You might not see it at first as you approach Julián Carranza, especially when he’s wearing a jacket on a cool and rainy day at the Union’s practice fields at Subaru Park.
But spend a few minutes with the 21-year-old Argentine and you’ll see pretty quickly that there’s clearly a chip on his shoulder.
It’s not surprising to find. Here’s a forward who was one of Inter Miami’s marquee acquisitions before its expansion season in 2020, but who went on to play just 1,292 minutes over 42 games, with only 11 starts. He scored a grand total of three goals, and two of them were in his first appearance.
A bust? Well, Miami didn’t sign superstar Gonzalo Higuaín in September 2020 to be anybody’s backup. So when MLS headquarters brought the hammer down on Inter’s front office for lying about salary-cap figures, Carranza got a chance to go somewhere else and start anew.
That somewhere is Philadelphia, on a one-year loan deal.
“I think it’s a big opportunity here to play,” he said. “In Miami I was just giving my best every single day and I wasn’t playing, so I think this is a big opportunity for me and for this team, to help this team. So yeah, I’m feeling really good here.”
» READ MORE: Union sign striker Julián Carranza from Inter Miami
Those two seasons with Inter actually understate how long he was on the Herons’ books. Miami announced his acquisition in July 2019, and made him one of the club’s very first signings along with winger Matías Pellegrini. When those deals were announced, it had already been known for weeks that Inter was paying a $6 million transfer fee to Banfield, the Argentine club where Carranza stayed on loan for the rest of that calendar year.
“It feels like a long time,” he said.
The biggest adjustment Carranza has had to make in joining the Union isn’t Philadelphia’s winter weather. He got plenty used to the cold in Argentina, growing up in the inland city of Oncativo before moving to Buenos Aires to join Banfield’s youth setup. It’s to Union manager Jim Curtin’s two-striker setup, a different style from Miami’s 4-2-3-1.
But Carranza is ready for that, too.
“I like how Jim wants to play. I like the high press, I like how we play to try to recover the ball close to the goal,” he said, noting that he played a similar style at Banfield. “I feel very good with two strikers, because someone can go run, someone [else] can come to the ball.”
Unfortunately, the player who’s intended to be Carranza’s partner up top with the Union isn’t here yet. Mikael Uhre is still stuck in Denmark waiting for his visa paperwork to be processed. At least the two forwards have been able to get to know each other a little bit in the interim through video chats.
“He gave me confidence,” Carranza said. “I think that’s really important. I’m talking to him every single day to learn how he wants me to play, how he wants me to press.”
Carranza is still getting settled into life off the field here. It’s not as easy to find Argentine cuisine in Philadelphia as it is in Miami — he’s heard about Malbec Argentine Steakhouse, the Society Hill restaurant known for its parrillada platters — but then again, Miami probably has more such establishments than anywhere else in the country.
“I think it’s a vibe and I feel at home,” he said of his new surroundings. “I feel good in the city.”
If Carranza can feel as good in front of the nets at Subaru Park, he could be in for a big year.
“I think I have a lot to prove to the people, to the fans,” he said. “I didn’t play a lot in the past two years — I was playing every single game five minutes, or less than 10. I think this is a good opportunity for me to show myself, to give the best of me for the fans, for this team.”