As the 2020 offseason began, one of the top priorities for Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner was remaking the midfield. While the Boys in Blue had just won a thrilling MLS Cup Playoff match for the first time in club history, the team had conceded far too many goals and there would need to be changes.
The transformation led to the departures of Marco Fabian and Haris Medunjanin but a key point for the 2020 group would be keeping Jamiro Monteiro. After a negotiation process that last weeks, on January 10th it was announced that Monteiro would be staying with the Union.
While Designated Players are traditionally expected to score goals, Monteiro’s role with the Union was to be the key cog in the middle of the park. While the Cape Verde international notched four goals and added four assists, his relentless effort match in and match out jumped out of the screen. Whenever an opposition thought there would be a change to counter and pass into the center circle, Monteiro was there.
On the road in a hostile environment coupled with national broadcast eyes watching, Monteiro helped the Union establish the lead as he fed a ball to Sergio Santos to put the Union ahead 1-0 at LAFC. At the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Monteiro kept New York City FC’s offense from finding any rhythm before raising his game to the next level in the knockout rounds with the game-winning assist to Santos against the New England Revolution plus a goal against Sporting Kansas City.
When the Union returned from Orlando City, Head Coach Jim Curtin asked his midfield to go the distance constantly and Monteiro led the way with 90-minute stints in all but one match, the Union statement victory on the road at New York Red Bulls. As the push for the MLS Cup Playoffs began, Monteiro relished the pressure turning in plays that showed up on the statsheet with three goals and two assists in his last seven starts that was highlighted by a stunning goal against Toronto FC.
This offseason will be a different one compared to a year ago. Monteiro’s status with the Union guaranteed his role in the club could change with the departure of Brenden Aaronson. The 27-year-old’s ability to fill any spot in the Union’s midfield diamond just points even more to the reason why the club needed to keep Monteiro and why the Union’s midfield will continue to prosper for years to come.