Here’s a stat about Anthony Fontana you might not believe: the Philadelphia Union midfielder logged more minutes in 2021 than he did in 2020.
The reason you might not believe it is because of how long Fontana went missing in 2021.
After scoring six goals in 2020 (3 of those as a sub), expectations were high entering the season for the now 22-year-old from Newark, Del. Head coach Jim Curtin talked about giving him “the keys” to the number 10 position in preseason and a number of scribes covering the league tapped him for having a breakout year. Several Brotherly Game readers predicted he’d be among the team’s leading goal scorers by season end.
Fontana likes scoring in the rain pic.twitter.com/S5H4KTHksl— Brotherly Game (@BrotherlyGame) April 15, 2021
The early part of the season seemed to follow the script of lofty expectations when Fontana scored twice in the Concacaf Champions League and added an assist but the goals and the starts didn’t come as expected in league play. Through the first nine regular season matches, Fontana earned four starts and had zero goals and one assist.
If his campaign was sputtering to get out of the station at that point, it would go off the rails completely following a league game in Atlanta on June 20. After picking up a concussion in the match, Fontana was stuck in concussion protocol for the next two months.
After finally being cleared to play again, Fontana would only earn 28 minutes the rest of the season and not register any goals or assists in a span of 13 games. His longest appearance during that stretch was 18 minutes in the 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution at home on September 3.
Now, heading into the new year, Fontana’s future with his hometown club remains up in the air.
He has got an offer on the table to return to the Union under a new contract but given the limited playing time he saw when he was healthy in 2021 it wouldn’t be a total surprise if his 89th minute appearance off the bench in the Eastern Conference final against NYCFC was his last in a Union uniform.
This would make for a disappointing end for a player who had become a fan favorite and showed a lot of promise in his tenure with the team, which began in an unforgettable way when he scored in his MLS debut as an 18-year-old in the season opener at home in 2018.