Analysis / Commentary / Union

Philadelphia Union’s 2024 squad

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union Communications

Now that Philadelphia Union preseason has begun we can use the end-of-season roster announcement and the Tanner-Curtin end-of-season press conference, together with more recent developments and breaking news, to generate an unofficial 2024 expected first-team roster. Still outstanding are a  decision or two by players and perhaps a few offers from other clubs.

A current roster 

Twenty-one first-team players were announced in December as returning on guaranteed contracts. Since December, one player has signed a new Union contract, one has been loaned away for the 2024 season, and one has been traded away reducing the guaranteed number to 20.

Roster numbers 21 through 26 are returning on club-exercised options. Numbers 27 through 29 are “in-process” signings of players new to the first-team. Two are known, but the third remains unidentified. And the 30th is the out-of-contract captain to whom a new contract for a changed role has been offered.

The total is 30, one below MLS’s upper limit of 31. Thirty-one may be conditional on a club carrying three goalkeepers. (Nelson Pierre occupied Supplemental Roster Slot 31 last season.)  Changes, pending decisions, and the latest on potential offers are enumerated following our chart.

Returning players’ ages were calculated December 5, 2023. New players acquired more recently were calculated from their announcement dates.

The chart uses 2023’s salary cap status since 2024‘s will not be known until after roster compliance day, some time before February 24. The final roster may or may not be confirmed before the February 20 match at Saprissa.

With the caveat that this is the most fluid time of the roster’s entire year, we believe the following to be true.

Slot Uni Player Pos Age 23 Cap
Contracts guaranteed for 2024
1 18 Andre Blake GK 33.0 Senior
2 27 Kai Wagner LB 26.8 Senior
3 34 Brandan Craig LCB 19.7 Su25-28
4 3 Jack Elliott LCB 28.3 Senior
5 5 Jakob Glesnes RCB 29.7 Senior
6 15 Olivier Mbaizo RB 26.3 Senior
7 8 Jose Martinez DM 29.3 Senior
8 10 Daniel Gazdag AM 27.7 Senior
9 28 Tai Baribo S 25.9 Senior
10 7 Mikael Uhre S 29.2 Senior
11 29 OlwethuMakhanya CB 19.6 Senior
12 2 Matt Real LB/LM 24.4 Senior
13 20 Jesus Bueno DM/M 24.6 Su21-24
14 26 Nathan Harriel RB 22.6 Su25-28
15 16 Jack McGlynn LM 20.4 Su29-30
16 22 Sanders Ngabo M 19.4 ???
17 33 Quinn Sullivan RM/S 19.7 Su21-24
18 12 Isaiah LeFlore LB 21.0 dna
19 24 Nick Pariano AM 20.7 dna
20 25 Chris Donovan S 23.3 Su25-28
Options exercised for 2024
21 13 Holden Trent GK 24.4 Su25-28
22 9 Julian Carranza S 23.5 Senior
23 14 Jeremy Rafanello S/AM 23.6 Su25-28
24 31 Leon Flach LM 22.8 Senior
25 17 Damion Lowe RCB 30.6 Senior
26 19 Joaquin Torres S/AM 26.9 Senior
Potential new signings  – in process
27 ?? David Vazquez AM 17.8 dna
28 32 Jose Riasco S 19.8 dna
29 ?? unidentified GK ??? ???
Out of Contract – offer made
30 11 Alejandro Bedoya RM 36.6 Senior
Loaned away for 2024
31 23 Nelson Pierre S 18.7 Sup 31
32 21 Richard Odada DM 23.1 Senior

(Of those loaned away, Pierre is expected to return. Sources have indicated Odada is not.)

Decisions, signings under negotiation, and other matters
  • Andres Perea has been traded to NYCFC for at least $650k in General Allocation Money (GAM), $350k  in 2024, $300k in 2025, and up to an additional $150k if he achieves certain performance metrics.
  • Kai Wagner has been re-signed for three years guaranteed and a fourth on option. He will turn 31 in 2027.
  • Nelson Pierre has been loaned away for all of 2024.
  • Tanner expects to acquire another goalkeeper from outside the organization as Andre Blake’s backup.
  • Alejandro Bedoya must decide whether his role and salary offers are acceptable. The Perea trade makes the need for him greater.
  • Curtin’s December comments on Joaquin Torres indicate that the Union are trying to move him to a place that will be a better fit.
  • Tanner’s December comments on Julian Carranza made it clear that he could easily have been sold last summer. Whether similar offers have come or are coming this winter remains to be seen.  The Argentinian would leave club control after December 2024. Carranza recently has made some comments to others on Twitter/X. (Click here, here, and here). Jonathan Tannenwald has an article about Carranza in the Philadelphia Inquirer behind its paywall.
  • Tanner said negotiations to sign 17-year-old attacking midfielder David Vazquez are in process. Since Vazquez’s 18th birthday is February 22, we  may hear nothing until then. Vazquez, Neil Pierre, Francis Westfield, Andrew Rick, and C. J. Olney went to Florida with the first team Monday. (Click here and here). All had at least a few practices with the first team last fall. They are covering for first teamers who have not yet arrived.
  • Tanner said in December negotiations to sign nearly 20-year-old Venezuelan striker Jose Riasco are underway.  At that time Joe Tansey of Union Soccer Blog reported  that the process is complicated by a second MLS side holding Riasco’s discovery rights. In the beginning of preseason, Riasco will be away in Venezuela for CONMEBOL’s U23 Pre-Olympic qualification tournament.
  • Brandan Craig may currently be trialing in England with Everton. (Click here).

If Tanner carries all 30 listed above into the season, and he may do so because of schedule congestion, Curtin would have four more bodies on the roster than he has ever taken into a season .

The various European winter transfer windows will close on or about the first of February.

An organization professional depth chart for the 4-4-2 narrow diamond
Striker Striker
Mikael Uhre Julian Carranza
Tai Baribo Chris Donovan
Jeremy Rafanello Jose Riasco
(Sal Olivas)
Attacking Mid
Daniel Gazdag
Joaquin Torres
David Vazquez
Nick Pariano
Left Mid Right Mid
Jack McGlynn Quinn Sullivan
Leon Flach Alejandro Bedoya
(C J Olney) Sanders Ngabo
Defensive Mid 
Jose Martinez
Jesus Bueno
(Carlos Rojas)
Left Back  Left Center Back  Right Center Back Right Back 
Kai Wagner Jack Elliott Jakob Glesnes Nathan Harriel
Matt Real Brandan Craig Damion Lowe Olivier Mbaizo
IsaiahLeFlore (Neil Pierre) Olwethu Makhanya (FrancisWestfield)
Andre Blake
Outsider – soon
Holden Trent
(Andrew Rick)

Parentheses indicate the six Union II players.

Bedoya was not pictured in the images released of physicals and workouts in Philadelphia before departure for Florida.  He could also meet the team in Clearwater rather than flying to Philadelphia for the day of medicals and conditioning assessments.

We are assuming that defensive midfielder Carlos Rojas and right back Francis Westfield are actual candidates for the first team, but they are not certainties.

The pictures of Westfield are suggestive and Rojas’s absence from them could easily be explained by him meeting the club in Clearwater since he might be arriving directly from Venezuela. There also might be visa issues we don’t know about.

Venezuelan Rojas was a professional on loan to Union II from May 18 last year.  He is newsworthy because he is the first second-teamer to play successfully as a single defensive midfielder since long-time second-team captain James Chambers retired after the 2019 season.

The only amateur on our depth chart, Philadelphian Westfield is a senior at YSC academy who has recently turned 18. Last year he was Mr. Defensive Versatility for Union II, serving as an emergency double six as well as playing anywhere across the defensive back four when needed. He is primarily a right back.

Twice in 2023 as a 17-year-old Westfield had  trouble marking University of Maryland alumnus and New England Revolution II winger Joshua Bolma. Otherwise across the season he did well. He is an attitude tone-setter with his absolute loathing of failure both in practices and games.

If Rojas and Westfield get any game minutes – particularly in the middle game against Austin two days after the opener against Flamengo – they will give us hints how well they are doing. Given Jim Curtin’s recent preseason patterns of squad conditioning, we expect the top 22 to each play 45 minutes against Flamengo. The deeper reserves might get 45 against Austin two days later, probably in the second half.



  1. With due respect to our esteemed author… what exactly is breaking about any news coming from this franchise.
    and someone help me understand how getting a midfielder from Bolivia to likely be a U2 player is exciting.. which leads me to this point…
    … where are the developing / developed academy players— and with respect do not tell me Jack McGlynn… he was built in New York at Gottschee then poached to Union at 16 nearly 17.
    You need to find a tier two Bolivian midfielder?
    why would that be a thing— at this point— EVER?
    Largely underwhelming off season in a league where Inter Miami is basically going to be fielding a first team of world class or one time world class players.
    We cannot compete with that… so then just play the kids (who presumably you have in abundance (( which I do not necessarily believe)) and recognize the Cup windows are all but closing.
    Prove me wrong…. Union— I’d be glad to say those of us spending too much time thinking about this shit… are. I am circumspect about it all.
    That’s it from my corner of the savannah.

  2. When the mighty elephant trumpets the rest of the jungle takes note!
    The new academy players are: 1. attacking mid David Vazquez who will not likely be announced as a Homegrown signing until closer to his 18th birthday at the end of next month (because of the strictness of U. S. child labor laws) I am guessing. 2. goalkeeper Andrew Rick who is already a Union II professional but in Florida with the first team now as he has been for practices since mid-summer.. 3. Centerback Neil Pierre, ditto with Rick on his professional status. He has had some practices with the first team but many fewer than Rick. They made him a pro ASAP this past summer.
    I cannot tell whether Francis Westfield is a candidate for turning pro, or whether he and his family want him to get exposure to college, both academic and athletic. Remember Mark McKenzie went that route several years ago.
    And outside the academy Riasco seems to be considered a prospect.
    I myself have been impressed by Carlos Rojas Torres. Tanner brought him back on loan. I cannot tell whether Tanner likes him as a first team candidate. I would expect him to be quite expensive to acquire. I have no idea what expenses would be triggered by him practicing with the first team. the loan deal could easily have such automatic triggers I would guess.
    There are five names. I’m guessing CJ Olney is a year away with the first team, but he’s also in Florida right now. So he could be six.
    They’ve never added six youngsters in one hear that I remember.
    Clearly they will lose Cavan Sullivan overseas, and Sullivan seems to be good enough o go when he’s old enough. He’s allegedly still only 14.
    The real lament has to be the rumored loss of Tommy Wilson,
    In re the Bolivian – he could allow them to honor Mbaizo’s desire to rejoin Mbaizo’s family.

  3. Thanks for this Tim. Good jumping off point for a new season and what exactly the Union have for 2024. Unfortunately, I have to fully agree with El Pach, that what they have is a little unimpressive. And as an off-season goes this one has been hugely unimpressive. This was a team that looked to me to be in desperate need of refreshing by the end of last year. Coaching, players (starters), tactics, something to give fans and players a feeling like we are at the start of an exciting new chapter because it had gotten stale. I fully expect Bedoya to be resigned and Jim will start him too many times for my liking. Same coach, players, and tactics. Instead of an exciting new chapter it feels to me like we are trying to cling to the current chapter (admittedly very successful one) two years too long now.

    I also have to agree with the gist of El Pach’s complaints on the academy. I give them credit for McGlynn ( he’s been here a good while now), but where are the players making a difference in the first team? McGlynn is a starter, Harriet is almost a starter, then Curtin yo-yos Quinn Sullivan around when he isn’t stapled to bench, and Real who is clearly “only in emergency” option to Jim. Sounds ok until you realize that is the academy output for like the last 4 years- although have to include Paxton too. The academy has had some very good successes in sending players to Europe ( Aaronson bros, McKenzie, Trusty, etc) but by this point I was hoping they would be producing one or maybe two players every year good enough to fill depth roles on the first team and keep the starters looking over their shoulder. Even if they weren’t Europe quality at least help the first team, but it’s not really happening. I don’t view the lack of turnover on this roster as a good thing, and the academy should be supplying a bigger chunk of that turnover.

    I really hope the Union can get a little from Cavan, Tim. If he really is as good as he looks I know the Union won’t get much from him, but I was still hoping for a year or two in his 16 or 17 year old season. At the same time I don’t think Curtin has given Quinn enough minutes so not sure I would be excited about handing him Cavan if I were the Sullivans- pre-existing family connection to Curtin or not. His transfers could be worth A LOT of money.

  4. My longer term concern is that the very very best the academy produces are signed away to Europe as teenagers. Sullivan the younger and Zambrano.
    The business model has that flaw.
    They may have to replace their academy director is the rumors are true. And they have no way to keep their young amateurs before they turn 18 because us child labor laws do not allow they to be signed earlier, I think. I am not a child labor lawyer so I do not have expertise in the area..
    That could be a fundamental flaw in the model, but only more time will tell.

    • “The business model has that flaw.”


      Tim, can you shed some light on why the Union cannot sign someone like Cavan Sullivan or Zambrano rather than lose them to Europe.


      Yes, I get the labor law issue – but what about it? (I understand you are not an expert – nor am I.) But why can’t it be overcome? (A la Freddy Adu.)


      Haven’t some MLS teams started youngsters at age 16?

      • For instance, Cincinnati’s Stiven Jimenez played as a 15 year old this past season (at least once as a 90th minute sub).


        Is it that Union don’t want to jump through hoops required to sign minors that other teams are willing to do so?

      • OK, did some quasi-legal research. From what I found is that it is less child-labor laws that preclude signing of minors, but rather the desire to keep NCAA eligibility.


        Still not sure why someone would be willing to sign with a European team for instance and not with the Union, unless a pro European contract does not void NCAA eligibility?

      • The NCAA eligibility is an excellent point. I should have though of that. All thanks to you for reminding us.
        Why sign directly with Europe? Two points occur. First, quantity money available, both actually and potentially.
        And second, in a word, comparative quality. To illustrate, Everton’s goal from the run of play in yesterday’s scrimmage and also the comparative speed and efficiency of Flamango’s counterattacks compared to the Union’s. I am not being fair by comparing a team eight days into its season to one on a mid-season break. But the difference was clear. Philly dribbled and looked around. Flamengo hit first time passes.

  5. Best move so far was resigning Wagner. Need to sign a proven attacking midfielder before the season starts. Better back up goalie also. It’s the least they can do just to stay even . Bedoya should be resigned also. Baribo has to play a fair amount to see if he can replace Caranza who will be leaving. Uhre has to return to form or be moved. Donavan is not a starter Statis quo os not good enough. Need to improve quality of attack now not midseason.

    • all this. As last season showed, depth is critical. we need to replenish the outgoing A team and upgrade the strikers. this ownership and TD need to take it next level.

  6. Losing Carranza will be a massive blow. The only thing that could get me excited at this point would be a big name forward. Short of that, I’m feeling pessimistic as the league seemed to have figured us out this past season.

  7. Glad to be back with extremely tempered expectations. If the Gazdag loan rumors are true, we aren’t going to be in a good place this season. And please, can we sign some players..

    • It baffles me that we would even consider loaning Gazdag out unless there is a (true playmaking) #10 on the hook. Torres ain’t it. Not even sure I even care if Bedoya stays but unless we have someone to replace him we need his talent and experience. Depth? We are still in the shallow end of that pool from the standpoint of experience..

  8. Wouldn’t Bueno be the presumed starter at right mid, or does preseason training suggest otherwise? I would have assumed sullivan comes off the bench to relieve starters at mid or striker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *