A View from Afar / Commentary

Could the Union improve without major moves?

Photo: Earl Gardner

Amid all the hand-wringing and near-panic over Philadelphia Union’s lack of transfer market activity this offseason, one thing has been lost.

There is something to be said for consistency.

The Union return all but one outfield starter from their 2014 squad. Aside from the departures of Amobi Okugo and Zac MacMath, this is mostly the same team.

Now, many of you are saying, “That’s not a good thing! That team didn’t make the playoffs! You don’t want that kind of consistent!” You’re right, of course. (Although you’re overreacting if you’re freaking out about the Union’s first preseason game.)

But in MLS, where player movement is so common, teams sometimes improve just by gelling over time.

Nowhere is this more apparent and significant than in central midfield.

For example, Real Salt Lake didn’t become one of the league’s best teams overnight, and they didn’t do it with big name transactions either. It happened as the midfielders in their tight, four-man diamond began to know each other better and better, so that their chemistry was such that they entered the league’s elite. In another example, Los Angeles struggled in the David Beckham era until a few key factors fell into place, including the meshing of central midfielders Juninho and Beckham (a center midfielder in his final seasons) and later Marcelo Sarvas.

Last season, the Union basically built a whole new midfield, and it took a while for them to gel. In all likelihood, Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira will mesh even better this season now that they have gotten to feel each other out for a year.

Had Okugo stayed, one could easily argue that this group would certainly improve simply by virtue of their center midfield trio remaining together.

Of course, Okugo didn’t, so that remains a question mark. Maurice Edu was obviously with the club last year, but the Union rarely played him in a center midfield trio with Maidana and Nogueira. Even now, it’s not clear whether Edu will start the season in midfield or defense.

Looking wider, Andrew Wenger and Sebastien Le Toux should be expected to continue progressing as they did once Union manager Jim Curtin changed their roles. Also, don’t underestimate how important it is to the fullbacks behind them to know the tendencies of the wingers in front of them.

With Le Toux, improvement is less likely, as he is more familiar with his role as a right-sided forward, but consistency is more likely if he is healthy, as it’s basically his ideal role. A Le Toux performing at the level he’s always performed at when deployed as a forward for the Union is a great foundation upon which to build.

As for Wenger, he could be a breakout star this year. His performance last season in a left-sided target winger role stunned most people, as he had never played there extensively before. But his unfamiliarity with the role also caused him problems at times: Sometimes he shot when he should have passed or passed when he should have shot. An offseason of film study and a training camp playing the position could address those issues and make him an all-star. Keep in mind: This guy was unstoppable off the dribble against nearly everyone he played against last season.

Up top, don’t forget that Conor Casey was very good for significant stretches of the last two seasons. If his minutes are managed well — and he can stay healthy through training camp — C.J. Sapong could be exactly the sort of platoon partner the Union need to find success at striker.

Don’t get me wrong: This team still has issues, and this entire column may be a game of devil’s advocate. Center forward is still a question mark. Equally (or more) important, they need to quickly sort out who is playing center back and defensive midfield.

With Carlos Valdes departing once again on loan, Benfica’s Steven Vitoria looks like the answer to one part of that question, but we still don’t know who the other center back will be: Edu or someone else.

The odds may be for someone else next to Vitoria, even though Edu is the best center back on the club (and possibly one of the best in the league). If the Union really plan to acquire another striker, that may make it more financially difficult to acquire a starting-quality defensive midfielder. It seems more probable that the Union will bank on an Austin Berry comeback, Richie Marquez making the leap from USL to MLS, or Ethan White incrementally improving. That said, if Vitoria’s ball skills are lacking, the Union center backs will face constant pressure from opposing forwards, as none of those three — particularly White — is known for his poise with the ball at his feet.

The Union have a lot of questions to answer in training camp, but now that the Carlos Valdes domino has (finally!) fallen, they could begin to produce some answers. Vitoria is clearly one of them. Are there are others? We’ll see.

Jim Curtin has been talking his team down for weeks now, talking about them maybe being a sneak-into-the-playoffs sort of team. Some people hate that.

But by lowering expectations, he could be doing his players a great service: He’s lowering the pressure they face. Nobody will expect much from this club if they don’t add a few more players. That could allow them to play with far more freedom. That worked wonders for Wenger last year, for example.

Keep in mind that sometimes teams get better just by playing together longer.

90 Comments

    • This is Phil says:

      +1

      Left back and striker. Unless you demand at least this, as a fan you get exactly what you deserve. The Union does not yet have a starting XI.

  1. Can we get a post with user names who think the sky is falling and that they KNOW this team is a pile of crap? If you’re one of them, then let’s make a deal that you can’t post a single comment while the team is in a playoff position this year.
    .
    The comment section in here is getting ridiculous.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I will, gladly, eat every one of my words!!!!

    • Raises hand

      Yes, the Union will remain in the playoff hunt all year because there is some talent on the team. However that is more a function of MLS adding a 6th playoff spot and moving two of the better Eastern Conference teams out west.

      The article did not ask if the Union will contend for the playoffs, it asks if they will improve. My opinion is they will not. I hope I am wrong but I do not have a lot of faith that I will be.

      • Increasing the number of playoff spots and moving two of the most competitive teams, year in and year out, definitely helps our playoff chances…

    • I never said the team was a pile of crap. I’ve stated repeatedly that the management and ownership group is a pile of crap. If they gel as Dan proposes or catch lightning in a bottle, it doesn’t change the fact that Sak has made some really terrible moves over the last 5 years and that Sugarman is not in a position to compete financially. In addition, for the last 5 years, this club has had no long term plan. Remember when they sold us on the youth movement? Ask, Okugo, JacMac, McMath, Mwanga, and the Farfan twins how that worked out?

      • Of those names, only Okugo has shown to be competitive at a high MLS level.

        Maybe JackMac if he can get on a hotstreak in MTL.

        I doubt MacMath starts for Colorado. Mwanga hasn’t done much since leaving the Union. Marfan is out of contact and played one match with Cruz Azul. Garfan was always “Meh” on a good day. Torres just wasn’t physical enough and hasn’t really played much because of injuries.

        And you left out one of the most promising in Ribiero. Are we missing anyone else?

        Gaddis has improved drastically.
        Williams had a rough year last year but is still solid.
        Wenger had a solid year last season
        and then look at the Academy pipeline…

      • I don’t argue your points with any of these players. My point is that the FO sold us that they were to be the future. Now we are on our 2nd or third future. You can argue that Sak and Sugarman don’t make decisions on player evaluation, etc. but they make decisions on the people who make the decisions.

      • Agreed. This organization doesn’t have a top-down vision.

      • I agree that they have been lacking that but (and this may make me a sucker) I think that Jim Curtin has the kind of dedication that would allow for the culture or vision of this team to develop or change. He definitely seems like by far the most dedicated coach that this team has ever had

      • I don’t understand this notion that the club is in its 2nd or 3rd future. Sure, McInerney, Okugo, and others are/were promising young players, but I never really saw them as the Union’s future. I look more to the Union academy, which has gotten a good deal of attention from within the league

        Video featuring Tommy Wilson, Union Academy Director – http://goo.gl/mgrCM0

        I remember the FO from day one talking about 5 or more years down the road. That was 5 years ago. And we can’t forget there was nothing before that (save the SoBs). Am I happy with the direction this organization has taken? No, not really, but you can’t dress an infant in a suit and expect him to be CEO at age 5, especially with crappy parents.

      • James Lockerbie says:

        I agree with your line of thinking but Dc United just signed M. Farfan. so take him off the list

      • Whatthewhat? How did we let this happen when we clearly need some playmaking depth? One injury to Maidana/Nogueira could be a big setback. Marfan would have been a nice addition and an easy crowd pleaser for the FO.

      • Depending on the salary level may not have been worth back. He was floating around the Union camp for a bit and was probably turned down for one reason or another.

      • I believe he had to go through the allocation order. You know, the one that doesn’t apply to NYRB, LA, or Seattle

    • As of right now, this team is not good enough to make the playoffs. If they make more additions before the season, I reserve the right to change my outlook.

    • TheDuke must be that intern who screwed up the player names at the team event a few weeks back. This is his way of making up for it.

      …and what would you say losing to a minor league team in preseason is? I would say its pretty crappy.

    • I will also say that if you read the comments on the post about Vitoira’s signing, they are positive. I can’t speak for all commenters, but I would much rather have debates on whether or not a player is the correct signing or being played in the correct position than venting as I watch our competitors acquire players and improve.

      • Exactly, it is okay to be happy about good things and mad/question bad things. That’s healthy. It’s not our fault that there hasn’t been a whole lot of positive things happening.

  2. The Black Hand says:

    YES

  3. Am I the only one who thinks us focusing on a striker for our next move isn’t the way to go?

    Our biggest problem last year was lack of creativity and service to put the ball on goal. I think a true #10 CAM is our biggest need. Nogs is great to set everything up but we need a quick and creative 10 to create opportunities for our strikers to finish.

    I think CJ, Catic and Casey are fine, but signing a higher profile striker isn’t going to matter if no one is getting them the ball in dangerous positions.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I would have to agree. We need to strengthen our middle, with players that can hang with Vincent Noguiera.

    • Maidana should be an improved option there this year, no? I mean, his kids are used to the schedule here in the US by now, right? No more dinners at 11pm?
      .
      Intended sarcasm aside, I’m quite fine with Maidana in that role. Remember that last year, he started off on the left side, not in the middle. Then he dealt with some fitness and injury issues once he was moved into the middle. I suspect he should be taking a reasonable step forward, and look forward to seeing him and Nogs work the middle together.
      .
      Besides, clearly the most important need for this team is figuring out who the #3 goalie will be…

      • I think Maidana definitely has potential there, but I don’t know if he’s athletic enough to really exploit defenses. He has great vision and touch but I’m not sure he can crack open a back 4.

        I just have nightmares from last season of our midfield passing the ball back and forth 25 yards out unable to open anything up while Casey or whoever runs back and forth in the box.

        The only thing that began to open anything up as the season wore on was Wenger running at people, but nothing really began in the middle.

      • Sorry, I just don’t see Maidana as having the potential to be the number 3 keeper.. 🙂 🙂

      • Remember, as great a player that Nogueira is and how well Maidana looked at times, they are not goalscorers themselves.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Nope, and both need quality around them to truly shine.

    • Thats where Pfeffer should come into play at some point in the future, probably in spurts this year………give the kid a chance!

  4. Meh.
    Maybe.
    It is still the MLS East.
    Depends on what the Union consider improvement.
    If improvement is the highly coveted #6 playoff spot then YES! WE CAN IMPROVE!
    Anything more than that. Nope.

  5. This is where the conversation has gone. I gotta think on this one.
    .
    Okay. I see improvement from the Onion without major moves if a consistent approach to playing young academy hopefuls become part of the process and they are given a chance to grow.
    .
    Otherwise we are a mid table team looking to ‘punch above our weight’ and the metric of playoffs to me is a poor metric cause a mid table team qualifies. But what 8 seed is really going to do anything- just like the NBA.

    • Pretty much this.

    • You mean like eighth-seeded Harrisburg in the USL four months ago?

    • I think in the context of MLS and of playoff soccer in general, shooting for just making the playoff field consistently year in and year out is a smart thing to do, especially if you’re a club that doesn’t have the budget of LA or Seattle. Even a home-and-away-leg round is nothing like a best-of-seven NBA or NHL playoff series. Freak things can and do happen, and anyone can catch lightning in a bottle once they’re in. That’s how Colorado and RSL won the whole thing in 2010 and 2009, and how New York somehow made it to the title game in 2008. For that matter, that’s how D.C. won the U.S. Open Cup two years ago and Philadelphia made it to the final last year.
      On the other hand, if you blow all your resources at once on a win-it-all-this-year-right-now mentality, that’s how you get the slow moving, long-term disaster that is the Phillies these days.

      • Your point is well taken.
        .
        I’m all for building through the academy then if we are not going to be ‘big fish’. I would be fine being a mid table team known for producing future excellent MLS players and having runs at Cups occasionally- think Crewe Alexander and Southhampton. That is their plan. That is what they do. They build players and unload them for profit even if not at the highest level of the game. That is a Vision. Philosophy. Plan.
        .
        I am yet unconvinced of ANY plan. Of any continuity. Of any direction- least of all allowing the HG players to even see the field, yet tell us how you intend to use Academy in this manner. I see mediocrity. I see the Philadelphia tragedy of mediocrity playing out now in a different sport. I see an opportunity to be the talk of the town in the FASTEST growing sport in America and the World- yet it is being missed. Sorry. Doom? Gloom? Who Knows. Missed opportunity.

      • I think this is a huge point that isn’t mentioned often enough. There has NEVER been a better time for the Union to step into the limelight and get some more attention.

      • preach on…..+1

  6. I agree that Maidana and Nogueira will be better. They now know what to expect from MLS competition and have had a year to settle into living in a new country. I look forward to seeing them play.

    However, I don’t think the Union set out to be this inactive in the offseason. It sounds like they tried a couple moves that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons – bad luck, poor timing, and lack of funds. The lack of major moves (thus far) wasn’t the plan. I think Curtin/Albright know they need help.

    RSL and LA are interesting examples. Salt Lake has built a team with the “Moneyball” approach we’ve heard so much about – spending wisely and giving younger guys a chance in their lineups. Thus far, the Union haven’t done either of those things very well. I’m not sure, but I’d also guess that RSL’s technical / scouting staff is probably larger than the Union’s too.

    LA is a different animal. The Union don’t have the deep pockets or a player like Beckham. Union are in a different galaxy…

    I think there’s something to be said for keeping a core of guys and giving them a chance to improve together. After all, that was the plan the FO sold to the fans. Players like Okugo, McInerney, MacMath, etc never got that chance. However, keeping a core group and adding several better players aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. Union would be wise to do both.

    • “Players like Okugo, McInerney, MacMath, etc never got that chance.”
      Jack -105 matches;Okugo -117; MacMath -103. Can you expand on the never got the chance part? Cause that’s a whole lot of chances.

    • I agree with you that the Union did not set out to be this inactive. They were in on Delort, and at least had feelers out for a number of other players (whether William Kvist and/or Cesary Wilk were among them is a big “whatever” to me at this point).
      .
      I agree they definitely know they need help on the field. But I think what’s almost more important is that they need help OFF the field as well. These are two guys who I’m sure are trying their damnedest to bring in players, but the more experience you have behind scouting and negotiations, the less “bad timing” and “bad luck” you run into from a personnel standpoint.
      .
      And with inexperience can come mismanagement – I know the Valdes saga is not all to lay at the feet of Curtin or Albright, but it’s inexcusable that the whole thing was allowed to drag on for so long. If he didn’t want to be here, that needed to be sorted out well before training camp even started. It’s great that we’ve got Vitoria now, but he should have been able to practice with his new teammates two weeks ago. It may not seem like much but those little things can make a difference in how your season shapes up in the early going, which is going to be important for this team.

  7. I don’t just want ‘imporvement’ I want a team that can contend for the cup. What team goes into it’s season saying, ‘ah…let’s just shoot for the playoffs’? A sub-par team with mediocrity as it’s goal. A team that is content to play, but not a win-at-all-costs team. It’s not a winning mentality. And that starts at the top. If you can’t play with the big boys, sell and get out. I’m not gonna put up with just giving you my money year after year and just ‘getting close’. I’m a charter STH, but this will probably be my last year if we don’t make significant strides, and by strides, I mean playoffs AND the second round. Can this team do that? maybe. Let’s see, GO UNION!

    • What team goes in to the season saying, “ah….let’s just shoot for the playoffs?”
      .
      Well sir, the Onion do. Make no mistake, the playoffs are the top end goal for this club. That is the gross injustice, they make no bones about winning MLS. This has become obvious and this is the egregious difficulty I have swallowing what has been given. Castor fucking oil sir.
      .
      They think the playoffs are the lidocaine to salve the wound. Make no mistake this ownership group has NO intention of winning MLS Cup- at least right now.

  8. Honestly Dan and with all due respect,in my opinion this article could have been dated 2012,2013,2014. The Union add,take away and hang on to enough pieces to stay mediocre. The Union have relied on too many players with less than MLS level skills who can’t improve enough to help this team. So they need to make another major move or two to get themselves beyond just being mediocre. I think the major moves need to be LB and Striker then give them time to gel. Take care of those starting positions and added to changes already made we’ll hopefully be having a different more positive conversation.Then the quality of bench and depth players needs to improve.

  9. By the way, for those of you who have not figured it out- until I see discernible reason to change my POV, from this fanatic, this team shall be referred to as the Onion.
    .
    I will be as objective as possible yet with deep subjectivity- applaud the good and castrate the bad – and gladly remove the BADGE this team has earned when they have shown me a reason to – and no, a 6th place finish does not do it.
    .
    The Philadelephia Onion.
    .
    “Look at me I’m sticking with The Onion……”

    • The Onion – early nominee to replace WSSM among commenters in 2015.

      However, it is pre season and we the public can be swayed.

    • I was first assuming it was an auto-correct thing. Thanks for explaining. makes sense.

    • “…total Onion move amirite?”

    • peel away the layers and its still … the Union. Lets hope the Roberts-in-law gets a good look and convinces his in-laws to sell a few shares and take over. it seems the old low budget teams have to go that way or they will failin the face of new rich owners. Current owners would probably make money on the sale, so I’ll wait for that while I continue to go to games and support the side, tortoise-style.

  10. I wish my crystal ball worked as well as some of those commenting here. I think this article makes valid points. I’ll wait to see how they actually perform during the regular season before deciding how much they’ve improved (or not).

    • The Black Hand says:

      Send it to me. I’ll tune it up 😉
      .
      We have seen what we have, with exception to Sapong and Vitoria (both COULD be great additions). Yes, our players will benefit from time together, as Dan mentions in the article. BUT…we have gaping holes in our XI. We do not know where Edu will be playing (I suspect that he will be a CB…and I think that will be a mistake), so the CB and CDM positions are completely up in the air. This is not good, as those are two of the most important positions on the pitch. It will be difficult for the club to establish any cohesion, without having those pieces set (see our last two seasons for a prime example of this). If this club cannot link play, they will not compete…we don’t have the horses to get by on individual efforts (Noguiera is good, but not that good).
      .
      If we are to sign a CB or CDM; we need to do it quickly, so that the new players can get used to the club (I’m not feeling another year, where we use the first couple of months to ‘try shit out’). We really need to come out of the gates prepared!!!
      .
      I’ll admit, I have been a ‘half-empty’ guy. We have subtracted some real talent (AMOBI OKUGO) and haven’t really leveled that out.
      .
      Moving on from Brian Carroll would be a great step, in the right direction, for the Union.

      • Agreed, at this point Carroll is a waste of a roster spot and chunk of money. Lahoud is a perfectly capable backup. That is unless there are no more moves and Edu starts at CB with Carroll/Lahoud starting DM…

  11. Could the Union even bring in another DP-level player? Aren’t three of Maidana, Mbolhi, Edu and Vitoria already DPs?

    • They could use allocation money to buy down Mbohli’s salary, if he’s over the DP limit.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Thought I read last year that there was a transfer fee involved, and that the fee was what made him a DP, and that once the fee was paid, he was below DP level. The last players’ union salary data has him around $240,000 if I remember the data correctly. Note that I have not yet confirmed my alleged fact.

    • pretty sure vitoria is not a DP

    • I don’t think Vitoria or Maidana are DPs. I think Edu and M’Bholi [maybe ?]

      • Maidana and M’Bohli were considered DP’s last year because of the transfer fees. Silly MLS rule #1,000. Their salaries are sub DP. Shouldn’t qualify this season.

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    This team should and will contend for a playoff spot. That said, a few injuries or some bad / good luck could push them up a few spots or down a few. I honestly think they could end up anywhere from 3rd to 7th.
    .
    They are talented but not loaded. They need help but aren’t garbage. We can be mad all we want about this team not being better on paper – (remember Austin Berry was winning us MLS Cup last year?) than last year – AND MOST OF US ARE – but if we just deal with this team, right now… fact is they could be better or they could be worse. Assuming they are gonna be top 3 or that they are gonna be dead last is just silly.
    .
    They claim they aren’t done. I reserve the right to wait until March 7 to see what the starting XI looks like. But I believe they will sneak in the playoffs as a 5 or 6 seed.

  13. We can whine about it, but until one of us is a billionaire and buys the team I think this way of thinking can be the way to enjoy this season. We will not pull in a world-renowned 32 yrs plus difference maker like Kaka, Henri, Keane. We have some good players, some okay ones. We do it the Philly way. Tough, working class. An identity we can have pride in. When we beat the Galaxy we party likes its 1999. BTW I don’t think we have yet.
    /
    Stoke has plenty of pride.

  14. I continue to be mixed about this question.

    On the one hand, I continue to come down to the fact that this team came a goalpost away from beating the best team in the league in the open cup final. And I think the current team has every reason to expect to do better. I expect more from both Nogs and Chaco and think Sappong up top is better than Casey. MBolhi should be an upgrade in goal as well.

    But I’m also worried that a marginally better team will not be enough in the East, which I think has gotten better overall. Toronto is going to be a beast. I think Orlando will be great as well. Colombus, Chicago and even Montreal have improved. Getting that sixth spot has not necessarily gotten easier. This team needs to put itself in a better spot to contend.

    As for being a mid table team is concerned, I think the key for Philadelphia is the strategy they seem intent to follow. It’s the right way to go. Sign judiciously to improve and aim for a playoff spot. In the meantime, put every effort into developing an Academy that can produce even better talent. This is the moneyball move for a U.S. soccer club — where few clubs have invested in talent development in a way that benefits the team the way it does for European clubs. I think that’s the main goal of having Meulensteen on as a consultant. That’s what I got from Sugarman’s comments at that last Press Conference he attended.

    • I have to say, I don’t expect a whole lot more from Noguiera and Maidana. They were good. They are as good as they are going to get. They are mid career players. They would probably be a lot better if ‘our’ guys knew how to play better- cause we el sucko. Less Wenger explodes and a draft pick hits it and some youth blow up- provided they see the field. Now as for letting in less gols that’s a different story. And……
      .

      ….are we really talking about the 6th playoff spot? I love your comments Pete but, and I’m sorry, its been a long day with the kids and my hair and an impending hemorrhoidectomy (to wit, I kid) and I’m not trying to take this out on you, how the hell am I supposed to give a shit about the 6th seed and slipping in to the playoffs. That’s the bar? God, pull my nails out of the bed- I can’t take it.
      .
      The rest of your commentary, Academy, ‘money ball’ – as vision philosophy plan- that part i like.

      • Haha, Joel. I hear you, but that’s the reality of the situation. Toronto is what a team gunning for an MLS cup today looks like. The Union is promising to contend. Thats it. I’d prefer better than that, but the Union is the team I have. At least I like rooting for underdogs…..

    • “On the one hand, I continue to come down to the fact that this team came a goalpost away from beating the best team in the league in the open cup final.”

      The USOC final was the hardest I’d ever seen the Union play. That level of effort isn’t sustainable over an entire season. Hustle can’t replace skill.

      That game was reflective of how the Union handled all games last season. Controlled the play early. Nicked a fortunate goal. Came out flat and conceded in the second. In the end, exposed for lack of depth. The better team won.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Curtin’s, beyond questionable, selection/subs played a huge part in that match. That was the first glaring mistake that I saw from our manager…then he followed it up with many more. Jus’ sayin’…

  15. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I have made a whole series of guesses about who makes the roster, and then using last fall’s data have tried to identify the salaries that will count towards the salary cap, 1-20. There are several salaries that are unknown: Vitoria, unknown striker, Casey, Carroll, Fred. If the cap is three million or thereabouts, there’s only six or seven hundred thousand left to pay those five more or less. The draft picks are all young enough to be in slots 25-30 at $36,500. The home growns and the GA, Blake, cover spots 21-24. If the Greek, kanakoudis, makes it, he is in slots 1 through 20 by age alone, so the pot gets even smaller. “Unknown Striker” is not going to be getting lots of money, so he’s less likely to come from a high salary soccer environment, unless it is one where the checks bounce regularly. If Europe, think Russia, given the rouble’s weakness.

  16. I think this article definitely has some merit, however I disagree on a wholesale level. Maidana and Nogueira will no doubt be better than last year, this is a huge plus, as they are 2 of the best players on the team. Also, theoretically M’Bolhi should hopefully be better with time to integrate. Sapong is a better backup ST than anything we had last year, no doubt. Also, Vitoria is a good player, and Catic seems to be a good draft pick.
    .
    However, Sapong has a lower goal avg. than Jack Mac, coming from a REALLY good team. Vitoria is basically replacing Valdes, and Catic is basically replacing Ribeiro. Everyone is a year older, that means Casey is a year older, and also Letoux. Both of those guys broke down a little bit last year, and they would be two major contributors if we are going anywhere right now. The biggest factor here though is Okugo being gone. The “got better without doing anything” argument MAY have held true if he was still on the team. I don’t see how either White/Berry at CB or (god no) Carroll/Lahoud at DM isn’t a severe downgrade from Okugo.
    .
    All in all, at this exact moment, measuring up last year to this year, I think we are in a worse spot. The only thing on our side is the added playoff teams and the loss of some better teams in the conference, but then again that’s only if we are shooting to just get in the playoffs. More than anything right now we need a Starting quality ST and some depth on Def and out wide. As things are now, I don’t see a great team.

    • Well said and I can’t even comment on Amobi. How anyone in their right mind, as it stands to date, could think this team is better without him is taking hits from the bong- hits from the bong. My bong’s name was Baxter in college- blue, clean, triumphant, retired. Et tu.

  17. Micheal Faran returns to MLS with DC United.

    • Yeah, that’s a bummer. Good for him I guess. If it was a money thing I guess I get it. When Maidana pulls his hammy in week whatever it would be nice having Farfan step in- depth off bench. I liked him and you know Maidana is going to pull his hammy again right. I think Michael would have been a good addition. Guess it was a money thing. I mean, depth is a good thing right. Less it was a, you know, money thing. Right. Right? Right. I look more forward to the finished picture of our bench than the starters cause the depth or the lack of depth was a big thing right? I mean unless its a money thing – what’s that you say? Academy players on the way? Youth on the bench getting valuable minutes? Well they don’t cost much, if I mean, it’s a money thing. Right? Right.

    • Michael Farfan; 82 appearances with the Union, 4 total goals. I don’t care what kind of creative spark or depth he would provide in our MF, that is lack of production.

      Wish him well in DC, but won’t miss him a bit in Chester.

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