With their Homegrown No. 10 off to Europe this offseason, the Philadelphia Union are set to hand the keys of their attack over to another teenage Homegrown.
Anthony Fontana looks likely to be the Union’s creative midfielder this season, especially based off recent comments made by head coach Jim Curtin this week. The 21-year-old midfielder emerged last year to put up six goals across 509 minutes played.
In what was his third season in the league, both numbers were career highs.
It is a big step forward for a player who earned playing time last year but was not a consistent starter. It is a task made more difficult with the departure of Brenden Aaronson, who left for Red Bull Salzburg after emerging as a talented player the past two years for the Union.
“He’s taking the reps there every day in training,” Curtin said this week during his press availability. “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.”
There is some debate about Aaronson’s best fit with both club and country. With the United States national team and now at Red Bull Salzburg, he’s been deployed primarily on the wing. Last season with the Union, however, he was primarily in the center of the midfield.
In two seasons in Philadelphia, Aaronson had 51 appearances (48 starts) with seven goals and nine assists.
Fontana, however, is well-suited for the role in the center of the pitch. A former member of the U20 United States national team pool, he has a comfort with the ball at his feet and has good vision. He can also sit between the lines and play passes that either split the centerbacks or find runners out wide.
Last season, Fontana made six starts from 17 appearances. In 2021, it seems like the young American midfielder will be tasked with far greater roles and responsibilities for the Union.