Richie Marquez of the Philadelphia Union wins a header
Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Armchair Analyst: Young-at-the-back Philadelphia Union need an answer

Being an attacker takes daring and creativity, and it often also requires the conscienceless courage of youth. Being a defender requires patience and precision, and often requires the pragmatic mercilessness of experience.

That is the conventional wisdom around our game, anyway, and it largely holds up. Across top league, you'll pretty reliably find more young players on the attacking side of the ball than the defensive side. For every Matt Miazga, there's a Kekuta Manneh, a Diego Fagundez and a Cyle Larin. For every Tim Parker there's a Sebastian Lletget and a Juan Agudelo.

And for teams that try the inverse -- a young defense with a more experienced attacking group -- life can often be a struggle. But the Philadelphia Union needed to change their personnel after last season, especially in light of this:

To sum up: In 2015 Philly gave up a ton of crosses, and had trouble defending them. In MLS that is death.

The kids should play at least some part in fixing that, as will newcomer Anderson Conceicao and holdovers Richie Marquez, Raymon Gaddis and Fabinho. I don't expect it to come together all at once, but Union fans should, at the very least, be pleased that the front office has identified and appear determined to fix the problem.

Author's Note

This is the sixth in a daily series counting down to to the MLS regular season first kick on March 6. I'm using Paul Carr's tweets (with his blessing) to examine some of the bigger storylines to follow in the upcoming season.

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