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Clues from the Union Roster for CONCACAF Champions Cup

Photo Marjorie Elzey

On Tuesday, January 30, CONCACAF announced the rosters submitted for its 2024 Champions Cup, the expanded successor to its old Champions League. Joe Tansey posted Philadelphia’s on X (formerly Twitter).

The news provides clues on how the roster build is progressing.

Philadelphia has submitted only 22 players. CONCACAF’s covering article states, “Clubs that have chosen to register fewer than 35 players can add additional players up to 44 hours before each match, provided their roster does not exceed 35 players. Once a player has been registered, they may not be removed or replaced.”

“Two days before each match, clubs must select a maximum of 23 players from their 35-player list to complete their final match rosters.” At least one more addition seems virtually certain.

A major roster-build clue is that Julian Carranza seems unexpected to leave before the summer since he cannot be removed from the CONCACAF roster even if he does. The Union expects him to still be theirs in late February.

Currently ineligible 

Jose Riasco and David Vazquez also are unsigned. Whether they would also be added once they sign is less obvious.

New goalkeeper Oliver Semmle is ineligible because, although he is signed, he is not yet eligible for a regular season league game in his club’s country. Once he receives his P1 visa he would become eligible.

SuperDraft goalkeeper Francesco Montali is also unsigned and, because of Semmle, unlikely to be added barring emergency.

Since the Union intend to spend a few days in Costa Rica in advance of the match, omission from the CONCACAF roster does not exclude travel for practice and conditioning.


Leon Flach has a torn pectoral muscle and earlier left Florida to return to Chester for treatment according to Jim Curtin. In other sports torn pectorals have taken time to heal. It seems unlikely Flach could be ready by February 20th.

Curiously, Joaquin Torres is not included while the most recent signing attacker Markus Anderson is. Could the Argentine be moving?

Matt Real has been omitted, as have Jamir Berdecio, Isaiah LeFlore, and Nick Pariano. All could be added later, particularly if they travel to Central America.


A surprise is the immediate inclusion of newly-signed striker Markus Anderson, who has practiced with the Union for less than a week, if at all. He was not in his Spanish  squad on January 21 or January 28, according to Transfermarkt.

Sanders Ngabo is also included. But he is less of a surprise because he has been present all preseason with minutes against Flamengo, Austin, and New York City FC. He would seem to rank ahead of Nick Pariano.

The inclusion of Tai Baribo suggests his ankle is making good progress towards recovery.

Alejandro Bedoya was signed to a new contract for 2024 on February 1 and is likely to be included on the CONCACAF roster.

The most intriguing inclusion is Andrew Rick because he is not known to be signed to a first-team contract. Is there an obscure loophole that allows his listing since he is eligible for a regular season MLS game only under the short-term call-up or extreme hardship-goalkeeper exception rules? Ernst Tanner does have a reputation for finding loopholes. The Semmle signing places Rick’s expected role for games firmly with Union II.

Current depth chart for CONCACAF Champions Cup
Striker Striker
Uhre Carranza
Donovan Baribo
Attacking Mid
Left Mid Right Mid
McGlynn Sullivan
Defensive Mid
Left Back Left Center Back Right Center Back Right Back
Wagner Elliott Glesnes Mbaizo
Makhanya Goalkeeper Lowe Harriel

There are defenders sufficient to adjust to three center backs and two wingbacks with two players extra should a formation shift be needed.

Midfield depth is a concern, but Ngabo can backup either shuttling midfielder.  We’ll see how well the Philadelphia Union players manage the 3,800 ft. elevation at Saprissa’s stadium during their first match of the season on February 20. Bedoya’s conditioning level  coming into camp will be important.






  1. The biggest surprise, to me, is not Bedoya, who as you note had not yet formally agreed to a contract. He can be added later. But adding the new attacker Andersen to the roster, like, one day after announcing him was a shock. That and the 3 year contract have me thinking they believe in this kid; he maybe something truly special.
    Secondary surprise was Torres. He’s featured more heavily in preseason, got a good extension in the fall, and Jim has talked him up. Very curious not to be included. But it may be something else there (visa issues?).
    I’m a little surprised by Real as well, because he is a near lock to be included, and the assumption during the Kai saga was that he would actually get more minutes this year than last.
    Oh and Rick. Never even heard the name and here he is.

    • Update: DelcoTimes reports re Real and Torres: Curtin said that was an administrative issue, the rosters neither final nor official.

  2. I think that considering the number of open CCC roster spots (13) we shouldn’t read too much into who is/is not named. Anyone not on that roster currently can be added easily.
    Carranza’s value will be much lower in mid-season. If he is determined to play out the contract they (Tanner) should seriously consider trading him to a Western Conference team.

    • What are you talking about!? Hell with that. Give him a new contract, if you want to keep his value high. I don’t want to see him leave, unless it is better for his career. He obviously likes it here, since he turned down multiple European teams.
      With his talent, there is nothing for him elsewhere within the league. He won’t gain any extra clout.

      • Gruncle Bob says:

        He doesn’t seem to want a new long term contract. He has expressed a strong desire to play in Europe. Yet he (or his agent) turned at least 1 solid offer, and probably more.
        The right thing for both parties is to sign a 1 year extension which maintains his value while the U continue to try to move him.
        What CANNOT happen is he plays out his contract and the U get nothing, or next to nothing in the summer. That is where I see it going. I hope I am wrong.

      • Agree with the last bit. But I get the sense he wants to stay except and unless he gets not just a European opportunity but a really good one.

      • A complicating factor with Carranza is that he has been a Young DP.
        His eligibility for that status ends after this season because he will turn 24 during this season’s calendar year.
        His 2023 salary was above the 2023 maximum individual salary budget charge. His 2024 salary will be increased at a minimum by the bonuses he gets for goals scored, games started, substitution appearances made, and games for which he dressed but did not play. The 2024 individual maximum charge will increase too, but not enough to stop him from needing a DP spot.
        AND THAT DP SPOT WILL NO LONGER BE AS A YOUNG DP. He will have to become a full DP.
        Having three DPs 24 years old or older changes two things.
        First, the Union would stop getting paid by the clubs with three for not having three, and they would have to join in paying those who do not have the third one. Every club that has three pays $150,000. That is one senior roster player salary at the lower end of the salary range, approximately. (Think Harriel, McGlynn, or Real in 2023.)
        Second, the third 24-year-old DP reduces the number of U22 initiative players a club may have from three to one. In 2023 the Union did not have any. But we do no know their future plans.
        The short version of these long-winded details is that extending Carranza for a year is not as simple as those words make it seem.
        Of course, if they have enough of either type of allocation money, they could buy down Gazdag’s contract to make him a TAM player instead of a DP, unless he gets a really big raise for 2024. Uhre they could not have bought down in 2023 so it is likely they cannot for 2024.

  3. On an unrelated subject, it truly cracks me up that, that has been slobbering all over Messi and the pinks since day one, reporting everything that happens anywhere near him or his boys-even at the expense of other team news-yet it has been a full day and not a peep about how they got trounced by the Saudi team (6-0). There really must be alot of Messi/Apple money controlling the MLS news there, huh?

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