Looking ahead to possible international call-ups

Photo: Paul Rudderow

International absences will create acute crunch times in the combined schedule of Philadelphia Union and Philadelphia Union II.

A recent discussion with second team head coach Marlon LeBlanc concerning number of games and squad depth revealed that LeBlanc expects his depth to come from the first team usually.

The Union roster is larger than it has ever been under Ernst Tanner, and the extra players will need minutes.

But there will be depth crunches when both squads will be stretched thin simultaneously. Those times fall within FIFA’s international windows and its other international youth tournaments.

The 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia 2023 will be a special problem.

The call-ups

Comparing both the Union and Union II’s schedules — announced and unannounced but estimated games — to the first team’s known internationals generates these numbers of potentially missed games for each player, based on optimistic views how how far they will progress in their tournaments.

Player Nation Event(s) Dates



Andre Blake Jamaica Nations League 26-Mar 1
Gold Cup 26 Jun – 16 Jul 5
Damion Lowe Jamaica Nations League 26-Mar 1
Gold Cup 26 Jun – 16 Jul 5
Olivier Mbaizo Cameroon AFCON qualifying 20-28 Mar

4-12 Sep



Daniel Gazdag Hungary Euro 24 qualifying 23 & 27 Mar

17 & 20 Jun

7 & 10 Sep

14 & 17 Oct

16 & 19 Nov






Jack McGlynn USA U-20s U-20 World Cup: 20 May – 11 Jun 5 to 9
Quinn Sullivan USA U-20s U-20 World Cup: 20 May – 11 Jun 5 to 9
Brandan Craig USA U-20s U-20 World Cup: 20 May – 11 Jun 5 to 9

*The chart itself makes no allowances for travel and time zones. Those issues are discussed below. AFCON stands for “African Cup of Nations.” The chart assumes Jamaica makes the Gold Cup semifinals.

Indonesia 2023

Were the USA U20s to make the final in Indonesia, absence from the Union would last three weeks plus substantial travel and recovery time. The time difference between Philadelphia and Djakarta is 12 hours, so biological clocks will be scrambled. Noon will be midnight. Here are further schedule details.

2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia

  • Group stage: 20-28 May.
  • Knockout stage: 29-May – 11-June

As LeBlanc noted, the most devastating absences will be Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, and Brandan Craig. Even without allowing for travel recovery and time zone adjustment, this group will miss several Union matches, four MLS regular-season ones for certain. In the  unlikely event they make the final, the potential-misses maximum could be as high as 11.

  • The 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup occurs simultaneously with the finals of the Concacaf Champions League and the Union’s possible second and third games in the US Open Cup.
  • The internet says actual flight time from Los Angeles to Djakarta is 21 hours.
  • Adjusting to the 9-hour LA-Djakarta time change will add meaningful but difficult-to-estimate time onto both ends of the entire absence. Additionally, there is LA to Philadelphia.
  • I have guessed how much biological clock adjustment time to schedule. A website under the general aegis of the government’s National Institute of Health states, “It often takes a few days for your biological clock to align with a new time zone,” so my guess may be low.
  • From May 13 to June 3 the Union could have as many as seven games. It already has four certain ones in MLS.

The Union’s three U-20s are not going to step off the plane straight into a match in either Indonesia or Philly even though they are superbly conditioned teenage athletes.

As for the rest of the likely absentees:

  • Andre Blake will be called up for both Jamaica events.
  • If Damion Lowe has not gotten consistent games, his call up may be less likely.
  • Olivier Mbaizo went to Qatar but did not play. I have no idea whether he will be called in for the new cycle.
  • Daniel Gazdag will be called in for all 10 of Hungary’s match days. The match pairs fall so closely together that they have demanded and will continue to demand maximum squad depth.

For the sharp-eyed, Kenya was disqualified from AFCON qualifying by FIFA, so there will be no games to which Richard Odada will be called. And, having not found any information about Venezuelan national team activity for 2023 (aside from a cancelled friendly against Guatemala on January 28), it is difficult to predict Jose Martinez’s international absences. (If others can read Spanish and have information, please share it in the comments.)

It is Ernst Tanner’s largest Union squad ever because Jim Curtin — and Marlon LeBlanc — will need every player to survive these absences.


In the improbable event that the first team plays in all possible 2023 championship finals – MLS’s playoffs, the Concacaf Champion’s League, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and the Leagues’ Cup – they would play 61 games in 2023.

Parenthetical security note: First-time qualifier Israel is also going to Indonesia 2023. Indonesia has the largest Islamic population in the world. Only the island of Bali is majority non-islamic — it is Hindi — and has one of the tournament’s stadiums. All should hope that FIFA rigs the draw to place the Israelis on Bali and only Bali, since elsewhere there has already been unfriendly, unwelcoming, non-governmental public comment causing the government to publicly guarantee the Israeli team’s safety.

Since the tournament’s draw has not yet occurred (March 31), the U.S. might still become involved in the security situation.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    It is absolutely ridiculous that MLS has games scheduled during the March International break. Once again, the league shows what a joke it is.
    The 61 games would only be the case if the Union finish in 8th or 9th in the regular season AND their best of 3 series goes the full 3 games. (34 regular season, 8 CONCACAF, 5 US Open Cup, 7 Leagues Cup, and 7 MLS playoffs/Cup).

  2. Venezuela has friendlies this month against Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia on 3/24 and 3/28. (

    Also, it looks like their manager (who I remember hating in the Carlos Valdes saga) is out:

    Also per Wikipedia, CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers will start in 2023. (

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