Offseason Issues / Union

An offseason stream of consciousness

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of posts this MLS preseason focusing on the Union’s major question mark, their search for a No. 10 creative attacking midfielder. 

The Philly Soccer Page is a site full of measured and thoughtful soccer commentary. Other than columnist Adam Cann once climbing a non-greased lightpole in celebration of a Union U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 win over Harrisburg, and editor Dan Walsh once eating 26 plates full of Italian food non-stop over the course of four hours, the site’s staff and content reflect before they write and speak as they would act.

Author’s note: Of the two examples listed, at least one actually happened.

There are two articles left to write before the Union take the field on March 3 against New England:

  1. Will the Union sign a No. 10?
  2. If the Union don’t sign a No. 10, who will start at that position?

They’re the same articles that could have been written on October 22nd of 2017, the day the Union again ended their season outside of the playoffs. Neither of those topics is appealing because for the answer to the former seems to have become “No,” and the answer to the latter seems to be, “It doesn’t matter… it won’t be enough.”

Therefore, a stream of commentary, observations, and takes will suffice.

The Union takes

Jim Curtin is among the most educated soccer coaches in America.

Jim Curtin is the most successful and longest tenured Union coach in franchise history.

The Union remain among the worst teams in the league.

The Union have silverware, albeit digital.

Like a tree falling in the forest, barely anyone heard a peep when they won.

The Union are among the youngest teams in the league.

The Union have a long track record of not playing or developing young players.

The Union have a sufficient No. 10 in Adam Najem, Anthony Fontana, Ilsinho, or Fabian Herbers.

At that crucial position, however, the Union have “no clear cut leader.”

Earnie Stewart is the greatest soccer general manager in American history.

Despite this, and speaking on Stewart’s behalf, Jim Curtin finds it “difficult throughout the world to sign players.”

The Eagles takes

Author’s Note: Because it’s a special week in Philadelphia, there has to be room for some Eagles takes too.

Nick Foles isn’t good enough to play for Jeff Fisher.

Nick Foles is the mayor of Cajones, PA.

Cam Newton doesn’t shake hands and neither does Tom Brady.

Nor does Peyton Manning?

Nelson Agholor and Zack Ertz not only shake hands… they high-five!


The Union still need someone play the No. 10 this season. It might be Adam Najem, it might be a signing as-yet-unannounced, it might be Nick Foles. It’s unclear at this point. The search for this player could be entitled, “Philly Special.” It seems fitting, because a special player will make the Union a better team and that phrase is as-yet-unused in Philadelphia sports parlance.

This article hasn’t answered the question of who will play that position or what special talent will join the team, and that is by design. Instead, enjoy this morning’s 11 am friendly as the most important event on the Philadelphia sports calendar for the day.


  1. el Pachyderm says:

    From the Unions POV maybe the playmaker is the regista at which point you need a CAM capable of thinking a step or two ahead just to play the simple pass early assuming your speed on the flanks aims to get behind. Who knows.
    I mean Pirlo only had Kaka in 2006… and that guy was just okay.

  2. Liverpool have gotten by this season with three stiffs in the middle of the park! They run a 4-3-3 and have absolutely no interior………they get exposed for it from time to time… the second half against the Spuds this past weekend….but they get by. That’s where the gaffer earns his paycheck!

    • Jim Curtin. Enough said.

    • Pete Mazzaccaro says:

      Yeah, Liverpool have only had Coutinho in midfield most of the time. Total stiff.

      • He played on the wing smart guy…….but nice try! Nice picture! Henderson, Wynjalem, Can…….that’s their interior home slice!

      • Those three are all current internationals for England, Holland and Germany. Hardly “stiffs”.

      • Will that interior win you a Prem? Will that interior win you a CL? You know the answer Zizou! Pretty pedestrian for a top four side….,,,

      • Coutinho played in the midfield with Salah, Sane and Firmino in front of him most of the time. Go look up the lineups.Henderson is often hurt, but one of the best in the game. Can and Wijnaldum are inconsistent, but they’re still not stiffs. Fact is nothing wins the prem short of a perfect season with City doing what they’ve done.

      • No he didn’t, he was in a four man rotation up front, which drove LFC supporters nuts…..why not drop Coutinho in the midfield…..but Klopp didn’t. He had a four man rotation up front with Saleh, Furminho, and Mane. Now, Barca may play him there……but Klopp played him on the left wing to drive inside and use that right footed howitzer he has……look it up! Yesterday I was actually watching the parade with a few LFC supporters and they got a chuckle out of you all……

      • Pete…..Sane plays for Man City…..You are disqualified from this conversation! Henderson one of the best……..buhahahahaha!

      • Deli Ali, Ross Barkley, Eric Dier, Danny Drinkwater, and Jackie Wishire are all better than him…….right now.

      • Pete Mazzaccaro says:

        LOL. I meant Mane. And this season, when Coutinho has played he has been primarily used in the midfield. Yes, He was played out on the left a lot as Klopp sorted through all the striker options with Sturridge and Origi. But since Salah has come on, he has primarily been part of a midfield trio. Maybe my memory isn’t great. But I feel like he’s been midfield for months before they sold him.

      • Pete Mazzaccaro says:

        I went back and looked at lineups for all competitions since August, because I was starting to doubt my senses. In competitions he started, he was listed as a midfielder in 9 and as a forward on the left in 5. That includes league, CL qualifying and cups. Only 3 of those wing starts came in the league.

      • Pete, I just talked to a hardcore Red again to make sure I’m not tripping. The only time they played Coutinho in the midfield is if they were down and needed to get all four of those guys on the pitch. Klopp has been stated in interviews that he didn’tlike playing him in the midfield because he didn’t want him to have to run around like a crazy person pressing…..which is a requirement if your playing for Klopps midfield. Did he never play there… Did he often start on the wing……with Fermino in the middle and Saleh on the other side….,,a resounding yes!

      • And really Pete, Coutinho’s position aside……ask yourself…….Is Liverpools midfield better than City, Chelsea, United, Arsenal, or Spuds? I don’t think so………

      • Pete Mazzaccaro says:

        I’ve seen more Liverpool matches than I’ve missed over the last three or four years. Under Rodgers he was a midfielder. Klopp has done a lot of different things since taking over. He has played on the left often. But just as often this season he’s been behind the front three. SOme of this may be semantics. In one lineup, he’s on the left in a 4-4-2 with Mane on the other side and Firmino and Salah up top. That might have been almost a 4-2-4.

        You can check these lineups out–
        9/16 Burnley
        9/26 Spartak Moscow
        10/1 Newcastle
        11/18 S. Hampton
        11/21 Sevilla
        11/25 Chelsea
        12/2 Brighton
        12/6 Spartak Moscow
        12/13 West Brom

        On the wing:
        9/19: Leicester
        9/23: Leicster
        10/14: United
        10/17 : City
        10/22: Spurs

      • Pete Mazzaccaro says:

        And I’m not going to argue that the Reds are a super team. Their midfield was the main reason they couldn’t hang on against Spurs last Sunday. Were thoroughly overmatched. And I’d argue Coutinho would have been a big help, especially in games like that stinker against Swansea. Today, I’d be inclined to say their midfield is in a more precarious position than defense. And yet, they are in third, three points better than last season.And they’ve lost only 3 league matches all season. Better than City and United, no? Spurs midfield with Erickson? no. But I am not that bullish on current states of affairs at Chelsea and Arsenal. We’ll see.

      • You got majorly exposed against Spuds, I can agree with that. And as you stated…….the line up and semantics aside… seems the better the competition, the more he was on the wing. Good chat, dude…….I’m a Gooner, this years has been tough…….until a week ago….but the damage is already done! Lastly homes, what’s up with you guys and set pieces?

      • Pete Mazzaccaro says:

        I’ll be rooting for you guys tomorrow morning. I’m in the mood to see the Spurs suffer a bit. And to keep them off our pace for a top-4 spot. Set pieces? I dunno. I think the bigger issue has just been the general inability to hold a lead. Just hoping Liverpool go a few rounds deep in CL. Always fun to yak about the PL. And tomorrow, Come on Arsenal.

      • Thanks man and have a good one!

  3. They complain that players are too expensive at the start of the window so they wait to get a steal – then whine about how all of their targets disappeared and there is no-one left at the end of the window.
    Reading the 2016 Kincaid article (greatest soccer general manager), Ernie made a decent amount of moves over the 2010-12 span, flipping a few players for good profit. I know MLS rules make it pretty hard to profit from moves, but it is clear that he is not having the same effect for the Union.

  4. John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

    Until Atlanta came along, most successful front office positions came from within MLS. Since then South Americans are the new hot tend. Meanwhile we have a MLS 1.0 model mixed with an academy looking for player’s from lower divisions from Europe. Three weeks to go Ernie.

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