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David Ferreira: Solution to the Midfield or Duct Tape to cover up the issue?

The 2013 MLS Re-entry draft was arguably the most talented in MLS history. The Union drafted one player out of the total player pool of 67 throughout the two stages. Does the name Corben Bone excite anyone? Is the more appropriate question, who is Corben Bone? Not to say Bone isn't a potential talent, but if everyone were honest here then we'd all be asking the latter. Assistant Coach Rob Vartughian described their decision to draft Bone in an interview with Philly.com's Jonathan Tannewald:

"It's not a secret that we need to get better in the midfield. Corben is a very explosive, attacking creative midfielder, and I think he is in need of a new opportunity."

Sure that's fine and all, but where's the promise of the kind of moves that we were told were coming? Those moves were expected to distance the Union from the previous manager who left us in a state of financial ruin. This offseason was supposed to bring in the personnel that lifts Philadelphia out of mediocrity and into championship contenders, right? Before we get all sentimental, there's still plenty of time for the Union to acquire players in the second stage of the re-entry draft (we drafted Bone in the first stage due to his low salary). Alas, the Philadelphia Union passed on the second stage and Rob had to this say about that:

"I think there's a number of good players available, I just think that where we are right now and what we're looking to add, I'm not sure those options made sense right now I think we feel good about some of the other targets we are pursuing."

The most talented roster in MLS re-entry draft history and there aren't any players that make sense? Proven MLS players don't make sense? We still have a thin back line with no center back depth or a true left back and we still have a horrible midfield, yet no proven MLS veterans make sense? OK, I'll be done venting for now. We'll give him a little break, he does mention other targets are being pursued, so lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

That same night the Union passed on proven MLS quality and the interview with Rob Vartughian was released showcasing the reason behind their decision, a few sources heard this bit of information that the Union were frontrunners to nab 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira. Oh boy, is this too little too late for our dear, beloved Front Office? A few years ago that would have been a move that shell-shocked the MLS, but now does it seem like a solution or sweeping our issue under the rug?

Lets look at Ferreira's number before we throw him under the bus. Ferreira still has a year or two until he might be used goods, but it must be said that the player who led FC Dallas to the MLS Cup is not the same player he was. Injuries upon injuries have hampered his play and his minutes in the past two seasons and his number have reflected that. In his 70 games prior to his devastating injury in 2011, including playoffs, Ferreira scored 21 goals and registered 24 assists while playing 6,286 minutes. After Ferreira, as expected due to his injury and age, scored only 5 goals but still registered 18 assists playing 3,846 minutes in 47 appearances. The question we have to think about is that can we trust Ferreira to command games the way he did when he won the MVP pre-injury?

The most telling stats that make me wonder about Ferreira are his assists to minutes ratio, and his shots count. Pre-injury Ferreira rifled off 116 shots, 53 of those shots were on target (Javier Morales who is of the same mold, just for comparison, had 90 shots with 47 on target during a similar time frame). After his injuries Ferreira had taken on 53 shots with just 19 on target. Take what you will from that, but I see a player who is not as forward or as aggressive towards goal as he once was. I don't blame Ferreira he's got a lot of mileage on his legs but is that the kind of player we're looking for in the midfield? Ferreira took a shot every 54 minutes prior to the injury while after he mustered a shot every 72 minutes. Lack of aggressiveness towards the goal seems to be the theme post injury for Ferreira.

There is a bright though as we analyze his numbers. It would seem judging from his assists to minutes ratio, post injury, has improved. During his commanding run before his injury he was only registering an assist every 262 minutes, but when he returned he had an assist every 214 minutes. An improvement, wouldn't you say? But what exactly does that mean? Ferreira may have taken a step back from his aggressiveness toward goal and statistically has not pressured the goal with the same ferocity as before, but he has become more clever in unlocking defenses. His decrease in time between assists shows he's more willing to make a key pass to lead the attack rather than do it all by himself.

So the question to be asked is can we believe that Ferreira is the solution to our midfield issue or are the Union using Ferreira as duct tape over a sinking ship? After saying none of the targets in the Re-entry draft made sense for the Union and then turning around completely and being the lead target for Philly we have to take Ferreira as a serious contender to being our savior. This may be our big pickup this offseason, and Ferreira could very well be just a waste of a pickup, or he will set us straight.

I want to hear your opinions on this trying time for the Union and their potential big offseason. Is this the move that changes our fortunes or is Ferreira just another typical Philadelphia move?

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