The Philadelphia Union made their first acquisition of the Major League Soccer offseason on Thursday.
The Union acquired forward Julian Carranza on loan from Inter Miami for the 2022 MLS season in exchange for the club's 2022 second-round pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
Carranza will take up a young designated player spot on the roster and he has a green card so he will not count as an international player.
The move is a risky one from a personnel perspective for sporting director Ernst Tanner and head coach Jim Curtin.
Carranza was forced out of Inter Miami after MLS concluded its investigation into the Florida club for using too many designated players during the 2020 season.
The 21-year-old was left in no man's land after that debacle came to a conclusion and Miami needed to find a new home for him.
The loan to the Union comes at a significant discount from the $6 million price Miami used to buy Carranza from Banfield in Argentina in 2019.
Philadelphia's financial part in the deal makes perfect sense from an organizational standpoint. The club essentially money-balled its way into a low-risk, high-reward signing from a monetary angle.
Had the Union signed Carranza for $6 million, or whatever price tag he would have now, from South America, there would be universal praise for the signing.
The Union have been criticized for not spending enough money on a big-name striker, and they still should go after a quality No. 9 when the transfer window opens up in January.
Carranza fits the mold of the player the Union have brought in under Tanner. He is a young player with a ton of potential and he cost relatively little compared to what the other MLS clubs are splashing out in the transfer market.
The biggest difference between Carranza and the Leon Flachs and Kacper Przybylkos of the world is that he comes to the Union on an in-league transaction.
Carranza scored three goals in 1,268 minutes during his time in south Florida. Those are not great numbers, but you have to remember how dysfunctional Inter Miami has been during its existence.
The quandary here is which version of Carranza will the Union get in 2022 and potentially beyond?
The best-case scenario features Carranza banking in on the potential he came to Miami with. He could score 15-20 goals with presumably another striker acquisition backing him up. That would allow the Union to trigger a permanent move for the 21-year-old and they could eventually profit off an outgoing transfer.
If Carranza discovers form in Chester, he will not be staying in Chester for long. He could fetch a hefty penny on the transfer market as a young Argentinian striker if he adapts well to Jim Curtin's system.
Carranza is already a known quantity to Curtin, Tanner and the rest of the Union staff. Perhaps the club needed that after its failed loan move for Matheus Davo.
Carranza is already familiar with the league, the travel that comes with it and the style of play that some players can't adjust to.
The Union do not have to worry about acclimating Carranza in his first few regular-season months. The club had to wait a few months for Daniel Gazdag to adapt after his midseason move in 2021.
The potential downside to the acquisition is that Carranza is a dud and the Union return him to Inter Miami for the 2022 campaign.
The worst-case scenario would be softened by the acquisition of another striker on a decent-sized transfer fee. Carranza can be the answer to the striker issues at some point, but he can't be the only addition heading into the 2022 campaign.
Philadelphia has a track record of being two deep at every position. They are set at almost every other position because of that mentality. The Union might need a third right back to cover for Olivier Mbaizo's international absences and they could add another left back to bridge the gap between Kai Wagner and Anton Sorensen, much like they did with Alvas Powell last season.
Tanner would be wise to pick up another central midfielder to again bridge the gap between Alejandro Bedoya and the Homegrown duo of Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan. That move would help with extra depth.
Outside of those moves, the Union are already set for the 2022 season at every other position unless a sale occurs. Kai Wagner and Jose Martinez would make sense as the likely candidates, but we will get there if it happens.
The Union need to load up on attacking firepower. Carranza should be the first step, not the final answer to the offseason shopping.
If that is the case, the Carranza move makes a ton of sense. He is a low-risk, high-reward player right now, and for that reason, he can't be the only addition.