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His influence still felt, respect runs high for Haris Medunjanin

“I still look up to him and he’ll always be a player that has helped me and helped a lot of the homegrowns”

Chicago Fire v FC Cincinnati - Major League Soccer Photo by Jason Whitman/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Plenty of players have come and gone from the Philadelphia Union organization over the years, but Haris Medunjanin’s departure is one that despite its inevitability seemed to have impacted the coaching staff on down.

“I was upset about it when it happened but at the same time there’s a professional element to it,” Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin said in his weekly presser on Tuesday. “Rosters change every year; there’s always guys in and guys out for different reasons that can involve things down to the style play, salary, a million different things, trades that happen throughout our league. It was always tough to lose but I’ll remember the times that we had with him and just how important he was to the team.”

Those contributions happened more than just on the field. Brenden Aaronson has frequently mentioned the former Bosnia and Herzegovina international in interviews. He roomed with the veteran midfielder in his first preseason after joining the first team roster last year and frequently looked to him for guidance during his breakout rookie season.

Anthony Fontana, who has burst onto the scene of late after struggling for playing time with three goals in his last two games, echoed a similar sentiment in an interview with media on Tuesday.

“I still look up to him and he’ll always be a player that has helped me and helped a lot of the homegrowns,” Fontana said. “But I feel like if we play our game and our style we can defeat Haris.”

Medunjanin has “only good words” for his former teammates, but he also expressed confidence in his new team after leading them to a 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls with a goal off a corner kick in the 85th minute.

“The emotion will be high in this game because I want to win,” Medunjanin said in the post-game interview after the Red Bull win. “I play for Cincinnati right now. It’s nice in the beginning and you can say hi but when the game starts, it’s finished. I don’t know them anymore so you want to win this game and after the game we can talk when we take these three points.”

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on PHL17 and streamed in-market on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.