2018 Key Transfers: Philadelphia Union

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Philadelphia Union and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

There wasn’t really a lot for Philadelphia Union fans to shout about during in the 2017 campaign – finishing 8th in the Eastern Conference, outside of the playoffs. With that in mind it would be fair to say they could do with revamping their squad in hope of reaching the post season. They’ve signed just five players so far, while some notable players have been moved on. It’s going to require a big effort for them to force their way into a playoff spot considering how competitive the Eastern Conference is, but the squad will be ready and raring to go come the start of the season.

Key Signings

David Accam: Easily the biggest signing for Philadelphia Union during the window. David Accam comes in as a designated player from Chicago. He has an impressive MLS record in his three seasons so far, scoring 33 in 78, with a further 15 assists. His goal contribution makes him an ideal forward to help Philadelphia push in the right direction. At 27 they have picked up a player nearing the peak of his powers and the Union faithful will be hoping he can produce on their opener to give everyone a lift and positive start to the 2018 season.

Cory Burke: Firepower is what Philly have needed and this is another signing who will be hoping to make a difference. Cory Burke isn’t exactly a household name but he has international experience under his belt with Jamaica. Coming in from USL side Bethlehem Steel FC, he bagged an nine goals in 25 games last season. He will be looking to put pressure on his teammates Jay Simpson and C.J. Sapong for a starting place.

Notable Departures

Chris Pontius: Heading into his tenth MLS campaign having scored 45 goals in 215 games, Chris Pontius leaves Philly after two seasons. His experience will be missed but it seems a good time for him to be moved on as both parties look to freshen things up.

Roland Alberg: Having played 52 times for Philadelphia over two seasons Roland Alberg is on the move. He scored 16 goals and picked up four assists during his time at the club and will be a miss in the middle of the park.

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2018 Key Transfers: LA Galaxy

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the main ins and outs for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at LA Galaxy  and their key signings ahead of their MLS campaign in 2018…

LA Galaxy endured a season to forget in 2017. They finished bottom of the Western Conference and had very little to shout about. They won the least amount of games across MLS and they need to improve both offensively and defensively so they can push themselves back to familiar territory in the coming season. The Galaxy faithful have seen plenty of business during the window with some key faces coming in and departing.

Key Signings

Perry Kitchen: Solidity in defensive positions has been a must for Galaxy in the offseason and this is a signal of their intent. Perry Kitchen spent five good seasons with DC and had been a key member of the squad, starting 155 of his 158 games. He has returned to MLS following a spell in Europe. His experience and versatility is what Galaxy need and they will be hoping he can make an impact for them from the off.

David Bingham: Bingham is expected to be the new number one. LA Galaxy have decided to opt for the former Quakes ‘keeper as their new last line of defence. With three goalkeepers departing, including Brian Rowe, Bingham will be making his 100th MLS appearance in gameweek four providing he is the first choice. With that in mind he has plenty of experience and at 28 he has plenty of years ahead of him, so this looks a good signing.

Chris Pontius: Signed as a free agent after being released from Philadelphia, Chris Pontius looks to be a very good pickup for the Galaxy. An MLS veteran, Pontius is heading into his tenth campaign, having scored 45 goals in 215 games. He can be deployed in an attacking midfield role or as a forward, so he gives LA Galaxy options.

Ola Kamara: Galaxy needed to improve from front to back and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Off the back of two very impressive seasons, Ola Kamara has been picked up after scoring 34 goals in 59 games for Columbus Crew. There is going to be a lot of expectation on his shoulders with stats like that. Galaxy are also being linked with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Hernandez, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more attacking signings come in to support Kamara before the start of the season.

Notable Departures

Robbie Rogers: The 30-year-old defender has called time on his playing days, Robbie Rogers made 184 appearances over a 10 year MLS career. His ability to be utilised on both the right and left of the field means he is going to be an option the Galaxy will miss.

Jermaine Jones: LA Galaxy have decided to allow the experienced 36-year-old midfielder to move on. 2017 was the most appearances he’s made in one season since his move over to MLS from European football. Now may be a good time for both the player and club to seek new adventures with Galaxy needing to freshen up a side that underdelivered in 2017.

Gyasi Zardes: The last two seasons haven’t been too enjoyable for Gyasi Zardes, through injury in 2016 and Galaxy’s worst ever campaign last time out. Making 131 appearances and scoring 34 goals over five years at the club, he’s one the Galaxy fans will miss. A fresh start for him at Columbus is now in store, which he will be looking forward to.

Brian Rowe: The Galaxy have parted ways with Brian Rowe after six years. He made 45 appearances over the course of the last two seasons, although he isn’t being tipped as a number one choice for his new club Vancouver.

Jose Villarreal: LA Galaxy have decided to allow their second-ever homegrown signing to move on. At just 24, Jose Villarreal has 68 MLS appearances to his name, all with LA. There is more expected from him with plenty of time to continue to improve. A squad player who has the ability to make an impact and someone that will certainly need replacing if Galaxy want to keep good depth to their numbers.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Saturday, June 18 – 13:00 ET (18:00 BST) 

Match Odds: NYCFC 13/10 – Draw 23/10 – Philadelphia 21/10

Match Preview

New York City FC host Philadelphia Union as Major League Soccer springs back into life following a two-week international break for the Copa America Centenario.

These Eastern Conference rivals will hope that they can pick back up following the short break, with the visiting Union looking to keep their place at the top of the East.

NYCFC will be desperate to improve on recent results here. Patrick Vieira has had a long time to prepare for this game and will not want to see the club’s four-game winless run extended on Saturday.

MLS: NYCFC vs. Orlando Patrick Vieira

That said, there is little to suggest the club will go on and win this game in front of their own fans. They have been very poor at home this year, winning just one of nine at Yankee Stadium – a return that is far from good enough.

Philadelphia will look to capitalise on any New York City slip-ups as they are looking to set a club record if they can stretch their unbeaten run to nine games on Saturday afternoon.

The Union have been excellent this term and beat Columbus 3-2 in their last outing. They have only managed to win one away game so far, but they come into this one unbeaten in three-straight games on the road.

Jim Curtin’s side are four points clear at the top of the East but will be looking to continue picking up points as they chase Supporters’ Shield leaders Colorado Rapids, who sit five points ahead at this stage.

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This will be the second meeting between the sides this season. Philadelphia beat NYCFC 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium back in April thanks to goals from Chris Pontius and CJ Sapong before halftime. That result kickstarted their current eight-game unbeaten run and so they will no doubt be tough to beat here.

Team News

New York City will still be without Connor Brandt and Federico Bravo for this clash. Ronald Matarrita was the only international absentee and his Costa Rica side have been eliminated from the Copa America so he should be available for selection.

Philadelphia are still without Maurice Edu, while Josh Yaro is a doubt with a shoulder problem. Andre Blake was with Jamaica at the Copa America but they are no longer involved in the competition and so he is back with his Union teammates.

Key Points

New York City’s last five: W/D/L/D/L

Philadelphia Union’s last five: D/W/D/D/W

Key Stat: Leaky – New York City have conceded 13 goals in their last four home games – an average of 3.25 per game.

Key Player: Chris Pontius – The Union midfielder has been in great form since moving from DC United during the offseason. He has five goals for the season and has already netted against NYCFC this term. Expect him to threaten Josh Saunders’ goal on Saturday evening.

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Score Prediction

New York City FC 1-1 Philadelphia Union – Both sides might be a little rusty after the two-week break but they will both know this is an important game. New York City don’t find it too difficult to find the net at home but they just can’t seem to win in front of their own fans. Philadelphia don’t tend to win much away, but they are a solid outfit this term and will settle for another draw on Saturday.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to sell the NYCFC defenders ahead of Week 3?

By Jamie Dawe & Sam Martin

The second week of the 2016 MLS season didn’t quite provide the insane quantity of goals, red cards and all round excitement as Week 1, but it was the first week that we could see which teams were settled – and which teams were far from decided on a strongest lineup. Highlights of the week included the 5-0 drubbing of FC Dallas by Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby and the magic of Sebastian Giovinco once again saving Toronto FC in their 2-2 draw with New York City FC.

Week 2 Review:

The Good:

Ignacio Piatti ($10.4) was at it again this week with a goal and an assist in the Impact’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. Throw in a shot bonus and some defending bonuses – as well as clean sheet points – and this left him with a grand total of 14 points for the week. However, unlike last week, two players managed to outscore Piatti in the shape of David Villa ($11.1) and Andrew Wenger ($7.3). Villa scored two early goals, including one from the penalty spot against Toronto FC before Sebastian Giovinco ($11.8) hauled Toronto back to a 2-2 draw. Wenger created two and finished one off himself to score a terrific 16 points in the Dynamo’s 5-0 win over Dallas, throwing down his credentials for the 2016 season in the process.

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The Bad:

Last season’s finalists FC Dallas had a nightmare start in their first away game, being battered 5-0 at Houston Dynamo. Matt Hedges ($8.9) didn’t look at all worthy of his high price tag, scoring an own goal and putting in an all-round poor performance as the 2015 Western Conference champions were humiliated by a side who hadn’t beaten Dallas in seven games before Sunday. Chicago Fire’s Michael Harrington ($5.2) picked up a red card during his side’s tough 1-1 draw at Orlando as both sides continued their winless starts to the season. The only other red card of the week was given to Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jordan Smith ($6.1). The defender was sent off in his side’s 2-1 defeat at Sporting Kansas City, meaning a score of -3 and of course the customary suspension will follow.

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Week 3 Preview:

Must Buy:

We start at the back. With Houston and LA Galaxy’s first choice ‘keepers both injured, the chance has arrived for backup ‘keepers Brian Rowe ($4.7) and Joe Willis ($4.6) to deliver. They are both cheap options who are now both in the top three point-scoring goalkeepers in MLS Fantasy. They are certainly both making a statement as to why they should hold on to their place in future weeks and deserve consideration. At the opposite end of the pitch, Dominic Oduro ($7.7) of Montreal Impact has made an impressive start to the season, netting two goals and an assist in his opening two games, showing that Montreal at not missing Drogba’s absence. Up next for Montreal is a clash against a leaky FC Dallas side, who conceded five goals at Houston Dynamo. Oduro will see this as an opportunity to continue his solid start, as will Montreal who will be looking to make it three wins from three. Drogba is in line to start but Oduro should continue to be a high point-scorer for the next three weeks. In the centre of the park, Philadelphia’s Chris Pontius ($7.1) is a cheap midfielder who has certainly been worth his value so far. Two goals at the weekend away to Columbus show he is capable of getting on the scoresheet and with the New England Revolution game fast approaching, Pontius may be one of the best bets in fantasy for a budget attacking midfield option.

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Must Sell:

With the first set of international fixtures coming in Week 4, it’s time to be preparing which international call-ups to maybe sell. One definite call-up is Fanendo Adi ($10.0), who is heading to Africa to represent Nigeria in African Nations Cup qualifying. However, a home game against Real Salt Lake may mean managers will want to hang on to him for just one more week. MLS may be incredibly unpredictable but we seem to know one thing for certain at this stage – the NYCFC defence is far from settled and is very leaky. Especially with Vieira deciding to line up with three at the back against Toronto. As a result, it’s difficult to predict any starters in the NYCFC defence or whether they will ever actually gain a clean sheet this season. So, if you’ve got Frederic Brilliant ($8.0) or Jason Hernandez ($6.4), I’d recommend selling sooner rather than later.

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Freddie Shires’ side Jozy and the Pussycats banked an incredible 102 points this week, shooting him up to second in the MLSGB Fantasy League leaderboard. This tally’s primary creators were double-digit scorers Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa and Ignacio Piatti. However, at the top of the leaderboard is still Mack’s team Mack Legend with a grand total of 182 points after two weekends.

Who will you be bringing in for Week 3 in MLS Fantasy Soccer?

2016 MLS Season Preview: Philadelphia Union

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Philadelphia Union will be looking to achieve this year…

Philadelphia Union endured one of their most disappointing year’s in MLS in 2015. A ninth placed Eastern Conference finish and 18th place finish overall is the lowest in their short history so far. The season started slowly with just one win from their opening 11 games and they never strung a run of games together in an inconsistent campaign. The Union did manage to reach the final of the US Open Cup, where they agonisingly lost on penalties to Sporting Kansas City. But in MLS, it was a year with few highlights to reflect on and it’s certainly a case of onwards and upwards from now on. All that has gone before needs to be brushed under the carpet so that head coach Jim Curtin can rebuild and focus on achieving better results in the future.

Last season’s finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 9th – P34 – W10 – D7 – L17

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What needs to change this year?

Philadelphia Union have never been as defensively poor as they were in 2015. They leaked 55 goals, which is more than they have conceded in any other season previously. The offseason has seen the Union revamp their squad, giving it a very different look, with 15 players departing and 12 new faces coming in. They’ve signed six new defenders in an attempt to steady the ship and give themselves strength in depth at the back. But it isn’t just defensive issues that need addressing. They had the least potent attack in the Eastern Conference last year, scoring 42 goals – only four teams scored less across the whole of MLS. Jim Curtin must find a way for his side to be more competitive offensively as well.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Matt Jones – Goalkeeper,  Anderson Conceicao – Defender, Joshua Yaro – Defender, Keegan Rosenberry – Defender, Taylor Washington – Defender, Cole Missimo – Defender, Ken Tribbett – Defender, Chris Pontius – Midfielder, Walter Restrepo – Midfielder, Roland Alberg – Midfielder, Ilsinho – Midfielder, Fabian Herbers – Forward

Outs: Zac MacMath – Goalkeeper, Ethan White Defender, Steven Vitoria – Defender, Cristian Maidana – Midfielder, Andrew Wenger – Midfielder, Fred – Midfielder, Michael Lahoud – Midfielder, Zach Pfeffer – Midfielder, Fernando Aristeguieta – Forward, Conor Casey – Forward

Key Player:

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Chris Pontius – Midfielder – The experienced 28 year old arrives at Philadelphia Union after six successful years with DC United. He’s just the type of player the Union need in the centre of the park and he will bring with him the kind of winning mentality that’s been missing. The likes of CJ Sapong and Sebastien Le Toux up front should benefit from having Pontius in the side.

One to Watch:

Roland Alberg – Midfielder – The Dutchman has signed from Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag where he made 105 league appearances, scoring 22 goals and making 16 assists. He’s likely to slot straight into the Union side and could bring valuable experience having played for a number of years in Europe. At the age of 25, he’s approaching the peak of his career, so the Union will be hoping they’ll see the best of him.

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Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 9th – Philadelphia Union are certainly doing everything they can to make things work in 2016 with so much offseason activity. With so many changes, it’s going to take time for this team to gel. That’s not to say that things won’t fall into place eventually, but there are numerous other teams in MLS that appear to be in better shape than Philadelphia right now. It’s easy enough to point out the areas that need improving – they’re clear for all to see – but it’s a whole different task putting it into action and getting results on the pitch. The Union would be proving a lot of people wrong if they were to break into the top six this year, so it would certainly be a pleasant surprise if they could take the league by storm.

What are you expecting from Philadelphia Union in 2016?

MLS Preview and Prediction: DC United vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – DC United vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: RFK Stadium – Saturday, April 18th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: DC United 19/20 – Draw 23/10 – Houston Dynamo 3/1

Match Preview

DC United will host Owen Coyle’s Houston Dynamo on Saturday night with the opportunity to solidify their place at the top of the Eastern Conference.

United remain unbeaten at home in 2015 and are now unbeaten in their last eleven home matches in MLS, so form is against Houston for this clash.

DC have yet to deliver a performance that justifies their league position, yet they remain a force in MLS despite putting in some below-par performances.

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Though you have to assume that the performances will improve once star striker Fabian Espindola returns from suspension at the end of April.

DC United’s 2015 MLS record: P5 – W3 – D1 – L1

Houston have stuttered into the new season with an opening day victory and then a winless run of four. That run ended last time out as they beat Montreal Impact 3-0 and they will be hoping to build on that result on the road in this one.

With Houston yet to win away from home in 2015, it’s tough to see past a home win here, though you can never rule anything out.

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An away win for Houston would be a shock but MLS is known for its unpredictability as we saw with the Rapids beating Dallas away last week.

Houston Dynamo’s 2015 MLS record: P6 – W2 – D2 – L2

The Dynamo can look to improve in the next few weeks knowing that new signing, Erick Torres, will be arriving soon. Until then Will Bruin and Giles Barnes will need to continue to lead the attack, with Barnes already on two goals this season.

Team News

DC United: Eddie Johnson, Markus Halsti, Steve Birnbaum and Collin Martin all remain out. Fabian Espindola is serving the last of his six-game ban and Nick DeLeon is a doubt so Michael Farfan could deputise.

Houston Dynamo: Raul Rodriguez and Oscar Boniek Garcia are both expected to shake off minor injuries to start the game, while Giles Barnes should continue up front for the Dynamo.

Key Points

DC United’s last five in MLS: W/L/W/W/D

Houston Dynamo’s last five in MLS: L/D/D/L/W

Key Stat: DC United have only conceded four goals this season, all while playing the New York Red Bulls, and will look to record a fourth clean sheet against the Dynamo on Saturday.

Key Player: Chris Pontius – The front man is key to the DC attack as they look to hurt teams on the counter, and stealing three points is a specialty of DC’s. Pontius will look to link up with Arrieta to prove the difference in this one.

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Score Prediction

DC United 1-0 Houston Dynamo – DC to edge another one at home by the one goal as Houston’s troubles away from home look set to continue.