Transcript

Transcript: Earnie Stewart’s introductory press conference

Note: Questions have been paraphrased

Opening statement from Philadelphia Union primary owner Jay Sugarman

Welcome. Thanks everybody for coming out today.

In many ways we’re beginning a new chapter for the Union today. It’s a new chapter with a single experienced professional in charge of all soccer operations from the first team all the way down to the academy. It’s a chapter with a clear set of principles, and a strategy for how to build a successful franchise over the long term. It’s a chapter with all parts of the club integrated to support complete player development, and that includes our new hundred percent-owned USL team Bethlehem Steel FC. It includes our extensive academy system, which has high level coaching and facilities, six age-specific teams, and a top-tier school reinforcing the qualities we want in our future players.

It’s a chapter with a focus on the ways to give the Union real competitive advantages, and that starts with our new sports performance department, which you’ll see is run by leading-edge athletic department experts, and utilizes innovative facilities, and innovative training programs. And we’re going to give you a sneak peak when we go next door after this meeting and show you — it’s still a bit under construction but I think you’ll get a sense of what we’re trying to do there.

Most importantly, this is a new chapter where we’re going to have a strong, cohesive team that’s going to really succeed in MLS. And the person who will instrumental in leading us there is sitting to my left. Earnie Stewart has had a distinguished playing career. Success on the pitch has carried over off the field in his work with a top-tier Dutch club as head of soccer operations. Not surprisingly, we think a person who has played in over a hundred US Men’s National Team games, and in three-straight World Cups, knows what it takes to succeed, and we’re really looking forward to him bringing that same passion and commitment to the Union.

So, I am really pleased to introduce our new sporting director, Mr. Earnie Stewart.

Earnie, come on up.

Opening statement from Union sporting director Earnie Stewart

Just a couple of words — thank you, Jay.

This is a great honor for me. Throughout my career I’ve have one passion in doing the things that I do, and soccer is one of those passions that I have. I’ve had a pretty long career. I was able to play up until I was 35 years old, which is pretty good; 17 to 35 so, 18 years as a professional. And the next best thing is to actually stay in soccer so, towards the end of the career, you start thinking about what you’d like to do in an onward life. For me that was very simple, that was to stay in soccer. I was very fortunate at the time that the club I went to, VVV-Venlo, to be able to go back and actually discuss with them that I was going to the head of the youth academy, but things changed. I got injured after four or five games I think it was, came out of the operation and the doctor told me that it was probably better to quit my soccer career otherwise I’d be in a wheelchair somewhere down the road. I didn’t think that was a good situation.

One person had great faith in me and the things that I did, and the way I perceived myself at VVV-Venlo, and thought director of football affairs, or technical director as it was called over there, would be a good fit for me. Started there, learned from doing things wrong at first, but only doing them once — I hope that’s what they say to me. Was there a year and a half, learned a little bit what the technical director role was about. Went to another old club, NAC Breda, where I was for four years, then joined AZ Alkmaar, where I’ve been for five and a half years.

And now the opportunity arose. I do have to say things went very quick, went very fast. I guess that has to do with the discussions I had with the gentleman on my left-hand side, Jay, but also with Richie Graham. The conversations that we had about the Philadelphia Union and where they want to go, and what their goal is in building something, a great brand, pretty much came close to what my ambitions were in life, and as a director of football affairs, or sporting director how you call it, and they matched from the first discussions that we had, in the belief that we had. In building something success does not come overnight, you have to really build on that, and the core values that we talked about are very important for the organization, but also for myself they really met each other where I believe that what we have hear when it comes to infrastructure and the facilities that there are, the people that are here, that I believe that we can build something. It’s been good now already but I guess it’s a new beginning of something different, a new era, and we’re ready to take on the challenge and build the Union, the brand. And hopefully, that’s the most important in soccer, is win games.

Questions from reporters now begin.

Can you tell us more about how you came to Philadelphia, when you first spoke to Jay Sugarman and Richie Graham?

I do have to say that it goes back a long time. I went to a Leaders in Performance, and that’s probably about a year-and-a-half back where I met Richie. We spoke about AZ and what I was doing over there. He spoke about what the Philadelphia Union was about. But there was nothing there at that time about me coming back, or anything like that, ’cause that was a year-and-a-half back. And I got a phone call from Richie — I don’t know what the dates were or whatever it was — and I was having a trip to New York and it just seemed like that would be a great fit to have a discussion, the three of us have a discussion about the Philadelphia Union, what I’m doing over there, if I have the ambitions to come back. And I do have to say everything after that went very quick, we had some great conversations, and I’m here now. So, things have gone quick.

How much has the league has changed since you were a MLS player, and how will that factor into making decisions?

Obviously, the MLS has been here now for years, and a league that, going from year to year, changes. It’s been 10 to 12 years since I’ve been in MLS — except the idea that we have in football, it’s global. And the way that I believe that we can develop players, which I think is an important aspect of winning games — you have to form your team but, at the same time, you have to develop the players individually, and everywhere that’s the same, no matter where you are, what the culture is, and where it was 10 to 12 years back. I believe that developing players within your system is the way to go. So, I don’t see that there’s a problem there at all.

What made this opportunity the right time to return to MLS? Was it an ambition to return?

Ambition is the right word. I’ve had, the ten years that I’ve been in Holland, in the role that I’ve had, my career’s been pretty good to me. So, there’ve been questions asked what my next step would be after AZ Alkmaar. Things went pretty well over there and I’ve always answered that I’ve had one ambition and that is to go back to the United States and actually mean something for US soccer in general, and to build something that’s lasting. This opportunity arose and, like I said, the conversations with Jay and Richie at that time, they have that same ambition of building something beautiful, and building a brand, and those things clicked from day one. So, that ambition was definitely there to do this. And always, you have to think about the right time to do things; then again, you never know how many times the train comes by, and this was a rolling train that I wanted to jump on really quick. So, like I said, things went pretty quick.

Could you describe some of the emotions you’ve felt coming back to MLS and the US after being such a great player here for so many years?

Well, thank you for that last part. Like I said, soccer is my passion, I love that I’m still being able to be in job like this after my career. Emotionally, I’m not a big emotional guy but, at the same time, I do have to say I spoke to my father who is very, very proud his son — I wasn’t born here but played many games for the US National Team, and once that flag went up, you know, I had the same emotions as all my teammates had. But, my father’s a very proud man that his son is coming back to the United States and is going to hopefully mean something here for US soccer.

What can you share about your strategy in building up the roster? Was it difficult to trade a player like Cristian Maidana?

I don’t want to get into individual names or anything like that, but, on the other hand, it is so with the staff that we have here that we find a couple of things that we find important. So, we start from the bottom, we start from the organization that we have, we think about the style of play that we want to play due to the core values that we’ve discussed with each other. And then, all of the sudden, when you talk about a path of where you want to go to, then all of the sudden things become so much more clear. We’ve had those discussions with Jim, with Chris in the last couple of weeks, so everything that’s been done right now is pretty much in a line with where we want to go to, and how we want to get success. And like I said, success is not something that comes overnight, we’re going to work very hard for that, and that’s one the core values that we have here. We have to do a little bit more than any other club to make sure that we’re successful. So that’s where we’re starting right now, building an organization within our team, making sure that once we put a team on the field that they know their responsibilities and what they want to do. And we build from there.

What have the discussions been like with Jim Curtin and Chris Albright? What’s your view on their roles going forward?

It’s like I said, there’s a great group of guys here, so all of the discussions that I’ve had up to now have been very positive. You feel there’s an energy there, that everybody is waiting for success and willing to work very hard for that success. And, hopefully, with me coming here and trying to guide them in that direction, is that we — talking about Jim, and Chris, talking about BJ — that we can actually find that way to be successful within the sport. Obviously, the conversation that we’ve had now is how do you do that. And how do you build your organization, how do you build your team from there. Those are the discussions that we’ve been having over the last week. I feel confident that we’re on a great page together and we understand football in the same way, which is a very important part, that the ideas that you have together, that they mix well, that they blend well. And up to now, those discussions have been fantastic.

At some point too down the road, we’re going to talk about the individual roles. I might be good at this, Chris is good at that, Jim is good at that — and we’ve got to define those roles, of how they are. And once we define those roles, we’re going to roll forward.

 Can you tell us about how player/personnel decisions will work? What if Jim is hot on player and you’re not, for example?

That wouldn’t be too good. The most important part is that we’re on the same page. If it comes to a point where I’m liking a guy and Jim doesn’t, or the other way around, we’re not communicating with each other. Communication — and I spoke to Ashley [Dabb, Vice President, Marketing and Communications] about that this morning, communication is pretty important. We got to make sure we’re all on the same page. So, that means we’re going to be in discussions every single day of being better as a team and, also, when it comes to acquisitions and player/personnel, we all have to be on the same page too. So, there are going to be a lot of discussions, and we’re not always going to agree on decisions that are going to be made, and in the end somebody’s going to have to make sure we make that decision. But in the end, we got to make sure that we’re… Bringing in players that a coach doesn’t like, it doesn’t work. I’ve learned that over the last ten years, that’s not the way you should go about your business. We’re not named Union not for a reason, there’s a reasoning behind that and the decisions that we make have to be in the same way.

How do you take advantage of the youth system that is in place? How do you make sure those products are coming through to the first team?

First of all, it’s very important that we’re unified in everything that we do. So, we have to have the same style, we have to have the same thoughts. Tommy [Wilson] who’s sitting behind you, head of the academy, those are discussions that we’ve had and that we are going to keep having. So we now all have to be on the same page when it comes to the way we want to play. From the way you want to play you have a playing style, you have your system. And from that system you have responsibilities. If we can get that all on track and make sure we’re all on the same page about the responsibilities that everybody has in their own position, I’m pretty sure we can work on the development of players. What I’m high on is development of individual players, and that automatically makes sure that the development for your team is going to be better too, at the same time. If we get a good understanding about what our roles are in the system that we play, and can actually talk about to our players about that — ask them questions about what their ambitions are in life, what their ambitions are as a soccer player, how he thinks to accomplish that and how to get there — we can make a plan together. And once we make an individual development plan with these players, and make them accountable but make them an owner of their own development, I’m pretty sure we can get the academy we have, and what I’ve seen, and the players that there are, we can make sure that they develop themselves, not only to participate in practices but, in the end — and that’s a goal that we have here too, is make sure that those players play for your first team. And, most important, you have to win games. So, at the same time, you can have your players come through an academy, and you can give them a spot, but in the end we have to win games. So, it’s building those players that can actually get results for you on the field. That’s been pretty successful up to now in my career at NAC Breda, and it’s been the same at AZ Alkmaar where we this season it’s probably — I want to say it’s five or six players have made it to the first team — and not have made it to be practicing with the first team but actually are playing in our first team. So, that’s a good thing and that’s what I’d like to do over here too.

What can you say about the style of play you want to instill with the Union?

You know what it is, it’s not my style, it’s not the way I work. That’s why it was very important that the first discussions that I had that we talked about the core values of the Union. I want to make sure that we have a playing style that fits for the fans of Philadelphia and that we all can identify ourselves with. Once you have that, and you win games, I’m pretty sure we can fill up seats in the stadium, and make sure it’s full all of the time. But most important is that people can identify themselves with our style of play. That’s something that Chris, Jim, and I, Tommy are talking about, identifying those roles of the way we want to play, and how we think we can be successful, and go from there. So, it’s not my playing style, it’s the Union’s playing style.

On the financial side of how to build the team, Moneyball, not splashing cash

Definitely, if you put a lot of money into a player and he doesn’t perform the way everybody expects him, that’s not the way to go, you’re throwing away money. What I’m high on and what I believe in is that the money that you spend, you spend it in your infrastructure too at the same time because there’s so much more in players than we actually get out of them at times. That’s going to be a big job for us at the same time: All the players that we bring in we have to facilitate in the best way we can to make sure that we get the best out of players. And being a player that comes at one dollar or a hundred dollars, it doesn’t make a difference — we have to get a hundred percent out of them. And then. obviously, when it comes to money, that’s also discussions. But, it is true we’re not a club — as we were at Alkmaar, we didn’t have the money that Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord did, so we had to find different ways to do that, we had to be innovative. Data was a very important part. We have to be creative in the things that we do, so we have to do it in a different way. One is working hard. That’s one. And two is finding ways and innovation that can help us succeed and be successful and develop players in the manner that we feel at the Union is a good style of play.

AZ has had success in developing players that were later sold for good profit. What was the feeling in the fan base with those transactions? Did they understand the process?

No, when they see players that are doing well, they never understand that, so that’s actually pretty simple [smiles]. But, Alkmaar was a club where they had a big owner, the owner went bankrupt, and we had to find different ways to do that. We had a debt of 25 to 30 million that we had to solve and selling players was one of those means of doing that. But, more important was how do you bring players in, how do you develop them so that you can sell them for more money? That was our key, and making sure our youth academy, which was an important part of who we were at that time, to make sure in the background that we’re working very hard putting money into that to make sure that we develop players from that side so once we start selling these players we get to a good level, we get rid of our debt, that these players all of a sudden are there. Not saying that you don’t go out and buy players because, in the end, once again, it’s about winning games too, but that was a very important part. Once again, once players do well, nobody is ever happy to sell them, but, like I said, you have to have a vision, you have to have a plan of where you want to go to, where you want to be, and you have to follow that path. Sometimes the decisions that you make aren’t, from a day-to-day basis, ideal for fans or whoever at that time, at that time of day. But you have to realize that, in the vision of the people who make those decisions that down the road is a very,very important part, because that’s where you’re building to, to make sure everything you do is geared to that success in the future. Not a success for a year, but hopefully building something together brings success for a longer period of time.

How much of a benefit will the new Targeted Allocation Money be?

It’s always going to be an important part but, once again, your thought process of  what you do and decisions that you make — it’s good that it’s there but it’s not necessary. It’s like giving budgets away, huh? Once you give budgets away you usually spend it all, that’s the way it works. So,  it’s good that it’s there, it’s something that we can use but, at the same time, like I said, we got to follow that path we have in building something, building the brand that we have, building the playing style that we have. If we can use it,we’re going to use it like we can, but it’s not that we’re going to be blind on that and make sure that we get rid of all of it. But, where we can we’re definitely going to use that.

Press conference concludes. Stewart says, “Sorry you didn’t get any questions, Jay.” A beaming Sugarman replies, “I love it!”

37 Comments

  1. The Oenophile says:

    The first 8 minutes are riveting … 😉

  2. I’ve reduced the stock over high heat….now for the meat….
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    “You have to have a ‘Vision’, you have to have a ‘Plan’ of where you want to go to…”
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    The PHILOSOPHY: “We think about the style of play that we want to play due to the core values that we’ve discussed with each other…. So, we have to have the same style, we have to have the same thoughts…. What I’m high on is development of individual players, and that automatically makes sure that the development for your team is going to be better too, at the same time. If we get a good understanding about what our roles are in the system that we play, and can actually talk about to our players about that… because that’s where you’re building to, to make sure everything you do is geared to that success in the future….once players do well, nobody is ever happy to sell them, but, like I said, you have to have a vision, you have to have a plan of where you want to go to, where you want to be, and you have to follow that path. — ”
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    Dear Sirs. Thank you for boarding the airbus to Amsterdam and finding a future for this club: development of the youth holistically, the whole player, his life his values his ambitions, helping that player fit within an organized style of play, an expectation of producing high level players and then turning a profit on some of them – – expecting the upcoming youth to continue rising through the system and adjusting to the first team speed of play while already accustomed to the style of play. A natural transition.
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    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
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    Now we observe the process and the progress.
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    Maybe soon, ‘eh boys.
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    “Remember Red…Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best thing.”

    • Lazlo Hollyfeld says:

      Thought of an elephant immediately when he said that.

      Impressed that he was able to help AZ get rid of a massive amount of debt in the days of clubs falling like flies to bankruptcy.
      I am excited to see what this guy can do.
      He didn’t reveal much, but it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to commit to a 4-3-3. We’ll see.
      Good first day, Earnie.

    • I thought of The Elephant toward the end, at 30:55 to be exact. Vision. Plan. Just missing Philosophy, but he certainly touched on that throughout.
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      The whole thing was so refreshing to hear. We might actually be a real club soon. This is great. This is all great.

  3. James Lockerbie says:

    I’d say it’s a safe bet, El Pachyderm’s heart melted at the 29:45 minute mark.

  4. Love it.
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    The hard part now will be to stay grounded enough as a fan. One offseason will not turn us into MLS Cup contenders but this ship could finally be headed in the right direction.

    • Good point. Even Earnie tried to stem any win now expectations. I’d venture that our giddiness comes from the fact there’s actual direction, and positive moves being made. Refreshing. We just need to temper any henny penny sky is falling inclinations if it becomes mid-June and we see the team missing the playoffs again (remind me in mid-June I wrote this ). What I’m hoping for next year are signs. I do not expect the team to gel overnight. With as much roster turnover as the team has this year, post season expectations seem a big ask. But, I do expect to see better defensive play. I do expect to see Blake in goal for every game he isn’t called in to his national team. I want to see more time given to Ayuk(with the Union or BSFC). I also expect to see growth from Curtain. A formation change. A commitment to keep possession.
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      I think all of these things are reasonable expectations. The more of these things that happen, and happen more consistently, the less likely my inner henny penny will come out.

  5. Union might just have the best exec in city sports. I know, too early to unfurl that banner …. We need a body of work. But I’m very encouraged by what he said and what he has been able to do with his old club. It’s a new day.

  6. Someone something on twitter like “I don’t feel like I have to take a shower” after listening to a Union presser like in the days of Sak. I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment . Earnie makes me feel all warm inside. This off season is going to be FUN and the season is going to be FUN. Blind optimism is a beautiful thing.

  7. Can somebody explain to me why I should be excited about this? He said a lot of words without saying anything at all (we have a plan and a vision and a goal and a style and I’m not going to tell you what it is but we have it I swear), and probably the most notable thing he said was at the end when he said we’re not going to use all the allocation money, which, like, if the plan isn’t to use all of it, why are you trading for it?
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    I’m serious, somebody explain to me why, based on this press conference, I should expect anything different than same old Union, because it certainly READS like same old Union.

    • Because of his proven record of success at Breda and AZ.
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      Sure, he has said things similar to what Sak said before but he actually has a history of following through with it.

    • Well I’d say using all of the allocation money would leave the team inflexible, would it not? So say they spend all the money in the winter transfer window. Then later in the year a player they really want to go after becomes available. Since they spent all their cash they now can’t get said player. I think the whole idea is to be flexible to best find players that will improve the organization. The Union aren’t LA, Seattle, or NY. We all know this. So we are going to get money ball. Simple.
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      You heard Earnie talk about the debt AZ was in. 20-30 million worth of debt. Earnie then followed up with how HE pulled them out of it. This does not inspire confidence in you?
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      They’ve cleaned out the roster. They’ve taken what seems to be the promising core and solid veterans and have given themselves as much flexibility as possible to fill in that roster, and another in BSFC.
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      SO to recap, Since Earnie has been hired they’ve gotten rid of dead wood. They got a solid but possibly injury prone vet in Pontius, without being on the hook for him in the future if things go wrong. They have gotten rid of two players who were not in there plans and have gotten some sort of value for them in a 1st round pick(#6), and allocation money. In doing so they have given themselves a lot of room to be flexible in filling out the rosters. Oh and they signed their first homegrown player in years. The season just ended. Earnie isn’t a fairy with a magic wand, and with a wave of his hand make ALL the Union problems disappear. But it’s getting there. There’s progress. Besides, how much can one guy do on his first day? Yeah, his first day.

      • Agreed A4U – If you are a fan and not able to be optimistic right now – then chances are… you are the kind of soul who sees the ray of sun on a long stretch of cloudy days and doesn’t stop to get out of car and enjoy it.
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        Not much else to say really….
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      • Look I can be a dour as anybody in Philly about our sports teams. It’s looks pretty crappy in Brotherly love land. But with the Union all they’ve done is given themselves possibilities. Is there a better team prepared to improve their rosters, than the Union?

      • I… think I missed the homegrown player signing you’re talking about?

      • Derrick Jones? Big pic of him on the first page? Maybe I should have said Union Academy player to solve your confusion.

      • Ah, right. Sorry. I was thinking 1st team, and banging my head against my desk trying to remember who…

      • True it’s my fault for lumping BSFC and the Union together. They are part of the same organization, but different teams. Granted. Honestly though can anyone say how the final rosters of both will look? I’m not saying the kid is going to make the big squad. But who knows what is going to happen before the first kickoff.

    • You don’t have to be excited about anything Adam.
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      If releasing Mr. Sakiewicz did not display to you they recognize the need to change.
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      If hiring a young sporting director who made his bones in Holland doesn’t convince you.
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      If unloading nearly 1.7 million dollars in salary doesn’t convince you.
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      If building a USL team doesn’t convince you.
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      With all due respect Adam… nothing that has happened in the last 4 months says same old Union.
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      It is all about process and progress now – PROCESS and PROGRESS.
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      I repeat… you don’t have to be happy about anything.

      • It’s not a matter of happy or unhappy. I was just legitimately confused why Earnie saying nothing got so much praise when everybody else got flak for saying nothing. I understand that Earnie has a good track record, but let’s make him prove himself here before we go deciding that he’s the answer. His moves so far (if we’re attributing everything this offseason so far to him) have basically been not bringing back a bunch of dead weight that probably wasn’t coming back regardless of who our GM is and making a couple of trades, at least two of which seem to me to be very bad trades (trading for Pontius and trading away Maidana).
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        With all due respect el Pachyderm, I think what’s happened in the last 4 months has said EXACTLY same old Union. Cut salary, bring in questionable players, get rid of productive players, give lots of platitudes without saying anything of substance. Look, I certainly hope that by opening day, this team looks much improved. But right now, there’s just no reason to feel that way.
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        This happened last offseason as well. People got all hyped up and excited about our new additions and I kept saying “but on the whole, we didn’t get any better, and we were a terrible team, so why should we expect to be anything but a terrible team? And the team performed exactly as could reasonably be expected. I don’t do hope for the sake of hope. That’s just setting up to be let down. Let’s wait until this team clearly gets better before declaring process and progress, eh?

      • Solid rebuttal sir. I don’t agree but well thought out.
        I’m a believer that “hope is the best thing” all while carrying a wicked pen for criticism and I have been ruthless in my criticism of this club.
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        I for one was less than pleased at the kick off of last season though.
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        Let us just both have the integrity in 18 months to report back… once the process and progress have revealed themselves.
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      • I don’t know Adam, maybe you thought more of Sak then the rest of us. First I don’t believe Earnie will let $350k waste away on a goaltender who is in another country. I don’t believe Earnie would have wasted that money in the first place when the team had just drafted a goalie for the future with another young, promising goaltender already on the roster. We’ve gone from a franchise killer to a franchise savior(proven).
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        If you are expecting to make a run in the playoffs next year, I think you are going to be disappointed. Heck they may not even make the playoffs next season. But the hiring of Stewart wasn’t/isn’t about next year. It’s about 5 years from now. It’s about the future and sustainability. It’s about growing the youth system. Which is the way things should be done. With this method the team will eventually become financially able to compete with the La’s and NY’s. Could it take 10-20 years to reach that level? Possibly. Would you rather be the Phillies with a future or the Flyers and Eagles who are both cap hindered? It’s going to take years to clean up Chip Kelly’s mess of a payroll. And the Flyers are just starting to work on getting out from underneath the shackles put on by Holmgren’s willingness to throw money at anybody. This is the best position the Union have been in since maybe their introduction to the league.

      • I mean, none of that really makes sense to me. Sak was a disaster. But to me, Curtin was equally a disaster and he’s still here. BSFC was announced before Stewart was even announced, are we sure we should be crediting that to him?
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        I think in the MLS, you should be expecting to make a run in the playoffs every year. It has been proven that a few smart moves can turn a club from shit to star overnight. In a league growing at this rate, “the future” and “sustainability” are, IMO, not particularly good goals. The goal should be to find good, young talented players at a good price. When he starts doing that, then I’ll call him a “franchise savior”.

      • If you look back through my wanderings and musings… I am not for this coach.
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        He will get his chance though and maybe the stability and leadership of the sporting director will help maximize his potential.
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        I have my concerns about the coach. That has never changed.
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        I’m not crediting ES for BSFC… it is clear to me that the infrastructure in place was instrumental in luring him here. Can we give the owner some credit too? Richie Graham who clearly has stepped into more of a voice of direction? Come on Adam.
        .
        Maybe I’m/we are too hopeful — but you are a bit glum. Sit and wait and watch. If you notice… almost all of my posts have ended with and now we observe the process and progress. I’m not head over heals. I’m just happy we seem to be on the right direction…FOR ONCE.

      • Well, I didn’t attribute BSFC to him either. just that he has an ability to freely fill the team roster. I can’t argue that Curtain is Ferguson, cause we all know he’s not. I’m probably more willing than others to give him a part of next season to show growth. That being said, if they want to sack him, I’m fine with that.
        .
        You can say Earnie isn’t our “franchise savior”, but he did save a franchise that was 30 million in debt, and had them finish in the top 10 of the league every year. That is actually saying something. If you can’t see that then the blinders need to come off.
        .
        I don’t know how you can say the future and sustainability aren’t good goals. You’d rather have no future? You’d rather not have that future sustainable? I can agree with maybe my expectations should be more from the club and a playoff spot should be expected. Granted. But I think it’s a bit much to expect when half the team is going to be new.
        .
        I will also agree with el P. Maybe I’m coming off as to gung ho. But it really does seem like they are making the right positive steps. They have a plan. They are working that plan. Again I’m not saying they are going to be great next year. But there’s hope. The process has started. You are here at the ground floor. And you will get to see the evolution of this thing we all love. I just can’t see how you can’t see how exciting this all is. If anything, I just want you to be happy. I want you to feel the joy I’m feeling at all the possibilities. Man I just wish you were here sitting next to us. Ok, maybe I drank the cool-aide on that one. But still, c’mon be happier!

      • James Lockerbie says:

        Here,Here! well said. I like the new slogan PROCESS and PROGRESS

    • Ahem, ahem, cough cough Flyers, cough cough, spent all the cash, cough cough, not working too well cough cough

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Because the track record of the guy in charge is different. Sakewicz was a club starter, from scratch, something that he seems to have done with fair success. Certainly he is a proven stadium builder. He tried to make himself into a club runner, but failed after being given an extra year.

      Ernie Stewart has run three clubs, successfully enough so that a better club has taken him on board. Along the way the teams indirectly under his guidance have been successful on the pitch, and he has overcome one significant business challenge while creating the on-pitch success.

      Now, nobody knew in the first second and third years of the Alex Ferguson era at Manchester United that he was going to dominate English football the way he did. We need to remember that concerning Union 2.0 as some have called it. But stewart has a track record as a club runner that Sakiewicz did not and does not.

    • I had the exact same thought. Lots of talking, but saying nothing. He danced around so many questions without actually answering them. I get a positive feeling about the future of this club, but thinking critically about it, I have no real basis for it. So I would definitely like to hear what this plan/vision//goal really is, but I doubt it will be spelled out. However; like el P I will remain hopeful until proven wrong that this team now really does have a vision for the future. Maybe it’s stupid, but I love soccer dearly and I want to see it succeed in Philly and by extension the US.

    • Ernie just got here. I think he has very limited background or intimate knowledge of the players to make “informed” decisions on roster moves and for the most part this off-season he’ll have to rely on JC for that (at least decisions on what players won’t be coming back). This so far is what I have observed when looking at the players that have been waved / traded off (mostly players JC didn’t play or rate highly) and also in the acquisition of Pontius (seems like a JC move to me, but I have no basis to support this other than a personal opinion). I’d imagine we’ll probably see more of his hand when the new guys start to come in and especially in any summer trades and in the next off-season after he has been able to see how the team plays and things develop on the pitch.

      While I remain skeptical that this new SD is the only move the team needed I have to agree is a step in the right direction. He’s said the right things so far and while that is not new in Unionland, it is encouraging coming from a guy with his background. I’ll take a wait and see approach to this and by the summer I’ll have a better idea in terms of where this team is moving…

  8. Love how he says ‘AZ Alkmaar’ in real Dutch. Can’t wait to speak Dutch with him. Kind of agree with Adam S. that we heard too much talk and too many promises and this is just another promise, but based on what he has done in Holland I have high hopes. But it will take time.

  9. Note that Big Ern knows how to guide a club when the owner goes belly up. For anyone there, what was the expression on Jay’s face when he gave that reassurance, please?

    The circumspection of our SD to date as compared with the foolhardiness of the blowhard former CEO (who thought he had shown us all the level of his shrewd acumen when he signed Rais – and boy, was he right!) is almost jarring. And so refreshing. According to the press release, he’s been on the job less than 48 hours. For those who expected a detailed playbook, hold your fire and tell me what he said that was wrong. I’ll wait.

  10. As for Mr. Graham, his name was invoked and his aura was palpable but he clearly chose not to share the stage. I submit that, too, is for the best. One owner in the photos is enough, yet anyone who underestimates Richie’s influence or who believes his hand is not on the tiller is missing the critical role he is playing. If I could know one thing about all this is if he promised more capital based on a solid demonstration of need within the execution of the plan. Notwithstanding this year’s MLS Cup finalists, the cost of playing at a high level in this league is going to increase. Even the A’s went all in on high priced aces when the window was open, i.e., Moneyball . . . Plus. A rough analogy, but you get the idea.

  11. I for one am of the opinion that this site offers all ideas and opinions a voice. If you have the clarity to express/ defend yours…no harm no foul! Adam is just less optimistic than most. Adam….step away from the edge of the C.O.D…we have fresh cookies over here….far from the edge! It may just be the Yards talking….but I am really looking forward to hearing what other moves they do.. Go Union!

  12. James Lockerbie says:

    Adam is not unusual for a victim of a bad sports team to be weary of the promise of a new season. IT’s o k Sak is gone.

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