It was a disastrous night for Mark McKenzie last night as his Philadelphia Union side were surprisingly bundled out of the MLS playoffs at the first hurdle.
Since then, he’s gone on to have an incredible few months. He helped secure the MLS Supporters’ Shield for Philadelphia – the only time in their history they’ve won the competition. He then went on to become the runner-up for the MLS Defender of the Year award.
However, he came crashing back down to earth last night. Despite securing more points than any other side during the MLS regular season, the Union lost 2-0 in an anti-climactic fashion against New England Revolution at home.
McKenzie produced a disappointing performance given his own high standards this season. WhoScored gave him a score of 6.14/10, with only one successful tackle and two interceptions. It was a quiet one from the reported Celtic summer target.
Celtic and approach Philadelphia at any point now
The centre-back has long stated that he isn’t thinking about his future until the season is over, but has often stated he has a desire to move to Europe and compete in the Champions League (MLS).
Speaking back in August, Philadelphia’s sporting director Ernst Tanner said that Philadelphia had been in discussions with Celtic, but that he would only be sold once the MLS tournament was over (Scottish Sun).
Well, that time has now come given their season is over, and it couldn’t be more ideal for Celtic given our struggles at centre-back. Shane Duffy has yet to come good at Parkhead whilst Nir Bitton has surprisingly started to struggle in recent weeks in the position.
In terms of a valuation, it would be a relatively risk-free option for Celtic too. The Daily Record reported over the summer that he could potentially be snapped up for less than £1million. Given players sold from the MLS don’t traditionally go for big-money, this could be a golden opportunity for the Hoops.
Neil Lennon may be wary of adding too much fat to his centre-back ranks of course. We already have six options for who can play in the position in Duffy, Kris Ajer, Chris Jullien, Hatem Elhamed, Bitton, and Stephen Welsh respectively. There’s an argument there to say that a combination of two from those six should be enough to sweep all before us in Scotland.
But for one reason or another that hasn’t been the case, and with the pressure being ramped up on the manager, he must view McKenzie as an option. The time is right to make an early approach now.