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Looking at the Philadelphia Union’s biggest summer transfer window needs

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So long, Julian Carranza.

One of the Union’s best purchases ever is on his way to Feyenoord, according to, well, everyone. Carranza, who notched 43 goals and 20 assists in 95 appearances for the Union, has played his last game for Philadelphia and became the first domino to fall in this summer’s transfer window.

As the Union spiral past mediocrity and into wooden spoon contention, the club could certainly use a pick-me-up, or 11, in the roster. While most positions could use an argument for overhaul, here are a few positions the Union could upgrade, in order of need.

No. 1: Center attacking midfielder

Yup.

It’s worth noting my views don’t reflect those of the full Philadelphia Soccer Now staff, but these are my views. If there’s one thing this Union team needs, it’s a creative playmaking No. 10 who can create something on the attack that’s more than just crosses from the wings into the box. A Lucho Acosta would change everything about this team.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Daniel Gazdag needs to go. With Carranza gone, Gazdag can start playing as a forward. The Hungarian international naturally gravitates toward that position anyway — his eye is more often on goal than finding as assist. He’ll be involved at the end of a play, but not so much in the build up.

However, if Gazdag isn’t playing as a forward, than maybe it is time to move on the Union’s all-time leading goalscorer.

No. 2: Forward

Here’s the layup. If Gazdag doesn’t start playing as a forward, the Union will still need a new forward. Mikael Uhre arguably has a style that benefits him playing as a target No. 9 — his pace and finishing have been beautiful lately, with and without Carranza. However, the Union aren’t ready to switch to a single-forward formation, and they likely wouldn’t even if they could. Uhre needs more help than Chris Donovan, Tai Baribo, and Jeremy Rafanello.

If I’m the Union, I’m trying to find someone close to Carranza’s skill set to play off Gazdag and Uhre as the trio once did in 2022. Getting that player for an affordable price will be difficult, but we’ll see if Ernst Tanner still has his fastball.

No. 3: Center back

The days of the Union having the best defense in Major League Soccer are far behind us. Blame Andre Blake’s injury all you want, but the Union’s center backs still needed work even before one of MLS’ all-time greats went down.

In a perfect scenario, the Union sell Damion Lowe or Jakob Glesnes and use that cash to buy a replacement. The Union don’t even need a starter, just someone who’s good enough to push the eventual starter into better form, a la Olivier Mbaizo-Nathan Harriel. I’d offload Lowe, simply because we already know Glesnes has a higher ceiling and means more to the fanbase and the club. I’d hate to see him scoring bangers for someone else.

No. 4: Defensive midfielder

There’s a reason this is last on the list. The Union don’t necessarily need an upgrade at the No. 6 position, but it could be a pickup the team needs. Jose Martinez hasn’t looked his sharpest this season, and at 29 years old with two years left on his contract, this could be the time to make a quick buck from his sale. The Union are in a place where they need anything to get this team going. If offloading Martinez is the necessary move, so be it.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (jlister2021@gmail.com).

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