Fans' View

Fans’ view: Mo money, mo problems

Featured image: Union fans at the 2011 SuperDraft in Baltimore. Photo by Nicolae Stoian

So here we are in a very strange predicament. After weeks of fan grumbling as other teams around the league made deals, the news breaks that the Union want to spend money!

But wait, now there are reports that MLS is saying “NO”?!?

Let’s start from the beginning, just so everyone is in the loop.

The Union are trying to land Maurice Edu, a national team player who’s played for some fancy teams in Europe and who now wants to come home and play in MLS. The Philadelphia Union have moved mountains to acquire the top allocation spot to land him (one very good mountain who wears a headband). So the Union are now in the pole position to bring a national team player with a decent European resume to Philadelphia. Then, reports say the deal is being held up by the league, with MLS basically saying “Nuh uh. $1.2 million is too much for this guy.”

There have been lots of very valid points made looking at an Edu deal, great conversations have come of this and will continue to come of this. Generally speaking, two points of view can be distilled from all of the talk:

  1. Edu? $1.2 mill? Is it too much for a guy who’s sort of dropped off the radar in the last year? Is that money better spent on someone who could really put some tushes in the seats?
  2. Pay the man. He’s recognizable. The Union are entering Year Five, and need to show the world — and most importantly their fans — that they mean business. After all, mere days ago, Toronto brought in Jermaine Defoe from England and arguaby the best American player right now in Michael Bradley for eye-popping piles of lucre and as a result season ticket sales went through the roof.

So what to do?

My opinion? Pay the man. We’re getting more than Maurice Edu, we’re paying for a culture change. Please allow me to elaborate…

I grew up a Philadelphia Phillies fan. I even invited Von Hayes to one of my childhood birthday parties. I never heard an actual “no” on this, so if you’re reading this Von — and I like to think that you are — the offer is still good.

In the mid to late 90’s the Phillies had hit a real ice age. The lovable dirtball team of 1993 had all moved on or bathed. The magic was gone and that segued into a long baseball lockout. By the time the pieces were picked up from that mess, the Phillies had guys like Paul Abbott, Travis Lee and Marlon Byrd (thank goodness THAT guy will never be a Phillie again…oh wait).

That ice age continued until around 2003 when the Phillies went out and dropped a boatload of cash on guys like David Bell, Kevin Millwood and the biggest fish at that time, Gentleman Jim Thome. All of a sudden, people started looking their way again because the Phils went out and showed they had the balls to go and get some pieces in house and compete. More press coverage followed, people started attending games again (the new ballpark helped), one step led to another step and — five years later, the Phillies won the World Series. Two years after that, the Phillies had assembled one of the greatest pitching rotations of recent memory.

What’s the moral of the story?

Quality brings quality and big moves bring attention, which in turn can bring in even more quality. If the Union bring in Mo Edu, it changes the culture, it changes perception, it changes the Union’s standing in the league.

Is the cost too much? Well, that depends. The attention and photo ops of Edu in pre game warmups bro hugging his buddies from around the league — the Landon Donovans, the Clint Dempseys, the Michael Bradleys — is all good. He’ll also bring a pedigree to the young Philadelphia core from his experience in European. He’ll be a piece, a cog in what the Union is trying to do here and that’s generate some excitement and win big and. So, we’d be getting Edu for 1.2 million, but also getting a lot of intangibles.

With that said, the plot now thickens. If the league is holding the deal up, here’s where things may get fun. All the big wigs in the league? They’re all here in Philadelphia for the SuperDraft. Joining them will be the greatest (and loudest) fans in the league. Everywhere the MLS brass turn, they will see Union fans.

League executives holding back on Philadelphia getting some talent and a culture change and a very passionate Philadelphia fan base who can be very creative in their communication, all under the same roof? If there’s ever a chance for Union fans to be heard, it is now.

How all this will turn out remains to be seen. But pull up a seat, friends, things are about to get interesting.

21 Comments

  1. Let me start out by stating that 1. I’m not an Edu fan and 2. 1.2 Mil is a little pricey for a player of his position in this league. BUT the Union need to show the league and the city that they are ready and willing to spend money to put a quality product on the field. It’s as simple as that. Bring in a few quality players, win some games, and bring in fringe fans.
    .
    You also get the bonus of maybe keeping some younger players around [see Jack Mac and Okugo] if the team is consistently performing at a high level. It’s also way easier to market yourself to quality players in other leagues if you can say “look at our winning record, look at our hardware, look at our fan base.” Without spending money, those will all become what-ifs.

    • This reminds me of the Jim Thome deal, mentioned by Tim above. My memory certainly may be slipping, but I recall a lot of people – in the city and nationally – saying the Phillies overpaid for him. The counter-arguments was pretty much this: that they *had* to overpay to get him here, and break the culture of losing and mediocrity that had set in.
      .
      I’m perfectly OK with this move being the Union’s “Jim Thome Deal.”

      • JP & Tim, agree. I do have to say that if they had a better coach (and facilities), they probably wouldn’t have to over pay so much.
        I mean, do you really think Edu is clamoring to play and “learn” from Hackworth?
        And they could have changed the culture last year by playing players and a style that shows quality, even if they lost more games (see Swansea City and then Liverpool because of Rodgers).

      • Replying to myself: Although Rodgers overpaid on a few players to just change the culture at ‘pool also (Borini, Asaidi(sp), Joe Allen)…but it did get the ball rolling.

  2. james lockerbie says:

    Sounds good to me! Garber is crazy if he stops this trade the night before the draft in our city

  3. 1. I’ll all for signing Edu.
    2. 1.2M is a fair price, but too much for us to pay, because:
    3. Edu is not a creator, and that’s what we’re lacking. We shouldn’t spend money for the sake of spending money.
    .
    Now, if we sign Edu and another million dollar midfield creator or other USMNT MLS returnee, then great, I finally got my season ticket’s worth this year!

  4. Atomic spartan says:

    I’d trade Cruz, Daniel, Hackworth, AND Travis Lee any day for a Thomesque Edu. Now, let’s make a run at Mix.

  5. So now the number is possibly $1.4 million? I can see how MLS would have a hard time allowing that for a player who is at the same level as or possibly lower than Beckerman and Zusi.

    • That’s the thing … is he really that lower? Obviously the move to Stoke was bad, but before that he was a legit player, remember? He was partnered with Bradley often and was WAY ahead of Beckerman on the NT depth chart.

      Also, neither Beckerman or Zusi had a 5 million dollar offer from a European team either.

      We have short memories here. And Edu is only 27, he can easily still be the player he was a year or two ago.

    • I’m sorry, I just don’t agree with the beckerman comparisons. He’s good in MLS with his team, but not a great player and couldn’t play in Europe like edu did. I’ll never forget that gold cup final when Giovanni dos santos turned him into Swiss cheese on the way to Mexico scoring 5 goals, and neither did international scouts. If you don’t go overseas your not getting more money, unfortunately. If you ply your trade over there, and win a few league titles, you deserve more.

  6. Cut Edu’s contract to $850,000 – $1 Mil range, and try and poach Mikkel Diskerud from Rosenborg BK. To be honest, I would sign Diskerud over Edu if I could only grab one of them, and try and grab that Box 2 Box French MF Vincent Nogueira. That way we have stability and the the ability to successfully get the ball from the back and move it up through Diskerud…..Just my thoughts, I have been very vocal about the Union as of late but I am glad to at least argue about what seems like legit pieces in play….let’s give the Commish an earful on thursday anyway! #DOOP

  7. Frankly I would love to see a legitimate USMNT player in philly. I say pay him. Would anyone not be willing to pay 40 bucks more for the season to see a better team (40 x 12,000=480,000) and 100 to see great one (1.2 million). I would and frankly if we knew the extra money went straight to salaries of good players and no where else I don’t think many would.

  8. james lockerbie says:

    Ok after reading Klinnsmans article on espnfc. The problem is our owners don’t have enough money. I guess the league doesn’t want owners with small pockets writing checks they can’t cash ( top gun ) I mean look at the team’s that have made moves for u.s.n.m.t. players that didn’t get checked by m.l.s big money owners Seattle, Toronto …

  9. james lockerbie says:

    I mean no offence by the comment by the way it’s “their” the league’s possible stance, and that seems to be the reality of the team’s finances

  10. One thing left out about the Phillies……they developed Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Pat Burrell during that period between 2003 and the World Series in 2008. Then they were able to find players like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino to supplement those players. Hence why the Phillies haven’t won again even after signing the best rotation in the history of baseball and became a destination for free agents. Signing overpaid big names may have helped fill the new ball park in the beginning, but the nucleus of talent that they developed during that time period kept people in the seats until now. The Union cannot buy their success, they have to develop (which they seem to be doing) and find those players to support the nucleus of the team.

    • The problem with this way of thinking is that you will always need to supplement your developed talent with talent that you pay for and that is where the Union are suffering. look at our lone playoff season, our developed talent was supplemented with a veteran MLSer in Brian Carrol, a proven MLS goalscorer in Carlos Ruiz, a veteran goalkeeper from europe in Mondragon and a top defender from columbia coming off of a championship winning season in Valdes.

      Since then the Union have hardly made a splash in the transfer market. They need to bring in more pieces to change the perception of this market.

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