ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — With Philadelphia securing the services of veteran midfielder Haris Medunjanin, many stateside observers will be wondering what he can bring to the Union table.
That's where we come in, to provide you with the lowdown on Earnie Stewart's latest acquisition.
Who is he?
Medunjanin is a skillful 31-year-old central midfielder who was born in Sarajevo, but grew up in the Netherlands. He was a member of the Dutch Under-21 side when they won back-to-back European Championships in 2006 and 2007, but eventually made a FIFA switch to suit up for his native Bosnia a couple years later. To date, he has 54 Bosnia caps, two of them coming at the 2014 World Cup.
His made his pro debut for AZ Alkmaar in 2005, the year they came within a hair of reaching the UEFA Cup final. The AZ midfield was heavily stocked at the time, and he eventually spent the 2006-07 campaign starring on loan at Sparta Rotterdam before leaving the Netherlands to join Valladolid. Medunjanin was a key weapon off the bench for the La Liga outfit, scoring seven times in his 29 sub appearances.
He then moved to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2010 for his first stint with the Israeli giants, and immediately impressed by scoring a career-high 13 goals. Medunjanin packed his bags again a year later, joining Turkish side Gaziantepspor for two seasons. In the summer of 2014, he was shipped to Deportivo La Coruna, where he played for 18 months. After that, he went back to Maccabi, enjoying his best showings in the Europa League and Israel's championship hexagonal round.
Though he typically enjoys a noticeable size advantage over opposing midfielders, Medunjanin's feet are as nimble as you'd like. He has supreme technical skills, most notably with his first touch, close-quarter dribbling and distance shots.
While Medunjanin excels at sending the attack forward with pinpoint lead passes, he draws more attention as a very patient player of danger in and around the box. He can use the smallest of movements to gain space for a pass or shot, and those who don't close him down often suffer at the whims of his tricky left foot. To boot, he strikes a nasty free kick.
Medunjanin is certainly not what one consider speedy, and this sticks out when he's not on the ball. To that end, his defensive movement can be rather wooden.
While Bosnia's central park depth has often forced him back into a defensive midfield role while on international duty, Medunjanin can do much more damage as either a deep-lying playmaker or an outright No. 10.
Philadelphia has picked up a player that can feed the offense and support it with skill as the late runner, much in the way that Michael Bradley did during his big season at Heerenveen. On a Union team loaded with eager runners, he should come in very handy. It's certainly not too much to ask for him to notch a 5-6 goals and 8-10 helpers.