The Philadelphia Union’s 2023 season has come to a controversial end. With a very short offseason ahead of them, where will the team stand when the dust settles?
First, whether it was a blown offside call that ended the Union’s season or not, it was evident the team was off all year. Blame it on the MLS Cup heartbreak from a year ago or the overloaded schedule, the team consistently fell short.
Unfortunately, if the concern was the Union played too many minutes this year, next year is not looking any better.
Packed Schedule Once Again
It has been talked about all over MLS this season. There were just too many games: the new Leagues Cup, the US Open Cup, the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and MLS play. Well, unfortunately, the Union is staring down that same hole once again in 2024.
Although the club fell short in every aspect, they remained good enough to qualify for the CCC again. This means the team gets back together in January. While in years past this may not have been an issue, it is a glaring one this year. That simple issue is the roster.
The Union Roster is Filled With Question Marks
Monday, the Union finally released their end-of-season roster update. The golden era of Philadelphia Union soccer very well may be over. However, there are still many question marks.
In somewhat of an anticlimactic announcement, there were no real roster updates. The Union only said goodbye to Joe Bendik and Anton Sorenson. Sorenson, a homegrown LeftBack signed last year, never saw first-team minutes. Unfortunately, it seems the 19-year-old has not shown the progress that the club had hoped and he departs the club. Sorenson was a name being thrown around as a possible Kai Wagner replacement.
However, in a semi-shocking ordeal, the Union did provide an update that Alejandro Bedoya and Kai Wagner are out of contract, but negotiations are ongoing for a new deal. A few weeks ago, it seemed all too confirmed that Bedoya and Wagner were gone. However, fast forward a few weeks and things may not be heading that way.
Of course, fans were upset at how the reported departure of Bedoya was being handled. At the same time, the entire fan base was sold on Kai Wagner being the number one priority in the offseason. Now, Wagner’s possible return is being met with criticism after he was suspended for violating MLS’ anti-discrimination policy.
Is the Short Offseason Good or Bad?
While the short offseason is not great for a team that just traveled over 45,000 miles in a season. It could also be beneficial in a crucial way.
With the offseason so short, there will likely be no time to do a full roster reconstruction. Thus, this could lead Ernst Tanner to lean more towards bringing back as many players as he can, such as Ale Bedoya and Kai Wagner. The Union cannot lose too many players as they don’t have the reserves to fill the holes.
With Julian Carranza likely out this winter, finding a number 1 striker needs to be priority number one. Other than that, there is just no time to fill all the holes. Midfield, striker, and Left/Right back will have almost 0 depth. This short offseason could provide the benefit of keeping some key players.
However, there still is no time to fill this team’s holes. The most likely outcome is a fairly quiet winter, then in the summer transfer window, Ernst Tanner makes the moves he needs to make.
Unfortunately, only time will tell what Union team we will see in the first half of 2024. They showed glimpses of their old selves last season, but it just feels like their title window has closed. Should the Union find itself with another trophyless campaign in 2024, a full rebuild may be in order.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation