Photo: Earl Gardner
Jay Simpson looked to BWP while deciding whether to make the journey across the pond. “Since he’s come over, he’s been excellent,” Simpson told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s been the top scorer in the league. He’s obviously enjoying his time over here, so you look at that and you think, ‘Why not give it a try yourself?’”
Oguchi Onyewu is looking forward to his first club game on North American soil, but isn’t treating it any different than any other game.
The Union kick off their season against a pair of Canadian teams. Jacob Born explains why Philadelphia is better than Canada.
Section 215 previews the 2017 Philadelphia Union season. “As such my prediction is that the team will go and have a record of 14-7-13 with 49 points at the end of the campaign. This would all but assure them a spot in the playoffs, and my prediction is they will finish 4th in the east.”
Alejandro Bedoya explains why he won’t “stick to sports.”
Bethlehem Steel FC have acquired defender Charlie Reymann.
Harrisburg City Islanders, Reading United, Ocean City Nor’easters, and Junior Lone Star FC join the Union in this year’s US Open Cup. First round matchups will be announced April 12.
The WPSL Philly Fever are holding open tryouts next weekend.
Referee assignments for this weekend! The Union drew reigning referee of the year Alan Kelly.
ESPNFC has released their preseason rankings, placing the Union in 13th: “As always, the Union will have to avoid injuries to have a chance in the East this year. An offseason marked by cautious spending means it’s another season of fine lines in Chester. But there are players in place — Alejandro Bedoya and Charlie Davies, to name a couple — to help Jim Curtin’s team reach the postseason again.”
SI has released their preseason rankings, placing the Union 18th: “The Big Question: Can reclamation projects perform? The Union were a surprise story much like Colorado through much of last season…and then midfielder Vincent Nogueira abruptly left and returned to France. The Union sputtered the rest of the season. However, with Bosnian international Haris Medunjanin joining incumbents Alejandro Bedoya and Roland Alberg, the midfield should be fine. Biggest questions come up top, where the team will rely on former English fourth-tier striker Jay Simpson for goals, and in the back, where Oguchi Onyewu must recover from years of inactivity to lead the back line with Josh Yaro ruled out for months with a shoulder injury.”
SI also released their 2017 MLS season predictions. All three analysts predicted the Union to miss the playoffs. Brian Straus predicted Fabian Herbers could be a breakout player. Grant Wahl noted that Chris Pontius was the leading American goalscorer in MLS last season, something I didn’t know.
Matthew Doyle did his preseason rankings by tier rather than in a straight ranking. The Union were listed in the bottom tier: “I end up talking myself into the Union being contenders every year, and it hasn’t happened. And they’re one of the few teams in the East that I can look at and think “They didn’t really get better this offseason, did they?”… Philly racked up points at the level of a playoff team with Nogueira in the lineup over the last two years, and at something much, much less than that when he wasn’t. It’s Haris Medunjanin’s job to replicate that in 2017, and Jim Curtin’s first big decision will be who to pair in deep central midfield with the talented but relatively stationary Bosnian string-puller. If the Union don’t get that right, almost none of the other stuff really matters all that much.”
NBCSports is a little more bullish on the Union in their Eastern Conference season preview: “Curtin and co. will be expected to reach the postseason, but they might still be a step behind the likes of Toronto, Red Bulls and NYCFC.” NBCS also previewed the Western Conference.
SoccerByIves’ preseason rankings. The Union place 10th: “The Union vaulted back in to relevancy in 2016, making the push into the postseason. The potential return of Maurice Edu should add another piece to a talented group headlined by Alejandro Bedoya, Keegan Rosenberry and Andre Blake, but questions remain at the forward position. The club is gambling on English forward Jay Simpson to provide answers but, if he doesn’t, they’ll be in big trouble.”
FoxSports looks at a homegrown player to watch on each team. They named Derrick Jones for the Union.
FoxSports also lists one reason each team could win the MLS Cup. For the Union, it’s their depth.
15 MLS General Managers and Technical Directors participated in this MLSSoccer survey predicting the season.
The Audi Player Index has been revised for 2017.
Striker Matteo Mancosu signed a two-year deal with the Montreal Impact.
Atlanta United has reportedly sold over 33K season tickets. Legitimately impressive from the new club on the block.
Around the globe
Atletico Madrid’s Fernando Torres suffered a nasty head injury, but appears to be relatively okay.
Highlight of the day
Antoine Griezmann’s one-timer from well outside the box.