When Philadelphia Union announced the signing of Leon Flach, there was no crazy fanfare or pundits quickly changing their predictions on where the defending MLS Supporters’ Shield winners would finish in 2021. While some thought Flach would be another young midfielder looking to gain experience in MLS, the Union knew after a year of scouting that he would fit their system like a glove. With his inclusion in the MLS 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR, Flach has ensured he won't be overlooked any longer.
A wild arrival story foreshadowed the player Philly was getting. The young German went from stepping off a plane at the Philadelphia airport to subbing into a rainy, closed-door scrimmage with D.C. United. He barely knew his teammates, let alone their preferences and tendencies, but Flach immediately gave a glimpse of the tenacity that has cemented him in Jim Curtin's lineups in 2021.
Flach’s hustle has even led to moments of levity on Union TV broadcasts when JP Dellacamera and Danny Higganbotham announce, game after game, that Flach is once again the Ardent Top Miler of the Match.
“Oh, who could see this coming!” they banter, reading out the 20-year-old's name once again. Over the course of 2,243 minutes of MLS action, Flach is averaging 134 yards covered per minute. Yes, per minute!
Add it all up and Flach has run nearly 205 miles in 34 matches across all competitions. That's the same as the distance from Subaru Park to Hartford, Connecticut.
Even more impressive: Flach isn’t just running to run. He’s playing the long game, reading passes two plays ahead and always looking to spark an attack in Union fashion.
Flach and his contagious smile fully embrace the culture of the Union and, thus, of the City of Brotherly Love. A city the embraces a bring-your-steel-pail-to-work mentality and a leave-it-all-on-the-line approach to every single minute. With 42 tackles won and the more interceptions than anybody beyond the back four, Flach is putting in the work and producing the results the Union need.
Versatility was also key to Flach's appeal, and he has not disappointed. Since arriving from St. Pauli, the team's workhorse has played on the left side of a midfield diamond, in a holding midfield role, and at left wingback. Remember: he's only 20 years old.
You’d be smart to buy stock in Leon Flach now. Already No. 15 on the 22 under 22 list, he will continue to make huge strides in the final third. With 76.5% passing accuracy already , Flach's confidence in front of goal will grow following his recent goal, a MLS first for the budding star.
Flach shines brightly in a city that values putting a shift in. In a year, number 15 will seem far too low for Philly's number 31.