Philly Soccer Page Info / Union

Adam Cann to leave PSP, join Philadelphia Union

Photo courtesy of Haverford College

Senior writer Adam Cann is leaving The Philly Soccer Page to take a job with Philadelphia Union.

He departs PSP on a free transfer. We saw the writing on the wall and did not try to wrangle a transfer fee out of MLS. It’s an absolute steal for the Union. Adam is their best acquisition since Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Califf.

Now that we’ve gotten the jokes out of the way, let me be clear. Yes, Adam is truly leaving PSP for the Union.

Adam will work for them as a staff writer and soccer analyst for PhiladelphiaUnion.com, doing some of the same things he did for PSP and likely a whole lot more. He was someone the Union identified, recruited, and wanted to acquire. (I read the job ad. It’s clear they basically wrote it for him.)

If the Union are smart – and I think they are, whatever criticism the club’s recent play warrants – they’ll eventually transition Adam to the technical side as well. He would make a fantastic scout, analyst, and more. If not, I expect to see him as American soccer’s top media analyst for years to come.

We see him off with regret on one hand and the loudest possible cheers on the other. Honestly, it’s more cheers. I’ve hoped for years to see the day I could write this post.

We don’t devote a post to every departure at PSP. Only former PSP managing editor Ed Farnsworth earned one previously. It’s not because he’s moving onto a job with the local pro team either, as multiple PSP alums work for the Union.

Adam is special.

A bit about Adam’s role in creating and shaping PSP

Adam has been crucial to PSP since day 1.

His specialty has obviously been his close tactical analysis. There is no one who writes tactical analysis about American soccer as well as Adam. Nobody goes deep like Adam. Nobody articulates a team’s broad structural trends like Adam. In sports, we tend to focus on the individual, but nobody captures the interrelations of teams as a whole like Adam Cann.

But he’s done far more than that.

He’s an excellent interviewer because he’s naturally curious, thoughtful and humble.

He’s an excellent writer, and that talent was there well before he came to PSP. Did we help him as editors? Sure. But that’s because Adam is the sort who constantly seeks out ways to improve himself. He wants critique. He wants advice. That self-reflection and constant drive for self-improvement are what turns good writers into great ones.

He’s funny as hell, tossing in random non sequiturs and comparisons that sneak up on you — yes, “not good” equals Taylor Twellman screaming, for a recent example — and are so uniquely from the mind of Adam Cann that I can’t even replicate one right now. (Readers, feel free to share your favorites in the Comments section below.)

And Adam has been crucial to PSP’s identity. He has constantly sought to learn and maintain core journalism ethics, while writing at a high intellectual level that generally raises the bar for readers. Adam Cann helped set the standard of quality for PSP, and every other writer strives to match it.

When six of us first got together over beers at The 700 in Northern Liberties on Nov. 9, 2009 to discuss launching this publication, Adam was there. He even helped come up with the name. In fact, it may have even been his idea.

Of the four posts that ran on PSP’s first day, Nov. 16, 2009, he wrote two. Since then, he has written 868 total, more than anyone but Ed Farnsworth.

Adam is one of four core PSP originals who stayed with us for the long haul, along with Ed, Mike Servedio, and me. Adam didn’t just help build this publication. He’s also our friend.

Like most of PSP’s original contributors, Adam played in Philadelphia’s Casa Soccer League when we started PSP, suiting up for West Philly FC, PSP’s most reliable talent pipeline. After finishing his soccer career at Haverford College, he was known as an extraordinarily smart defensive midfielder, and his style of play speaks volume about his approach to soccer. Mike Servedio once told me his soft-spoken teammate racked up more yellow cards than anyone without getting suspended. Adam understood exactly how and when to commit the perfectly timed tactical foul.

In fact, I regret the fact that only now did I think of naming Adam’s column “The Tactical Foul.”

How PSP replaces Adam Cann

You don’t replace someone like Adam Cann.

PSP will not replace his tactical analysis column like-for-like because, simply put, it can’t be done. Nobody writes tactical analysis of American soccer as well as Adam Cann.

Instead, we will replace Adam’s column with a general postgame analysis piece. While you may find some tactical analysis in it, it won’t be as heavy on tactics as Adam’s pieces. It will be similar to what we used to do prior to breaking out Adam’s tactical analysis as a regular feature. We hope you like it.

Adam will continue writing for PSP until he starts work for the Union, which will be sometime in May or June. We’re making full disclosure now about Adam’s departure so that you are aware of his pending new job when you read his final pieces for us. (Note: Adam’s column that ran yesterday was originally scheduled to run today, after this piece, so that this disclosure came first. It ran early due to an oversight. It will be updated to include a full disclosure note.)

After that, we’ll direct you to PhiladelphiaUnion.com to view Adam’s work. We know Adam well. We know his intellectual integrity. We trust his analysis. Adam’s future employers have told him that he’ll be able to honestly call things how he sees them. That’s smart. After all, look at how MLSsoccer.com has evolved. Matt Doyle, Bobby Warshaw and others are calling it straight and providing excellent analysis, with reporters with legitimate journalism street cred like Paul Tenorio and Dave Zeitlin writing for the site. As a result, MLS fans read MLSsoccer.com in a way that nobody reads other professional leagues’ websites.

We expect the Union to maintain a similar standard because they likely understand the value of honest brokers providing such content: It ensures that people actually read your site. (And yes, we know it was different back when friends of PSP Kevin Kinkead and Kerith Gabriel, both solid journalists, had to face down pressure from certain superiors at the Union, but those days are past and key faces have changed.) We’re looking forward to reading Adam’s work there.

Going back to Philly

Recently, Adam mentioned to me something about not being from Philly, and it’s true, he’s not originally from the area. He arrived for college at Haverford and stayed till he left for a PhD program at Texas Tech University.

But I had to correct him.

Adam’s work for PSP has made him a treasure for the Philadelphia soccer community. He may be ending his time with PSP, but, with his return to Philly, he’s also coming home.

47 Comments

  1. Adam understands the sport on a level very few do.

  2. Incredibly sad to see Adam leave, as his posts were always among my favorites to read. But what a great opportunity! Best of luck to Adam!

  3. So now we know who the Union were paying to feed us positive notes about the team…
    *
    But in all seriousness, Cheers Adam, your deep dive game recaps where something I looked forward to every week, always filled with bits to educate ourselves on the game, the team and the league. You definitely made PSP the best MLS sites and I would argue, Soccer-specific sites out there.
    *
    Hope the U can utilize Adam to the fullest, I know they broke some good ground with the Film Room segments they did last year and this is screaming for his input. Good luck and I look forward to reading your articles this summer!

  4. Congratulations and best of luck, Adam! Your articles have done more to educate this novice soccer fan than anything else I’ve come across. Hopefully you can continue to be an occasional guest on the Union-focused podcasts.

  5. Congrats Adam, I have thought for a long time that this should happen but in my mind it was more on the technical side. I agree with you that it should happen eventually and I think it is inevitable

  6. PSP ought to have a Ring of Honor on the site with the names of #Legends who have retired. Just a thought…

  7. Matt Thornton says:

    Cheers – continued to success to a talented and valuable asset to the Philly soccer community.

  8. Best of luck Adam! I have spent many years reading your work here! And will find you at PhiladelphiaUnion.com! Your tactical analysis has truly thought me a lot about the game! Thanks for being a part of my favorite soccer site! You gentleman who started PSP truly had ,and continue to have great vision for this site! God speed to you!

  9. Congratulations Adam! I look forward to seeing what you achieve on the inside.

  10. james lockerbie says:

    This is wonderful News ! I am very excited for Adam and I look forward to watching his career blossom with the Union.

  11. Congrats Adam! Finally a rational human being working for the Union!

  12. Adam is a jackturd who shouldn’t be doing anything for anyone, let alone an actual MLS team. I don’t know much about writing, but it’s clear his mental aptitude and integrity are very much lacking. He won’t even throw me the ball in the middle of the night, and he let’s this big bumblebitch into my space all the time. I hope things change in Philly.

  13. OneManWolfpack says:

    I for one am outraged! How dare you leave us!?!
    .
    Honestly congrats on the move. I’ll miss reading you here but will definitely follow you over to the Union site. You taught me and many others the tactical side of the game that I really just never knew… so thanks for all the insight.
    .
    Also I assume Adam will occupy one of the Union’s open DP spots? Only makes sense to me…

  14. OH. MY. GOD. THIS IS AMAZING.

    Seriously, how many people in pro sports have gotten themselves a job — like, an actual job, with the top-level club — through a freaking blog?!?!

    Plus the fact that it is clearly, richly, deeply deserved.

    Adam, we will miss you like hell! But we will also get to say that we knew you way back when!

    • Well … we’ve never treated PSP like a blog, and I think that’s why others don’t treat us like one.

      He’s actually not the first from PSP to move on to professional work because of PSP work.

      Current PSP videographer Ryan Griffith recently got a job doing similar work for the minor league baseball team in Wilmington, for example, and he told me it was because of his work with PSP. (He’s played a big role in the upgrade in our video content over the last year.) We didn’t broadcast it because he won’t be leaving PSP completely and, well, he’s been with us for a year, not since day 1, like Adam.

      There are at least two other PSP alumni currently working for the Union, though PSP didn’t get them there. (PSP probably helped one, but he got in the door on his own.)

      • I grant that calling this a blog perhaps stretches the definition of the term a bit. And kudos to the other guys who’ve moved on to professional work from this site. You have good reason for pride. But this, now… this is truly impressive.

  15. Matt Custer says:

    I stopped checking philadelphiaunion.com years ago for lack of quality commentary. That just changed. Adam is nothing less than a paradigm shift for the U’s website. Congrats all around: to the U front office for having the good sense to recruit him, to PSP for featuring him, and to Adam for analysis and style we mere soccer mortals could only wish to emulate.

  16. And the season just keeps getting worse…
    .
    I echo all of Dan’s comments and I’m now sad that I never got to play some footy with Adam. He’s really going out on a high note. His last tactical analysis of the Union v. Orlando game was nothing short of brilliant.
    .
    The only complaint I have with this piece, Dan, is that you don’t need to qualify his quality as one of the best analyzers of “American” Soccer. I spent three years living in Europe and reading lots of analysis there, and the vast majority couldn’t hold a candle to Adam Cann. It’s not just the analysis that is spot on, but it’s equally his ability to relate that analysis in an understandable and enjoyable way that truly sets him apart.

    • I’ll gladly take that correction. 🙂

    • Spugger, to me, you’re last sentence is what separates Adam from all the rest. His ability to see what/how/why something happened on the field, analyze it, counter it, then explain it all in a way a layman could understand, is truly something special.

  17. The only thing I question is why it took so long. Congrats. I can’t wait to continue to learn from your analysis. Now get to work fixing our scoring woes!

    • so true. so much talent through this site and we were suggesting his analysis as must-read material for the Union staff.

      “this guy over at PSP is telling us we shoulda done it differently.
      pshaw! we know what we’re doing!”
      [3 years later]
      “he’s right. i think we should bring him in.”

  18. This is said news for the readers here, but it’s incredible for you personally, Adam. Congratulations, and best of luck going forward!

  19. Congrats and good luck on the job, I will be sad to lose your pieces here. Hopefully you won’t be limited by what you’re allowed to write for the team.

  20. el Pachyderm says:

    I approve wholeheartedly.
    .
    There is an absolutely enormous necessity for MLS journalism and soccer tactical understanding for the everyman to evolve in the USA.
    .
    My great hope is Adam Cann is sitting alongside JP…. very shortly, because that is how he can best serve the population. His visit with JP would be short-lived though, as he then moves on to bigger and better, likely.
    .
    I echo Dan’s sentiment above, I do not come here because this place is a blog. It is a vital journalistic source in a day and age when journalism is truly a dying art. I treat it as such, even in the tireless rants over tiresome ways and means.
    .
    Adam…things can get touchy with MLS employees when it comes to being critical–I very much hope you remain steadfast in the objective as well as the subjective analysis of this Union and maybe someday soccer in the USA on a national level.
    .
    Best wishes.
    .

  21. No surprise here, brilliant lad. Congrats, Adam, you’re one of the sport’s best and I can’t wait for you to get the recognition you deserve.
    edit: Need to echo everyone else – This webpage is the richest form of written sports media around. Between Ed’s dedication and Adam’s unrivaled IQ we’ve been more than lucky to have this place in our lives. I hope for many more years of it. Love all you guys, truly.

  22. Zizouisgod says:

    I can honestly write that this is the best signing in Union history. They are fortunate to have a writer and analyst of Adam’s caliber working for them.

    Thank you, Adam. I’ve enjoyed consuming your posts on PSP over the years and you gave me new lenses in which to view matches thru. I even purchased the Stats Zone app because of you and it was the best $11 that I’ve ever spent. Thanks again and look forward to seeing your work with the Union.

  23. it’s been like having our own Jonathan Wilson
    congratulations and good luck Adam!

  24. Pragmatist says:

    With any luck, his vision and understanding will soon help elevate the USMNT. His voice is very welcome for our humble and disappointing club, but I have a feeling his talents have a greater purpose in the future.
    .
    Remember the little people when you get to the peak!

  25. The “irrational ranting to reasoned analysis” ratio takes an unrecoverable hit.
    .
    Best of luck Adam, I’ll hope to get to read you over there at some point. I have really enjoyed soaking up your insight and being taught to see and love the game at a whole different level. Thank you most sincerely for that gift.
    .
    And now…Back to our previously scheduled screaming meemie zombie apocolypse fan meltdown, already in progress.
    .
    (Sigh)

  26. In all honesty, this is what the Union should be promoting – not new mascots, not chief tattoo officers, not symbiotic relationships with Levi’s patches – but instead good sports journalism.
    .
    This should have a bigger cultural impact for the Union than any of the above!
    .
    Congrats Adam!!
    Looking forward to seeing your work for the U!

  27. Well I haven’t posted in a while but I must say, Adam’s writing has been the golden nugget of this site since I started reading it. It’s a shame to see him go but I’m also excited to see his new work. He is the best analyst I’ve ever read and if someone is smart they’ll give him a lot of money to do what he does. I’ll follow him wherever he goes. Best of luck Adam and thanks for doing so much!

  28. It’s about F-Ing time. I’ve been clamoring for this almost since the moment I started reading Adam’s stuff a few years ago. He’s brilliant. He deserves this. Good Luck Adam! I wish you and the Union all the best.

  29. The Chopper says:

    Best of Luck Adam. Hope you can keep your independence while writing for the mothership. I truly enjoyed it here.

  30. Congrats and good luck Adam. Your pieces have been must-read for me since I began following the site a few years ago. I hope the Union are smart enough to not try and turn you into Dave Spadaro and waste your considerable talent. Personally, I would start you at ST this weekend. 🙂

  31. Greg in Delaware says:

    I hardly ever comment here – most of what I might say is usually said better by others. But coming out of the electronic shadows for a moment due to this.

    Huge fan of Adam. I love coming to PSP for many reasons, but his analysis is wonderful.

    Best of luck to you – I will be happy to find your work wherever it is.

  32. That is fantastic, Adam. Bloody marvelous what a PhD gets you! Glad to read that we can continue to read your in-depth analysis somewhere else. Hope this will not be tainted with propaganda and hope that your role will evolve into the Chief Union Scout.

  33. I learned more about soccer reading Adam’s analyses than I ever did playing the game for 10 years, reading tactical books about soccer, or watching the game myself. Congratulations! Maybe this is the hire the Union needed to finally turn things around?

  34. PSP has been so good to me. I don’t know how many times Dan has edited down my ramblings to make them readable, and how often Ed used to type entire paragraphs into a text message to me to make sure that what I wrote was what I wanted to say. But man… reading the comments on PSP has been one of the major ways I’ve tried to figure out what to write about and how to write about soccer. Without the feedback and interactions I really don’t know that I get to the point where this opportunity comes along. So just a full-throated thank you to everyone that’s been reading and taking the time to comment over the years, especially when it meant having to re-live a pretty rough performances (of which there have been, let’s say, a few). And it would be awesome to meet some of you now that I’ll be back in Philly! I’m very hopeful that I will get a few chances to hang out with Ed and his awesome crew before a match, so maybe I’ll see some of you there.

    These comments really mean a lot to me. I’ve loved doing this.

    • We should have a PSP ‘corner’ on the beer deck and meet there before a game. Maybe once you are staff you can organize such a corner somehow.

    • Buccistick says:

      This.
      .
      Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we Patreon.
      .
      Not by happenstance, earlier this winter I very deliberately bowed out of a ninth year of front row season tickets.
      .
      Quite by happenstance, I re-upped my monthly PSP pledge a few days ago, only to return to our blog and learn of Adam’s departure.
      .
      Now more than ever: this is why we Patreon.
      .
      – a graduate of (and former coach for) the conference archrival of Adam’s alma mater

  35. This is so awesome, congrats Adam!

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