Anthony Fontana is back in a similar position he was in three years ago in preseason as the leading candidate to start as the team’s No. 10 heading into the season.
“He’s taking the reps there every day in training,” head coach Jim Curtin said of the 21-year-old on Wednesday. “Like I said before, we were going to give the keys to (him). He has done a good job so far, still working on some things but overall happy with where he is and right now, he is at the 10 position.”
Curtin said he anticipates some interchange between Fontana and midfielder Jamiro Monteiro similar to how Monteiro and Brenden Aaronson alternated between the 10 role and the wide midfield spot within games.
“That’s something we’re very comfortable with as the guys get used to each other a little more,” Curtin said.
Fontana made his MLS debut on opening day of the 2018 season starting as the No. 10 and scored a goal, but Borek Dockal was recovering from an ankle injury and he went on to start all but three of the rest of the Union’s games that season. He didn’t earn his second career start until last September when he started as the 10 and scored the eventual game-winning goal in a 3-0 victory over Inter Miami.
The Newark, Del. native still has just six career starts under his belt and has logged 726 minutes.
Curtin continued to leave open the possibility of squad additions but said it would be unlikely any new player would come in prior to the Concacaf Champions League matches on April 7 and 14.
“Is there going to be a piece or two that’s added? You know I don’t know the timeline exactly on that,” Curtin said. “But obviously we have a group now in camp that’s working very hard. We anticipate going into play Saprissa with this group. The only piece that isn’t here right now is Stuart Finley, as he goes through the process of getting his visa sorted out.”
Beyond Fontana, 17-year-old Paxten Aaronson is more of a traditional No. 10 than even his older brother was coming into the team and players like 18-year-old Jack de Vries and 16-year-old Quinn Sullivan have some of the qualities to play there as well. In fact, Curtin said with so many of the young players in the squad the goal is to not pigeon hole them into one position.
“For young players it is important to be able to play multiple positions,” Curtin said. “It is a compliment to them that they are versatile enough.”
The Union face Chicago Fire on Saturday in their next preseason scrimmage. Curtin plans to stretch the starters to 60 minutes and both teams have agreed to play an added 25-minute period after the regular 90 minutes. The game will be streamed live in-market on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.