Fans' View

Fan’s View: A new hope?

Photo: Earl Gardner

(Editor’s note: This post was written prior to the Union’s 3-0 win over Columbus on Wednesday.)

Hope is a dangerous thing.

I sat in my regular seats a few weeks ago as the rain dampened my seat during a stingy 1-0 performance by the Union. This was the third game in which Baky Soumare had played consecutively and was a great showcase for his skills. My girlfriend took a shine to him early, and I had the overwhelming sense that despite the constant trade rumors, he was proving too valuable to trade.

Before I could even let myself dream of a Soumare-Parke-Okugo defensive center of the pitch, he was gone.

Major League: Back to the minors?

Soumare’s exit taps the building terror that lies deep within the hearts of this and many Union fans: We’ve plateaued, our playoff berth in 2011 was an anomaly, and the team’s personnel hijinks are the rule, not the exception. Currently, I feel like we’re a snake mascot named Benji and a Mac and Me theme night away from minor league territory. I feel like I’m watching Crash Davis (Conor Casey) teach Nuke LaLoosh (Jack McInerney) the ways of the big show.

Bull Durham comparisons aside, the way we shed money and ship away talent makes me feel like a Triple-A citizen from time to time. The ever-looming specter of savior in the form of Designated Player X has become a Union summertime tradition. Anytime a name is floated, the Union faithful alternately gasp with excitement and recoil in horror at the possibility and then failure.

Hope can drive a man insane.

So, about this youth movement …

The Union seem dead set on turning and bowing at an altar in service of “youth,” which is a splendid idea, and frankly, the right way to go about things when building a franchise from the ground up.

It’s also a clean factory for the manufacture of hope. It’s easy for the organization to peddle in youth and hope, but soon that message wears thin, especially when that youth isn’t being served. Taking Michael Farfan and playing him anywhere but the right, where he combined so beautifully with Sheanon Williams two years ago, is shortsighted and doesn’t put him in the best place to succeed. Trading away his brother (his request notwithstanding) is another disservice to the youthful ideal.

Finally, the Soumare trade is a bold slap in the face of this “movement” and ideal. Playing Baky with Jeff Parke would have allowed for the aforementioned dream center of the pitch with Okugo sliding into his natural midfield role. It’s a hilarious reminder of the place he should be any time the Union stream a game and his player card lists him as a midfielder.

But on the bright side…

Of course, on the other side of things, is the fact that Okugo has been one of the Union’s best players and the scorching hot Jack McInerney’s play this season is separating us from the chaff of the Eastern Conference.

There it is again, that silly four letter word: HOPE.

And you know what Andy said* in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”


  1. ebradlee10 says:

    Andy said that, not Red.

  2. Youth development won’t really work for the Union. As soon as a player will show any promise he will be traded away for more money. The Union has shown its unwillingness to keep and/or acquire talent. So is the point of youth development for this team a money making enterprise? From their track record it appears that is exactly the case.

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