Roundtable

PSP roundtable: Philadelphia Union in 2016

Philadelphia Union open their season this Sunday after their most interesting off-season since they drafted their first players in the 2009 expansion draft. All sorts of questions abound, so we hit up the PSP team for some answers.

How do you predict the Union will finish this season? Why?

Dan Walsh: 5th place. Yes, playoffs. Their goalkeeping will win them points, as will the boatload of attacking midfielders they brought in. If C.J. Sapong stays healthy, he could approach his 20-goal season, because he’ll have actual service from his midfield. Richie Marquez could make The Leap this year. The biggest question is how long this team will take to gel and who will fill the No. 6 d-mid role.

Ed Farnsworth: Out of the playoffs, sad to say. But I do think they will look much better than last year.

Adam Cann: No playoffs, but much more watchable. It’s been worrying to see Nogueira on the ball so little in preseason, and going into the season with Brian Carroll deputizing for Mo Edu is like deputizing a grizzly bear with a koala. Koalas can be mean if you take their eucalyptus, but they get tired pretty fast.

Eli Pearlman-Storch: 6th or 7th place. And it will be decided on the last match of the season. There are a lot of pieces that need to coalesce before the Union can hit the heights (however high they may be), but the overall quality of the roster is improved. Can’t ask for too much more than that in a rebuilding year.

Mike Servedio: Outside of the playoffs again, unfortunately. I think this current squad is an improvement over last season’s group, but they won’t be competitive enough in a greatly improved Eastern Conference.

Jeremy Lane: I’m an optimist. I say playoffs. For all the drama last year, they weren’t all that far away, and they are objectively better now.

Peter Andrews: Seventh in the Eastern Conference. The talent level on the team has improved, no question, and I think the new regime will lead to a much more drama-free season than in years past. That said, the Union still have major question marks on defense, at striker, and in the manager’s chair. It will be too many question marks to make the postseason.

Kevin Kinkead: They’ll finish in 6th place and grab the final wild card spot. The improved midfield will carry the club, and the addition of a DP striker in the summer will boost the team’s goal-scoring in the second half of the season.

Greg Orlandini: Better than last year, but out of the playoffs. I think they will be hurting for goals through stretches this year and the defense will  struggle early on this season.  

What is your take on the Union’s off-season acquisitions?

Dan: This is probably the best single off-season haul of imports ever for the Union. (The previous best was probably Nogueira/Maidana in 2014.) Earnie Stewart didn’t have much time to do it. It’s impressive. There’s a lot of depth now. It takes time to gel, however.

Ed: Very exciting times for Union fans and, thankfully, largely without the rumor and speculation of previous off-seasons. But will it be acquisitions made in this summer’s transfer window that ultimately matter?

Adam: It’s funny — for all the seemingly smart acquisitions, it’s unclear if any of them beyond Chris Pontius would start if health were not an issue. And yet… that’s fine. Philly hasn’t had a reliable, non-Casey option off the bench in two years. Now Jim Curtin has depth in the center of the pitch and can get creative on the wings. Still, scoring and protecting the back four were huge issues last season and it’s not entirely clear those needs have been properly addressed.

Eli: I’m excited to see what Alberg can bring to MLS. With Barnetta injured to start the season, he looks primed to have an opportunity from jump. If he takes it, he might just prove to be a poor-man’s Giovinco. After the last few years of direct, relatively unsophisticated wing play, seeing what Alberg, Ilsinho and Pontius (and Restrepo and Fernandes) can contribute to the Union attack will be a highlight of 2016.

Mike: It’s exciting so far. The players brought in seem to indicate that the front office has a direction and that they understand the needs throughout the roster, something that hasn’t always been the case. That said, the team is still short a striker heading into the season, and that could prove a problem until the summer. It will be interesting to see how the draft picks develop, as developing players hasn’t been the strong suit of the club so far.

Jeremy: Stewart sure works fast, doesn’t he? I’m feeling good about his moves so far, but the proof will be in the pudding, as they say, and there is another transfer window in July

Peter: Tentatively, I’m very happy. Alberg and Ilsinho stand out as the best signings to me — great identification of talent at a good value. But Stewart’s other signings all show some savvy, and I’m intrigued by the four highest draft picks. The only big “eh” to me is Chris Pontius, and there’s still some chance that he’s a 12-goal scorer.

Kevin: Best midfield of all time, by far. The defense has upside but lacks experience. The goalkeepers are solid but the attack needed to be addressed.

Greg: I like what they did in the draft, though they may have reached a bit for Rosenberry. Anderson is a stopgap until Yaro is ready to go. Pontius is a bit of risk given injury history and his high contract, but could be a very good contributor to the team. Alberg could the best of the bunch and really make the Union midfield dynamic.   

Rookie Fabian Herbers has a big opportunity in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union)

Rookie Fabian Herbers has a big opportunity in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Union)

Who do you think will prove to be the best of the new acquisitions?

Dan: The safest bet may be Matt Jones, if he sticks around long-term. He’ll start when Blake is on international duty, and if he stays with the club after his loan expires, he could find himself with a starting job if Blake moves to Europe.

Ed: Alberg.

Mike: I’ve been impressed with Fabian Herbers so far. The Union will need goals from the rookie and so far he looks up for it.

Adam: Pontius. He’s going to start from day one, he’s a much more complete player than any other winger on the roster, and he is more defensively responsible than Le Toux. This is a system built to put guys like him in scoring positions, so he should flourish if healthy. Gotta shout out Herbers and Rosenberry too, though. Both have looked completely unfazed by the transition to MLS.

Eli: Alberg. He appears to play with and edge which we began to see from Barnetta at the end of 2015. It’s about time we see some Union players taking it to opponents with some real aggression.  

Jeremy: Can I cheat and say Barnetta? I think he’s the real key right now. Ilsinho’s the big name, but I’m looking for the Swiss to make a big impact in his first full season, if he can stay healthy.

Peter: Alberg. Can’t wait to see this guy play. I think he’ll click right away with Nogueira and Barnetta.

Kevin: Ilsinho.

Greg: Alberg. He will hopefully be on the same wavelength and a good partner to Barnetta.

C.J. Sapong is a key player for the Union entering the 2016 season. (Photo: Daniel Studio)

C.J. Sapong is a key player for the Union entering the 2016 season. (Photo: Daniel Studio)

Name one player to watch this season, and tell us why.

Dan: C.J. Sapong. No player is as important to the club as Sapong. He must score, and he must stay healthy, because the club has no true target forward to back him up. Based on his performance last year, he could have a big season now that he’s surrounded by so many quality attacking midfielders.

Ed: Sapong. So much hinges on him being successful.

Adam: This one is easy: Mo Edu. If he is never fully healthy, Philly is suddenly stuck playing Carroll or Nogueira deep all season. Yikes. If he is healthy, he has to be positionally disciplined and play quickly to give Nogueira and Barnetta time on the ball. It’s not that Edu isn’t capable of being disciplined and playing fast, it’s that he just… doesn’t always do it. Edu’s performance this season is the litmus test for Jim Curtin as a coach.

Eli: Edu for me, as well. Moving back to the midfield, he is intended to be the general that organizes Curtin’s new, high-pressing defense. Having an exciting crop of new attackers will mean precious little if anyone in MLS can counter and find space in the center of the park against the Union. This is the year that Mo has to step up as both a dominant, vocal leader and prove that he can adjust his own play to suit the team shape and system.

Mike: Barnetta. Sapong will be counted on to score, but Barnetta will be counted on to drive the offense and to lead the team. 

Jeremy: I’m intrigued by Herbers. I think he could put a lot of folks at ease as Sapong’s backup.

Peter: Barnetta. He could develop into the fiery leader that this team has been missing for years.

Kevin: Leo Fernandes had a hell of a season with the Cosmos last year and will force his way onto the field in 2016. He’s come too far to sit on the bench.

Greg: Andre Blake. He’s healthy, no distractions from the front office, and he is the undisputed No. 1. He’s got the skills to be a star.

What is the biggest question facing this club?

Dan: Who will shield the back line? If Vincent Nogueira is pushed back to a No. 6 role, it could have a domino effect throughout the whole team. Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle must step up in the absence of an injured Maurice Edu, who may not be the answer even when healthy. (See below.)

Ed: In the short term, what is the team’s record at the end of April: Can the team get results from a very tough opening to the schedule while the vastly changed roster solidifies? Also, can the team win back disgruntled fans?

Adam: Consistency. Philly didn’t just lose a lot in 2015, they got walloped more times than a team should in a single season. Some nights everything clicked, but more often, it was a disjointed mess of positives and negatives, with the latter often dominating. Earnie Stewart has come in talking “system.” Jim Curtin is talking ‘system.’ Philly wants to be a team that is so well-organized that they can beat you even though you know what they want to do. That won’t happen this year, but the foundation for future success will be consistently doing the same things game in and game out and ignoring the costly errors that accrue during the learning process.

Eli: DEFENSE. Most teams in the world want to play a high-pressing, defensive scheme right now. Why wouldn’t you? The game is played in your opponent’s half. You feast off turnovers and run sides into the ground. That’s living the dream. Sadly, it is so much easier said than done. Especially for a team that has been as tragically disorganized in defense as the Union. With new pieces all over the park and Edu missing to start the year, team chemistry better form awfully quickly or the Union will leak a serious number of goals to begin the year.

Mike: Is Jim Curtin up to leading Union 2.0?

Jeremy: Who scores the goals? As Ed said, early on, the big issue is defensive chemistry, for the whole team. But then, I want to see how many different guys can score 5+ goals. Many have that potential, which would ease the burden on our thin striking corps.

Peter: Who plays center back? It’s kind of a free for all back there at the moment, and I’m skeptical that the Union will strike gold from Harrisburg for the second year in a row (first Marquez, now Tribbett). Andre Blake may have his hands full all season.

Kevin: Is the forward depth good enough?

Greg: Goals. You are currently relying on C.J. Sapong, a fine player, but he has never hit double digits and a rookie in Herbers up top. Getting goals out of the midfield is going to be key.  

Where is the team’s biggest need for improvement?

Mike: Striker. There are only two on the roster.

Dan: Left back. Many people cite Fabinho’s improvement last year, and he definitely played better in the second half. But he remains a defensive liability who can be counted on to surrender a few key goals a year.

Ed: Goal scoring from all positions. The Union need more goals not just from the front, but from the midfield and defense.

Adam: Shape. It’s all about shape. Press with support, not alone. Retreat to the right zone. Philly didn’t do the little things right last season. So maybe I should have said little things instead of shape.

Eli: Spacing. Soccer is a team game and there were too many moments in 2015 when the Union looked like 11 individuals. Six attacked, five stayed home and suddenly there was a 40-yard gap setting up some of the easiest counterattacking opportunities imaginable. Players must have a significantly better understanding of their roles in the side, otherwise this year’s crop of Union players could end up looking similarly individualistic.

Jeremy: Team defense. If the shape is compact and the Union become tough to crack, the rest will come, considering the midfield talent assembled.

Peter: Striker. I don’t think Sapong is good enough to carry the Union to the playoffs by himself.

Kevin: Striker.

Greg: See above. Goals and striker depth. The defense may struggle, but there are young pieces there that you are hoping to develop.

Do you think the firing of Nick Sakiewicz and hiring of Earnie Stewart have turned the club’s fortunes around?

Dan: Yes. Period.

Ed: Yes (and I like the Tim McDermott hiring, too). But like Stewart has said, it will take time to build a roster for the long haul. Is there enough patience left among the fan base?

Adam: Turned around is a big statement. At least they took the shovel out of Sakiewicz’s hands so he can’t keep digging the club into a deeper hole. It would be hard for the Union to be worse than they have been so far. They have been bad at drafting, bad at roster development, bad at long term planning, bad at execution, and, perhaps worst of all, bad at communicating with fans. Stewart and McDermott do not necessarily need to turn the club around this season, but they do need to provide a clear description of what they want the club to look like when it is turned around.

Eli: Yes. Of course. The next question is how long will it take the Union to not only improve their on field performance but also to raise their game when it comes to off the field items that also need serious attention, like social media, marketing, etc.

Mike: It seems like there is a better air about the club so far. But it seems a little early to say that the club’s fortunes have turned around.

Jeremy: I do. It’s a brand new day.

Peter: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”

Kevin: Not yet. You’ll see Earnie’s influence start to to take shape in year number two. This is a transitional year, and Jay Sugarman is still financing the club.

Greg: It’s a start. This club has been run in such a disjointed way for so long, to think it will all change in a few months is unrealistic. I have faith in Earnie though, and I think good things will follow.   

Name your Union starting 11, based on what you have seen so far.

Dan: 4-2-3-1/4-3-3. Blake. Fabinho, Tribbett, Marquez, Gaddis. Carroll/Creavalle, Nogueira, Alberg (Barnetta is injured). Pontius and Ilsinho on the wings. Sapong up top.

Ed: If we’re talking the season opener: Blake. Fabinho, Tribbett, Marquez, Rosenberry. Carroll, Nogueira, Alberg, Pontius, Ilsinho. Sapong.

Adam: If everyone is healthy: Blake; Fabinho, Tribbett, Anderson, Rosenberry; Edu, Nogueira, Barnetta; Pontius, Le Toux; Sapong. Currently: Blake; Fabinho, Tribbett, Anderson, Rosenberry; Nogueira, Alberg, Ilsinho; Pontius, Le Toux, Sapong

Eli: For the season opener: Blake; Fabinho, Anderson, Marquez, Rosenberry; Creavalle, Nogueira; Pontius, Alberg, Ilsinho; Sapong

Mike: Blake, Fabinho, Tribbett, Marquez, Gaddis, Carroll, Nogueira, Alberg, Pontius, Ilsinho, Sapong. I won’t be mad if it’s Rosenberry though.

Jeremy: Ditto what Ed said, swapping in Edu for Carroll and Barnetta for Alberg when healthy.

Peter: Blake / Fabinho, Anderson, Marquez, Rosenberry / Edu, Nogueira / Alberg, Barnetta, Fernandes / Sapong.

Kevin: Without the injured Edu and Barnetta I’d go with this:  Blake, Fabinho, Anderson, Marquez, Gaddis; Nogueira, Carroll; Fernandes, Ilsinho, Alberg; Sapong.

Greg: 4-2-3-1-ish. Blake, Fabinho, Anderson, Marquez, Rosenberry, Edu, Nogueira, Pontius, Barnetta, Alberg, Sapong. Please don’t hold me to this. I also think two rookies could be playing on defense by midseason.

Photo by Earl Gardner

Union head coach Jim Curtin. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

If the Union are not above the red line (i.e. in sixth place or above) come mid-season, should Jim Curtin be replaced as manager?

Dan: Only if they absolutely crap the bed. If they’re showing signs of improvement, then you keep him unless you have a good alternative lined up, like Jason Kreis or Guillermo Barros Schelotto. (The Union missed their chance at Veljko Paunovic, my ideal hire.) Even then, Curtin sits on a very hot seat.

Ed: No. But we must see improvement.

Adam: No. Curtin should see out the year unless the team has clearly given up on him. This is a group capable of making the playoffs, but it certainly isn’t probable given the state of the conference and the number of new, young faces in defense. If Curtin can keep them close, he’s doing a good job. He should be judged on Edu and on improvements in the defense.

Eli: Earnie Stewart’s list of coaches at AZ Alkmaar indicates that he appears to have an itchy trigger finger, but unless the Union are in 9th or 10th and showing no life, I would expect Curtin to get the full season.

Mike: I wouldn’t equate it to where the team is in the standings. They must show improvement from last season though.

Jeremy: Depends on the context of the season and the performance levels. But Jim has a tough assignment, for sure.

Peter: Only if Earnie Stewart has a long-term replacement lined up from outside the organization. I have, as I’ve said many times before, serious doubts about Jim Curtin’s tactical and evaluative skills, and it would be a surprise to me if he’s still the manager on Opening Day 2017. But part of the Union’s struggles in the last four years have come from twice promoting “interim” managers from within the organization, the effect of which was to weaken the position of the new manager and to prevent fresh ideas and evaluations from taking root at the club. If he doesn’t have his preferred candidate ready to hit the ground running, Stewart would do well to wait until the end of the season.

Kevin: No. You made a commitment to a young coach. He should get the entire season before a decision is made.

Greg: Despite the positive public image of Curtin and Stewart working together, I think Jim is on a very short leash this year. A bad start could and probably would end Curtin’s tenure here.

Does Maurice Edu have a future with this club?
Photo By Earl Gardner

Union captain Maurice Edu. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

Dan: Probably not, but that depends on him, like Jeremy said. (See below.) He is a box-to-box midfielder like Jermaine Jones, not a disciplined No. 6 defensive midfielder, which is what compliments Vincent Nogueira best. His high salary and positional issues mean he should be expendable. New England would have been an ideal trade partner, but that ship has sailed.

Ed: Sure. But let’s start with him getting healthy so we can see if he actually fits in the otherwise much improved midfield.

Adam: Yes. But he must learn to play a role rather than forcing others to learn how he plays. There are fairly specific requirements for a holding midfielder in this system, and they involve quick ball movement, good positioning, and tough tackling. Edu is capable of all three. He just has to decide that’s what he wants to do.

Eli: Probably not. It’s easy to say that if he learns to play the No. 6 role that the Union need him to play, he could be great. He absolutely could be. But he WAS great, playing as a center back for this club, so I’m not sure why all of the sudden he will begin tailoring his game to the needs of the club rather than his personal preferences.

Mike: If he wants one. I’d agree with Adam’s sentiment that he needs to play the role assigned to him rather than making others play around his style.

Jeremy: That’s entirely up to him. He’ll need to do the job in midfield as defined within the system. If he is unwilling to do that (and it’s about desire, not ability), then his time here is probably up.

Peter: I concur with Jeremy.

Kevin: Yes. He’s still the best center back and best defensive midfielder on the roster.

Greg: This is a complicated question. Yes, he is getting his wish to play in the midfield. But the role ( d-mid) the Union need him to play isn’t the one he necessarily wants to play. If he accepts and settles in, he could have a great year and be a part of this future. If not, Earnie is gonna have to take a hard look at the situation.  

Who will win the Eastern Conference? Why?

Dan: Toronto. They improved significantly at the back, Will Johnson should improve their midfield, and they have the league’s best player in Sebastian Giovinco. A healthy Jozy Altidore and half-decent wing play are their big question marks.

Ed: I’m too focused on the Union to answer that or care if it isn’t them.

Adam: New York or Columbus.

Eli: Columbus. Gregg Berhalter has done such a good job at defining his style of soccer and bringing in ideal components to fit what he wants to do. Also, anyone saying Toronto. Really?

Mike: Toronto and NYRB look to be the teams to beat. Montreal will also be a tough side.

Jeremy: Don’t know, don’t care. It ain’t us.

Peter: I couldn’t possibly care less.

Kevin: Columbus is still the best team in the conference and has the most identifiable style and tactical plan. 

Greg: New York Red Bulls.

31 Comments

  1. Stephen O'Malley says:

    Maurice Edu certainly has a future in Philly he is our best defender and a face of the franchise. He is our DP star

  2. I got five bucks in my pocket that says Edu ends up playing central defender by the end of the year.

    • Please no. Just no to this. This will be the confirmation of everything having gone wrong.

    • Ha. If that ends up being the case with all the CBs we have in reserve this season, we’re really in trouble.

      • Considering how many of them are rookies it’s not implausible. When push comes to shove the Union will opt for stability and consistentcy

      • Or more to the point if we are losing games 4-3 by May the easies way to turn around your season is to put Mo back there and hope you win 3-2

    • I’d actually be OK with that…Mo got a lot of sh*t last year from the fan base, which was utterly ridiculous, considering the amount of fires that he put out every game. We’ll also see if Richie is the real deal…he had Mo next to him. Anderson, Tribett, or Yaro is a major downgrade any way you look at it. Richie is going to take a major step up in responsibility level this year.

  3. 3 people can’t even throw out a guess at Eastern Conference champion? Yikes.

  4. Lucky Striker says:

    Union have a horrible opening run. The endless way they leak goals is more of an impediment to their playoff fortunes than how many they score out of the gate.

    The roster #’s are improved-sure….but the hole in front of the back 4-whoever they end up being-will turn out to be a far greater issue. They shouldn’t have waited ’til summer to address it.

    To the extent CJ stays spry and upright, I think their pressing game could surprise a bit in terms of goal tally. This midfield has more ability to place quality s.o.g. individually than any Philly has ever had ! Remains to be seen how much of a stomach they have for positional defending in the summer’s heat though…….

    Ultimately; they’re not likely to Q for the post-season for most of the same reasons they F’d up their earlier existence. GM hire the most important of steps……but Stewart will soon find out he’s located himself in the middle of a shit sandwich.
    As long as this team is owned above him and game-managed below him by the same crew……..

    The end product will always be crap.

    • I tend to like your commentary… and we have hashed this out over and over on this site—but I think your two final statements are fatalistic and strangely nihilistic from your general Union Worldview which is passionate and pragmatic and usually a bit more optimistic.
      .
      There is no conceivable way to estimate wether Mr. Sugarman ultimately is a good or bad owner… on the face of it he has built a team from scratch, has put a lot of really important infrastructure in place, recognized his wholly shit sandwich mistake in Mr. Sakiewicz, hired a guy who by all accounts has an idea of what he is doing, not meddled- maybe to a fault…
      .
      I urge you to withhold your final assessment on Mr. Sugarman and it will always be crap…..hell I’m still not even sure about Mr. laurie in four times the amount of years.
      .
      Maybe you over leverage yourself so much on the house you just bought that it takes longer than expected to furnish it the way your inner vision sees best fit… the world of professional sports is showing us all the time that you win from within more often than buying a title… I would rather know we have a plan in place to do that than just rummaging through mercenary after mercenary hoping for the right chemistry.
      .
      IDK.

  5. Can I just say Yes? To all of it. Yes. Almost everything said or pointed out, you could say yes too. Nothing was outrageous. So, yes.

  6. So…. I appreciate all the thoughts above… and to each his own with opinion as nobody can possibly be wrong when voicing opinion… or pontificating… that said there is only one Pope.
    .
    and — as usual.. my conformational bias says Adam Cann is spot fucking on….
    .
    .
    Dude… you really are a clean technician of the chess aspect of this game.
    .
    Maybe we should just refer to you as – – The Pope….

    • Mike Servedio says:

      I wanted to copy all of Adam’s responses and post them as my own but Ed wouldn’t let me.
      I can assure you that no one on the PSP staff would disagree that Adam is a step above the rest of us. Now if only we could recall him from Texas…

    • Two things surprised me with Adam’s reponses:
      .
      Pontius.
      .
      And Letoux in both of his starting lineups.

      • It makes sense if you look at Curtain’s tendencies, where they are playing and he’s a proven goal-scorer in MLS. For Curtain, he’s reliable in effort and intensity and defense. Playing away from home, in a tough building you get a known quantity in LeToux. In a lineup with 1 other guy proven as a goal-scorer, LeToux would be a 2nd proven.

      • Pontius I can see, Seba I don’t quite get. Curtin is all about “who’s playing best in training right now” and Pontius showed up in the preseason. By that rationale though, seeing Seba in there was a bit surprising since I though Leo had a better preseason. But what do I know? I’m not Adam.

      • I will say Le Toux is probably a great practice player which will without a doubt help his case. Also, I think there is something to be said about using your MLS vets for the first game on the road against a really good assignment. We have seen over the years how it has taken foreign players a little while to adjust to the way MLS plays the game, so limiting the number of new guys isn’t the worst idea. That said, I’d start Leo over Le Toux, unless Leo is playing the #10.
        .
        I will also say I think Pontius is better than we as a whole are giving him credit for on here. The guy was on the border of being a national team player a couple of years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has the best year out of all the new attacking players.

  7. Knee over the ball says:

    Why I feel better today…
    – GM seems to have a vision and plan
    – commitment to play a possession style
    – belief we have a chance to win every game day
    – commitment to develop the youth
    – excitement from players and coach
    What I hope to leave behind or forget…
    – Bootnrun or bunker mentality with no chance to win
    – Finding creative unique ways to lose games at the last second
    – Being an embarrassment (both on and off the field)
    – Not listening to the fans
    – Having an academy and still not owning the rights to the players that come through

    If we show promise and then add a big time DP striker over the summer then maybe we have something special. You can always hope

    • This is right on…well said… among the many many things that irritated, nay crushed my spirit was giving up a gol right after we would score…as if we scored so often another gol was on its way…

      • My high school coach always said the most important times in the game are the fist and last 5 minutes of each half and 5 minutes directly after every goal. The Union sure proved him right last year.

  8. I say they make the playoffs, and agree with Dan, possibly 5th place… It won’t even be a fair analysis to compare them to last year… they will be fun to watch, mistakes made but learned and not repeated, due to the changes made off-season, from ES down to the ‘Better Quality Scarf’ we received this year with our ticket package… ha ‘Cmon The U” Surprise the hell out of us, and maybe impress us here and there, keep me outta my seat more than in it on game day… UNION – UNION – UNION !!!

  9. Old Soccer Coach says:

    Until someone lays out for me exactly how the Union are going to fit the mythic summer transfer window designated player striker under the restrictions of the *salary cap*, given everything else they’ve done, I will continue to consider that player the result of wishful thinking.
    .
    No, you are correct, we do not yet have the players’ associations late spring/early summer revelation of 2016 player salaries (nor the league’s listing of designated players and young designated players even though league descriptions of our roster continue to say there is only one such for the Union). But we have brought in one known, large MLS salary (Pontius), four players from salary structures outside the MLS strictures, (from which it is fair to conclude that they are used to being paid much more than is usual MLS practice) (Jones, Conceicao, Alberg, Ilsinho) and we have extended and reworked the contract of one MLS veteran who plays a position to which MLS, like the rest of the world, pays comparatively quite a lot of money (Sapong).
    .
    To those of you drinking the kool-aid of the mythic Summer DP striker, I say again with an affectionate smile, where do you find the cap space?

    • +1. We’re not getting that guy. The money doesn’t exist for him unless the Earnie Stewart magic extends to “cooking the books” and the league not noticing somehow. Or we wind up jettisoning another couple of contracts.
      .
      Instead, we need to find more goals from the number 10 spot. In 28 games, Maidana managed 1 goal. Barnetta, in 11 games… 1 goal. I get that we need service from that spot as well, but when you’re only playing one striker you need midfielders that score goals behind him. 2 goals and 18 assists from all players at the number 10 spot isn’t good enough. The good news? I have a hard time imagining a scenario with our midfield where that doesnt improve.

    • Knee over the ball says:

      You raise a good point. Your comment got me thinking about our long term situation. As I reflect on it we may not have much space this summer. Some of the players have much to play for this year though. Edu, Pontius are in their last year of their large contracts I thought and Anderson was a two year deal.? Nogs – I am not sure? So as the season roles along Ernie will be evaluating how these pieces fit in the long term and along with TAM money may allow for phase 2 of the rebuild which my guestimate would be if the defense is solidified (big if) then he can focus on reinforcing the #6 and #9 positions.

    • With TAM and regular AM who knows how much cap space we have. Not to mention that I heard DC is paying some of Pontius’ salary but who knows. It’s dumb MLS doesn’t just list this stuff as the players come out with it anyway. Sounds like the Union wanted to say how much the new guys cost but were told they were not allowed. That being said, you would think MLS would be very happy to have a big market like Philly bringing in a DP striker…

    • pragmatist says:

      When each of those signings was announced, they included the details of allocation money used to buy down the cap hits. The only one I’m unsure of is Ilsinho.
      .
      The only definite DP is Edu. Ilsinho *may* be a DP, but that’s it. Everyone else has been bought down by allocation money to avoid the DP tag.

  10. Andy Muenz says:

    Eli, that first answer is a bit of a cheat. It says the Union either will or won’t make the playoffs. Saying you’re not sure between 5th and 6th or between 7th and 8th would have been fine but between 6th and 7th shouldn’t be allowed. 🙂

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