After a disastrous second half to the 2016 season, the Philadelphia Union are poised to erase last year’s disappointment and build toward a playoff run in 2017. Here’s a brief look at the season ahead for the Union.
With a handful of new additions in the off-season, and the return of a majority of the squad from 2016, this could be a stellar year in Philadelphia. The club has looked decent in preseason training and there is plenty to be excited about with the season only a few days away.
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A Recap of 2016
Finishing Position: 6th in the Eastern Conference, 13th Overall
Post-season: Eliminated 1st Round
It was a hot start to 2016 as the Union found themselves in first place early on in the season due in part to an eight match unbeaten run. The club were in a position to make it a big year, but the wheels fell off in the second half of the season and they fell all the way to sixth in the table in October.
In the end, it would be goal difference that saw them qualify for the MLS Playoffs, edging out the New England Revolution. However, they lost to Toronto FC 3-1 in the first knockout round.
The season wasn’t a complete disappointment, with multiple players standing out at the end of the year. Andre Blake was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, as he became the first goalkeeper in club history to win the award. Rookie Keegan Rosenberry was regarded as one of the best rookies of 2016 and even got called up to the United States Men’s National Team in January.
Chris Pontius ended up leading the club in goal scoring when all was said and done. The newly signed player produced a 12-goal season. In total, the Union scored 52 goals and conceded 55.
- Giliano Wijnaldum (Free Agent)
- Jay Simpson (Leyton Orient)
- Oguchi Onyewu (Free Agent)
- Haris Medunjanin (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
- Fafà Picault (FC St. Pauli)
- Adam Najem (Trade)
- Matt Jones (Declined Contract Options)
- Anderson (Declined Contract Options)
- Taylor Washington (Declined Contract Options)
- Cole Missimo (Declined Contract Options)
- Walter Restrepo (Declined Contract Options)
- Leo Fernandes (Contract Ended)
Predicted Starting XI for Opening Weekend
The Union should find themselves back in the playoffs at the end of the regular season in 2017. With new players like Haris Mendunjanin in the midfield, the club should be able to find the passing it needs to set up CJ Sapong and Charlie Davies up top.
Additionally, Pontius proved to be a prolific finisher at times and if he can bring the same form he showed in 2016, then defenses will have something else to worry about. Having Bedoya for an entire season will also be a factor this year. With his introduction in the summer it only gave him a short time to really make an impact, but now that he can be a mainstay the entire season it will only bolster the attack.
Roland Alberg had his moments in 2016 also, and will be a key player who can produce off the bench. Maurice Edu will be a strong presence once he is reintroduced into the side, he is still out with an injury he incurred last season.
Defensively, having a veteran like Onyewu will help get the back line a strong presence, and Rosenberry is poised for another stellar year. New signee Giliano Wijnaldum may prove to be a solid player at left back, if he indeed gets playing time. You really can’t be too disappointed with the clubs out look on defense.
Andre Blake will be solid as ever in net and will only continue his impressive play in 2017.
Finishing Position: 3rd in Eastern Conference