Although the Philadelphia Union had a disappointing campaign in 2017, the team hopes to turn their luck around and earn more victories in this upcoming season. As a result, the Union recently re-signed Fabian Herbers, Ilsinho, and Fabinho in order to put themselves in a good position to potentially earn a playoff spot in the upcoming year. In addition to the re-signings, Eric Ayuk will be returning from a year loan stint with Jönköpings Södra IF as the Union picked up his contract option for 2018. The team also signed Cory Burke to the first team. He was the all-time leading scorer at the Union’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC. These five players will try their best to make their presence known this year by aiming to exceed the coaches and fans expectations.
Herbers and Ilsinho will strive to score more goals this season as the Union only netted 49 goals last year while six of them came from Ilsinho. Ilsinho also added five assists to his stat sheet throughout the regular season in his second year with the Union. Ilsinho appeared in 27 games and played a total of 1848 minutes. Hopefully Ilsinho will continue to display or exhibit his talent and skills for the upcoming 2018 season.
As for Herbers, he was only able to notch one goal and two assists and only appeared in 12 games which totaled 395 minutes played throughout the year. The original injury he sustained was a groin/adductor strain which sidelined him for about four weeks. This then led to Herbers having to undergo sports hernia surgery which forced him to miss the next six to seven weeks and the rest of the season. Herbers will be eager to get back on the pitch for this upcoming season as he hopes to achieve a career high in goals and assists.
The Union will hope that the veteran left back, Fabinho, can shut down opposing attackers throughout the season as the team allowed 47 goals in the 2017 campaign. As of now, his role on the defense has yet to be determined although he appeared in 22 games last season. Among those games, he started in 21 of them and added two assists while he played a total of 1902 minutes. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Union defense lines up for their first game of the 2018 season. Going into this season, Fabinho will aim to prevent goals and always fulfill his duties on defense as the Union and Andre Blake look to earn more shutouts in the 2018 season.
Eric Ayuk made 12 appearance with the topflight team, Jönköpings Södra in Sweden, including a cup appearance as he scored a goal within those games. While Ayuk was on loan with Bethlehem Steel FC in 2016, he notched 17 appearances and three goals throughout the season. As Ayuk went on loan with Bethlehem Steel for the majority of the 2016 season, he only made one appearance with the Philadelphia Union in their regular season finale. Lastly, Ayuk will hope to make a big impact for the Union this season as his last appearance for the team came on October 23rd in 2016 against the New York Red Bulls.
The signing of Cory Burke could have big implications on the Union attack this season as he looks to contribute by scoring many goals along with C.J. Sapong in the attack. Burke will also add some depth at the striker position as he looks to build up chemistry with Sapong and wingers throughout the year. Burke played in 33 games with Bethlehem Steel FC in 2017 as he netted nine goals and added two assists. He also made five appearances for the Jamaican national team in the 2017 Gold Cup in which they finished as runners-up. The addition of Burke could be instrumental to the success of the Union in 2017 as he has the capability to score some goals and help Sapong up top throughout the long, arduous season.
All in all, the Union’s decision to re-sign these players and promote Burke to the first team could be the start of a very successful offseason as the front office looks to improve the current roster. Ilsinho will be a big factor for this team with his flair and proven versatility as he provides depth and skill in the midfield. Fabian Herbers has lots of potential to become a talented winger with the Philadelphia Union as he is a young player with plenty of room to improve throughout his career in the MLS. It is also a good sign to see Fabinho return to the Union as he will continue to provide experience and display leadership skills by making his presence known on the back line of defense. The addition of Cory Burke will provide much needed depth for the attacking front line as he has brings in international experience at Jamaica with his new Union teammate, Andre Blake. As for now, all Philadelphia Union fans can only hope and pray that these additions and signings will help improve the future and success of the Union going forward. Union fans will be able to see the Boys in Blue in action on March 3rd for the 2018 home opener at Talen Energy Stadium.
“Photos: Philadelphia Union/Twitter