, outside of whatever is more cost-efficient.

Cole Turner will also be added from the Academy to the first team in the off-season. Turner is a holding midfielder who has also played central defense for Steel FC. I’d like to see production from Turner, obviously, and again Academy kids generally perform well with the first team. Hopefully, he’s a strong sub or a good starter, but banking on him succeeding in his first year would be unwise.

Defense

Jack Elliott is still a stud, anybody who sells him has lost their minds. Mark McKenzie showed up when his team needed it, and showed us why he got that Starting XI role. It should be a no-brainer to keep him unless a team overseas makes an offer the team can’t refuse. Auston Trusty was a good center back and showed us his potential this season and in season’s past. I’d like to see him stay and continue to improve his game.

Aurelien Collin is getting up there in years, and while he’s a solid veteran presence, he might not even want to keep playing. His contract also expires this year, and it’s probably in the best interests of the Union to let him go.

Kai Wagner has impressed all of us this season. He fits so well into the team it would be crazy to change his status. Ray Gaddis isn’t allowed to leave until he gets his goal. Period. Matt Real is a solid backup and one day he might get into the Starting XI consistently. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen in two seasons.

Goalkeepers

Andre Blake is the only one I’ll mention here. Yes, he hasn’t had his best season and struggled in the playoff win against the Red Bulls. But I want to give him one last chance. He can get his ultimatum this off-season, and if he doesn’t compete, he’s no longer the Union’s keeper.

I can’t say if Tanner will do that, or any of the other things I’ve listed above, but hopefully he’ll follow my advice and create the perfect roster. Unfortunately, we still have a bit to wait before that process starts up, but until then, enjoy the playoffs.

Who from the current roster do you think will stay or go? Let us know in the comments.