The Union will keep midfielder Haris Medunjanin on the team for another season after picking up his contract option for 2019 on Thursday.
Medunjanin, 33, has earned a place as one of the Union's core players. He is one of the team's best passers, able to send the ball almost anywhere on the field from his deep-lying central midfield position. Last year, the Bosnia native led the Union in chances created with an average of 2.6. This year, he's second with 1.9 per game.
"I'm glad that I'm continuing next year," he said. "If you feel comfortable somewhere, why do you need to change? … Hopefully I can play even better and stay fit."
For as important Medunjanin has been on the field, he also has enjoyed teaching the Union's young players to think about the game at his high level.
"I spoke with my central defenders, [Auston] Trusty and [Mark] McKenzie, I told them it was a nice game against Vancouver, but then you get four goals in L.A., and everybody forgets about that [Vancouver] game. You always need to be 100 percent focused," he said. "I can come here and I don't have to train, and maybe I will play Saturday, but I don't have that kind of mentality. … I want to be in every training and fight for every ball, and make the guys better around me."
Before coming to Philadelphia, Medunjanin played for clubs in Spain, Israel, Turkey, and the Netherlands. A child refugee during the Bosnian war in the 1990s, he played for Dutch youth national teams early on, then switched allegiance back to his homeland in 2009. Medunjanin played 60 times for Bosnia, including at the 2014 World Cup, before retiring from the national team this past March.
Given his age, there's a good chance Philadelphia will be Medunjanin's final stop. He said he'd be fine with that, and wouldn't mind joining the Union academy's coaching staff in the future. If that happens, Medunjanin would be the second ex-player with World Cup experience at the academy, after Brazilian midfielder Kléberson. Medunjanin's girlfriend is moving over from Israel, which could be a hint.