Twenty-nine clubs compete in Major League Soccer, or MLS for short. MLS is North America’s main professional soccer league.
Its 28th season just started last February, and one of the competing clubs is the Philadelphia Union.
Philadelphia Union was established in 2008 but debuted in the MLS in 2010. The club has close calls when winning the tournament and other games. It came second in the U.S. Open Cup tournaments last 2014, 2015, and 2018 and came close to winning the 2022 season of MLS. But what does this season hold for the team? And who are the team’s key players for this season?
According to Union’s sporting director Ernst Tanner, the team will be looking to add defenders, midfielders, and attackers. The players Tanner chose have the unique skill and determination that can drive the Union to get this year’s MLS Cup.
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Who Are the 6 Important Union Players?
1) Julian Carranza
First on the list is Julian Carranza. The signing of striker Julian Carranza last season helped the Union’s offense leap from excellent to outstanding in 2022. His ability to be aggressive in front of the goal while still performing the grunt labor makes him immensely important.
Tanner added Carranza to the 2023 season as the amazing defender that he is. Last season, he was the catalyst for Philly’s particular pressing style of play. And Carranza intends to advance this strategy and increase his output going into 2023.
2) Leon Flach
A player hasn’t been more important to how Philadelphia plays than Leon Flach. The team’s relatively tight style of play means they rely on their shuttler midfielders to advance the ball. They occasionally offer breadth and overlap in the attack while putting out flames when the opponent advances.
That’s why Flach is the ideal midfielder for this style of play. Leon is a left-sided shuttler midfielder who constantly moves around the field. But he can also play left-back and defensive midfield. He is a great starter for this club no matter what because of his flexibility and never-ending drive.
3) Jack Elliot
Jack Elliot was one of the top defenders in MLS last year. And he’s back with more determination. He is a skilled goal scorer as well as a lockdown center back. Also, he is even more driven to rule the league in 2023. Despite being part of the league’s best defensive line, the team suffers if Elliot makes a mistake. But Jack Elliot will be the defensive lynchpin in 2023, becoming the Union’s left-sided center-back.
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4) Andre Blake
The Philadelphia Union has the best goalie in MLS, Andre Blake. Because of his incredible athletic saves, he can turn losses into draws and draws into wins. And he is one MLS Cup victory away from being the best goalkeeper in league history.
But Union’s 2022 defeat is more painful because it casts doubt on many who were ready to proclaim him the greatest player in league history. However, it also motivates Blake to continue playing at a high level.
5) Daniel Gazdag
Last season, Daniel Gazdag had the best offensive season of any Union player in history, and he has ten assists in addition to his 22 goals. Despite having the second-best statistics in the MLS, he was not included on the MVP shortlist.
Philly’s attack now has a dimension it has never had because of Gazdag’s skill in front of the goal. He wants to continue producing at the same level and earn league MVP in 2023. If the team plays over 50 games and takes home any trophies this season, Gazdag’s contribution of 30+ goals is a must!
6) Alejandro Bedoya
Of course, we couldn’t forget Alejandro Bedoya from this list. In the Philadelphia Union, Alejandro Bedoya is legendary. The team has been on a successful upward trajectory since he joined the team. And it’s all thanks to his influence as a player and a leader.
Bedoya has been the captain since 2017 and has prioritized winning above everything else, and the club has supported that and delivered. Ale missed the MLS Cup last year due to an injury, which was unfortunate for him and the squad. But he’s back this season and ready to win.
Key Players in the Philadelphia Union Roster
These six players will shape the 28th season of Major League Soccer for the Philadelphia Union.
Even though other players may be equally important to the club’s goal, these six individuals will surely pave the way to winning.
And if this team wants to win a trophy next year, these six players must perform at their best.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation