Things have been relatively quiet with the Philadelphia Union fully into offseason mode. With the Concacaf Champions Cup draw complete, the 2024 is season coming very soon. Is this a good or bad thing?

While some moves have been made, there have been no needle-moving additions. This past week, the Concacaf Champions Cup had their round of 32 draw. The Union drew a familiar CCC foe in Costa Rican side Saprissa.

In February, the Union return to the competition for the second consecutive year. Unfortunately, with the competition starting so soon, there is no time to make full changes to the Union roster. Now, this can be a good thing but also not so great for the Union.

Roster Changes

Since the Union announced their end-of-season roster update, there has been little news. It was said in passing that the club is in active conversations with Kai Wagner and Ale Bedoya on new contracts. However, since then there has been silence. Ernst Tanner said that the offer sent to Wagner was a fair one and appreciated by the player.

Unfortunately, as things stand, the Union are still without a left-back and their long-time captain midfielder.

The Union has, however, made a few minor signings. The first one may signal that Kai Wagner’s time with the Union is over.

First, the Union signed 21-year-old left-back Isaiah LeFlore, from Houston’s MLS Pro Next Club. LeFlore fits the mold the Union looks for in a left-back. Kai Wagner gained notoriety as the best in MLS not only for his defensive skills but for his offensive ability as well.

LeFlore led MLS Pro Next in assists by defenders last season, while adding 6 goals as well. A sign the Union hopes he can do the same in MLS. He also led Houston 2 in multiple defensive categories, such as tackles, interceptions, and duels. Now, he has 0 MLS level experience. That fact has what this signing is a little clouded. Does the Union try to get Kai Wagner back for the short term to get LeFlore some experience before throwing him in the top spot? Or do they believe he is ready to fill Kai Wagner’s spot come February?

Next, the Union signed Nick Pariano out of the Union pipeline and Duke University. Pariano becomes the 21st Union homegrown signing. Pariano, a midfielder, will likely see the route of being a mostly Union 2 player while filling some emergency depth needs on the MLS roster.

Pariano’s signing is a good start, however, the Union still has a glaring issue that plagued them in 2023.

Depth is Still Missing

The Union could stand to lose Julian Carranza, Ale Bedoya, Kai Wagner, and Olivier Mbaizo, with no current signing to replace them. With the Union having very little roster depth last year, it is raising concerns that the signings aren’t being made to fill the team’s glaring holes.

Hopefully, the short offseason urges Tanner to do all he can to retain every piece of the roster possible. This is one of the only ways this short offseason could be beneficial.

This is where the short offseason could come to haunt the Union. There just isn’t time to go out and negotiate new deals for all the needs that need to be filled. The Union may just have to slap a bandaid on themselves and survive until the summer transfer window opens.

 

Featured Image: Wes Shepherd

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