NBC's Pro Soccer Talk is running a series of posts that ask questions of clubs about their 2013 futures while they're in preseason. Noah Davis, one of the site's contributors, wrote the article on the Philadelphia Union and I decided to answer his questions myself. You can see Davis' own answers by clicking the linked text here.
- Can Jack Mac dominate?
He doesn't have to dominate. The beauty of the acquisition of both Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey lies in the fact that McInerney no longer is the focal point of the Union's offense. McInerney's main problem last year was that he was forced into a target striker role without much in the way of playing time for over two seasons and he didn't have anyone creating for him, nor anyone really causing the opposing defenses problems on the wings. If head coach John Hackworth employs a 4-3-3 that looks more like a highly attacking version of a 4-1-2-2-1 - which would look like four defenders, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo/Michael Farfan/Stephen Okai and Stephen Okai/Michael Lahoud/Michael Farfan/Roger Torres, then Le Toux and McInerney right behind Casey - then the Union have their best chance at producing goals consistently throughout the season. Does McInerney need to score? Yes, but there isn't a need for him to put up a dozen or so like Davis has asked of him.
- What to do about Freddy Adu?
Sell him. Loan him. Bench him forever. It doesn't matter at this point. The team just can't go back on its word. Adu will never play under Hackworth, nor can this ownership group make an about face on the former American international. It's a waiting game for an offer to materialize for Adu. They'll have to take on part of his salary to make it happen within Major League Soccer, but it's much more probable for him to return to Europe instead.
- Are they ready for "the Leap"?
Competing for a playoff spot is more than a possibility for the Union, it's a necessity. The huge step backward in 2012 was not a simple blip on the radar, it was a devastating blow for Philadelphia in marketing and status. Every other Philadelphia sports team had bad years and another playoff run would have put the Union in a prime position to further entrench themselves in the city's athletic culture, while also forcing themselves into a position to increase their progression toward becoming a major player in the sports scene. Instead, the team crumbled after various moves by former head coach Peter Nowak that sabotaged the club's ability to return to the forefront of the Eastern Conference and the casual fans or non-soccer fans of the city once again forgot about the team. Only a shrewd offseason by Hackworth and co., along with a revamped marketing plan has placed the Union back into a position to claim a place next to the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers.