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With European transfer window closed, what questions remain for the Philadelphia Union?

A January window has passed without any major departures for the Philadelphia Union

There was a lot of smoke around a possible Kai Wagner transfer but nothing materialized before the closing of the January transfer window
Philadelphia Union

The European transfer window closed on Monday with the only news impacting the Philadelphia Union being that of Auston Trusty’s transfer to Arsenal, something that should see a return for the Union from the sell-on fee negotiated in his 2019 trade to the Colorado Rapids.

That’s good news for a team that is still poised to start the 2022 MLS season with its strongest roster yet.

Had the Union lost Kai Wagner — who West Ham and Brentford were reportedly after — they’d still be in good shape but it would have been a significant loss either way.

Wagner has expressed his desire publicly to return to Europe over the past two offseasons so his days could still be numbered. Should a move materialize now, however, it wouldn’t be until the summer transfer window at the earliest.

Jose Martinez and Jamiro Monteiro were other possible players who could’ve moved during the January window but unlike Wagner there were never any reports of specific clubs who were targeting the midfielders.

A Monteiro move to South America or within the league still aren’t out of the realm of possibility, however.

A Western conference team and a “top club” in Brazil were among the teams reportedly interested in the Cape Verde international when there were talks last August to transfer the 28-year-old out of the team. He’s under contract through the end of the 2022 season with a club option for 2023.

Monteiro staying would mean the Union will open the season with three designated players for the first time.

Some other questions that remain now that the European transfer window is closed.

Are Aurelien Collin and/or Ilsinho coming back?

No announcement has been made about Aurelien Collin so it remains an open question whether he will return to the club, retire or continue to play elsewhere.

The same goes for Ilsinho, who hinted that 2021 might be his last season before it was all but wiped out by injuries.

Whether Ilsinho comes back to play or not, he needs to be recognized in some way when the season opens.

How many additional roster spots will be filled?

The team as it is currently constructed is two deep at every position so there aren’t a lot of holes to fill. One area, however, is at center back (see: Aurelien Collin).

The first team roster currently has 25 active players on it. Jack de Vries and Matej Oravec are out on loan through the summer. This leaves room for as many as five additional players if Collin and Ilsinho are indeed not returning.

Venezuelan forward Jose Riasco has been linked to the club at a price tag — $1 million — that would suggest a first team contract but nothing official has come from the club on the teenager who turns 18 tomorrow.

The second team roster also remains a bit of a mystery. The Union can fill as many as 24 professional roster spots on the team, according to MLS Next Pro roster rules made public on Monday. The roster allows for 11 amateur academy spots and seven internationals.

Local college and amateur standout Chris Donovan has signed and 20-year-old midfielder Carlos Paternina’s club in Colombia announced a season-long loan to Union II.

Another potential Union II signing is former Sporting Kansas City homegrown goalkeeper Brooks Thompson, who has been seen training with the Union this preseason. There was another unnamed trialist who was with the Union when they opened training camp in Wilmington last month who could be a potential Union II target.

Additional reports have linked two Venezuelan midfielders to the club. Another potential name to keep an eye on for Union II is 19-year-old Senegalese attacking midfielder Boubacar Diallo.

Is Matt Real really back?

The Matt Real situation has been a bit odd. He vanished from the team last fall and wasn’t even in the game day roster (or on the injury report) when 11 players were out in Covid-19 protocol for the Eastern Conference Final. He was with the team when training camp opened last month and head coach Jim Curtin said he is under contract but with Kai Wagner returning at least until the summer and Anton Sorenson signed as the left back of the future, it doesn’t look like he’ll get too many more additional opportunities than he’s had the last few seasons playing behind Wagner. If Real is content to wait out a possible Wagner transfer in the summer then maybe all is well but he could still also be dealt within the league to a team where he has a better shot to earn a starting job outright.

When is the new jersey coming out?

The Philadelphia Union’s new primary jersey is guaranteed to come out this month. The question is only when and how the team will reveal it. If they want to show it off at their first preseason game on Thursday that means it could be a matter of hours instead of days.

When is the Leagues Cup?

There will be no Concacaf Champions League for the Union this season but the U.S. Open Cup is back after a two-year hiatus to fill their already busy May up even more (they enter in the Round of 32, May 10-11).

There will also presumably be the Leagues Cup.

The only details that have been released so far is the host of the final. Las Vegas was announced as the host for the 2021 and 2022 finals, which suggest there will in fact be one last competition in 2022 before it is significantly expanded in 2023.

The seven-game competition between MLS and Liga MX teams was played in August and September last year.

Your Questions?

Let’s hear what questions you have in the comments.