Updated: Feb 27
Welcome to the 25th Season Preview of the 2023 MLS Season! We move on to the boys in blue and gold, situated on the bank of the Delaware River, the Philadelphia Union. An extremely positive season last year eventually ended with heartbreak but the Union seem in no rush to change the core of the previous group for this 2023 MLS season. The Union have already been viewed as a title contender this preseason, but the question is do the Union have what it takes to win a trophy this year?
Record: 19-10-5 (67 Points/ 1st in Eastern Conference)
Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs: MLS Cup runner-up
Team Leaders in Goals: Daniel Gazdag: 24 goals, Julian Carranza:15 goals, Mikael Uhre :13 goals
Team Leaders in Assists: Kai Wagner: 15 Assists, Daniel Gazdag: 10 Assists, Julian Carranza: 9 Assists
Manager: Jim Curtin (9th official season/ 10th season if you count him as a interim coach in 2014)
Additions: Forward/ Winger/ CAM, Joaquin Torres (500,000 GAM), CB, Damion Lowe (225,000 GAM), CM/CDM, Andres Perea (800,000 - 1,000,000 GAM), GK, Holden Trent (MLS Superdraft)
Departures: CAM, Paxten Aaronson (transfer to Eintract Frankfurt), CF, Cory Burke (free to New York Red Bulls), GK, Matt Freese (trade to NYCFC)
Designated Players: CAM, Daniel Gazdag :ST, Mikael Uhre: ST, Julian Carranza (U22 initiative)
Projected Starting XI:
Once again, the Philadelphia Union front office did a great job in the offseason. The Union were able to bring in depth pieces in the form of Andres Perea, Joaquin Torres, and Damion Lowe. The Union did not need to go out this offseason and spend any of the big bucks because they decided to run it back with the same MLS cup core as last year.
Union fans should feel great heading into the new season after keeping key pieces like Kai Wagner and Jose Martinez, both of whom were linked to leave during the offseason. However, while I believe the Union have some of the best depth in the league, I feel like the one position that they have not entirely solidified is the striker spot. Losing Cory Burke is the offseason could hurt the Union in more ways than they realize. His ability off the bench as a "supersub" last year was something not seen since the days of Ilsinho. Burke turned out to be a reliable game changer behind Carranza and Uhre. Currently, the Union have young strikers Chris Donovan, Quinn Sullivan, Jeremy Rafanello, and Nelson Pierre as striking options behind the starters. If needed, Torres and Gazdag could fill in but that would not be ideal for Union fans.
Another thing to quickly note is of the ridiculous depth that the Union has in their diamond midfield. Besides the projected starters of Martinez, Bedoya, Flach, and Gazdag (if you count him as a midfielder), the Union also have rising talent Jack McGlynn and Andres Perea. Additionally, they have Richard Odada and Jesus Bueno, who has impressed in preseason. Even Matt Real has played the left part of the diamond in some of preseason and last season. All of this midfielder depth will give head coach Jim Curtin plentiful options as the Union advance through the season.
Overall, as the Union prepare to play around fifty-five games this season in multiple different tournaments, it is no doubt that they will need to rely on depth. Given how they have played in preseason, it would be no surprise to see all of the front three of Carranza, Uhre, and Gazdag, hit double digit goals. The Union stadium, Subaru Park, has turned into an unstoppable force last season, as the Union went unbeaten at home for the second time in three years. My prediction for the Philadelphia Union is having them finish first in the east yet again.
Thanks for listening to the 25th season preview of the 2023 MLS season, on the Philadelphia Union! Make sure to check out the other season previews on the page and on to the next team!