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Community Corner: Expectations for the 2021 season

The player you want to step up, where you expect the U to finish and what Jim Curtin needs to do to get to the MLS Cup

SOCCER: NOV 24 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Round One - New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A new MLS season is here, which means it is now time for the Philadelphia Union to defend the Supporters’ Shield. According to our preseason survey, many of you are expecting similar results from the boys in blue. For most of the responses, fans are expecting a playoff run. Below is a snapshot of some of the responses we received back. If you didn’t respond, let us know in the comments what you expect from the Union this season and where they will end up.

Expectations

Same top-MLS level goalkeeping from Blake. A step back from the back line with the loss of Mark Mckenzie (but excited for more attacking friendly play with Mbaizo/Gaddis swap). Midfield play stays about the same with loss of Brenden Aaronson (getting more from Anthony Fontana), the addition of Leon Flach, Jose Martinez continues to grow into MLS and role on team. Step forward in production from forwards (return to 2019 form of Kacper, Burke with the team from start of season).

  • Semifinals of the MLS Cup (59 Points) Semifinals of the CCL
  • Maybe one or two bumps in the road with covid at first but overall a successful season
  • Deep run in the Concacaf Champions League, run at the shield, a couple of playoff wins
  • The league will shift where underdogs (Union, Orlando, etc.) will outperform the top teams again (Atlanta, LAFC).
  • Another Union trophy
  • One of top teams in East. Make CCL Semis
  • Entertaining soccer games like last year

Where the U finishes

Third in the league - 18%
Third in the East - 17%
Second In the league - 11%

The player with the most impact

  1. Jamiro Monteiro
  2. Jose Martínez
  3. Anthony Fontana

Player with the most to prove

  1. Anthony Fontana

Fontana had 50% of the responses for this question. All the others were one response for Bedoya, Aaronson, Monteiro and even the ‘Whole team”.

Biggest surprise this season

  1. Leon Flach
  2. Olivier Mbaizo
  3. Anthony Fontana

Player who will be most missed

  1. Brenden Aaronson
  2. Mark McKenzie

The next bit of responses deals with the 2020 MLS coach of the year, Jim Curtin. We asked readers what Coach Curtin needs to do to have the team compete for the MLS Cup. A lot of responses dealt with up front and needing either a better striker or goals from the current group of strikers. I also wanted to bring attention to some of the other responses, which you will see below.

  • He needs front office cooperation, getting a big-time scorer.
  • Get them in the playoffs using more squad rotation than last year, then keep survive and win focus
  • Push the pace. Lots of young energy we need to use.
  • New signings. Team’s not good enough and won’t be for a while. We need another DP to be contenders imo
  • Not be afraid to rotate players more frequently when they are in a cold streak. Healthy competition within the team could solve some issues.
  • A proven CAM if Fontana doesn’t work out
  • Develop the reserves more
  • Maximize the combo of Fontana, Santos and Pryzbylko
  • Putting the kids in a position to succeed
  • Reliable depth behind Fontana; the new homegrowns to have a positive impact

Without the likes of Aaronson and McKenzie, the team will need to stay healthy. Four attack-minded players are injured right now, which makes the win at Saprissa even more impressive. However, the team needs to be healthy if it wants to compete weekly while juggling the Champions League and (this is looking less likely) the Open Cup.