As our team prepares for the 2012 season, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts. It has been a very busy offseason with some key international additions, re-signings and the departure of two high-profile players.
First, it's important to reiterate that one of our top priorities is and always will be to put a team on the field each year that has a real chance of competing for an MLS Cup title. At the end of each season we carefully analyze our strengths and weaknesses with an eye towards improving upon our weaknesses in a strategic fashion, spending our financial resources carefully to improve our roster. It is a delicate balance managing salary cap and acquisition finances in the modern game but our technical staff has done an excellent job in each of our first two seasons preserving enough money to continue improving our roster. This offseason they have continued along that path, as we have been able to spend significant money on new players and still have resources under our salary cap and allocation funds to make future moves.
Carefully scouting and recruiting Josue Martinez and Porfirio Lopez from the Costa Rican national team, as well as Gabriel Gomez, the captain of the Panamanian national team, has been strategic and carefully thought out. Additionally, we have been able to sign one of the leading goal scorers in the Colombian first division in Lionard Pajoy through careful spending of existing financial resources and some savvy moves that have paid us additional resources. Those additional resources have given us the ability to convert the loans on Carlos Valdes and Roger Torres into permanent transfers and we are working towards signing Sheanon Williams to a new long-term contract. I think everyone would agree that those signings were important investments in this upcoming season and our future.
It was important for us to add and secure some experienced players to complement the depth and quality of our young players. Of the 11 MLS players recently called up to the U.S. U-23 training camp to prepare for Olympic qualifying, five are Union players. We have invested heavily in our youth development system and are very proud and committed to our young players. As such, it is vital that we get them on the field to gain valuable playing experience so they can realize their full potential.
While it is very difficult for us to move on from players like Sebastien LeToux and Faryd Mondragon, it is vital to provide the opportunity for young players who are more than ready to step up, such as Zac MacMath, Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Josue Martinez, Michael Farfan and Gabriel Farfan, among others. Additionally, adding international veterans like Lopez, Gomez and Pajoy means room has to be made on a crowded roster.
Exiting in the semifinal round of the playoffs, as we did last season, is not something we are content with and therefore what you saw in the last 60 days was a lot of hard work by our technical staff and a deep commitment by our organization to make our team better going into our third season. Strategic player moves and managing the uniqueness of the international transfer market is part of the modern global game. Rest assured that we navigate through this environment with very experienced personnel and with one single focus in mind: to deliver the very best product on the field and to do it consistently each and every season.
As always, thank you for your passionate support. I look forward to seeing you at PPL Park this season.
Sincerely, Nick Sakiewicz CEO & Operating Partner Philadelphia Union
While I applaud the people the Union brought in and the permanent signings of Torres and Valdes, I still don't understand how Nick can claim we made moves to be better then last year. Keeping our go man and adding talent to complement him seems like the smarter choice to "put a team on the field each year that has a real chance of competeing for an MLS Cup title."
While I do love our youth, the absence of quality veterans is alarming. Getting our youth experience should not come at the expense of improving upon a playoff caliber team's chances to win a title. It should be incorporated within our goal to win that title. I love my Union but I don't see what Nick does. May I eat my words starting March 12th.