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May 10, 2016

Sources: Philadelphia Union keeping tabs on Colombian striker

Don't expect the Philadelphia Union to make any moves before the MLS primary transfer window closes on Wednesday.

Do, however, keep an eye on Colombian striker Mateo Casierra. Sources tell that the 19-year-old Deportivo Cali player is on the Union radar and rated highly.

Casierra appears to have a good blend of size and quickness at 6'1" and 165 pounds. He's used in the No. 9 spot and has scored ten times for Cali in a little more than 30 games. Casierra has played in the Copa Libertadores and drawn the attention of Serie A club Udinese, which has a strong track record of signing young South American players. Colombian internationals Juan Cuadrado, Cristian Zapata, and Abel Aguilar have all transferred directly from Categoria Primera A to Udine.

The Union's level of interest is unclear at this point, but Casierra does seem to fit a position of need. The depth behind C.J. Sapong at center forward is questionable, at best. Casierra could theoretically come in and challenge rookie Fabian Herbers for a spot in the gameday 18.

Otherwise, the Union would probably move Sebastien Le Toux or Chris Pontius up top to provide spot coverage at the center forward position.

As far as summer resources, the Union doesn't have a ton work with. That's basically because they've been very smart about transfers and contract decisions dating back to the midway point of last season.

The jettisoning of Rais Mbolhi, Carlos Valdes, and Steven Vitoria helped clear immense amounts of cap space and paved the way for the addition of Tranquillo Barnetta, Chris Pontius, Ilsinho, and Roland Alberg. The trade of Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger brought in both general and targeted allocation money, which was necessary to complete the latter two signings.

It leaves the Union with virtually nothing in the TAM department, though the team probably still has anywhere from 100k to 200k in general allocation still remaining.

The club has two remaining Designated Player slots (Maurice Edu is the only one), and Casierra could be acquired as a young DP, similar to the way Fernando Aristeguieta was brought in last season. At 19-years old, Casierra would only carry a cap hit of $150,000 if signed as a young DP. The Union also would not have to pay the additional fee to add a third Designated Player slot.