Fans' View

Fans’ view: Lots of head scratching

Photo:Paul Rudderow

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s the next in our series of fan posts, courtesy of Union fan and PSP reader Chris Straub-Wallace. (He wrote this prior to the Mwanga trade.)

When one of my beloved Philly teams begins to struggle, like most fans, I try to pinpoint where the problem is or when things went wrong. For the 2012 Union squad, it just hasn’t been that easy.

Let’s start with last year’s strength, the defense

The loss of Faryd has been more of an issue than was expected. McMath has allowed his only true weakness (experience) to become obvious and at all the worst times.

Our back four is relatively the same, minus the recent departure of Danny Califf. While it hurts the heart to watch our captain leave, it’s undeniable that he wasn’t the same player. Sheanon has played well on the inside, Gabe Farfan has locked himself into the left back spot and Ray Gaddis may be a ROY candidate. With the changes in the net and a shuffle in the back line, the team is still 4th in the league in goals against!

Well maybe it’s the midfield, yet not much has changed.

Would you trade Justin Mapp for Gabriel Gomez? I know you would and so would everyone else.

The addition of Kai Herdling feels more like a depth move through the summer qualifying season, but he’s been serviceable so far. Michael Farfan continues to grow, Adu has his moments of brilliance and Keon looks steady as he did last year.

So it’s the forwards!?

It’s a place to start when you have the league’s worst scoring offense. If someone asked me, “Would you trade Seba for Josue Martinez, Lionard Pajoy and Chandler Hoffman?” I wouldn’t even blink; I’d just get Seba to
the airport, before the deal fell apart.

Pajoy, Mwanga, McInerney, Martinez and Hoffman have scored many goals on their journey to PPL Park, yet they all have lost that scoring edge and all at the same time? Why? How?

In one man’s opinion, it’s because none of them have been allowed to play their natural position.

Sticking Pajoy/Mwanga as a lone striker has been a disaster. Josue Martinez on the wing has been okay at best, but nothing he’s done has lived up to expectations. McInerney, while hyped as a USNT future pool player, has never been given a 70-minute run to critique. Hoffman, quite possibly the best scorer in college last year (24 games, 18 goals, 6 assists on a UCLA team that made the D1 Final Four), has been forced out wide on the wing where he looks far from comfortable.

Nowak’s formation is starting to feel like square peg round hole.

His players and their abilities have changed and so he must change, as well.

It’s not the talent, it’s the tactics.

The changes to the roster have been startling, but good teams should always try to get better. The 2011 Union were not the 2004 Arsenal Invincibles and we shouldn’t act as though they were. Nowak has free reign to buy and sell the players as he sees fit and he’s never been shy to display that power. Perhaps the quickness in which it was done may have hurt the team’s chemistry, but I didn’t hear the mercenary team of Manchester City crying about chemistry.

In Andy Reid’s words, “It’s on the coach to put his player’s in a position to win and I’ve got to do a better job of that.”

Peter Nowak bought all the ingredients; it’s on him to blend them correctly.


  1. James "4-3-3" Forever says:

    It’s not the talent, it’s the tactics. Peter Nowak bought all the ingredients and it’s on him to blend them correctly.

    Pretty much spot on. That’s all that needs to be said.

  2. Sakiewicz said yesterday: “I have no response to (our fans) throwing hands up at any point. We don’t give up, we don’t quit and we’re doing everything possible to get better each season.”
    Really?! Is he in la-la land? We were great last year and are terrible this year with lots of folks now talking about not renewing season tickets and PPL is not as full as last year.

  3. Whilst I agree that the tactics, line-ups and substitution have been pretty awful (Thanks to Piotr)…

    I certainly don’t agree about sending Seba to the airport. Seba is tried and tested in the MLS, the rest of these players are not. Pajoy has never really impressed in Colombia. I hope Hoffman will prove to be a player in the future, but under Nowak’s tutelage, I doubt it. He should do himself a favor and follow Danny to the West Coast.

  4. Loved you used the Reid quote. For all people may hate him you can never say he wasn’t honest.

  5. You didn’t hear Man City complaining about chemistry? Where have you been the last 4 years? That was always the joke, that they had the Robinho’s, the Toure’s, but not the chemistry to win the league (until proven wrong this year).

    And I’ve got to agree with Dan. I would keep Le Toux over 3 unproven bodies for sure. The rest of the article I agree with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *