Season review: Reader polls

Photo: Paul Rudderow

The first week of our season review wraps up today.

So far, we’ve had…

We have more to come next week, including our all-staff roundtable, more on Ernst Tanner’s personnel moves, analysis of great seasons from Kacper Przybylko and Ilsinho, and looks at the future of Bethlehem Steel and the Union’s striker depth.

Before we get to all that, though, it’s time to get your input with our irregularly annual reader polls.

What did you think of the Union’s campaign? How would you evaluate the people in charge? And what do you want to see the club do this offseason?

Vote in the polls below — and then explain yourself in the comments if you wish.

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  1. I think that Monteiro is not coming back, so finding his replacement is critical. Who that is going to be sets how critical reducing the role Haris has.

  2. I would vote for Kai Wagner as this season’s MVP. We were a different team when he was not on the field.

    • I was shocked he wasn’t on the list for as long as we screamed for a natural left back!

    • It’s almost as if we started to take him for granted by the end of the year because we didn’t have that for a long time. And to be honest his contributions didn’t really show up on the stat sheet that often, but that doesn’t diminish his importance at all. Very valuable player.

  3. I thought Monteiro was already gone? Why even vote on it?
    As for Jimmy’s grade, I gave him a C. I think he was good but showed a distinct lack of creativity in some of the listless games. I think his tactic of doghousing players (Rosenberry & Trusty) may not always be the best option. I think his continued reliance on ~stalwart~ Raymon Gaddis is disappointing. His reluctant to change up his lineups shows his immaturity. The best managers in the world know their whole roster and use them appropriately. Young Jim is still is growing. A C grade still passes. /shrug

    • At least you were willing to admit to being someone who gave him a C. The team did finish 5th out of 24. If you had finished 5th in your class of 24 in school, would you have thought the a C was appropriate, especially if some of the other kids got better textbooks (i.e. higher salaried roster) than you?

      • Chris Gibbons says:

        Curtin used 28 players in 2019, as far as I can tell the most any Union team have ever used. They changed lineups more than any Curtin team and (as far as I can tell) more than any team in Union history.

        In 34 of the 36 matches they played, the Union used a different set of players than they used match before.

      • Old Soccer Coach says:

        I agree Curtin used more players than ever before,
        but by no means is he anywhere close to the roster flexibility associated with Brendan Burke.
        As far as I can tell, Burke has not played the same lineup in over two entire seasons. And it happened only once three seasons ago.

    • He did so much with so little this year, and he actually showed some formation flexibility and did rotate guys. The way the season ended down the stretch (Red Bulls, Columbus, NYC) was a disappointment, but he did get a point in Atlanta, won a big game in San Jose late in the year, and finally got them over the playoff hump. I mean, going from no playoff wins to 1 is a pretty big deal in and of itself.

    • I was full on #CurtinOut through half the season last year. At that point he was starting to win me over, but I am still upset over the last two NYC games and I would not have been too concerned had Tanner brought a guy in with him.
      This year he has seemed to have unlocked some creativity (MLS COTY-runner up testifies to that) and I want to see more of that. I have no problems now with him at the helm next year.
      He still won’t get an A from me until he figures out how to keep from bleeding points at the end of the season though. *WE COULD HAVE BEEN HOSTING MLS CUP THIS WEEKEND!* Alternate universe? Sure, but so very very tantalizingly close to being a reality.

    • I, like the Truth, gave Jim a C for pretty much the same exact reason he stated. Lack of creativity in certain situations of the season in particular matches, pretty dogmatic and predictable in starting 11 and in subs, while youth get plenty of opportunities…..I think he could have done a little more than just going with old reliables at certain points of the season. It does point to immaturity or lack of confidence to make some decisions. I think our technical director had a lot to do with this year as well……Tanner got an A.

  4. Biggest Offseason Need

    Figuring out the transition plan in midfield. Harris and Ale aren’t going to be around forever but they played more minutes then anyone not named Jack Elliot or Ray Gaddis. (or at least I believe that to be the case.)

    Without giving meaningful minutes to possible replacements how can you know if you have an actual replacement on the roster?

    • You’re right.

      Medunjanin/Elliott: 3060 minutes (played every minute)
      Gaddis: 2963 minutes (started every game)
      Bedoya: 2834 minutes

      Notably, the only two games Bedoya missed were games where he was unavailable (one suspension, one injury). You have to think that, if he were available, he would have played every minute. And, like you say, that could be a problem if you hope to groom a replacement.

      • I’d like to see more of Fontana next year. He could potentially be a replacement in midfield, but we need to see more of him to know.

    • Yup. The wheels can really come off of this midfield next year. Two aging vets, a promising kid, two most expensive players sure to leave and iffy reserves. We should be in the market for two to three new players to strengthen those positions.

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    Need a #10. Imagine this team with a Barnetta / Dockal type.

  6. Interesting question on Ernst. Do you give me major plugs for his hits: Wagner, Monteiro etc or negatives for his biggest chance: Fabian. Money wise they are about even (everybody else put together ~ Fabian). Wasn’t he supposed to be the new better #10?

    His low risk/high gain moves have been great. His only big budget move (Fabian) was a D.

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      In preseason we weren’t expected to do so well this year. Fabian was a “prove it” signing, with no long term damage potential. We could’ve signed someone else, but I don’t fault the decision. We complained for years about not having an expensive signing. They tried.

    • I judge a SD on the totality of his moves, not every single one. In other words, let’s say the Fabián move had an 80% chance of working out well. You still can never predict for certain, and it still leaves a 20% chance that he’s a bust. In other words, Fabián was a calculated risk, and one worth taking.

      The one question I have is: did we need to sell Keegan in order to afford him? If so, then the move was truly a negative. (I only wish we had Keegan at RB…)

      Meanwhile, looking at everything else he did — including single-handedly killing the SuperDraft! — you gotta give Tanner major, major props. The team wasn’t perfect, but he still gets an A in my book.

  7. Old Soccer Coach says:

    I said Bedoya was the most valuable player.
    Contrast the quality of the team’s performance versus NYCFC on “Decision Day” without him and against Red Bulls in the home playoff game with him.
    Przybylko missed both games.

  8. I ended up giving the season, Ernst and Jim all A’s. If there were B+’s and A-‘s, the season and Curtin would have gotten A-‘s while Ernst would have gotten a B+. I decided to grade higher this time around because I’ve tended to go with the lower grade in past polls.
    I went with Jamiro as my MVP, mostly because of his versatility, but also because of his all around play.
    I went with getting a #10. Jamiro isn’t coming back, so resigning him is pointless. I do think they need a replacement for Haris and at least an understudy for Bedoya. I’m just not sure if the Union feel the same way. So I don’t expect there to be much done about it in the off season. The team has enough strikers, so that was out for me. I really want another right back. Once again though, I’m not sure the Union feel the same way.

    • I went Jamiro MVP as well, I also voted for resigning him as more of a symbolic gesture on how much I appreciated his game. I figured the likelihood of him coming back was small to nil. Going to miss him……he goes in the pantheon of Nogs with me. Those two guys have probably been my favorites to rock the badge.

  9. Just looked at the preseason poll and 70% of you said the Union would finish 5th place or worse. To me, those people should generally be giving Curtin and/or Tanner and/or the team an A for going so far above expectations. (One person predicted 1st place so they can give low grades for doing so much worse.) As one of the 30% who predicted 2nd-4th, I still gave all 3 an A.
    84% said Fabian was the team’s biggest signing in history. I’m sticking with my original No on that one.

  10. MVP: clearly the fans

    Biggest off-season need: clearly a new owner and manager

  11. I have faith in Ernst getting things right for next season. I had good fun last season and am looking forward to the next one.

  12. I gave my MVP to Elliott, who perhaps had the most consistent positive performance on the squad. (Bedoya being a close second, tied with Wagner.)

    Jamiro was an absolute revelation… until that injury. And he was never QUITE the same afterward. That meant going from astonishing to merely excellent, but still, it was about half his tenure with the club. Kacper was critical, of course, but he’s not the guy to make his own goals. He needs service. But going through the list (and realizing Wagner was left off) really shows you how much quality the team had this season.

    I gave Jim a B (deducting points for occasional foolish lineup decisions and the late-season choke), though if we had interpolating grades I would’ve given him a B+. And Tanner gets an A for sure; he’s the guy we thought Earnie Stewart would be.

    I have long been vocal about the fact that replacing Haris is our biggest need. Re-signing Monteiro is apparently not gonna happen, alas. But if we got a stud destroyer at the 6, and we played a 4-4-2 diamond, that would, in a sense, replace both Haris and Jamiro. We could either sign a #10 with the Fabián money or try to get an (more) élite striker; but young Brendan might be ready to be handed the keys to the offense next season, and we have enough options at striker between Kacper, Santos, Wooten, and Picault that I believe we’ll have scoring even without one. So, we could also use that $$ to get an élite winger, and plan on having New Stud #6, Bedoya, Aaronson, and New Pricey Winger as our starting midfield.

    • I agree – replacing #10 should go hand and hand with replacing Haris.
      Playing a diamond midfield with an old slow guy at #6 significantly affects your choice of a #10.
      I think Fabian might have seen a lot more of the field if he wasn’t the 3rd 30+ guy in a midfield that is supposed to be aggressively pressing.
      I think Aaronson spent so much time at #10 not because he was drastically different offensively, but rather that he was about the same offensively and radically better defensively.
      If we expect Haris to play every minute again, we need a #10 who is not only good at setting up the offense, but that can cover a lot of ground defensively.

  13. As a casual soccer fan who became a more serious Union fan over the past few seasons, I have to grade the overall season as an A. Anyone who grades less than that had unrealistic expectations IMO.

    While an MLS cup is the ultimate goal and the opportunity was there for the taking in 2019, the organization made outstanding progress in terms of establishing firm “roots” for the future. Routinely sold out games is evidence of that. I’m thrilled about the future of this club!

  14. Addressing the other questions quickly:

    – Curtain should receive a multi-year contract for his success. Only qualm about him was how predictable he was using Ilsinho. Teams anticipated him changing the game in the 2nd half of the season.
    – Kacper had a great season, I’d love to see him paired with Santos up top next year.
    – I’m not concerned with Medunjanin’s age, he looked fine endurance wise especially for CDM.
    – Finding as many Monteiro’s as we can should be a long term goal (ditto for most MLS teams). The gap was noticeable vs. ATL in terms of number of players who can confidently control the ball in the mid field.
    – I love Tanner’s approach to building the organization, it will pay long term dividends.

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