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The Philadelphia Union’s 2023 campaign has come to an end meaning the urgent preparation to retool and bolster their roster for 2024 is here.
Sporting Director Ernst Tanner and head coach Jim Curtin will have plenty of key decisions to make in regards to who stays and who goes this winter. Several important players are not signed for 2024 including left back Kai Wagner and captain Alejandro Bedoya.
Star striker Julián Carranza is signed through the 2024 campaign, but very well could be of interest to several European and South American clubs.
Depth pieces such as Damion Lowe, Olivier Mbaizo, and Leon Flach could also potentially depart the club in the coming weeks, forcing Tanner and Curtin to look elsewhere for talent.
Here is a closer look at which Union players could be on the move ahead into 2024:
Julián Carranza might go down as one of the biggest steals in Union history, but now its up for Tanner and the rest of the front office to decide what’s next in regard to his future in Chester.
The 23-year-old Carranza has registered double-digit goals in each of his two seasons with the Union, contributing 29 goals and 16 assists in MLS play. Carranza’s final third contributions truly helped the Union reach MLS Cup in 2022 and also remain a contender once again in 2023.
Europe and South America will very well be calling for Carranza, opening the door to a potential sell for Tanner to consider.
Kai Wagner arrived in 2019 and will go down as one of the better players in Union franchise history.
The now 26-year-old has totaled five goals and 41 assists in over 140 MLS appearances, becoming one of the best left backs in the league currently. Wagner arrived in Philadelphia as an unknown commodity, but since has truly developed into a key leader in the Union squad.
Wagner’s focus could be on a move back to his native Germany, unless the Union decide to pay a good amount to keep him long-term.
Words cannot describe how much Alejandro Bedoya means to the Philadelphia Union, but I’m still going to do my best to show it.
Bedoya has played in over 200 matches for the Union since his arrival in 2016 as a Designated Player. The veteran midfielder and captain has left in all on the field, leading the Union to the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of his 10 seasons with the club.
Although his role sometimes changed from a starter to an impact substitute, Bedoya never wavered his focus from the club. The growth of younger midfield players could be the reason why Bedoya might not be retained, but his leadership alone would be crucial to have going forward.
The Union currently hold an option to re-sign Damion Lowe ahead of the 2024 campaign.
Lowe made 20 combined league appearances in his first season with the club, scoring two goals and featuring heavily in Jakob Glesnes’ absence. The Jamaican international also featured as part of a three-back set up, showing his versatility when needed.
With the Union needing center back depth, retaining Lowe could be important for 2024.
A versatile piece of the Union’s midfield, Leon Flach has certainly benefitted from his move to MLS.
The 22-year-old has contributed three goals and seven assists in 101 career MLS appearances, bringing a strong work ethic to the squad. Flach made the move to MLS at a fairly young age, but now is in the prime time of his career.
Similar to Wagner, a return to his native Germany might be on the cards if the Union decide to part ways.
19-year-old Quinn Sullivan remains another highly touted Union prospect in the never-ending list of homegrown talent.
Sullivan took another key step forward in his development this season, making 25 league appearances and contributing two goals. A versatile forward, Sullivan delivered several key moments this season, showing why there have been plenty of U.S. men’s national team supporters eager for his international future.
I don’t see Sullivan departing the Union just yet, especially with plenty of squad goals still left on the table for 2024.
We didn’t see the best of Joaquin Torres in 2023, but hopefully a new chance arises for him in 2024.
Torres, 26, joined the Union earlier this year, but was reduced to only 367 league minutes due to injury. The attacking midfielder scored one goal and one assist, mainly featuring off the bench when healthy.
Torres might seek a larger role elsewhere, unless the Union feel he is a key piece of their roster going forward.
Kai Wagner’s potential departure could open the door for a longer Olivier Mbaizo stay, but it could also lead to his exit as well.
Mbaizo registered 23 league starts (26 appearances) in 2023, registering one assist from his right back position. The Cameroonian international alternated at times with Nathan Harriel, bringing a strong defensive presence to the Union’s backline.
The 26-year-old has made 97 combined appearances for the Union since debuting in 2018 and would be a valuable depth piece for many MLS clubs.
Veteran goalkeeper Joe Bendik might not feature often for the Union, but his veteran presence is crucial to have with Andre Blake.
Bendik, 34, made his most appearances since 2018 this past season, starting in seven matches due to Blake’s injury absence. Plenty of MLS clubs would surely love to have Bendik as a back-up option in their squad unless the Union feel ready to part ways with him.
2023 draft pick Holden Trent could also be knocking on the door to become the No. 2 as well.