Fans' View

Fans’ View: Who are we?

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Well … it’s that time of year again.

That time when the Union’s realistic chances of making the playoffs dwindle, yet every game becomes a “must-win” for the players.

That time when we keep saying “we’re just a couple wins away from getting back into a mediocre Eastern Conference” (as if this were a good thing).

That time when we all fear our inner pessimism is being validated once again.

Then we’re thrown a rather tasty bone (Barnetta) and rumors of another (Bedoya), and we keep hanging around to see what’s going to happen.

With the Barnetta signing, possible missed opportunity to acquire Corey Ashe, and now rumors of a Bedoya signing, I’m frankly left feeling pretty confused about the direction of this team. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for spending money on quality players, but there are some gaping holes that remain to be filled.

Most importantly, I want to know what the vision is for the product we put out on the field. I think, if I better understood what that vision is, I would be able to see the long view and tolerate some of the short-term, head-scratcher decisions that are a natural part of professional sports.

For now though, I’m befuddled as to just what we strive to be.

  • Philly tough? Do we want to put “defense-first” as Curtin has claimed at times? Does that mean we purchase more soccer muscle over soccer brains, run the clock down, and hope for a 1-0 set piece win? If so, then the signing of Vittoria, playing Edu out of position, and (dare I say) attempt to bring in a World Cup star goalkeeper actually make some sense.
  • Counterattack? Do we still put our emphasis on defense, but perhaps with more tactically sound players and some speedy players up front to hit the quick counter? Here the acquisitions of Sapong and Noguiera make perfect sense, but where does Maidana fit into this picture?
  • Possession with purpose? Would we rather dominate the midfield and keep our opponents off the ball? Again, Noguiera makes sense as does Maidana now, but then the decision to field several players with near-atrocious ball retention skills seems rather suspect. Perhaps adding Barnetta (and Bedoya?) signals a desire to keep more possession?

As the playoffs become out of reach, we should be less concerned with results and more concerned with developing the vision that will achieve better results in the future.

As a business model, it seems that we are going to need to rely heavily on bringing through kids from the academy system. If that is the plan, then we need to start seeing a couple of them get a sniff of the first team. In addition to the academy, we should be spending money on creating a network of scouting contacts to bring in more players. Chris Albright can’t possibly handle this Herculean task alone. As it is now, many of our key signings seem to have fallen into our lap just as much as we have gone out and chased them.

I’ve always said that the entertainment value is just as important as the results for me. That’s what gets me to re-DOOP my season tickets. I’m paying to be entertained. While the confusing personnel moves could be labeled “amusing,” it’s not quite the entertainment I’m looking for.

I’m glad we signed Barnetta, but I also want to know how he fits into the big picture. Explain to me how he was more valuable than Corey Ashe when it comes to completing a vision for our team, and I will have no complaints. Show me that there is a clear plan to provide quality soccer entertainment, and I’ll be much more likely to return my butt to your seat.


  1. The long vision is diplopia or legal blindness.

    • based on scott’s analysis, triplopia? although I don’t see philly tough making it into the pantheon on football styles of play.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    “That time when the Union’s realistic chances of making the playoffs dwindle, yet every game becomes a “must-win” for the players.” – Unfortunately, this season when we felt that feeling the calendar still said April.

  3. recognition of the Union’s business practices as conforming to some type of model is at this point, based on all available evidence, a watering down of the concept of “models” similar to claiming to like the “big, hoppy” nature of light beer. even “scattershot” seems too intentional.

  4. “Philly tough? Do we want to put “defense-first” as Curtin has claimed at times?”

    Can’t really claim this anymore. They allow more goals than any other club in the league.

  5. Wouldn’t we all love to know what the plan is

  6. I think Jim’s professed plan of playing tough defense to win 1-0 games was the plan at the start (more hope than anything). But I think he sees some attacking options in Sapong/Nando. He sees that a midfield of Barnetta, Maidana, and Nogs can/should lead to the ability of a more possession game. So adding a player like Bedoya as a winger, opposite Ayuk/Wenger/LeToux(my least preferred option), allows for more possession/scoring options.
    So basically I think they hope to be a team that holds it shape well. Presses you early and reforms to defend. Once it gains possession, will have the ability to pick and choose possession vs. counter-attacking.
    Do I agree with this? I think its a huge ask. Anything remotely resembling the design might not come to fruition till the middle of next year. It’s hopeful and wishful at best. But then again, maybe believing in luck helps. After so much bad luck, some good must come right?…Right?

    • Atomic Spartan says:

      Some good must come after so much bad luck? Only through the Law of Averages: even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then, but the process isn’t very rewarding for the squirrel or the observer. However, I do think the analogy applies well to the FO.

      • Sarcasm truly is dead. Apparently I had a hand in its demise. I was trying to point out how ludicrous it is for the Team to blame all their troubles this year on bad luck.

  7. I’m excited about Barnetta, but even this signing is beyond curious. The best players on the team already reside in or around center midfield (Nogs, Chaco, Edu). Wing play was a huge challenge coming into the transfer window….so we declare that Barnetta, who’s played as an outside midfielder at a very high level will play centrally…then ship off Sheanon Williams.

    There is an interesting core group of 5 or so players here, but a cohesive story needs to be assembled with them and around them.

  8. There is no debate about our Union being the worst team in MLS. When you’re last in the league in giving up goals and last in the league in scoring goals, you are what you are.

  9. This just in: Non existing Sporting Director fails to improve last place Union at trade deadline.

  10. murphthesurf says:

    Personally, I can only take so much pain.
    Please , Mr.Sak, give it up.

    Sell Your portion of the team…for the good or the team, thank you.
    peace out.

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