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Philadelphia Union under Tanner isn’t messing around

What Wednesday’s Union roster moves means for the club and its future

With Auston Trusty, Haris Medunjamin, and Marco Fabián all set to leave the Union this offseason, fans have a lot to think about for the next three and a half months. With all the news coming from Chester about roster moves on Wednesday, here’s what each move means for the Union and its future.

Auston Trusty was the first major move of the offseason, being sent to the Colorado Rapids for a potential $750,000 (provided that he meets certain performance objectives). As Trusty wasn’t producing at all for the Union toward the end of the season, guaranteed $600,000 seems like a steal, and one that Union fans should be happy to get away with.

Haris Medunjamin will no longer be staying with the club after this season, with the club citing his age for the reason that his contract was dropped. Immediately after saying that Medunjamin had his best season at the age of 35, Tanner then said that the team doesn’t expect Medunjamin to do it again next season, and that the club wants to change things around. However, it’s foolish to believe that a player peaking at 35 is going to have a severe drop off the next season, especially when that player is integral to the team’s success.

On the positive side of the Medunjamin story, Tanner says that the club has several players lined up for the No. 6 job, and all are under the age of 28. This does show that the club is honestly looking for someone younger, and looking at the long term objectives. Medunjamin was also getting close to $600k, which does free up some money for other investments. Overall, the decision to not keep Medunjamin wasn’t a poor one long term, however, this was not the year to let him go.

Most of the rest of the moves announced Wednesday were fairly trivial or currently indecisive. Marco Fabián won’t be returning in 2020, to the surprise of nobody in Philadelphia. The Union has offered extensions to Aurelien Collin, Ilsinho, Fafa Picault and Jamiro Montiero (who will hopefully accept, but no need to speculate now).

Some important players received extensions, such as Mark McKenzie, Warren Creavalle and Anthony Fontana. One notable extension came with Cory Burke getting extended, despite missing most of the 2019 season due to issues with his visa. It is entirely possible that Burke has lost some of his playing capacity, or that his sabbatical from playing in the U.S. has made him lose some of his connection with the team. While I’m sure that the front office has enough faith that he’ll be able to play at a high level again, Union fans may need to watch the news for a Cory Burke transfer.

However, amidst the buzz of Wednesday’s moves, there is a greater takeaway that encompasses what Union fans hope to see this offseason, and that is the Union’s growth at the sporting director position. Over the past seasons, the club would make last-minute moves and throw together an unorganized squad. But both last season and this season, Ernst Tanner began moving players around earlier in the break, showing that this Union is ready to do what it takes to put together a solid roster that can compete for hardware.

Even better, Ernst Tanner knows how much his players are worth now, after receiving backlash for sending Keegan Rosenberry to Colorado for $300,000 in guaranteed allocation money plus up to $100,00 for him meeting performance metrics. Tanner managed to get double the amount of guaranteed allocation money from the same club for Trusty, showing he knows how to make deals to get the roster where he wants it to be. That’s even more important with a team whose owner tends to hold his wallet close.

If the Union can find skilled young players to fill their roster within the next month or two, then the team can focus more on training as a team and less time wondering who will be in the roster come late February or some time in March. If the front office can find the players they want, and at a price that they can afford, the Union could become the best team in the MLS in 2020. And that’s coming from a Negladelphian.