Philadelphia Union sporting director Ernst Tanner has revealed the club will be searching hard for at least one striker this off-season.
The Union have enjoyed a positive change in fortunes over the last couple of years, starting with winning their first-ever MLS Cup Playoff game in 2019 and most recently reaching the Eastern Conference final – with a Supporters’ Shield title nicely sandwiched between.
Even so, Jim Curtin could do with a little more firepower. The Union were outscored with most of their rivals at the top of the Eastern Conference, while of their three Playoff goals this season, one was an own goal and another a last-minute screamer from center-back Jakob Glesnes.
Kacper Przybylko was the only Philadelphia player to register double-figure goals while Sergio Santos was notorious for missing big chances.
“We have an entire roster, and a competitive one, if we don’t lose somebody,” Tanner said (via MLSsoccer.com). “But at the same time … we are always looking out to improve. As we are standing with three strikers now, we might for sure get one or better even two in order to enhance our competitiveness and get better.
“Time never stands still, and we are always on the search for the best possible player we can get. Maybe we even can announce something soon.”
The need to improve was echoed by Curtin, who conceded teams will rarely be shocked by the Union anymore with their quality and competitiveness there for all to see.
“We’ve done it now consistently, we’ve done it in our own unique Philadelphia way, and we recognize now that we have to adapt and adjust and continue to improve,” he said. “In this game, the one thing you do learn is you don’t adapt and adjust, you die. You get figured out.”
That the Union missed out on hosting MLS Cup is arguably one of the biggest tragedies of the 2021 season. Their Eastern Conference final clash with NYCFC was made that much harder by losing 11 players due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Philadelphia battled hard, but they ultimately threw away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to the eventual champions.
But Curtin says there is absolutely no intention for the club to “pump the brakes”, insisting there’s no other option than to target MLS Cup glory in 2022.
“It has to be,” he responded when asked if winning the big prize is on the agenda next year. “At the end of the day, Ernst wants to win trophies, I want to win trophies, our players want to win trophies.
“So, for us to sit up here and say pump the brakes and slow down in a season where we were very, very close, that is what we have to dream, that is what we have to believe, and that’s what our fans want and what our fans believe as well.”