Philadelphia and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Trade
You have got to be f—ing kidding me. That was my reaction when I found out the Philadelphia Union traded away Josue Martinez and some allocation money to bring back Sebastien Le Toux. Yes – the sloppy seconds we could never put out of our hearts, the 6′ speedster with bad ballhandling and crossing skills – is coming back. Because apparently we don’t already have enough of 6′ speedsters with bad ballhandling and crossing skills, the Union went out and got another one – one that we already had and traded away. We have done absolutely nothing to address our real needs – mainly the need of a tall power forward with a nose for the goal or depth at center- and left-back. Instead, this was a move by a Front Office that has been cowed by a fan base that because many of them have been watching since 2010 believe they are tactical experts on par with Rinus Michels, Fabio Capello, and Pep Guardiola. This was a move to bring back soccer moms who at the beginning of last year had to sit down their children and with tears in their eyes break the news that our dear player had been traded away no matter how much we loved him and wanted him back. But unlike the dead hamster buried in the back yard last summer, sometimes wishes do come true. Dust off those #9 jerseys and fill the minivans, Main Line soccer mommies – Le Toux is coming back to Chester!
Am I angry? You bet. Giving up Josue Martinez might not seem like a lot, but remember we paid a significant sum to bring him here. He had a decent 2012 – his first year of a grueling MLS schedule – and looked poised to be a good addition to the Union team in 2012. Why give all of this up for a player we don’t need and who doesn’t address our needs? We have Hoppenot and McInerney and Hoffman and Cruz – guys who rely on speed and speed alone to create plays. Did we really need an older, more expensive version – especially at the expense of giving our most hated rivals a promising forward to go with Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry? Even if one or both of them leave – why would you do that? This was not the move that a Front Office with a vision of what their team should look like makes – this is a move that tries to placate a fan base that is largely ignorant to what it takes to create a winning soccer team. This is what happens when the inmates run the asylum. This is what happens when a club cares more about its public relations image and good feelings than defining a strategy and putting a winning product on the field.
So yeah, I’m angry. I’m angry the men who make the decisions at the club care more about being liked than doing what they said they would in the beginning – ” play an attractive, attacking type of soccer ” – because if they really wanted to play an attractive, attacking type of soccer they’d have gone out and done their homework. They’d have identified their weaknesses (actually, that can be found on any number of Union and non-Union blogs because they are that glaring – mainly a tall power forward to compliment our speed on the wings and at the other striker position) and they would have worked to bring in someone who met that need, not only made it that much more obvious that we’re going to try to run as fast as we can past an opposing team. Because you see the problem with that attack plan is that all the other team has to do is play their defense a little deeper and be a bit more physical (which is not a problem in MLS with most center-backs being tall, physical brutes) because you can’t score if you can’t see the goal or are lying on your ass after being planted by guys like Omar Gonzalez or Danny Califf. Whoops. Sorry guys, I just gave every other MLS team the keys to beating us next year.
What is the formation we are going to trot out that features Le Toux? The 4-5-1 that didn’t work last year when you had nothing but speed up front? A 4-3-3 that looked better on paper than in practice? A 4-4-2 with two speed strikers up top? Because that did so well when we used McInerney and Hoppenot last year, right? So all of you Football Manager geniuses out there, what’s your formation? What role do you give Le Toux that you couldn’t give to McInerney? And who sits? Jack McInerney? He just earned a starting role after languishing on the bench. You’re going to send him back there? Danny Cruz? You traded to get him, not to sit him. Mike Farfan? Our only offensive All-Star player ever (something Le Toux didn’t do during the Gilded Age). Freddy Adu? Let’s all face reality – at his salary that ain’t happening. So who sits, Armchair Hackworths?
Here are some rather uncomfortable facts that everyone seems to have forgotten. In our Golden Season of 2011, Le Toux didn’t score during the run of play until September 3 at Real Salt Lake. The same people who are in the throes of orgasm that he’s returning are largely the same people who were calling for him to sit when he couldn’t score at a Vegas brothel with an American Express Black Card. In case you’ve forgotten, he’s also bounced between 3 different teams in a single calendar year. This screams problem. This screams “I won’t do what my coach tells me”. And no, I haven’t forgotten that he’s the all-time leading scorer in Philadelphia. Have you forgotten that he played here as the featured striker for 2 of the 3 years we’ve played and still only amassed 25 goals? To put this in perspective, Chris Wondolowski scored 27 goals in the 2012 season alone. Assists? Le Toux had 20 over the two years he was here. In 2012, Graham Zusi led the league with 15.
So all that be damned, Le Toux is back and there’s nothing we can do about it. I hope I am proven wrong and that this heralds the return of the Golden Age, except instead of sputtering into the playoffs and getting demolished by Houston we go all the way. But I have a feeling I’m going to have the last laugh when Le Toux is lost in the shuffle and all we have are the false hopes and faded good feelings of today and we’re nowhere closer to being where we want to be.