Union Best XI of the 2010s: staff picks, part two

Photo: 215pix

Today, we’re running the next three of our staff picks for the Union’s Best XI of the 2010s.

As a reminder, the only rules are these: You can use any player who was signed to a Union contract at any point before Dec. 1, 2019. You can use any formation you want. And you can use any criteria you want.

Steve Whisler

Boy, the pickings are slim at left back. Gaddis gets the nod for his time dutifully filling in, opening up right back for Keegan Rosenberry. In midfield, I wanted to get all the many central mids onto the field, ending up with a diamond of Tranquillo Barnetta, Vincent Nogueira, Ale Bedoya, and Maurice Edu. Not a bad machine in the middle, eh? Stretched my picks up top a bit with Borek Dockal playing under Sebastian Le Toux. This team might not be great, but would sure be fun to watch, which feels appropriate for a Union all-decade team.

Tim Jones

My all-time best Union XI is, in fact, a best XIV because it includes three specialists: John McCarthy as penalty kicks goalkeeper, C.J. Sapong as 75th minute defensive substitute, and Kleberson as game-winning free-kick taker. (Ilsinho is already on the team, but he’d be the 60th minute offensive substitute.)

It is a 4-2-3-1 because that is the shape played predominantly throughout the decade, including 2019. My selections are heavily biased towards recent years and foreign-trained players as quality has improved markedly over the decade and the internationals have been key.

John Osborn

Since I didn’t start following the Union until around ’15, my Best XI are fairly recent. I always thought MacMath was a better keeper than Nick Sakiewicz gave him credit for. I was trying to think of a left-footed forward, but McInerney and Le Toux were amazing in their prime — they could make it work with two right-footers. And, yes, Elliott appears twice on purpose . . . it’s almost 2020, shouldn’t we be able to clone him with a 3D printer or something? He can do no wrong in my playbook!


  1. The cloning of Elliott is funny and interesting all at the same time. Could he be mirror cloned? One left footed and one right footed? Just saying.

  2. So with 6 staff picks in, only 3 include the Union’s all-time leader in minutes played and no one even mentions the guy who is number two in that category.

    • disappointed no one chose Brian Carroll. cloning joke aside, i’d put him in the best XI in any position.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      This is interesting. I don’t recall anyone celebrating BC while he was here, but you’re right: in his prime, he’s the best defensive midfielder the team have ever had.

  3. You all are crazy for not even mentioning Jordan Harvey at left back. The guy went on to be rock solid for two teams after being shipped out of Philly. Think of the lost opportunity cost the Union experienced all of those years afterwards. There should almost be a whole article on it.

  4. Scott of Nazareth says:

    Maybe its recency bias on my part, but I’m still confused on how after 6 teams have been presented, Andre Blake is only on 2 of them? Really?
    Would the current team be materially better with McMath or Mondragon?
    Not saying either sucked or anything, but I just don’t recall either making nearly as many “Holy Cr@p! How did he get that ball?!?” type saves as Blake does.

    • I chose Mondragon over Blake because of his leadership and direction of the defense. Blake is a better shot stopper. But the 2011 defense was a lot better than most of its successors.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      My argument against that is this: Blake routinely makes ridiculous saves, but never ones that are better than other keepers in the league (he almost never wins save of the week). Add poor distribution and a mistake or two a week and he’s just average.

      • Scott of Nazareth says:

        Both points are fair enough.

        I just can’t say that watching Blake play do I ever find myself wishing or thinking, “I wish we still had…”

  5. Why so much okugo over valdes?

    Are ppl salty?

    I left edu off my 11 ngl for medunjanin

    But like why okugo?

    • +1
      People forget that Okugo got to play alongside Valdez and Jeff Parke.
      For me Tim Jones’ best 11 is so far the best of the bunch. That 11 would challenge for honors.

    • Okugo had once season at center back where he was a revelation. The following season he decided he did not want to play the position and when put on the field as a center back played so poorly that the team swapped his spot on the field with Maurice Edu, taking a world class midfielder the team acquired as a DP and forcing him onto the backline. For that alone, I can’t put him on the best 11.

  6. There is a strong sense of nostalgia in these picks.
    Love the guy, but Gaddis isn’t even close to being the best LB of the decade, even if he was (infuriatingly) the only option for a lot of it.

  7. Le Toux Slight / Jack Mac mystery????
    I don’t know how anyone could not include Le Toux in their starting 11. You are either very young and did not follow the Union until you were an adult or you have no idea of his contribution to the Philadephia Union.

    All time goal and assist come on youngsters couldn’t you at least do a little research. You could have put him somewhere. Koudos to John Osborne for including Jack Mack. With the correct coaching he would now be the equivalent of Wondo. Its a crying shame whats happened to his career. At one point he was the Uniions leading scorer and looked like he would be headed for the national team. What the hell happened? Does anyone of the more knowledgeable contributors give any insight on why he fell from grace. Any insights or opinions from senior staff and contributors would be appreciated.

    • Chris Gibbons says:

      Get thee to Twitter and do some asking around. You’ll find the answer you’re looking for.

    • Jack’s breakout season was 2013 when he was MLS player of the month is both April and May on his way to a 12 goal season (7 of those goals in the first 2 months). I have always felt that while he should get credit for finishing his chances, much of that early success came from Connor Casey often holding the ball and occupying two defenders at all times, it left Jack Mac in a lot of favorable positions that he took advantage of. Once teams adjusted and began to pay attention to him, his production fell back to the mean, while attitude wise he seemed to view himself as better than he was.

      • Feeling nostalgic ********** just watched you tube all the goals of the phila union 2103. Only saw 1 Jack Mac goal where he was directly assisted by Casey. Many of his goals occurred with Casey not even on the field. Thought he played in the same style of Wondo only he was 10 years younger. I think he was a very good poacher and had very good awareness of where the cross would end up. Liked his grit, Remember getting in an opponents face or sticking up for a teammate. The Andrew Wenger trade to Montreal was a bust. Jac Mac was never meant to be a stand alone forward. Like I said with the right coach I Still think he could contribute on the Union with Pryzblko and another Forward /At age 28 he probably has not even reached his peak. I just don’t know if the current coach would accept him. I think Bedoya would be a good mentor for him. I say give another shot.. Nothing to lose by offering him a tryout, It would be good for the team and fans.

  8. Steve Whisler – what do you have against Kai Wagner?

    Blake is in a different class than these other keepers mentioned.

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