Here’s a player-by-player look at the Union’s roster heading into the 2020 season.
Players are listed by position, then by order of where they stand on the depth chart.
Last year wasn’t his best, but the players in front of him were a factor. He’s still a great shot-stopper, and has grown into a true leader for the Union and Jamaica’s national team. If he thrives this year, there’s still time for a big-money move abroad.
A reliable backup who will stand in when Blake is on national team duty. That won’t happen as much this summer since there’s no Gold Cup, but Blake is still entitled to a day off every now and then.
It’s fair to wonder what the Wayne native’s role will be this year. He’s likely to spend more time in the USL than MLS, but he has big-league potential — and by next year he should get a shot to show it. The 21-year-old also has a shot at the U.S. Olympic qualifying team.
One of the first names written in any Union starting lineup, and one of the best left backs in all of MLS. Unfortunately, a calf injury has sidelined him for much of the preseason. He’ll miss the season opener, and likely the second game too.
You won’t hear this said aloud, but it’s definitely being whispered: the Drexel Hill native hasn’t lived up to his potential. Wagner’s brilliance last year was certainly a factor, and Real is still just 20, but the signs are there. Real’s club and country need good left backs. If he wants to reach the big stage, he needs to step up.
This is the biggest season of the 21-year-old’s life. It’s the first time he enters a season as a rock-solid starter, and he’s going to be a key part of the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. If the Americans make it to Tokyo, expect McKenzie to go. And if he plays well there, the Union will get major offers for him.
Okay, so he isn’t the fastest defender you’ll find. But his overall positioning smarts and terrific passing skills make up for that in the total package. He’s also a scoring threat on set pieces.
He’ll play when McKenzie is gone, which could be a lot. We haven’t seen the 25-year-old much, but Union coaches and scouts speak highly of him.
A reliable veteran on the practice field and in the locker room who can step into a game when needed.
The Union’s all-time minutes leader has seen off every challenger to his place in the starting lineup. Will he do it again this year? And will he finally score his first career goal in his ninth season as a pro?
He has most of the tools as a player, and the right kind of savvy from his time with Cameroon’s youth national teams. But he doesn’t quite have all the pieces yet. He’ll be a very good player when he does.
He’s the most likely opening day starter at the base of the midfield diamond, and he was signed for that purpose. But will the 21-year-old Slovakian be enough at one of the team’s most crucial positions? We won’t know for sure until the games count for real.
The 25-year-old Venezuelan was the Union’s first offseason signing, back in December. You might have noticed that he hasn’t gotten a ton of hype since then. That is intentional. He can play at the base or in the middle of the diamond, but he isn’t quite starting-caliber.
A seasoned veteran who’s this team’s equivalent of a late-inning relief pitcher. When Jim Curtin needs an 85th-minute substitute to close out a win, Creavalle fits the bill.
Curtin likes the potential of the 18-year-old academy product, who backed out of a Naval Academy commitment to play pro soccer. There’s a ways to go, though, before Turner is a MLS regular.
You couldn’t script a better captain for this team, on and off the field. He earned all the praise he got last year, and the contract extension he got this week.
This might be the year when we finally see the Newark, Del., native blossom. As Curtin has alluded to, Fontana is Bedoya’s natural backup. That should get him more playing time than he’s had before. He can plug in at Bedoya’s position in the center of the park, or in a more attacking role.
Yes, he goes on here in the attacking column, and not just because he’s wearing the No. 10 jersey this season. His skills as a high-pressing tackler, quick-thinking passer and long-range shooter make him a crucial part of everything the Union will do.
Monteiro showed so much talent in his time here last year that sporting director Ernst Tanner made signing him permanently a top offseason priority. wanted him back badly, and majority owner Jay Sugarman broke his transfer fee record to get the deal done.
The 19-year-old Medford native is a gem of a player who has only just started to scratch the surface of his potential. He’s already great to watch, and when he fully acquires the shooting instinct he needs, he’ll be even greater. For now, don’t be surprised to see him on the left side of the diamond, charging with the ball into space created by Monteiro’s runs ahead of him.
A fan favorite for good reason: his one-on-one skills are exceptional. He’ll remain a super-sub, and this year, fans will be okay with that.
Can he repeat last year’s 15-goal performance now that opponents know about him? He has the tool set, and keep this in mind: last year, he missed the first seven games and the last three games — including all of the playoffs — because of injuries. If he keeps scoring, he’ll fully deserve the contract extension through 2023 he got Friday.
From what we’ve seen in the preseason, he’s likely to start the season as Przybylko’s strike partner. The 25-year-old Brazilian’s pace wreaks havoc on opponents, but his finishing touch last season wasn’t what it needed to be.
The bet here remains what it has been all winter: that he’ll be much better this year than his goalless four months last year. He’s too good a player to not be. It won’t be a surprise if he’s starting over Santos after a while.
Jack de Vries
Beginning his pro career at just 17, the Union academy product is intriguing. He has U.S. youth national team experience, and a nose for creating and finishing chances. We might not see him much this year, but remember his name.
Union coaches rave about his skill, but haven’t been as sure about where to play him. He’s naturally a winger, but the Union will only play with wingers this year as a backup system. So we might not see him much.
He’s at the bottom of the list only because’s he’s loaned out to Austrian club St. Polten until the end of June. He went to Europe to get in better game shape after being forced to play in the Jamaican league due to U.S. visa issues. It will have been 14 months since his last Union game when he returns.