>Sunday Lunch: MLS Team Preview – Philadelphia Union

Posted: February 27, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: 8-15-7 31 points, 7th in East, 14th overall
Key Losses: Fred, Alejandro Moreno
Key Additions: Brian Carroll, Faryd Mondragon, Carlos Valdes, Carlos Ruiz
Projected Starting XI: Because of the fact that Carlos Ruiz hasn’t been good since 2007, I doubt that he starts for this team, at least on opening day. Should Ruiz be good enough to start, or even Jack MacInerney be good enough to start (though that seems unlikely), Sebastien Le Toux can move and play either outside midfield spot as he did with a good amount of success last year. Le Toux, who scored 14 goals to go along with his 11 assists last year, is the key player for this team. He should pair with2010 Rookie of the Year finalist Danny Mwanga up top as long as both of them are healthy. In the midfield, the addition of Brian Carroll was one of the most important moves in the offseason. Carroll, who has been underrated for his entire MLS career, has won MLS Cups with DC United (2004) and the Columbus Crew (2008). His experience will be valuable for a side that relies mostly on young and unproven players. The rest of the midfield seems a bit less obvious to figure out. Roger Torres showed flashes of brilliance last year on the right side, but always seemed to be taken out at the half. Justin Mapp looks like a for sure starter; he provided a huge spark to this team last year when he arrived mid-season from Chicago. Amobi Okugo is a very raw player, but look for him to contribute in a central position. Philadelphia will hope that their porous backline of last year will have improved. The signing of Carlos Valdes from the Colombian first division should be a good one; many are comparing him to Jamison Olave. Other than that the backline remains unchanged from last year. Faryd Mondragon looks to be the default starter after Philadelphia got rid of both Chris Seitz and Brad Knighton. Coming from the German Bundesliga, Mondragon should be an improvement despite the fact that he is 40 years old.

Sebastien Le Toux          Danny Mwanga
Justin Mapp          Amobi Okugo          Brian Carroll          Roger Torres
Michael Orozco Fiscal          Dan Califf          Carlos Valdes         Sheanon Williams
Faryd Mondragon

Prognosis: This team has all the tools to make the playoffs this year. Though they are a bit short on depth, they have signed enough players to shore up the majority of the problems they had last year (central defense and goalkeeping). This team has a plethora of young players with potential. This won’t be the year that they will win a championship, but I would compare this team to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder of last year when they made their first playoff appearance. Not all of their players are ready to be stars in this league, but they will make the playoffs and challenge a major contender to its full before burning out and becoming even better in the coming years. Peter Nowak has a good team on his hands here and he should expect to be one of the 10 teams in the playoffs, anything else would be a failure.
The Intern’s Take: It’s hard to add a whole lot more that hasn’t been said above. The biggest improvement by far this year for the (null)Union is the addition of Faryd Mondragon. Chris Seitz cost the Union far too many points last year and needed to be replaced for the Union to improve. Mondragon is going to be crucial to this team if they are to make the playoffs, which they should be able to do. The Union drafted another former Terrapin goalkeeper this year, highly touted Zac MacMath. If the forty-year-old Mondragon goes down at any point during the season, the untested MacMath will have to ready to step in immediately because he is the only other keeper on the roster at this point. There is a twenty-year age gap between the Union’s two keepers and an injury to either one, especially Mondragon could jeopardize the entire season. Just to get the Union on your mind, check out these clips from last year’s 1-1 tie at home against New England. These highlights show two moments that demonstrate the problems and potential of the Union. First, Le Toux helps create the opener through some nice passing and then hits a great shot by basically taking the ball off of Mwanga’s foot. Watching this sequence play out, I thought for sure the two would mess each other up but Le Toux saved the play with a wonderful goal, displaying the quality of the Union’s attack. Then in the second half Chris Seitz lets in a Marco Perovic free kick that should have been a routine save that costs the Union the full three points. With a more experienced keeper, the Union should be able to reduce the number of cheap goals they let in, which will result in more points because of the talent they have up top.

DC United Team Preview
Chivas USA Team Preview
New England Revolution Team Preview
Houston Dynamo Team Preview
Toronto FC Team Preview
Chicago Fire Team Preview
Sporting KC Team Preview
San Jose Earthquakes Team Preview
Colorado Rapids Team Preview
Seattle Sounders FC Team Preview
Columbus Crew Team Preview
FC Dallas Team Preview
New York Red Bulls Team Preview
Real Salt Lake Team Preview
LA Galaxy Team Preview
Portland Timbers Team Preview
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Team Preview


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s