Pages Menu
TwitterFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in MLS, Philadelphia Union, Recent | 0 comments

What now?

{Editors Note: This was written on my phone at work and edited with just a few hours sleep in several days. Please forgive some wonky syntax but I didn’t want to sit on this for another day to edit it properly. I hope you appreciate the rawness of the execution and the sentiment of the ideas behind it. We, like you wanted to react in real time and hope to use this as a jumping off point to begin the discussion. Please let us know how you feel, we are truly all in this together. Enjoy – Murph}

wow

just plain WOW…

This off-season has been eventful to say the least. I wont be drawn into second guessing Nowak here. Its tempting, but last season I did a post examining some of his seemingly wacky decisions. You can read it for yourself here, if you want the Cliffs Notes: he’s mostly right. Now please don’t take this as an apologists diary. If you are familiar with us at all, I am sure you know that we are far from that. We call it as we see it here. The real problem is deciding what you are looking at. I agree that losing Mondragon and LeToux is a terrible blow and it may be a price too high to pay. Only time, and more specifically, matches will prove that either true or false.

I think we need to examine what each means off the pitch as well as on it, and what the wider implications are. I would like to look at each player separately first, then move on to what I see as the bigger issue, but more on that later.

Mondragon

Losing Mondragon was apparently out of the Unions hands really. He wanted to go, and I am a big proponent of not keeping players against their will. It never works out for the team. The biggest problem with Mondragon leaving is losing his experience. I mean lets face it, he wasnt getting and younger and his best days in goal were behind him. I think Zac MacMath is a very good keeper. He now has the opportunity to raise his game and perform like the starter we all believe he can be. The real issue is that MacMath never played against the highest level opposition, or had a continental night. He has yet to endure the dizzing heights or the depths of despair that a player of Faryds caliber has. That experience is irreplaceable, you just cant put a price on it, especially when you think he was teaching that to Zac every day in practice. So with Mondragon we lose big time experience, but in MacMatch we trade that for current ability and unknown potential. There are many who will call that a wash. I am not one but neither do I see doom in our future. The real on the field problem in the GK department is lack of an adequate reserve keeper. I am sure the wily Pole is working on that as we speak, at least one would hope.

Overall verdict

We will be weaker mentally without him but may be stronger in match play. Zac is no slouch and its time to see what the kid can do for a whole season. Last seasons performances warrant that trust.

Nakazawa

Nice guy, good squad player and you can’t help but feel like Kyle never really got a shot at performing. To be fair he didn’t exactly make the most of the appearances he did get. I called this one at the end of last season. I have to say I am only surprised it took te Union this long to strike a deal for him.

Overall Verdict

No change in the squad as far as quality. We have the players to more than cover his absence.

LeToux

Sebastien is a whole different kettle of escargot. He was done dirty. If what was published is to be believed (I think its safe to say it is), Seba was on the receiving end of basically a mob hit. I am personally gutted about it, but enough has been said in other forums and we will leave it there.

Seba has accounted for 57% of the total offense since he arrived. That is a lot of goals and assists to account for. We may yet see a direct replacement for him, but it seems unlikely given how flush we are with strikers right now. LeToux brought more than just the (not to be dismissed lightly) production when he stepped on the field tho. He was the FACE of the Union. He was the player with the Bimbo endorsement, he was the one who sold the most shirts, had the loudest song and was beloved in the hearts of the Union faithful. How do you replace not only his offensive prowess, but his never say die attitude and his marketability? LeToux brings that non stop endeavor to the field. He out runs everyone around him, no matter what jersey they have on. How do you replace that? I am not sure you can, but do they even try?

Overall Verdict

You can’t replace a guy like Seba, to even try is suicide for the club. We are gutted to see him go. He is a class act and will be the rod upon which all others are measured against.

Which brings us to what I see as the most important issue.

Franchise

The Union has billed itself as the club of the people. Their reputation will surely be tarnished by the LeToux deal. The bigger issue is: Why are we selling Franchise players ?”. I more than understand the team concept, but I believe this goes beyond that. It seems as if the club disregarded not only the wishes of the fans, but also basic statistics as well. Running a club on the wishes of the fans is not exactly a sustainable business model, but selling a player like LeToux HAS to be the worst idea they have ever had. I know this is soccer but I think some parallels to other sports do apply. Would the Flyers ever trade Bobby Clarke, or the Sixers Dr. J. ? No, because they were FRANCHISE PLAYERS. Not only were they performers but they were the face of the franchise to the fans. Everyone in this town has a Clarke or Dr. J story. It bred a familiarity with the team, they became part of everyone’s family. Those two personalities generated a generation of fans who passed that love of their team on to their children, and on, and on. This was a missed opportunity to build the team brand. Unfortunate is all I can say.

I question the leadership of a franchise that doesn’t take those things into account. It shows a short sightedness that is worrying. That being said, winning forgives all sins. If the Union produce this season much of the initial outrage will quiet, Philadelphia fans have a long memory and soccer fans here are no different. I think this is the first of many hard and painful lessons to be learned by Philadelphia Union fans, and I believe many have already gleaned the lesson to be taken from this. Sports teams are a business and business is heartless, even if sports fans are not.

LeToux was our first great love affair as a Philadelphia soccer community and you know what they say about never forgetting your first love. I believe we, both as a community and a team will move on, but it will be a very long time before we forget our very first love. God speed Sebastien, we loved you and you loved us back, and I believe we are both better for sharing that together. We will always have Opening Day 2010.