Philadelphia Union Full of Potential MLS All Stars

May 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Members of youth soccer teams walk onto the the pitch with Philadelphia Union players before game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Talen Energy Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Members of youth soccer teams walk onto the the pitch with Philadelphia Union players before game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Talen Energy Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Major League Soccer All-Star Game approaching, many of the Philadelphia Union’s top performers find themselves with the opportunity to represent the city and show the world why the talent on this team is one to be reckoned with.

This season has been nothing short of magic for the Union as they currently sit four points clear at the top of the East. They are in first place not due to the efforts of a singular entity like a million dollar man or elite superstar; the team as a whole has risen up and carried each other to defy the odds and continue their fantastic run in this league.

Many of these players are gaining recognition for this improbable run and have been placed on the 2016 MLS All-Star Ballot to compete against English Premier League giants Arsenal. Here is your breakdown of every available all-star nominee for Philadelphia and why they deserve your constant support, your undivided attention and most importantly, your vote.

C.J. Sapong (Forward)

The joint top goal scorer on the Philadelphia Union is quickly becoming a fan favorite at Talen Energy Stadium. Returning from his debut season last year where he led the team in goals, C.J. Sapong has already tallied five goals in his 14 games started this year.

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He is one of the most fouled players in the league due to his looming presence and physical nature inside the opponents box which has provided numerous opportunities for the Union to create chances and win games in any scenario or match-up they may come up against.

His attention to his playing style has proven to be extremely effective against defenses all across the league and barring any setbacks in his physical health, he looks to eclipse his career best for goals this year in what has already been a remarkable season for the team as a unit. Sapong is proving to be a tough man to play against and all-star voters everywhere have been made fully aware of his abilities as a striker.

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Philadelphia Union forward Sebastien Le Toux (9) celebrates with forward C.J. Sapong (17) after a goal against the Orlando City FC Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Sebastien Le Toux (Forward)

A legend in his own right, the French phenom will no doubt be forever enshrined in Union history as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer and a journeyman of Philadelphia’s success over the years. Netting his 50th career goal for the Philadelphia Union this year, Le Toux is surprisingly not on this year’s ballot for his usual goal scoring tendencies but rather his distribution and creativity down the wing. He currently shares the lead in assists this year with four and has proven to be equally effective as a leader and player despite the difference in what he is being asked to do by head coach Jim Curtin.

At 32 years of age, “Seba” has shown no signs of fatigue in his illustrious MLS career and is without a doubt one of the most respected individuals in the game today not just in Philadelphia but throughout the entire league. His leadership and personality have spurred the Philadelphia Union into first place and with that deserves to fight with the very best in the United States for glory and pride against a formidable opponent this coming summer.

Chris Pontius (Midfielder)

When Chris Pontius joined the Philadelphia Union this year, he was on a long run of injuries and droughts on the stat sheet after a relatively successful start to his career with D.C. United. A low-risk signing with a much lower ceiling of potential than the youth that has been injected into this squad, Pontius took a wrecking ball to that ceiling and built himself a skyscraper-sized place in the hearts of Philadelphia Union fans everywhere.

Remember the first two guys I mentioned, Sapong and Le Toux? How each of them were tied for goals and assists on the team respectively? Yeah, they’re tied with this guy. Five goals, four assists, and starter in all 14 games this season for Philadelphia. Pontius is filling the stat sheet and finding a new home in the City of Brotherly Love. Once hated by most fans around these parts as the enemy, there’s no question that his performance this year has put a silence to the begrudging past and looking forward, we can’t wait to see what this resilient midfielder will produce for the first place Union for years to come.

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Apr 30, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Chris Pontius (13) celebrates his goal with midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta (10) during the first half against the San Jose Earthquakes at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Tranquillo Barnetta (Midfielder)

The Swiss international arrived late last year to the Union with a decorated career on both the club and international level. This pedigree came with the reasonably high expectation that would break most men under the searing lights of the Philadelphia sports market. Tranquillo Barnetta is not like most men; he is a brilliant player that has come in and taken Major League Soccer as the challenge he has long craved for and with it has yielded amazing results for this organization.

Third on the team in both goals and assists, Barnetta has been the catalyst for numerous late game dramatics including Goal of the Week nomination for his curling free kick in stoppage time against Orlando City. His creativity and constant goal scoring threat has created havoc for many defenders across the league which makes it no surprise that he’s been included in this year’s all-star selection.

He covers the entirety of the field with ease and since his game-winning goal, the Philadelphia Union have lost only one of nine games in which he’s played in. Thriving in a new environment and ready for any challenge that he comes up against, Barnetta is willing and able to prove that he belongs in the discussion with Major League Soccer’s elite midfielders.

Vincent Nogueira (Midfielder)

While his season has been riddled with injury, the games French midfielder Vincent Nogueira have played in have proven to be ones in which he’s played a very important role. Scoring two crucial goals in key victories this year as well as facilitating the ball with precision and pace, “Noggy” has been essential to the Union’s success since his arrival back in 2014.

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Jun 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Vincent Nogueira (5) kicks against the Columbus Crew at Talen Energy Stadium. The Philadelphia Union won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

His ability to control the ball and dictate the tempo of attacking play has made him an invaluable piece to the Philadelphia midfield. With his best season stat-wise coming last year, this season he has set himself up to surpass all of his previous marks in goals, assists and games played while further appreciating the love and support received from the entire Philadelphia Union fanbase. Nogueira has consistently been mentioned in conversations as one of the most skilled players at his position within MLS; now it’s about time he received recognition for his efforts by making our city proud as an all-star this year.

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  • Richie Marquez (Defender)

    A story of patience and seizing opportunity has led Richie Marquez to the point where he is now a nominee for all-star selection here in 2016. The young center back has made every chance he’s had on the field count towards becoming a consistent starter on this team after numerous injuries to former Union defenders forced him into the role. Since then he’s never looked back and the Union are certainly glad to move forward with this menacing force in the back.

    He’s started every game for the Union this year except for one; which happened to be their biggest loss of the season. Marquez has been a dominant force in the air clearing out any and every ball that comes into his area of the box.

    Crisp passing, intelligent marking and tackling, and to top it off a game-winning goal in the 90th minute to give the Union a crucial three points against bitter rivals D.C. United. He has come into his own as a player and a man, and his passion for the game will only push him further to gain more experience and skill that will hopefully result in him flourishing into one of the game’s most feared big men.

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    May 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union defender Keegan Rosenberry (12) celebrates his goal with forward Chris Pontius (13) and defender Richie Marquez (16) against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

    Keegan Rosenberry (Defender)

    With the third highest number of votes for a defender so far in all-star voting, you would think Keegan Rosenberry has been doing this whole professional soccer thing for awhile right? Well, folks, this KID is a rookie, and he is downright amazing at what he does. The only rookie in Major League Soccer to play every minute this season, the young Georgetown product has bolstered the backline of the Union and is an integral part of their early and unprecedented success.

    Rosenberry has faced every defensive task given to him with composure and has shut down the game’s most elite attacking players on a weekly basis. His polished skill set along with the ability to move down the wing and create offensive chances makes him one of the most lethal dual-threat defenders in the league, maybe even the world.

    He’s already scored in his young career and has handled the spotlight and attention like a true veteran. The Union defense is tied for best in the conference in goals allowed per game and with a long career ahead of him, there’s no telling where Keegan’s abilities will take him. But one thing’s for certain, it looks damn good for anyone who’s a fan of the Philadelphia Union.

    Andre Blake (Goalkeeper)

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    Apr 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake (1) secures a loose ball against the Orlando City FC during the first half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

    Currently leading all players at his position in all-star voting, it is no surprise that the former number one overall pick has seen his stock rise so heavily this MLS season. He is undefeated at home, holds one of the best goals allowed averages in the league and has been nominated for MLS Save of the Week six times already this year… six times. He locked up his starting job for the Jamaican national team and produced standout performances in this year’s Copa America Centenario Tournament here in the United States.

    Andre Blake has embraced what it means to play in a city like Philadelphia. With such high expectations and little room for mistakes, he has taken the challenge with pride and professionalism. Now on the verge of potential super-stardom, make no mistake that Andre Blake has fully earned the right to represent our great city in this year’s all-star game.

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    Vote here at and watch as the Philadelphia Union return to league action this Saturday against conference rivals New York City FC.