Roland Alberg and State of the Philadelphia Union Midfield

The term “Moneyball” these days has become redundant. Though it seems these days in Chester, Pennsylvania that the word is fitting. On February 4th, the Philadelphia Union announced its newest signing of Roland Alberg. The Union put in a discovery claim for Alberg and used Target Allocation Money to acquire him.

Alberg is a 25 year old midfielder from the Netherlands. He spent the past two and a half seasons at Ado Den Haag in the Eredivisie(Dutch League) and always had an impact on the game around him. He scored 16 goals and 13 assists in 71 appearances for the club.

Alberg is known to be a “penalty kick specialist” and may dethrone Sebastien Le Toux for that responsibility. Le Toux has been the clubs go to PK taker for a few years.

Sporting Director Earnie Stewart had this to say in the Union’s press release on the signing:

“Roland has the versatility and ability to play multiple positions at a high level of class. He’s a player we immediately identified as a perfect fit for our club as he’ll add additional quality to our midfield.”

Expect to see Alberg make an immediate impact on March 6th against FC Dallas.

Roland Alberg and the Midfield Unit

With the signing of Roland Alberg, let’s take a look at the team as it stands.

Goalkeeper: 1. Andre Blake 27. John McCarthy
Defense: 12. Keegan Rosenberry(R)15. Joshua Yaro(GA R) 16. Richie Marquez 23. Anderson Conceição 28. Ray Gaddis 33. Fabinho (Draft pick Taylor Washington has not signed yet)
Midfield: 2. Warren Creavalle 5. Vincent Nogueira 6. Roland Alberg 7. Brian Carrol 8. Maurice Edu 10. Tranquillo Barnetta 13. Chris Pontius 14. Eric Ayuk 20. Walter Restrepo 22. Leo Fernandes
Forward: 9. Sebastien Le Toux 11. Fabian Hebers(GA R) 17. CJ Sapong

So far the team has filled 21 roster slots. Along with 21 slots filled, all ‘international slots’ had also been filled. This will quickly become a problem as reports from the team suggest that they are looking for a DP goal scorer striker from Germany. It’s a role that no player really has had since Jack McInerney. Unless the team trades for an ‘international slot’ or an IS player acquires a green card, the Union will have to look domestically for a striker. Players like Walter Restrepo and Chris Pontius are also versatile enough to move up to a forwards position of need be.

The Union are stocked up at midfield with tremendous talent. The midfield has potential and already stars in Vincent Nogueira, Tranquillo Barnetta, Roland Alberg and Maurice Edu. Even after spending the last two seasons as a converted CB, Jim Curtin confirmed at last Thursday’s media day that Maurice Edu will finally move back up to midfield. And that is something Edu has been waiting for quite sometime. When Edu was asked to quote on his move back up, he could barely contain his excitement. “Wherever they feel like I’m going to be a bigger asset on the pitch, I’m willing to play” said Edu. “And going back into the midfield is great. That’s where I’ve played my whole career and I probably know that position more then playing in the back.”
The trading away of Chaco Maidana also means that 15 assists also is traded. Which is a huge blow in terms of offensive production. With that in mind, that opens the doors for the midfield to run through Vincent Nogueira. Nogueira has been with this team for going on three years. He has always been one of the smallest on the field, but his presence and impact has always been one of the biggest. His passing ability with his agility makes him one of the hardest midfielders to corral. Tranquillo Barnetta has the ability to cover the offensive production that was traded away. He specializes in the center attacking midfield position and has many of the same traits as Maidana. One of the big differences between the two players is Tranquillo’s ability to play the full 90 minutes. Something that Maidana had never been able to do in Philadelphia. Leo Fernandes is a player to watch for in the 2016 campaign. While spending a season on loan to the New York Cosmos, he won the Young Player of the Year Award in the NASL. This is his year to prove whether or not he’s capable of playing top tiered soccer in the United States.

Which league is most effected by the new Canadian Premier League? in Last Word on Sports Polls on LockerDome