A View from Afar / Commentary

A look at the Union quotes of the week

Photo: Earl Gardner

After writing probably 10,000 words on Philadelphia Union over the last week, you might think I would run out of new, intelligent and topical things to say. You’d probably be right. Alas, I have a regularly scheduled column, and here it is.

There were some key things said over the last few days regarding the Union, and since everyone’s talking about the big picture direction of the club, here are some thoughts on some of those quotes.

1. “Do you have to spend a lot of money in this league? The answer is no.” —  Union principal owner Jay Sugarman, Friday’s news conference

In Sugarman’s defense, that quote deserves a bit of context, even though Sugarman didn’t offer much himself. I didn’t transcribe the next part of the quote word for word, but to paraphrase, he followed that up by saying that there are plenty of examples of the contrary. Clearly, he was alluding to clubs without the big name designated players, like Real Salt Lake during the Jason Kreis years and probably Sporting Kansas City over the last few years.

That said, don’t go thinking that big players are never worth the money, as Union television commentator JP Dellacamera seemed intent on convincing viewers during Saturday’s telecast of the Union-Toronto FC game. Now, I’m a Dellacamera fan — he’s one of the best American soccer play-by-play announcers — but this sentiment is short-sighted.

Yes, I’ve repeatedly made clear that you have to play Moneyball in MLS. But that doesn’t mean you don’t go after the right big name if you can get him.

Sebastian Giovinco has been an absolute game-changer for Toronto, regardless of their record, because he is a highlight reel waiting to happen that makes the on-field product much more exciting for fans. They could be the league’s dominant club next year with a successful off-season. Robbie Keane has been one of the league’s best strikers since the day he arrived. Landon Donovan was worth every dollar he was paid, and then some. And so it goes.

This doesn’t mean you need that player. But if you want a jumpstart for your fan base and a means to take your team from the “pretty good” level to “elite” level, the right big name designated player could absolutely be a good way to go. And yes, even if you have to pay over $3 million a year for him.

2. “I have almost no doubt, and I think Jim [Curtin] should have no doubt that he should be preparing to be our coach next season.” –Sugarman, Friday’s news conference

Sugarman is going the prudent and patient route with the Union head coach. It’s not a bad move. As I wrote last week of Curtin:

He has yet to prove he has the tactical chops to run a successful club, but he has so many other pieces required of a good head coach that many are inclined to be patient with him. His supporters offer hopeful Ben Olsen comparisons.

Maybe you can’t wait forever for a head coach to develop, but you can certainly wait two years for one who has demonstrated excellent potential in particular areas. Regardless of whether Curtin was elevated to the top spot too early — he was — he’s there, and jettisoning him too soon could result in the Union potentially missing exactly the right man for the job. Curtin has so many qualities you look for in a good coach, and he reflects and gets Philadelphia in a way few other candidates are likely to.*

Impatient critics may point to how quickly coaches get fired in Europe as evidence that it’s time for Curtin to go. What they miss is that Europe is doing it wrong when it comes to the hire-fire managerial cycle. Want more appropriate examples to emulate? Try Joe Maddon (formerly) in Tampa, Ned Yost in Kansas City, Bill Belichick in New England, Pete Carroll in Seattle, and Oscar Pareja (when he was) in Colorado. This is part of the North American sports cycle, dating back to Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Chuck Noll and so many other top coaches in other North American pro sports who suffered through losing seasons before their teams developed into winners. It often takes time for winning teams to develop. Without promotion and relegation, you have it.

That said, this time likely runs out next season. Union fans are rightly sick of hearing “wait till next year,” and it’s likely that the firing of Nick Sakiewicz may be the one thing that makes many of them consider offering that pass. Curtin has to improve his substitution patterns, tactical management and assessments of competitions for starting roles. His players need to deliver. You can only fall on your sword so many times before you are finally and permanently disemboweled.

3. “There’s a lot of money that will be opening off the books, so we’ll be able to add some quality pieces.” — Jim Curtin, to CBS and PSP writer Kevin Kinkead

So, where is that money opening? A few places, potentially.

  • Steven Vitoria, loan from Benfica: $400k
  • Fernando Aristeguieta, loan from Nantes: $350k
  • Rais Mbolhi, off books next season
  • Maurice Edu, $650k
  • Conor Casey, $180k
  • Brian Carroll, $180k
  • Union players on loan elsewhere (Danny Cruz, Austin Berry, etc.)

That’s right, Edu is on the list of potential departures. Where does he fit on this club? More importantly, where does he want to fit? He has shown it’s not a disciplined No. 6 defensive midfield role next to Vincent Nogueira. So if Nogueira returns and Edu doesn’t want to play center back — even though he’s really good at it — what then?

Time to go.

As for the two loanees, both would be worth bringing back on lower salaries. Would they take huge pay cuts — i.e. half their salary — to do it? Vitoria has played well since recovering from injury and would slot in as a starter next to Marquez if Edu departs. Aristeguieta would be a backup center forward and spot starter behind C.J. Sapong.

Carroll and Casey are still valuable contributors and worth bringing back, but the question is at what salary.

(No, we’re not getting into the issue of whether Cristian Maidana and even Vincent Nogueira return. That’s enough for an entire column, and since they’re the Union’s two most enjoyable players to watch play, none of us feel like writing it right now.)

Look for a more in-depth and specific view on this question in the next few weeks.

4. “I’d say we need at least two more Tranquillo Barnetta types (of players) to put ourselves in a position where we can call ourselves a playoff contender. — Jim Curtin, to CBS and PSP writer Kevin Kinkead

Who are those players, and where will they play?

Again, we can look more closely at this in the coming weeks, but on quick survey:

  • No. 6 center defensive midfielder: If Mike Lahoud could stay healthy, he could be the guy. He has the quality. Can he maintain the fitness?
  • Left back: Fabinho’s second half improvement has been impressive. But as evidenced by the reckless and unnecessary penalty he surrendered against New England two weeks ago, he’s still a gambler who often gets burnt in significant ways.

Put me in the camp of those who still think Andrew Wenger is that type of player if deployed in the right place and playing with confidence. Where is the right place? Wenger was an All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a center back, and I still wonder whether he should have been playing center back since the day he entered MLS.

65 Comments

  1. “Put me in the camp of those who still think Andrew Wenger is that type of player if deployed in the right place and playing with confidence.”

    Sorry, still don’t see it and this mindset is infuriating because I’m afraid we’re going to be stuck having faith in a mediocre player.

    At which point is is lack of talent instead of lack of confidence?

    The fact he has 1 good year out of what, 4 in the league?

    If we want to take the next step as a team we can’t afford to be waiting around for players to gain confidence and sudden;y be good. We need to make honest assessments of how they played and if thats good enough for us next year.

    • I mean, really?

      We want to not suck and our mindset is to stick someone who never played CB in this league at CB and boom, that will get us there?

      How about we focus instead of getting a good CB to play CB instead of trying to make miracles?

      • How bout we focus instead on playing players in the position they are best suited for.
        .
        I recognize your position James…but Andrew Wenger is a prototype of the MLS player (dependable) … on a team in need of dependable defenders. He was never a goal scorer we just tried to make him one and he had a bit of fortune with it but then regressed to the mean.
        .
        The fault lies with the Union for not playing him properly.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        Montreal started the thinking that he was a forward, I believe.
        .
        I am fairly sure that I remember that in discussion of the McInerney-Wenger trade, a point was that Jack’s contract was up and that Wenger’s had a further season beyond Jack’s. If my memory is correct, Wenger’s contract is up this year, and they are evaluating whether to keep him or let him go.

      • I think the flaw in this thinking is people slotting Wenger into a starting role in the back line. If that is our plan I agree it’s nuts. My thinking is that we can count on Wenger to be the 4th OB or CB on the team. If he plays better than the starters he’ll start, if not oh well. He has shown me enough the past 2 times back there it’s worth a shot. It’s not like the mls is full of great defenders, especially obs.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Well I’m certainly not arguing for him to be a given starter… but if the guy plays well over these last 5 games he is certainly brought in to compete for a starting position in the training camp.
        .
        Worst case he plays in Lehigh Valley for a season at the position you see him as the future for … OB or CB.

      • Deep breaths, James, Deep breaths. It’ll be ok. Really, it will.

        I don’t recall writing that he should be a starting center back next year. Or did I write that and forget? Oh wait, I didn’t? Oh, well, OK then.

        Take the words for what they say, and that’s all: I wonder if he should have been playing CB all along. 🙂

        Oh, and I stand by an earlier statement that, if someone figures out where he truly does play best on the field and actually plays him there for an extended period of time, he’ll be a star. Maybe it’s CB, maybe it’s somewhere else, but I’m pretty sure the position exists.

  2. Where do we need those two more Tranquillo Barnetta’s? I’d say #9 and #6. And I like that Curtin said that’s the minimum.

    I’m also not yet sold on Wenger. I hope he gets more minutes at outside back to be evaluated for the job.

    • Could use another wing option too. Le Toux has been good but not getting any younger and is a converted forward in the first place.

    • I don’t care what position our new spots go as long as they work with that we have. In my opinion we have 3 Barnetta level players: Barnetta, Nogueria, Edu, and honestly Barnetta looks to be the best of the bunch. Get at least 2 more field players of that quality that fit with the others and I’m happy.

  3. Wenger at CB is certainly intriguing, but it can’t be with the Union. Perhaps give him a run in Bethlehem and then bring him up later as Richie Marquez did.

  4. I have to echo the general feeling here.
    .
    Andrew Wenger has done NOTHING this year to warrant a slot on the team next year. Trying to convert (revert(?)) him to a defender reeks of desperation. We’ve seen this show before, and it didn’t work out well for the Union or Aaron Wheeler, or Hackworth for that matter.
    .
    You have Danny Cruz coming back from a loan. The coaches should look at the tapes, and see if he’s progressed any. If he has, there is your winger depth along with Ayuk.
    .
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sympathetic towards Wenger. It is not easy to spend an entire year in a snakebitten funk; but that is what it is, and is best summed up by a play right in front of the River End where he shot a ball that bounced off BOTH posts and didn’t go in. Until/Unless he can fix his brain, he is a liability on the pitch (see, e.g. U.S. Open Cup final, 2015).
    .
    Cut him. Release him. Trade him for some allocation money.
    .
    Do something, but don’t put him in a position where Curtin will be tempted to play him.
    .

    • The big difference between Wenger and Wheeler is that Wenger was a defender at one point in his career (in college), and a very good one.
      .
      I see no harm in seeing how Wenger looks in the back over the final games of this season, and then giving him a shot to make the starting eleven as a defender in 2016.

      • Add in that Wheeler was thrown there in the beginning of the season. Wenger is changed at the end of a lost season and will have the whole off-season to train for the switch. I’m not saying it’s going to work out, but there is a chance he could be good. I’m sure he’s better than our other backups at that position….

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I’m pretty sure that Wheeler was a defender for a period of time in college, but I agree with your general point, MSG.

      • The other difference between Wenger and Wheeler, is that Wenger has skills, and Wheeler didn’t.

  5. I’ve never understood this line of thinking. How does the ‘fact’ that Jim Curtin “gets Philadelphia in a way that few other candidates are likely to” have any bearing on whether or not he is qualified to be head coach of the Union?

    • It doesn’t. Sugarman’s vision is to build a brand identity for the Union of a team made up primarily by local products developed in their academy. He wants to grow his fan base and sees a huge pool of prospective fans in the area that will feel a connection to the club if it is comprised of their own. Curtin is the face of this effort.
      .
      This should be a secondary consideration to him being a competent manager. I hope Sugarman feels the same way.

    • It absolutely counts. If you don’t think so, look at the train wreck that Peter Nowak became. That was a big part of it. On the flip side, look at how Jose Mourinho aces this part of the job and how much it plays into what he does.

      The job as head coach has several key components you need to hit:

      1) Good tactical acumen
      2) Good talent evaluator
      3) Gets substitutions right
      4) Gets starting lineups right
      5) Good at man management (i.e. behind the scenes with his players) and team chemistry
      6) Media savviness as the public face of the team
      7) Good motivator
      8) Probably other traits I’m leaving out, so feel free to add your own.

      #6 is the one you’re talking about. It’s part of the job.

      • 9) The ability to kick an ass or three..though that probably falls into #5.
        .
        … just felt like writing it.

      • But you didn’t say that Jim Curtin is media savvy, you said that he “gets Philadelphia”. I’m sure there are many lifelong Philly residents who wouldn’t have a clue how to interact with the local media. I’m also sure there are many excellent soccer coaches who have never set foot in Pennsylvania who could handle the local media quite well.
        .
        Your example of Jose Mourinho makes my point. The man has had tremendous success at Chelsea, but he’s from Portugal, not England. I doubt that the people who hired him at Chelsea were looking for someone who “gets London”. They just wanted a coach who could win championships.

      • “Media Savvy” is much different interacting or handling local media. It refers to how is the team and the organization being publicly portrayed by the face of the organization, which is Curtin. Are the fans and other potential fans buying in? Is the region, as a whole, buying in? It’s not whether Jim can handle a tough interview or how he reacts to potential incendiary questions. Two very different things.

      • Fair points. You’re both right, MSG & VDS. Based on what you’re saying, I definitely could have articulated the point differently and probably better. So let me elaborate a bit and see if I convey it better here.

        Basically, the ability to understand the people in a market can contribute to whether the individual will be effective in a public relations sense. Curtin comes off as an authentic, likable local guy who often says exactly what fans want to hear, and that helps his image with Philadelphia fans. It makes him more popular and well-liked, even if he’s losing. As a result, fan pressure on the coach decreases, likability increases, and elements of the fan base are more likely to give Curtin a pass when he slips up. This is a valuable trait to have, because it buys him time. Some fan bases are often not patient enough with the amount of time it often takes to build a winner. (Don’t read that as an excuse for the Union not being a winner. It’s not.) So anything you can do to increase the time allotted is a good thing.

        Basically, if Curtin can come good as a coach and develop a winning club, he is a marketing dynamo for the Union. He could be the face of the franchise for years to come, an absolute star. His story could be what they wrap the story of the franchise around. This would most likely help with fans, but it could also help draw young players who want to go pro. (Speculation there? Of course. I’m just sketching out the constellation of possibilities.) But to be clear, being well-liked is not a sufficient replacement for being a good coach of a winning team.

      • To me, Curtin has only really struggled in game.
        .
        He is likable in the media and by fans, held the locker room together in a terrible year, handled bad situations that he didn’t cause (Rais, Valdes) well, made some decent moves roster wise (Barnetta, Sapong, cleared salary), is open to trying new things in training (drones). And the Union have usually started games strong then lost them, indicating that he had the team come in with a good plan but could not counter the opponent’s counter to them.
        .
        A big knock are the lack of subs made, subs coming late, or the wrong sub being made though we do not have deepest roster. Also, the losing games after taking a lead points to the lack of, or wrong adjustments made entering the second half which only is corrected by gaining experience, and he has no one – assistant, SD/GM – to really help him in the meantime.
        .
        I think Curtin can develop into a good coach with time but also agree that the best possible SD/GM should be brought in and needs to be on the same page with Curtin. However, the hiring should be based on the best possible SD/GM not one that will retain Curtin.

      • This is a very good summary of JC’s pros and cons as a head coach to date.
        .
        And I agree 100% with your last sentence.

      • +1

      • 10) Selecting, developing, and engaging a well rounded coaching staff.

        I think they need more here, and the right hire or two could supplement whatever Curtin may lack right now in tactical acumen. Sadly, I suspect this hasn’t any fault of Curtin’s, being hamstrung with a lean support staff. Perhaps that changes in 2016?

  6. For #3, Where does the new CBA come in as far as salary restructuring for Carroll and Casey? Wasn’t there a limit to the amount of salary that a player would be forced to cut? Or was that limit just on the amount of a raise they could get? I would think if there was a limit for a raise, that the players would have wanted a limit on the cuts, also.

    I’m with you on Wenger. I still think he has potential and would like to see him remain (although we’re in the minority). He had a tough year, but if a couple of those balls that hit the post (or 2 posts!) and went in instead of out I think more people would be open to him staying.

    • I might be singing another song if the funk Wenger is going through was a game or two long, maybe even a month long. Go to Hawaii or the Caribbean, drink some rum on the beach, and come back with a clear head.
      .
      It’s been a whole season of silly mental errors and flukes of physics (seriously, how do you even hit two posts and not have the ball cross the line?).
      .
      If you are determined to keep him, he should be in Bethlehem until he proves himself.

  7. Atomic Spartan says:

    Two Words: Mike Petke
    .
    (drop microphone)

    • Zizouisgod says:

      (picks up microphone)

      Do we really have a true comparison that Petke would be an improvement over Curtin? The RB teams that he managed were completely different than the Union are right now. I like Petke, but I can’t say for sure that he’s either better or worse than Curtin right now.

      (places microphone down gently)

      • I like Petke, but agree. How much better would Curtin/Union look with Henry and BWP last year? Not taking anything from Petke. He had some people to manage on that team, but he had some serious talent on that roster, too.

      • pragmatist says:

        This will make me laugh for a while. Another example of why I love this site…

      • Ditto

      • Well said. Agreed.

        Just the same, Petke is on my list of people who should be interviewed (if still available) if the Union don’t win next year and Curtin is replaced. I’ll probably share that full list in a few weeks. (Petke is not on top of the list.)

        I think Curtin is on the Hackworth time table. He gets the first half of next season before they start looking for alternatives.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Before people trash Curtin too much, remember that he is a Nogueira goalpost and an Edu PK away from watching the team lift two Open Cup trophies. No it’s not the regular season, but it still shows some potential as a coach.

      • Jim Presti says:

        +1. There were many matches lost not because of on-field tactics but because of execution from the players – whether it be red cards, yellow accums, missed shots etc

      • True, but it’s hard to ignore regular season records of 10-12-12 and 9-16-7. Curtin was head coach for half of the former season and all of the latter, and the trend is not in a positive direction.
        .
        Arguments can be made for or against retaining JC as head coach. As I’ve said elsewhere, let the new sporting director come in and decide. That’s what people in that position are paid to do.

      • pragmatist says:

        As with most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
        The point about the almost-trophies is accurate.
        We lost 8 points at the beginning of the season due to very poor officiating. Game-changing calls that turned wins into losses or draws.
        That said, a team needs to be resilient enough to overcome poor officiating. A coach needs to be able to reinforce his team with confidence or the correct substitutions at the correct point of the game. Curtin hasn’t always displayed that.
        But when his team was healthy, he was much better at understanding his personnel and putting them in positions to succeed.
        There is no great coach who will willingly come to Philly for the salary that will be offered. Giving Curtin one more year to grow into the job is completely reasonable.

      • Sure and how many times did we also see the team yield not 2 minutes after scoring.
        .
        I agree. Truth always lies somewhere between middle in to down and away.

      • Andy…..the 18 foot putt I hit on saturday for eagle stopped just an inch short…. 🙂
        .
        results results result.

  8. Zizouisgod says:

    Andrew Wenger has replaced Carroll as the player which much of the fanbase likes to take shots at now. I bet that there other GMs in the league who would snap Wenger up to see if they can rehabilitate his pro career. He turns 25 in a few months and while that should be his prime as a player by world standards, that is still young by MLS standards where players mature later in life. He clearly has the physical tools to play soccer in MLS, he just needs to be used in the correct manner.

    Like Jimmy Johnson said, “I only want smart players because if the player is smart, I can then reason with him and get him to buy into what I want him to do.” Andrew Wenger strikes me as a very smart and thoughtful young man, I would definitely not throw in the towel on him just yet.

    If anyone wants an interesting read on what it’s like to be a football manager in England, you should read Living on the Volcano by Michael Calvin. It’s a great read and the chapter on Brendan Rodgers is so enlightening (and entertaining) given his recent firing. It gave me a new appreciation on the challenges of being a football manager.

    • … and before that it was Fabinho – “rocket to the moon”. He is a useful squad player but we should look for a LB. Also, Lahoud and Ray are useful squad players but we should look for a CDM and RB. Finally, a new CB (or 2) to play with Marquez. Let Edu, Vitoria, and Nando go – $1.4M right there. Let the loaness go. Only keep BC (who I never was against and could never understand the bias against – at $180k he was value this year but maybe not next year) and Casey if the salaries work. Turn over the soil now for new growth in the spring.

      • Just throwing out there that in the chance that he could be brought back at a lower salary, I think Nando would be worth it in place of Casey. He could certainly be cleaner with his feet but he is combative up top, young, and has shown he can hit the back of the net.

  9. pragmatist says:

    I love the renaissance that Brian Carrol had this year, but his money would be better spent if he was in a suit next to Curtin. His experience and talents should lie in coaching and let Lahoud man that #6 position.
    That would be money off the cap, while still retaining his talents and best attributes.

    • I don’t trust Lahoud to stay healthy. Even if we bring in a starter our depth looks like Starter-Lahoud-Creavalle. I don’t mind keeping Carroll around for another year.

  10. Jim Presti says:

    Does anyone have a rough idea of who exactly is out of contract at the end of the season? Obviously the loanees, but who else aside from those mentioned above? Maybe those players out on loan [Berry, Cruz, Fernandes, MacMath] and possibly Lahoud, Wenger, Hoppenot, Nogeuira, and Maidana? Does it help that there are two teams to field now?

    • Out of those players I think only Hoppenot and Fernandes would accept USL contracts, Wenger might be up for a senior contract and loan to the USL if it is to learn to play defense.
      .
      I would expect to see Catic, McLaughlin, Bird, and one of McCarthy/Sylvestre leading the USL team with the draft picks from this season and a bunch of new signings to fill out the roster.

      • Pfeffer? I’d think he has to start there too, unless there dramatic change by next preseason.

      • Possible – depends on the offseason signings I think. His playing time has really tailed off since the beginning of the year but it seems like he is on the verge of breaking into the regular 18. Depends on if Carroll is resigned and if other CMs are signed.

      • Well as it stands now, he’s already behind Maidana and Barnetta as second choice. I don’t think another year coming off the bench will do him any service.

      • Fernandes is currently the leading scorer for the NY Cosmos. I’m guessing that he’s aiming for something above the Union “B” team in Lehigh Valley as his next career move.

      • The ability to move leo and zach and other young players to our own usl team and back up to the union based on form and playing time should be a big boost to the players in the 15-20 range on our team.

      • I’d really like to see Leo get a shot with the big club again. I didn’t think he played all that badly the first time around, though he kinda disappeared towards the end of the season.

  11. I’m basically in total agreement with what Dan has written. Out of that, the one thing that really intrigues me, is what to do with Edu. The more I think about it, the more I fall towards letting him go. I just think it comes down to value for your dollar. Spreading his salary to more needed positions can only help this team. And I think having his salary at the CDM or CB position is a miss-allocation of resources. In some ways I feel it handicaps the team in other areas.
    .
    I want to make clear that I feel Edu has done everything asked of him. He’s been the consummate professional. It’s just time for the team to take a cold hard look at things. I think what’s best is to let Edu go to have the most financial flexibility going into next year.
    .
    Nice column again Dan. Your fingers may be down to the bone, but it is appreciated.

    • I understand the point, but if Mo is committed to defense, that is money very well spent. I know he’s be maligned, but he and Marquez have formed arguably the best center-back pairing this franchise has ever had. They could lock that position down for the next 5 years.
      .
      If he is committed to the position (and he should, both for club and country), we should absolutely keep him. Jim said that he would like to win a bunch of 1-0 games. We may all differ philosophically, but I think we can all agree that a successful team is built from back to the front.
      .
      We have a keeper. Let’s lock down our center-backs next. If not, we’re going to stay on our hamster wheel.

      • Agreed. For me the back 5+GK need to be figured out this offseason. We have GK, Marquez at CB and Edu at CB or DM. Figure out where Edu is playing and get new starters for the at least 2 of the other 3 spots.

      • I agree here. If Mo is fully committed to being a CB at this stage of his career, he’s money well spent for this team. The Union (presumably) will have a young but very good goalie (Blake) in net next year; and a young but very good center back (Marquez) on the field next year. Putting a calm, smooth veteran such as Edu into that trio will help make the other two better. Not to mention Edu’s ability to play the ball directly out of the back once in a while to help keep the other team honest…

      • I really have no problem with Edu playing CB. The problems I have are the price he’s paid to play there. Are there any other CB’s making $750k-$1m? Is that really a position you want to spend that kind of money at? Not for me. Not at CB or CDM. And you guys have noted, what is his commitment? I don’t deny he’s a good player. He is. I just don’t think he’s worth the money for either position he plays.

  12. A note to Mr. Sugarman:

    Soooooooooooo…..Mr. Sugar, man.

    Ahhhh….Sporting Director..
    cough cough…#1 priority…
    Sooo….that sporting director…yeah
    ….Gettin right on that, are we….
    …Ya know that thing the team needs…
    Sooo yeah, SPORTING DIRECTOR…..

    ok…

    P.S. Sally’s birthday is Friday. It’d be great if you could bring the donuts. Good morale for the office.

    P.S.S Sporting Director.

  13. WestmontUnion says:

    Great points Dan, as always. Few comments, some of which have been said, and others I think need to be.

    Coach situation – Curtin had a full season to show improvement in his ability to implement tactical shifts during games, effective subbing and game management, and team selection. He failed in all three categories overall, but certainly got better. He’s a really good guy, and a good ambassador for the club who will be loyal once he gets better as a coach, and for that I’d like him around next season. That said, for those calling for Petke will be disappointed if they think it’ll be an improvement over Curtin. Petke is exactly the same as Curtin in experience and certainly if you ask RB fans now, lacking in all the same areas as I just mentioned also. His advantage was that he had Henry who scared the life out of all the rest of the team who in turn played hard every match; and he also had a GREAT SUPPORT STAFF !! Curtin does not. This next point is key to Curtin and the Unions success next year – Hire a seasoned and qualified Assistant Coach! This will free up Curtin to run the locker room, be the media guy, and lead the team out on match days. A great Assistant can run the practices, raise the standard of play in build up to matches through effective preparation (something that was clearly lacking this year – see poor fitness and team skill level lapses) .

    On the player front, we need to sign Bedoya tomorrow. He’d be an amazing fit, and would be a great USNMT player to bring excitement to the team. Also need to sign a young skillful South American attacking player, even if it comes in the form of a Loan to Sign deal. Youth, energy and potential are definitively needed on this team. Too many veterans will only set us up for a potential slow start and tired finish to the season. Youth infusion fighting for starting spots will raise level of everyone. Lastly, stick to what’s available in the U.S. Market as far as defenders go. Shop around in NASL, USL and MLS for good, experienced (players who have played a lot of minutes in a defensive role – not a conversion project!) and create depth with 2-3 defensive signings in 80-120k range.

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