The Union is having another quiet offseason. While some moves have been made, there have been no needle-moving arrivals. Should the Union be trying to win with the same roster for the third consecutive season or is Ernst Tanner delaying the inevitable?
The Philadelphia Union has been a top team in MLS for 4 years now. With the 2024 season upon us, the club will not change its roster philosophy much. The Union is running it back with a similar roster for another year.
While this is a roster that has an MLS Cup appearance, as well as multiple semifinal appearances in continental tournaments, they have fallen short at every term. Given that record, should the Union’s aim be to run it back?
Minimal Roster Changes
Unfortunately, Union fans have had to sit on the side as other MLS teams announced exciting new signings. However, the Union wasn’t completely quiet.
The club did lock in a surprising return for left-back Kai Wagner. Additionally, Ernst Tanner made signings for future depth that would likely start the season on Union 2.
The most recent news is the Union has locked in a 1-year deal for long-time Union captain Alejandro Bedoya to return to the club. This comes just a few months after a reported falling out between Tanner and Bedoya, causing blowback from the fans.
This will very likely be Bedoya’s final year with the club. While Bedoya will add to his club record of 247 caps, the writing has been on the wall for a while that his playtime should be dwindling. Bedoya has found himself unavailable at key points of the last few seasons due to nagging injuries. One of the few roster changes we may see is Bedoya taking a step back. Whether as a 60-minute a game player or a full transition to the bench.
Is Running Back the Correct Philosophy?
Unfortunately, the Union’s “golden era” is starting to be known for falling short. The Union has fallen short in MLS Cup, CONCACAF Champions Cup, and now Leagues Cup. From those teams, there have been minimal changes and additions to the team. Who is to say 2024 won’t be more of the same?
Now, the sport bounces differently every time. Without Gareth Bale, the Union have a star above their crest. If an offsides call was made in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal, maybe the Union would have eliminated the Supporters Shield winners in FC Cincinnati. The fact of the matter is the Union has been so close to glory, that it isn’t insane to try to get to the promised land with its roster.
However, the argument for that is a strong one. That is MLS is getting better. The best example is the league now houses Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Luis Suarez. While yes, Inter Miami is on their own pay scale, other MLS teams have grown past their fear of spending money on transfers. Other MLS teams are finding ways around MLS’ roster restrictions. Meanwhile, the Union are hoping the roset core that was built in 2021 can finally achieve success in 2024.
It is safe to say, fans of the club are unsure. This season is a huge question mark, and likely the last chance for this Union core to add to the Union’s shallow trophy case.
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