Commentary / Opinion

Where are they now? Taking a look at the Union’s 2018-2019 trades

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union have come a long way since last year, and breaking down their current success would certainly show how multifactorial of a phenomenon it has been. Between a new sporting director, a surge of Academy products and young players finding more playing time, a number of incoming transfers showing promise, and team stalwarts stepping up this season, there is a lot that has gone into the Union’s positive run so far.

At the same time, one contributing factor is likely the weight that Philadelphia was able to shed over the past year through the transfers, sales, and declined options of nearly half the squad. With the Gold Cup break and MLS soccer on a pause, now is a good a time as any to look into how those players are doing post-Philadelphia.

John McCarthy (Gk) – Good move for him

McCarthy only played 90 minutes last season, but he put in a great performance. Interestingly enough, he is the Union’s highest-rated player on WhoScored for the 2017-2018 season based off that one performance. It seemed like he was the perfect backup goalkeeper to have, but it was understandable when he left to seek more playing time elsewhere. He joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Championship, and has since started all 15 matches this season with 9 clean sheets to bring them to number one in the USL Eastern Conference. Overall, it looks like he’s getting the play time he deserves and has been excelling.

Keegan Rosenberry (D) – Probably a good move for the Union

His transfer to Colorado Rapids was surprising to most fans, let alone to Rosenberry himself. According to Sporting Director Ernst Tanner, the sale came down to already having the right wing covered by Mbaizo and Gaddis, which made the offer of up to $400k in allocation money worth it. Since then, Rosenberry has played every minute for Colorado; however, the Rapids have languished in the West at 11th place, with the most negative goal differential in their conference. It looks like Rosenberry and the rest of the Colorado defense still have a lot to figure out for the rest of the season.

Joshua Yaro (D) – Definitely a good move for the Union

With his total compensation at $224k for playing zero minutes, his release and subsequent move to USL Championship side San Antonio FC was definitely one of the Union’s “cleaning house” moments.

Richie Marquez (D) – Definitely a good move for the Union

Marquez’s release was the exact same story as Yaro’s. With $150k of compensation for zero minutes of gameplay, his declined option and subsequent retirement meant that the Union could afford to pay new players that could earn minutes.

David Accam (M) – Probably a bad move for the Union

He was likely the biggest disappointment for the Union last season, netting just one goal in over 1200 minutes for the Union on the heels of a trailblazing season with Chicago Fire. In his return this season after injury however, he was extremely impressive and contributed significantly to the Union being able to climb the table early on. Even though he was traded to Columbus Crew for $500k on his way to Nashville SC next season, he is still tied for the Union’s current season top goalscorer. The Union leadership stated that he was sold because his role as a winger didn’t fit the Union’s new system, which seems silly considering he was producing results. While he hasn’t been much for Columbus, it will be a “what-if” question to think about how he would have been this season if he had stayed with the Union.

Derrick Jones (M) – Probably a good move for the Union

You may recognize him from such episodes as “the Union sub in the 60th minute to try to stabilize and kill the match” and “put him and Creavalle in when the Union have the lead.” Jones was a good substitution to have, but when Nashville SC came calling with $175k of allocation money, the Union leadership took the deal. With a crowded midfield coming into the 2018-2019 season, it was likely a good trade.

Borek Dockal (M) – Definitely a bad move for the Union

The MLS assist leader for the 2018 season was likely the best player on the Union squad. However, his extremely expensive price and his desire to go back to Sparta Prague meant that keeping him in Philadelphia was all but impossible. His loss was a big one for the Union, albeit nearly unavoidable. It would have been interesting to see how much he could have accomplished with the Union this season, in place of a player like Marco Fabian who hasn’t accomplished too much yet.

Fabian Herbers (M) – Probably a good move for the Union

Herbers was another player on the Union squad that was marked as a substitution-only player, and that was fairly appropriate. His trade to Chicago Fire in exchange for a 2nd-round 2019 MLS SuperDraft pick seems pretty fair. He has played two matches for Chicago since, and scored in one of them. So it seems to have modestly worked out for both sides.

Marcus Epps (M) – Probably a good move for the Union

Epps had a modestly good season with the Union, although Picault was much more favored in the same role. Ultimately, the need for a second backup winger was not great, so his option was declined by the Union and picked up by the New York Red Bulls. Since then, he’s been mediocre for the Red Bulls and the Red Bulls II, indicating that his release was probably a good one.

Adam Najem (M) – Definitely a good move for the Union

While Najem was more of a Steel player than a Union player for most of his career in Philadelphia,  his move to USL Championship expansion team Memphis 901 FC was in the best interest of both sides. He was never going to see real minutes in Philadelphia, and he can play an important role in Memphis. Overall, it was a good move for everyone involved, albeit an inconsequential one for the Union.

C.J. Sapong (F) – Probably a good move for the Union

C.J. Sapong’s time with the Union was the personification of A Tale of Two Cities’ introduction: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” He was a Union hero at times, and absolutely infuriating at others. Overall though, he spent a while as the Union’s sole point person up front, so selling him really did indicate that the Union were transforming their approach and identity going into the 2019 season. His sale to Chicago Fire earned the Union nearly half a million in allocation money, which seemed reasonable given his modest form in the 2017-2018 season. Overall, it was likely a good trade that the Union needed to make in order to progress as an MLS team as a whole. At the same time, there is some doubt given the Union’s struggles up front at times, especially with Corey Burke being stranded in Jamaica and Przybylko refusing to score goals as of late.


The Union made a lot of moves in the offseason and early 2019 MLS season. It seems to have worked out for the most part, not only for the Union but for the players involved as well. While the loss of players that the Union have been missing were mostly unavoidable, it seems like the transfer decisions made at the beginning of the season have paid off and were well-designed. It will be fascinating to see how this team continues to evolve over the next few seasons if good decisions and deals continue to be made. The Union were able to come a long way in just one transfer window, so it bodes well for the Philadelphia side to know that time will afford them even more opportunities to develop and progress.


  1. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Thanks for the info that Rich Marquez retired. Good to know.
    Other information junkies like me may want to note that Union original Michael Orozco, who was on loan in 2010 from San Luis of Liga MX, has just signed with Orange County of USLC.

  2. In Tanner We Trust says:

    It seems like this team is changing its identity, in a good way. I do miss CJ and look forward to welcoming him back July 20th

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Accam was a good move – considering the money for him was/is being spent on Wooten, Montiero, etc. I have no issue with it.
    Dockal – they had no choice on and he was never coming back.
    All in all, I have zero issue with basically every move that was made. Save for the exception that you could have somehow kept Dockal instead of Fabian, but I don’t think that was ever happening anyway… and Rosenberry, who I’d obviously prefer at RB on a game to game basis over Ray – but again his money and (funny money acquired), are giving us the ability to fill other needs.

    • Mostly this ^.
      Rosenberry doesn’t move my needle. I’m fine with the trade and nothing he’s done in Colorado changes that for me.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    They could have used McCarthy in the Open Cup instead of Cornel since that would have meant an additional international spot. Accam is too soon to tell since it will depend on what he does going forward and what Wooten does for the Union. Rosenberry is only a good move if you look at it as providing money to get Monteiro rather than Fabian. If the money went to the latter, then it is too soon to tell for sure.

  5. Must disagree on Accam. I think that is very probably a good move for the Union.

    Also disagree on Rosenberry. The team has had 2 real problem areas this season, and the Wooten signing addresses one of them. The other is right back, and Mbaizo is now getting surgery and will be out for 8 weeks, so we have no alternative to Gaddis at all. (I don’t know what we do if he gets hurt right now.) Would we be better if we still had Rosenberry? It’s all hypothetical, but I’d have to say: probably hell yeah.

    • RJ Allen (29yr old, formerly NYCFC and OCSC) reportedly in Union training as a trialist.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      WE have seen a possibility at right back in short bursts at the end of games, namely Bedoya. The move would need Fabian to rematch fit, and would be vulnerable to a winger with elite speed, but would be stronger offensively than Gaddis.

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