Fans' View

Fans’ View: Father Sakiewicz

Photo: Earl Gardner

Union fan and Sons of Ben member James Lockerbie sent in a guest column on his thoughts on Nick Sakiewicz.

Nick Sakiewicz, a former goalkeeper turned businessman, is the founding father of the Philadelphia Union. I’m sure everyone remembers his story of taking his very own credit card out and swiping it to form Keystone Sports & Entertainment, LLC. He went out and found the investors, organizing the support necessary for MLS to name Philadelphia as an expansion franchise.

Why did he choose Philadelphia? The practical answer, Philadelphia was the top market left on the east coast without a team. A sentimentalist would suggest that Mr. Sakiewicz saw a group of orphan soccer fans known to all as the Sons of Ben. He wanted to adopt us all and bring us into the soccer family with a new MLS franchise.

Our little “brother” is now five years old. We have been watching him grow from the naming of the team, team colors, and the first roster, and we moved into our new house built on the banks of the Delaware River. Despite having endured the dismantling of the roster and two managers being sacked, we have been there from the River End, to the North End supporting our team. We were there at this year’s SuperDraft, waiting and wondering who we were about to welcome into the Union fold.

I was in the Field House that day with fellow Sons of Ben members and everyone was excited about the potential for the Union signing a new left back, only to watch Don Garber announce that, for the first time in league history, a goalkeeper had been picked in the first round. Then during the summer transfer window, fans were waiting for a new impact striker. Instead, it was announced the Union had acquired a world class goalkeeper. I fear this may be the deciding factor in this year’s campaign: Two goalkeepers acquired when the team is in desperate need of a striker. The goalkeeping gaff that led to Chicago’s stoppage time equalizer on Thursday only served to bring questions about the summer’s big signing into sharper relief.

My hope, no matter how this season ends, is that Nick Sakiewicz finds someone he can trust to be general manager. More than that, I hope he takes the hardest step a father can take, and that is to take a step back and let someone else care for the “baby.” I hope he can give the technical staff the parameters and support they need to acquire and keep talented players that will contribute to the betterment of the team. Father Sakiewicz and the rest of the ownership group still need to be aware of the technical staffs decisions/actions, watching for any “red flags” — we desperately do not need a repeat of 2012. But they should also leave player matters to those charged with managing them.

Nick Sakiewicz is part owner/father to the Philadelphia Union, he adopted a city of orphan soccer fans and gave us a professional soccer club. So for this reason alone he will always have my respect, and I must thank Mr. Sakiewicz and the other owners for bringing us this team. Despite the ups and downs, I hope fans can appreciate what has happened here in Philadelphia, it has been a very exciting five years. The draw with Chicago was another challenging setback but, we endure the “growing pains” together. And as challenging as it can sometimes be, my loyalty to the team means I must entrust my faith to the front office and technical staff in the hope that they can reorganize this off season and rise to the highest levels of the MLS. But, fans need to see such faith and loyalty rewarded with needed acquisitions and tangible results rather than simply assumed and taken for granted.

18 Comments

  1. Nice post. Thanks

  2. Thanks James. I have had the good fortune of talking to both Nick and Jay. Good guys both, who want to win just as much as we want the Union to win. Have they made mistakes? Of course. I agree with you on the GM part. Owners need to separate themselves from the day to day part and worry about the long term future of the club.

  3. Yeah, God job with the article. I am really concerned that our next sponsorship in a few years will be with Chico’s Bail Bonds. All the while NYCFC will be super and Pirlo will be waxing poetic in LA. Some one posted recently that against Chicago the union had 7 natural midfielders on the field at once last night. 7. That means there was no striker and two of the defenders were not defenders. What? IS that the coach? IS that the FO? 7 midfielders.
    .
    Then we have Zach eating sunflower seeds two rows up in what EASILY could be considered an MVP season. Then we have the Okugo situation. Then we have. Then we have. Then we have. How much leverage does the interim have to chose his team? How many decisions are coming down from above? What’s the plan with the coach we currently have? Why do we have no real youth in the pipeline getting any game time like other teams? Who’s driving the train?
    .
    Trouble ahead. Trouble behind and you know that notion just crossed my mind….Switchman sleeping Train hundred and two is on the wrong track and headed for you.

  4. Mike Latyn says:

    Well said….

  5. The sad thing is that for MLS and for any other team, bringing in a WC keeper should have been celebrated and been a big deal. I think Mboli could be a difference maker in this league.
    .
    Instead, he is replacing a hometown fan favorite, using a lot of resources in a position that isn’t top priority (or second, or third), and is brought in cold onto a team that is going through the most important stretch of the season. He was set up to fail.
    .
    I know they tried to get him in at the beginning of the season and had complications. Instead they kept pushing for ‘as soon as possible’. When it got to this point, though, it really should have been ‘he will be our new keeper for next year’.
    .
    So instead of being heralded and cheered at his joining the team, Mboli ends up being booed off the field. Unfortunately rightfully so…
    .
    .
    p.s. As bad as I feel for Mboli, I feel worse for MacMath, but that’s another rant.

  6. Personally, I’d like to think of the SOBs as the mom and Nick as more of a step-father. We’re all yelling at him now like a teenager saying “you’re not my real dad!”

  7. Phil in Wilmington says:

    At the risk Of this thread sounding like an echo chamber, I could not agree more. What compounds the situation is that the only folks that will have any market value now are Okugo and MacMath. Edu Nogs and Maidana, while providing an impact, are still underperforming. Moreover, there is very little of use in H’burg that can be brought in to serve as backup.

    All season, what was missing was a striker to back up it platoon with Casey.

    The same can be said right now.

  8. I had respect of Sak for the first 4 years. But during year 3 he (and Hack) told us at during a FO / supporters summit that the team’s 5 yr goal was to win the Cup and that they were on track. Since then it is obvious that they are not not and that the team to a large part is a joke and mismanaged. Until he shows me that he is sincere and keeps his promises I disrespect him and do not believe anything he says or promises.

  9. Using this metaphor, some dads are better at parenting. Everyone makes mistakes. Not explaining why you made – or didn’t make – a series of choices or decisions leaves us to wonder if you knew what you are doing. Ultimately you get help if you need it. For your kid’s sake.

    • james Lockerbie says:

      Yes, exactly that`s way I choose this metaphor. He like a father has plans or dreams for his kid, but maybe the child has his own dreams and needs. I was thinking of the part in the movie some kind of wonderful. The father was pushing the son to go to college but the son wanted to focus on his art.

      Mbolhi is a world cup keeper but our kid for this season needed help else where! Like Silverey said its a shame for our team and the league that this situation went down the way it did. My hope is someone at union headquarters stands up and says this can’t keep happening. We must take an honest look at the current needs of this club and go out and fill as many of those needs we can.
      _
      The club must show us the fans, the players, and the league that the Union are committed to winning, respect their fans and players by reorganizing the front office and acquiring new talents where they are truly needed.

      • He is not the guy to decide how to fill them. They need someone with a clear vision on how to win, who can execute & brings the play book. Then you mold the roster. It won’t be cheap. And with 2 new clubs in next year’s conference, do it now. Or risk falling to the bottom. Say the search is restarted – regardless of the outcome this season. Be fair to Curtin, the players & the fans. And if the playoff miracle happens, don’t change because the needs are still there.

      • james Lockerbie says:

        Absolutely

      • I recall a line in that perfect movie. I believe it goes, ‘better to swallow pride than blood.’
        .
        hmm………

  10. “Papa Was (is) a Rolling Stone ” Being the sperm donor doesn’t make you a father. Great article.

  11. Former Season Ticket Holder Greg says:

    When the ink dries on this season, it’ll be an interesting read.
    Right now, I wish I was thinking of where we’re going rather than how we’ll get there, not to mention when.

    • James Lockerbie says:

      I understand how you feel, just before the dc united game there were guys chatting about which guys are going/staying with the union. I wasn’t ready to ponder player movement and I still am not ready for it. I am ready to discuss how we can make changes at the management level.

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