Philadelphia Union vs. Minnesota United Season Opener Preview

It feels like only yesterday that we were all heartbroken after the Union had fallen to NYCFC in the Eastern Conference Finals after an amazing run. It still stings to even think about today, especially because it was a winnable game and the Union had multiple players out due to health and safety protocols.


But that was last season. This is a new year, new faces and a fresh start to try to get revenge for the disappointing end of the previous year. This Union team is not vastly different from last year, but there are still some changes that I will explain later in this article.


I said this a lot during the playoff run last year but if you are a non-Union regular that is reading this, I ask that you at least give this team a chance. This team is exciting and has a great fan base behind it.

Credit: @PhilaUnion

How To Watch?

Kick off is set for 1:00 PM EST at Subaru Park on Saturday, February 26th. If you will not be joining me in Chester for the match, the game will be broadcasted on PHL17 and ESPN+ for the out of area viewers.

Who's In and Who's Out?

Although I said it hasn't felt like it, it's been a long offseason and some people may have checked out to watch some NBA/CBB. So here's a look at the guys who left this offseason and the guys who are coming in:

In: ATK Julián Carranza, ATK Mikael Uhre

Out: MID Jamiro Monteiro(SJ), ATK Kacper Przybylko(CHI), DEF Alvas Powell(CIN), MID Anthony Fontana(Ascoli)

The Union had a clear plan for the offseason: get better in the attack and free up more playing time for their young players. Step 1 to enacting that plan was to sell Przybylko, who had a great career with the Union but an exit was honestly best for both sides. To replace him, the Union signed Julian Carranza on a loan deal from Miami and bought Mikael Uhre from Brønby IF as a permanent signing. Step 2 was to sell off some of their midfielders, which came in Monteiro and Fontana. It honestly really sucks to see both go for different reasons. Jamiro was one of the Union's best players, but it seems like the Union weren't willing to offer him another contract so I can understand why he would want to leave. Fontana showed some really good flashes in the 2020 season, but injuries caused him to miss basically the entire 2021 season and he was sold towards the end of the offseason. Now with both of them out of the mix, it just means that guys like Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan will be able to carve out bigger roles. Along with that, Daniel Gazdag will have complete control over the attacking midfield which I think is a great decision. Alvas Powell being sold was more of a roster crunch since the Union already have Olivier Mbaizo and Nathan Harriel at RB. Wish him all the best.

Injury Report

Credit: Major League Soccer

As far as we know currently, the Union are not dealing with any injuries to their roster. However, they have been dealing with some visa issues on multiple accounts. New signing Mikael Uhre has not been training with the team recently due to these issues, but we got some good news from Union HC Jim Curtin today: Uhre has his passport and "if all goes smoothly, he'll be in Philadelphia by tomorrow". So it's unclear what his status would be for Saturday if all goes to plan in the next 24 hours, but if I were to guess he would at best be with the subs for the game. Sergio Santos is currently in Chile in the process of obtaining his green card. Curtin hopes that he will be back here on Friday, but he noted that the timing is out of their control. Again, even if all goes to plan on that front, I find it hard to believe that Santos would be in the starting lineup for Saturday's game. Everyone else on the roster should be a full go, which is super exciting.

Projected Lineup

Sure, the Union sold a lot of their regulars from last year but I still find it hard to believe they will not keep their classic 4-1-2-1-2 formation. In that case, here would be my guess for a projected lineup:

GK: Andre Blake

LB: Kai Wagner

RB: Olivier Mbaizo

CBs: Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes

CDM: Jose Martinez

CMs: Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya(C)

CAM: Daniel Gazdag

STs: Cory Burke, Julián Carranza

This lineup provides them with the perfect mix of experience and energy with the players they have for selection. Again, if Uhre and/or Santos are available to start I would probably slot both of them at striker but I'm not confident. This will leave them with young options off the bench like McGlynn, Aaronson and Sullivan. Ilsinho was scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and isn't listed on the roster, so going to guess that he's not with the team for now.

Prediction

Although I thought about doing a "matchups to watch" section, it's the first game of the season and that will be hard to judge. It'll also be hard to make a prediction, purely based off the fact that this is the first game of both team's season(also the first game of the entire MLS regular season). But considering the Union are at home and have most of their regulars playing, I'll go with a calm 1-0 win. I'm not necessarily concerned about the Union scoring goals in this game, but it may take a little to have the guys mold with Carranza up top. The defense will brave the Minnesota attack, and the Union will start their revenge tour.

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