Medunjanin adjusting well to MLS, creating early success

Despite a less than stellar start for the Union, one of the team’s bright spots this season has been Haris Medunjanin, who, with just six career MLS games under his belt, already looks like a solid veteran.

Medunjanin joined the Union after playing last year in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Before Maccabi Tel Aviv, Medunjanin played for five different teams in a 13-year span. During the most recent Winter, Sporting Director Earnie Stewart and Medunjanin had conversations about the latter joining the team in Philadelphia. Medunjanin signed with the Union on January 31, and immediately became one of the team’s starting defensive midfielders.

“I like playing in MLS very much,” Medunjanin said. “Before I came here, with my national team, I always liked to play in the States. Talen Energy Stadium is an amazing stadium, the crowd is always here to see us play. They support us every game.”

The Union knew what they were getting with Medunjanin as well. A player with a very strong left foot, who has precision passing and a much-needed ability to send a long ball to the feet of a striker. He was a corner kick specialist, and adding in a left foot, is a very valuable commodity. But it isn’t just assists either, as Medunjanin has the ability to find the back of the net on occasion.

That display has been showcased through the Union’s first six games this season. During the preseason, Head Coach Jim Curtin lauded Medunjanin’s ability to push the Union attack with the long ball and create scoring chances. So far this season, Medunjanin is third in MLS in chances created with 17, trailing New York Red Bulls’s Sacha Kljestan (25) and Portland Timbers’s Diego Valeri (20). Medunjanin also leads the Union in assists with two, but is still looking for ways to improve and help the team win.

“I watch the game film over and over and I think, ‘What’s wrong? What can I do better?’” Medunjanin said. “I came here to help these guys, the young guys. It’s a part of what I need to do here with the team.”

Medunjanin’s ability to excel in the early part of the season is remarkable, especially when you take into account the schedule the Union have had. Medunjanin’s MLS opener featured the team’s longest cross-country flight of the season, followed by a home opener against the defending Eastern Conference champions. Next up were two road games, before finally having three home games in a row, one against the best team in MLS in 2017 and another who was tied for first in the East after a win.

“I’m settled in here in Philadelphia, so I don’t have any excuses anymore,” Medunjanin said. “I can just think about playing football and helping us win some games.”

The level of competition Medunjanin has faced has been a very high level, but he has taken it in stride. And now the focus is continuing to get better and helping the Union continue to work hard and gain confidence.  

“This is a good league, everyone can win or lose to everyone, but that’s football,” Medunjanin said. “We have a good potential group. We’re training and fighting every week to get better. We have a good coaching staff. We need to stick with each other in these types of moments.”