Signing News

Union sign forward Jay Simpson

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union have signed 28 year old English striker Jay Simpson. Simpson is a product of the Arsenal Academy and has spent time with 7 different English clubs (as well as one in Thailand). Most recently, Simpson was with League Two side Leyton Orient where he has scored 3 goals this season. The striker has spent most of his career in the Championship (England’s second division) with West Bromwich Albion, Queens Park Rangers, and Hull City. He made 13 appearances and scored one goal for West Brom in the Premier League in 2008-09. He made three appearances for Arsenal in the League Cup in 2008-09, scoring twice for the Gunners.

The Union announced Simpson as a Discovery Signing using Targeted Allocation Money. Simpson will occupy an international roster spot.

Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Earnie Stewart said of the signing, “Jay brings goal-scoring prowess to our team, in addition to a valuable veteran presence, as he has demonstrated with multiple clubs in England. He has played at the highest levels of club soccer, including in the Premier League, and we are excited to add a forward of his quality to our squad.”

Details from the Union’s press release:

Name: Jay Simpson
Position: Forward
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 186
Born: December 1, 1988 in Enfield, London, England
Hometown: London, England
Citizenship: England
Acquired: Philadelphia Union signed forward Jay Simpson as a Discovery Signing on January 9, 2017. Targeted Allocation Money was used to acquire Simpson, who will officially be added to the active roster and occupy an international roster spot upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa.
Previous Experience: Leyton Orient (2014-2017), Buriram United (2013-2014), Millwall (2011-2012), Hull City (2010-2013), Queens Park Rangers (2009-2010), West Bromwich Albion (2009), Millwall (2007-2008), Arsenal (2007-2010)


  1. Feels…underwhelming.

    • I look at it this way: we were 6th overall in goals scored in 2016. That’s not bad, considering we are looking for a striker. My opinion is that it is our third priority, behind a cb and a 6. It’s close to number 2, but we still have goal scorers. We should be able to have a guy up top at the end of the season between Simpson, Sapong and Davies. If it’s about spending, I’d rather we spend big on a cb

  2. MikeRSoccer says:

    I’ve read his bio and watched his replays.
    Who is he?
    This makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever. We needed a DP striker. We brought in someone who has a less impressive record than Sapong. It’s going to be a long season if this is our big signing of the offseason.

    • BWP makes this hate a bit short sighted.

      • azog d'filer says:


      • BWP wasn’t a complete unknown.

      • …And to people who are paid to find and evaluate players like this, neither is Simpson.
        Just because he’s been operating at a level out of sight to an American fan doesn’t automatically mean this doesn’t make sense.
        Overpaying for a “name” that will more than likely underperform his hype doesn’t make sense.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Agreed. Excellent point, James.

      • MikeRSoccer says:

        Here is the issue: in principle, you are absolutely correct – we need to wait and see. However, I think my frustration is more what this signing represents.
        In MLS 2.0, this would be a potentially shrewd signing. Mining the lower leagues of Italy, France, England, etc. But we are not living in an MLS 2.0 reality any more. The majority of MLS teams are now going out and paying big bucks to an attacker who is the fulcrum of their attack. It has been 6 years since the last MLS 2.0 squad won an MLS cup.
        At the moment, the Union’s marquee signing – and arguably its hopes for a successful 2017 – are hinged on a fourth division English striker turning into a DP-level forward.
        This is different than when Earnie was at AZ. At AZ Earnie was buying 3-4 million-dollar players per off season and banking on one or two of them turning into a $5 million dollar player. In essence, he was given four opportunities or more per off season to get a five-fold return on the investment. He was able to accomplish that goal most years, which is incredibly impressive. It is an entirely different story with the Union. He is being asked to find 1-2 players who are valued under $500k and pray that 100% of the time he will see a greater than 10 fold increase in value.
        That. Is. Not. Practical. Until Jay Sugarman sells this team, we are destined for continued mediocrity and fans hinging their hopes on a nobody-signing turning into an MLS all star each year.
        The signing of Bedoya and the reality of what our peers are spending raised the bar. The Union have utterly failed to reach that new bar.

      • Or they think that spending a ton of money on a single striker isn’t the best way to fit under the salary cap. Maybe they are saving the last DP money for a different position. All I know is we have brought in a ton of players in this salary range that were much better than league average (Nogs, Barnetta, Pontius). Not that I know a single thing about this guy but I’m willing to let the offseason play out more until I rip the team direction.

      • Just looking at some of the numbers BWP vs Simpson, BWP’s time with Charlton produced pretty similar results to Simpson’s stay at Leyton. BWP scored 31 goals in 82 appearances, all in L1. Simpson netted 33 in 87. Not sure the minutes there. But it’s interesting nonetheless. It works out to .378 goals per appearance for BWP and .379 for Simpson…. I know, not worth much without minutes, but it’s compelling.

  3. Let’s hope Rarnie pulled a Bradley Wright Phillips out of the heap.

  4. “one of the highest paid players in [shit] League Two”
    Hopefully we wooed him with charm and shiny beads.

  5. This was from a year ago but it is still an interesting read. Looks like Leyton Orient was “going full Nowak”.

    • Zizouisgod says:

      Wow, that’s crazy stuff. I like that Simpson didn’t go along with it and acted like a professional before going home to his family.

  6. Zizouisgod says:

    Don’t really know him, but I trust that Earnie does and that he thinks he’s a good signing for us.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Posted this on another story, with a few changes:
    First thought – Really? Sigh… but in all honesty I don’t know him
    Next thought – Really, though? Who?
    Final thought – 🙁
    If this is the DP striker, I’m not sure we really got better. But hey, prove me wrong. I wish this guy the best.
    In ES We (must) Trust

    • Our current ownership will NEVER spend BIG $ for one premier player, being a founding season tix holder, I know this to be fact, with that said, let’s see what this guy has to offer the Union. He has incredible pedigree, started in Arsenal academy from 9 years old, and was called “Arsenal’s future” at 18 years old. ES just brought in a quality well experienced striker that in a 2nd division in europe scored a goal every 3 games he played in. (which he should if he’s that good?)! This is only our sporting director’s 2nd off-season with a Sugarman budget (no disrespect intended), even more now “IN ES WE MUST TRUST !!!

  8. We’ll see how he does; I love how people are all like “THIS IS OUR DP STRIKER?!?!” No, he’s not a DP, and we don’t know how he’ll do in MLS. But someone (Earine) clearly seems to think he’s worth bringing in. When it broke that they were looking for an English striker, what the hell did you think? Harry Kane? Jamie Vardy?! We’re still the Union! Until then, let’s get behind this guy and hope he BWPs the shit out of the eastern conference!

    • Hey, maybe he’s our version of Vardy! Late bloomer, and all.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      What I meant by DP striker is that I clearly understand he is not getting DP money, and will not be a DP on the roster, but is this the answer at striker. I was hoping for a DP and we might still get one, but I would be disappointed if this is all we get. I feel we need more.

      • Personally I’d rather have a DP #10. Maybe that’s going to be Bedoya, but I’d rather someone else there.

  9. pragmatist says:

    Everyone take a deep breath. We are just over a week into the transfer window. So far they have addressed areas that needed improvement. But no DP has been added. There is still a DP slot open and time to sign one.
    I know we’re an impatient fan base, but everyone find a way to chill out and see how this all plays out.
    Under Earnie, the rumor mill has completely dried up. We don’t know about signings until they happen. Let’s give the window a chance. Let’s see who ends up in Clearwater with the club. Then feel free to sharpen the pitchforks and light the torches, if need be.
    In the meantime…settle down.

  10. Don’t worry guys! He had one good season in League 2!!!
    We already have 2 strikers on the roster, I don’t like this move at all unless Davies is looking like he recovered fully in training.

    • Unfortunately we have already had players from the lower leagues of England come over here and do well, some very well like BWP, so you’re actually going to have to wait and see how he performs before hating on it.

      • I don’t hate it, but I’m nervous. We’re only 1/3 of the way through the transfer window, so I am open minded enough to see how things fall out. But it’s hard not to be a little underwhelmed.

  11. Does anyone know if he plays the wing at all? Davies and Sapong earn around $244k and $225k respectively if my memory is right. Those are relatively high salaries in MLS terms. I know many teams have big money in strikers (for good reason), but still, we are paying a big chunk to two strikers.
    I would guess Simpson will make around what his transfermrkt value is, around $425k. Even if it is less, that still would be a lot of money for 3 strikers, especially when we only play 1. Seeing as we just signed Davies again, this move is a curious one. I would have much rather seen a better wing and/or and 8 or 10 signed. Can’t criticize this too much if it is a depth move and if we were able to pay him less than he’s worth. I feel like it’s tougher to get bargains on English players because they already have a high quality of life, schools, etc.
    Regardless of anything, if we don’t drop Sapong or Davies, there will definitely not be a 4th striker signed at a high salary. Let’s hope we finally get an explosive DP 10 or wing who can score.
    Any chance we change to a 4-4-2 due to the roster?

    • pragmatist says:

      He’s coming in on TAM, which is intended to encourage more mid-level signings. I’m guessing he’s in the $200K range for a cap hit.
      Plus, it’s early. We’re seeing a couple of guys coming in. We could eventually see a couple of guys going out, too…

      • I hope my post didn’t come across as overly negative, not my intention. I was just saying that’s a lot of money on 3 guys playing the same spot, and we are unlikely to add another striker in my opinion. My hope was that it means we are adding a game changer elsewhere.

      • pragmatist says:

        Nope, not taken that way. I just think we are at the beginning of a month-long process and Earnie is still moving his chess pieces around. The cap hit isn’t that much, and we have room, I believe. Plus, if we get a DP, the cap will be fairly irrelevant.
        But the questions that need to be asked:
        When the break camp, will CJ be with them? How about Mo? Gaddis?
        That’s a lot of money right there.

    • Davies was paid half that in 2016.
      Google MLS Salaries and go to the result from the Players Association. They publish last september’s salaries, I think as reported by the players. They will publish this May’s in late May or In June if they follow past practice.
      The number on Transfermarkt is their estimate of the transfer fee valuation according to them, I think I have figured out. It is NOT a salary, I am virtually certain, beicause in the past their valuations of Union players have been consistently higher than the player’s known salary (when a valuation has been available.)

  12. So, I’m ok with it. Don’t love the signing, don’t hate it. I feel like we’ve got a collection of so-so strikers, but Simpson is probably better with the ball at his feet than Sapong. At the very least, they’re trying…

  13. Honestly disappointed by the signing. The fact that he played in Thailand before MLS says it all. There’s some talent and I’m not freaking out, but honestly I don’t even want him to have success. The last thing MLS needs is a league 2 striker coming in and tearing it up. It’s ripping me apart now having a player I don’t even want to succeed. Please Sapong, have a breakout year

    • but BWP……………………………………………………

    • John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

      Why wouldn’t you want him to be good? Are you worried what other’s might think? I hope he scores 30 goals & lifts the Cup.

    • Chief, Seriously?!? WE ARE UNION SUPPORTERS, not 700 level Iggles fans! Simpson never stepped on a field wearing our crest! Has NEVER touched a ball with our colors on his uniform and you wish him failure?! I will hold OUR CLUB accountable from water boy to ownership, but wishing failure !?!? You can do better than that can’t you???

  14. lol
    For those comparing him to BWP, one, BWP is the massive exception, not the rule, and two, BWP showed FAR more than Simpson ever has.
    This has to be a joke, wasting an international spot on a guy who projects to fail to beat out Davies. And if he beats out Davies, why did we even sign Davies?.
    Yet another move from “the savior” that makes you seriously wonder if he has a plan or a clue.
    Okay, that last sentence may be overly pessimistic, but I’m still waiting for him to make a single move that makes me feel actually optimistic.

    • I wouldn’t say massive exception at all, plenty of lower league players have come to MLS and played well. It’s not like we’re a top 5 league or anything.

      Yes BWP is one of the most successful examples, but even he showed you can no longer simply say “He played in the lower leagues?! Fuck him!”

      Which is what you’re doing.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      The use of (what I think is the last available) international roster spot is very concerning. I think Ilsinho is close to a green card… from what I have read…. so one could free up, but I don’t have any idea of a timeline on that. I am willing to hold off judgement for now, but if another week or so goes by and there is no mention of a DP striker, or someone close to that level, it will appear we won’t make a move till summer. That would be terrible

      • They are not getting a DP striker unless Simpson is moving to the wing. There is no way they will have more than 3 strikers on the roster. Makes no sense.

      • If you count Herbers we have 4 strikers

      • Ayuk is still taking up international spot but didn’t see the field last year. Can they officially “trade” him down to BSFC and free one up? (maybe this is not possible – I dont even try to keep up with all the convoluted MLS regs on personnel)

  15. His 36 in 99 is good for .37 per, which is nearly 12 goals in a 32-game season, which is what Chris Pontius had last year with this team, and his 5’11″/186 gives him a chance at aerial and hold-up play. If his form holds and he has fitness he is a TAM-worthy signing for this team.

  16. This seems like precisely the sort of signing Stewart was brought in for. A potential diamond in the rough. And while being good in League 2 may not seem like much, I think he might be every bit as good as some of the better strikers in MLS. This is a highlight of reel (complete with the Simpson’s theme song…._) that shows some promise. Guy can do some things Sapong cannot. Can create his own space and can put a shot on frame from outside the box. To be honest, Simpson’s form and athleticism are more impressive than what I could find of Sigthorsson’s

    Hopefully, there’s a DP midfielder up Earnie’s sleeve. Otherwise, this is not really an exciting signing, but it is a shrewd one.

  17. Agreeing with the optimists here:
    I’m ok with this (knowing it’s not the end of our roster changes). Looks like another shrewd Stew move that hopefully pays off. If we we’re going to get another DP I’d rather see it go to midfield (and Ernie did say they are still looking for midfleid and CB). Except for CJ, scoring goals was not a problem last season. We needed an upgrade in striker and someone to challenge the existing pieces, but I wasn’t under the impression that position needed DP at all costs, just a more versatile, consistent threat. This guy looks to have that potential–time will tell.

    Of course these are just a couple highlights and we won’t know until he starts playing, but I like what I see here–seems very strong and technical, versatile, able to score in different ways. Hopefully he can translate that in Philly.

    My two cents. May the force be with us.

  18. Sieve! – if you count Alberg (who’s only real position is as a withdrawn striker) this makes 5 strikers! On a team supposedly committed to a 4-2-3-1. I personally agree with Adam S. (as usual) – this team is being constructed poorly and has a coach who is still in over his head. I fear that In Earnie We Trust is an empty mantra.

  19. I like the signing. Jay Simpson appears to have the quickness, touch and coordination that is lacking in our starting striker. Earnie Stewart knows more about these signings than any of us who are keyboard coaches. That being said there are other positions that should be DP’s who are real difference makers. If there is a difference making striker coming then we may see that one or two of the current strikers shipped out.

  20. As a gunner fan as well as Union fan, I like the signing. Since he came through the Arsenal academy, he must have good technical skills, because that is what they emphasize at the Emirates. I remember him being pretty quick, which is not what Sapong, Alberg or Herbers are.

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