Philadelphia Union Opening Day Preview

The start of 2016 MLS season begins this Sunday. The teams made their final cuts and signings before the March 1st roster deadline. The “headline” players that were involved in these cuts are Ignacio Maganto and Dan Gargan formerly of the L.A. Galaxy, and Herculez Gomez of Toronto F.C.
To quickly touch upon what this means for the Union, Maganto is a midfielder who the Union absolutely do not need because of the deep depth of he midfield. Even though Gargan is a defender, the arrival of Keegan Rosenberry and veteran Ray Gaddis quickly overshadow him. Gomez is a player that does fit the Unions need for a striker, but he is not a player they should consider. Gomez could serve as a mentor for draftee Fabian Hebers and come on for crunch time minutes, but he’s going to be 34 in April. As I mentioned with Sebastien Le Toux, he’s getting a little too old for the league. Not only his age, his last double-digit goal season was seven years ago with Santos Laguna when he was 27. Signing Gomez would be a bad move if the Union plan on playing him.

With the season being tomorrow, we have two projected starters that are looking like they will miss the game against FC Dallas. Maurice Edu had surgery on a sports hernia injury last October. He did not make an appearance in any of the Union’s preseason games and has primarily trained away from the squad with the medical team. In light of his absence, the defensive mid position will likely be filled by MLS and Union veteran Brian Carroll. In terms of fantasy, Carroll is not a player you would expect to see in a lineup. Tranquillo Barnetta is battling tendinitis in his knee. This is not new as he lived with the injury for some of his Bayer Leverkusen career. Newly acquired Illsinho and Roland Alberg are more than qualified and good enough to take on his attacking mid role. For $8.5 in MLS Fantasy, both are viable options to add to your line up.

Playing away against FC Dallas to start the season is not the most favorable draw they wanted. The reigning Western Conference champions have only gotten stronger thanks to the acquisition of Mauro Rosales. Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Zach Loyd, Ryan Hollingshead and Jesse Gonzalez are a young team that can compete for an MLS Cup.

The Union could roll with two different formations this year. With Earnie Stewart at the helm, a Dutch 4-3-3 could be used at some point. Don’t be surprised though if Jim Curtin lines up his men in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the most popular formation in the MLS. Here is my projection for Sunday’s lineup:

4-2-3-1
GK: Blake
RB: Keegan Rosenberry RCB: Richie Marquez LCB: Anderson LB: Fabinho
DM:(C) Brian Carroll DM: Vincent Nogueira
RM/RW: Le Toux CAM: Illsinho/Alberg LM/W: Illsinho/Alberg
ST: C.J Sapong

I think it’s hard to say right now where Illsinho and Alberg will play. Carroll gets the captain’s armband in place of Edu.

Main Photo: AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post via Getty Images