The Philadelphia Union were supposed to be in a rebuilding year, but they had a decent enough run in 2016. It showed they are on the right track, but what's left for them to do?
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY SportsDerik Hamilton
Chris Pontius was the Union's top goal-scorer this season. That's great for Pontius, but it has to be worrying for the Union that they don't have an out-and-out striker leading the way. CJ Sapong faded away as the Union really started to need him, even though their system was often built around having him serve as their lone striker. They have a Designated Player spot that might be worth using here.
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
They have lacked a speedy, unpredictable marquee winger who can give defenses fits and score goals. That Pontius had such a good season was, frankly, a bit of a surprise. Ilsinho was an exciting prospect on the right wing, but he struggled with fitness. Fabian Herbers looked pretty good off the bench, but it wasn't enough to be worth a starting spot.
They need a No. 10 playmaker. Tranquillo Barnetta is not returning to Philly, but even if he were an option going forward, one of the lessons of 2016 may be that the Union should use a Designated Player spot on a creative force in the midfield. They need someone who can control the ball through the midfield, distribute to forwards and orchestrate the attack.
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY SportsJaime Valdez
The Union had been counting on Josh Yaro at the centerback position. He was the No. 2 overall draft pick, and while he wasn't a superstar in the role, he was decent enough. But he suffered a serious concussion in September and Ken Tribbett as a replacement did not go very well. The Union may want to consider getting a more veteran presence on the backline as a starter, but even if Yaro resumes his starting role, they must get better depth at the position so they won’t be left in a lurch.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY SpoJohn E. Sokolowski
No, they do not need to replace Andre Blake, who has been excellent, but they do need some depth. They've only got one backup on the roster in John McCarthy, although they can always pull from the reserves. McCarthy has been with the Union since last year and he may blossom into a good option, but they need to consider whether the drop off in the case of injury is manageable for them.