This off-season had been quiet for the Union. That was until multiple late-offseason moves came storming in. Let’s look at the updated roster and the key spots Ernst Tanner has filled.
The Union was looking at multiple roster changes coming off an MLS Cup appearance. However, the team is coming back with the entirety of the starting 11 from the Cup.
With the departures of Cory Burke and Paxten Aaronson, the biggest concern became positional depth. Depth was needed everywhere. Forward, midfield, and centerback.
Things were looking bleak for the Union adding much-needed depth. However, as the team has begun its preseason, Ernst Tanner has made multiple buzzer-beating transactions to save the day.
It is well known that the MLS has a jam-packed schedule in 2023. The regular MLS Season, the US Open Cup, and now the reinvented Leagues Cup tournament. For the Union, add a return to the CONCACAF Champions League. Consequently, the Union will likely clear 50+ games played. Hence why the lack of depth as of 4 days ago was a huge concern. Not anymore.
Ernst Tanner made multiple moves to fill all the depth holes the Union had. Let’s recap:
Perea was acquired from Orlando City back in December. A young and very versatile midfielder will be able to fill many spots off the bench.
Now we’re in the moves that came this week. First, the addition of centerback depth with Damion Lowe. Lowe was acquired from Inter Miami for just $225,000 on GAM, a 2024 first-round pick, and homegrown rights to Shanyder Borgelin.
Lowe started 28 games for Miami in 2022. Being able to add an MLS starting-caliber defender as a backup is huge. Especially as he’ll see time as a starter in other competitions. Lowe joins Branden Craig and Abasa Aremeyaw as contenders to spell Jack Elliott and Jacob Glesnes at times.
Perhaps the most exciting signing is Joaquin Torres from Montreal. Torres is in line to likely be the first player off the bench. Also, Torres may be able to form into a super-sub role. Torres can provide depth at #10 behind Gazdag and as a forward.
Torress could be this year’s Julian Carranza acquisition. He will likely not have the impact Carranza had in his first season. However, the 26-year-old could have a career resurgence with the Union.
Also, don’t forget about Richard Odada and Abasa Aremeyaw. Two new additions last summer who will step up into backup roles in 2023.
Great Additions and a Very Tough Departure
While these additions were great and much-needed. The Union lost a good one to a bad place.
Union homegrown goalkeeper Matt Freese is being sent to NYCFC. Freese is a promising GK, however, being stuck behind one of the greatest goalkeepers in MLS history is not ideal.
At 24 years old, Freese has only made 13 MLS appearances in 4 seasons. With Blake showing no signs of slowing down, coming off of his 3rd MLS Goalkeeper of the year award, Freese is right to seek out another opportunity.
Unfortunately, that opportunity is Union rival NYCFC. The move makes sense for NYCFC as well as Freese. NYCFC are losing their goalie Sean Johnson to Toronto. As NYCFC is going through some significant roster changes, Freese earns himself a chance to be a regular MLS starter.
As long as he doesn’t pull a McCarthy on us… We wish Matt the best in New York!
Tanner Flipping the Script
Ernst Tanner has built this juggernaut that is the union roster in a unique way. Homegrown talent and diamonds in the rough overseas. However, these late-season moves flip the script that Tanner usually operates from.
Every addition Tanner has made this offseason has been VIA a trade with another MLS team. Tanner rarely looks to other MLS talent pools when making additions. Of course, last year he strayed from that once by adding Julian Carranza. However, that was just a loan move in the beginning. The move didn’t become permanent until Caranza exploded onto the scene.
These moves are full trades. So Tanner has changed his process. With his roster just about untouched in terms of starting talent, he hopes to have found great depth pieces within MLS itself. Using up the GAM money and saving international spots, Ernst Tanner is once again proving why he is the top sporting director in MLS.
The Union Roster as it Stands
Below is a table I created to see just where the Union roster stands right now. With preseason underway and just a month out from the kickoff of the MLS Season, the Union is lined up for another dominating MLS Season. That is if the summer transfer window doesn’t take Kai Wagner and Jose “El Brujo” Martinez from us…
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation