The Union have spent a whirlwind offseason signing three international players who look to be key contributors to the 2012 Major League Soccer season.

Team manager Peter Nowak said that his team, coming off an 11-8-15 season and earning a playoff berth in its second year, has been greatly strengthened.

The first signing was Josue Martinez, a 21-year-old Costa Rican forward. Martinez, whom Nowak lauded for his quickness, was signed Dec. 7.

In the last few days, the Union have added Gabriel Gomez, a 27-year-old midfielder from Panama, and Porfirio Lopez, a 26-year-old Costa Rican defender likely to play on the outside.

Gomez owns 74 caps with the Panamanian national team and led Panama to the 2011 Gold Cup semifinals. Nowak says Gomez'd versatility is his best trait.

"He is going to be a big help for the midfield - not only defending, but going forward," Nowak said.

Lopez has played in China's first division and last season played in Costa Rica's first division. He has primarily been a left back but could play center back as well.

"He takes pride in defending," Nowak said.

The Union have more than the eight international players permitted on a roster, but MLS teams can go over that total by trading for international slots. (Internationals with green cards, such as Sebastien Le Toux, count as a domestic slot).

Nowak suggested that trading for international slots could be a possibility. There is no limit to how many international slots a team can accrue.

Any dealings by the Union or other MLS teams will likely take place during the time of the MLS draft, which is set for Jan. 12 in Kansas City.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com or @sjnard on Twitter.