CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union picked up the contract options of eight players for the 2020 season on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Joe Bendik, defenders Matt Real, Mark McKenzie and Olivier Mbaizo, midfielders Warren Creavalle and Anthony Fontana and forwards Cory Burke and Michee Ngalina are added to a 2020 roster that now contains 20 players.
The players not returning are more notable. Marco Fabian and Haris Medunjanin are not coming back. Fabian was one of three players to have his contract option declined along with R.J. Allen and Fabinho. Medunjanin was out of contract and is not pursuing a deal with the club.
“We were really, really okay with (Medunjanin and Fabian)’s performances,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said. “Marco was a little bit unlucky with the injuries and the red card he got. After the season, you are in touch with the agents and we are dealing further on with the agents. We were very thankful to the players.”
Additionally, bona fide offers has been made to Ilsinho and offers were extended to Fafa Picault, Jamiro Monteiro and Aurelien Collin.
One of the factors that went into the Medunjanin decision was the Union’s goals against. They conceded 50 goals and struggled to record a clean sheet in the final two months of the season.
“Haris played probably his best season in 2019 and it’s always tough when you lose a player like him in terms of the personality he has, but he’s also turning 35 in the next season,” Tanner said. “The probability that he is playing the same season is not that high, and in addition, we want to change things here. If we don’t do it now, we lose one year. We certainly don’t want to build our future on a player we know there might be a day when we have to make that decision.
“We also need to take into account there is a defensive part a holding midfielder has to fulfill,” Tanner said. “If you look on our goals against, we have to do something and that’s what we’re already doing in this moment.”
Tanner mentioned Medunjanin expressed he has enough left to continue his playing career elsewhere and is exploring his options.
The Union sporting director also chimed in on the club’s search for a replacement at the No. 6
“The market is very competitive,” Tanner said. “We have a first option we are going for and we have a couple of other options, but no option is older than 28.”
“We already have some opportunities and I’m pretty positive we’ll have a real good team.”
Current 2020 Union Roster
GK: Andre Blake, Joe Bendik, Matt Freese
DEF: Ray Gaddis, Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Matt Real, Olivier Mbaizo
MID: Brenden Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya, Warren Creavalle, Anthony Fontana, Cole Turner
FW: Kacper Przybylko, Andrew Wooten, Sergio Santos, Cory Burke, Michee Ngalina, Jack De Vries