Andre Blake vs. Tranquillo Barnetta
The human highlight-reel continued to dazzle in 2016 in the Philadelphia net. The only goalkeeper in MLS history to be selected No. 1 overall set personal best in almost every goalkeeping category in his first full season as a starter. Blake finished with 32 starts, six shutouts, 99 saves and 10 wins in regular season play. He was the only qualifying MLS goalkeeper to not allow a penalty kick goal this season. Blake was also the starting keeper in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game.
Tranquillo Barnetta showcased his prowess in his first full season in MLS. Barnetta recorded 124 corner kicks in 2016 which set a Philadelphia Union club record. His 124 regular season corner kicks ranked second in all of MLS. Barnetta racked up five goals and four assists this season. His most dramatic goal came on April 8, against Orlando City at Talen Energy Stadium. Barnetta drilled a game-winning free kick in the 90th minute that hit the crossbar and bounced in to give Philadelphia a 2-1 victory. Half of Barnetta’s assists this season were game-winners.
Keegan Rosenberry vs. Chris Pontius
It was quite a year for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. Keegan Rosenberry had a sensational rookie campaign that saw a starting spot in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game against English Premier League Power Arsenal. The Georgetown product recorded two memorable goals this season, with his first career goal coming against LA Galaxy and his second goal of the season was a game-winner against Columbus. Rosenberry would go on to start all 34 regular season matches for Philadelphia and set a MLS rookie record by playing every minute during the season (3,060).
The biggest offseason acquisition for Philadelphia Union did not disappoint in 2016. Chris Pontius was acquired from D.C. United last December. The eight-year veteran wasted little time making an impact for Philadelphia, Pontius recorded a brace and the game-winning goal in the Union’s first win of the season against Columbus Crew SC. Pontius would go on to lead Philadelphia in goals with 12, shots with 66 and shots on goal with 35. Pontius had a career year in Philadelphia, setting new personal bests in games played (33), games started (32), minutes played (2,571), assists (6) and shots on goal (35). Pontius tied his career high in goals with 12, also done in 2012.