Union training camp opened today at the bubble over on the Penn campus.
They train inside for a week then peace out to Florida, where they can actually get out on the grass and run around on a natural surface. They’ll do exhibition games and whatnot. It’s very similar to Phillies Spring Training.
Here’s the preseason roster, courtesy of the folks down there this afternoon:
- Yomi Scintu is the only “mystery trialist” on the list. He’s a young forward from the German FOURTH division. I hope he’s a Bethlehem Steel target, because otherwise there’s no justification for bringing in a fourth division player to compete for an MLS roster spot. I’ll update if Jim Curtin talks about him.
- Aurelien Collin is an experienced, veteran center back. You’re going to need depth for when Mark McKenzie leaves for the U20 World Cup in the summer, so he doubles as a mentor and 4th CB behind your young core.
- Carlos Miguel Coronel was in the Red Bull Salzburg system, where Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner came from. I’m personally not a fan of bringing foreign goalkeepers into MLS, since we usually do a very good job of producing our own domestic talent at this position.
- Brenden Aaronson has some chops. I’m interested to see how he performs in the midfield this preseason and how his skill set overlaps or doesn’t with fellow homegrown Anthony Fontana.
- Sergio Santos is really the only name on the list that excites me. The Union paid $500,000 to get him from Audax Italiano in the Chilean first division. He’s 24 years old, a left footed forward who can play up top or as a winger.
- David Accam needs to have a strong rebound year. Apparently he was off to the side today, still working to recover from the sports hernia that hampered him last year.
- I would not have brought back Ray Gaddis and Fabinho, but the Union need fullback depth and will also be losing Matt Real to international duty.
- Olivier Mbaizo should be the opening day starter at right fullback. I did not agree with the Keegan Rosenberry trade.
That’s about it. Tanner alluded to more signings soon, and they usually will come in late January and early February.
The problem with this is that the Union always start slow, and they’ve got an incredibly difficult schedule to begin the season, so they need to get guys in camp ASAP to get them acclimated and coached up and adjusted to life on a new continent. I remember a few years ago when Fernando Aristeguieta and Steven Vitoria didn’t come in until well into February, so the team was welcoming them just three weeks before the home opener. It’s not fair to your head coach, who has to try to get dudes worked into the system in 21 days.
For instance, here are the past signing dates of some of the key “big name” acquisitions over the years:
- Borek Dockal: February 28th
- David Accam: January 19th
- Fafa Picault: February 2nd
- Haris Medunjanin: January 31st
- Jay Simpson: January 9th
- Ilsinho: February 24th
- Roland Alberg: February 4th
So typically most guys aren’t coming in until the end of this month or through the first three weeks in February. The Santos signing was actually somewhat unique in how quickly they got it done, so much credit to Tanner and Chris Albright for wrapping that up quickly. We’ll see who else they bring in because the roster certainly is not complete.
That considered, here’s the exercise for you, the question I’ll leave you with:
When you look through that roster, what excites you the most?