This past offseason has been one of great tumult for the Philadelphia Union. Newly appointed Sporting Director Earnie Stewart has loaned, released or traded 15 players from last season’s squad that finished near the bottom of the league and bottom three in both goals scored and goals allowed. But this offseason is the beginning of a new era for the Union.
​Under architect Earnie Stewart, the Union have radically upgraded their defense, midfield and most importantly their depth. Many of the former Union starters could lose their starting positions due to the intense competition they have from behind, something rarely said about the team in years past. The midfield is arguably one of the best in the league, sporting five players that have played at a high level in Europe (Nogueria, Edu, Ilsinho, Alberg and Barnetta) and a former MLS All-Star (Chris Pontius). Striker CJ Sapong will have all the service he can handle this season.

​The defense is also greatly improved with two of the top three picks in the MLS Draft going to bolster the last line. In addition, the Union signed Brazilian Anderson Conceição and Drexel alumni Ken Tribbett who have provided intense competition to fill the spot next to Richie Marquez. In the last four preseason games, the Union defense only let up one goal including shutting down elite players like Sebastian Giovinco and Bradley Wright Phillips.

​The revolution Stewart has started may not result in an MLS Cup in 2016 but the hope for Union fans is at the highest it’s been in years. With perennial contenders like DC United and the New England Revolution, the Union have the chance to make their first playoff appearance since 2011. The prospects for this season are looking bright. Here are some predictions for the coming season:

• CJ Sapong will have 15+ goals

• Ilsinho will lead the team in assists

• Andre Blake will have 10+ clean sheets

• Chris Pontius will stay healthy and DC will regret losing him

• The Union will make at least the semifinals of the USOC and make the playoffs in the 5th spot of the Eastern Conference

To my fellow fans, it is time to renew our faith in this team under Earnie Stewart. For the first time in a while, the prospects are bright for this team. It may not start with a win against 2015 Supporter’s Shield runner-up on Saturday, but this team is built to win. It’s time to bring the noise to Chester again. It’s time to rebuild our fortress. Bring the fire that brought this team to this city. Stand up. It’s time to DOOP.

Photo: Tim Heitman-Philadelphia Union

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