Union depth eager to step up against Portland 


Philadelphia Union will battle for their first league win of the year against Portland on Saturday after starting off their 2024 Major League Soccer season with three straight draws. But when the team embarks on their trip westward to Oregon on Thursday afternoon, the travel party will be missing eight players due to National Team call-ups. 

The group has contributed about 50 percent of all minutes played in league matches, and their so far, and without them, Head Coach Jim Curtin will be forced to adjust his starting lineup, meaning he’ll likely look to his contingent of new and eager depth players to supplement his formation. 

One of those players could be striker Markus Anderson, who signed with the team during preseason after stints competing in the Spanish third and fifth tier.


The 21-year-old American has impressed thus far, making appearances in all four Concacaf Champions Cup matchups for a total of 83 minutes. 

He played the final seven minutes of the team’s first league road match against Sporting Kansas City, and he earned his first MLS start against Seattle Sounders, playing through torrential downpours before the match was postponed.

“It's been amazing. I've had an opportunity to start one of my MLS games. It got postponed, but everything else has been perfect. I’m learning as much as I can, it feels great, the staff and players are helping me. It's amazing and it's an experience that I would have never thought I would have,” Anderson said. 

After nearly two months finding his footing with the team, Anderson is well-adjusted and certain he’s ready to take on any opportunity to compete, like the one he could have Saturday.

“I'm ready for this weekend. I've been practicing hard, working with the guys, and I'm ready to win one of our first games in MLS,” Anderson said. “It's been a while since I scored, so I'm really looking forward to having the chance to do that. But winning with the team, getting those three points, and moving forward is the most important.”

Another player to watch on the Union side against Portland will be the one in net, as Oliver Semmle is set to make his return to the first XI in place of three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake, who is away with Jamaica, playing alongside defender Damion Lowe in Concacaf Nations League. 

Semmle will reprise his role as the team’s net protector, as he has four times already this season across all competitions after his signing from USL Championship side Louisville City FC was announced on January 31st.

PHIvCHI | Oliver Semmle

The 25-year-old German keeper’s first minutes came sooner than anticipated, starting in place of an injured Blake for the home opener against Chicago Fire, a 120 minute Concacaf Champions Cup match against Saprissa, and the team’s first league away match against Sporting Kansas City. The Union emerged from their stretch with Semmle as a starter without a loss, and he says the experience was pivotal in building comfort and chemistry with his teammates. 

“It was definitely helpful getting early minutes, getting used to the guys on the field and having playing time. Now that I already have that on my belt, moving on I think I can play consistently, do well, help the team, and then hopefully we get a result on the road,” Semmle said. 

Portland will only be without three players, while the Union’s eight-man total is the highest number of call-ups of any team in MLS. The closest is Orlando City, who are scheduled to play Austin without six of their own. 

Despite a thin available roster, the players heading to Portland remain optimistic and unwavering in their pursuit of a win. 

“We have players missing, but I think we still have quality and we go there to get a result,” Semmle said. “We don't just go there to show up. We want to go there and get a result, then come back to Philly and play the next game.”

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Every match matters! In 2024, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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