Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew meant elimination from the playoffs for the Philadelphia Union. It’s the fourth time in five seasons that the Union have been eliminated and frustration is mounting within the organization. The team must now look back on what went wrong and make tactical moves to propel the team back to prominence, but patience is starting to run thin among the faithful fan base. Here are three steps the Union must take in the offseason in order for that to happen.
1: Draft a forward
The Union had the chance to draft probable Rookie of the Year Tesho Akindele in the 2014 MLS Superdraft, but instead took goalie Andre Blake. The forward netted seven goals this season on just 29 shots and if given more chances, would’ve easily surpassed Andrew Wenger who had seven goals on 62 shots.After the poor scoring output the Union displayed towards the end of the year, they need to add a young striker to contribute in 2015. Names like Cyle Larin and Sagi Lev-Ari are going to be high on draft boards and the Union need to address the need now, especially with guys like Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey not getting any younger.
2: Trade Zach MacMath
Rumors swirled back in July that the Union would be trading away Zach MacMath, after having a sensational start to the season in net. The team needs to explore those trades again in the offseason and make something happen. The Union have too much talent on the bench in Rais M’Bolhi and Andre Blake for MacMath to continue in net. MacMath is a guy that many teams would be interested in, whether for draft picks or a young piece to the puzzle. It makes too much sense to deal him in the offseason before the team is stuck with some tough decisions to make next season.
3: Sure up the defense
The Union have surrendered 48 goals in 2014. Only one playoff team, the Seattle Sounders, have given up 48 or more goals in 2014, but they also rank second in the league in goals scored with 61. A quad injury to Sheanon Williams left him out of several crucial games for the Union this season and they’ll need to add an extra defender to sure up the back line in case something like that happens again. Amobi Okugo has also stated that he might test his stock overseas, which would prove devastating to the team. They’ll need to sign or trade for a proven defender, as well as bring in youth through the draft.