The Philadelphia Union have had quite the off season. Arguably, I'd say it's their most impressive off season in the franchise's short history. The question is, was it enough? I won't diminish the Union's moves by any stretch, but did they do enough to get them over the line?
I posed this question to the Brotherly Game writing staff.
JC Escobar - Very happy with the moves the team made this offseason, but I remain very skeptical due to Hackworth's ability to coach games.
John Whitesall - Without a doubt they have made some noise this off season. However looking good on paper and performance on the field are two different things.
Barry Evans - They took the major weakness we had and turned that into what should be a strength, without removing too many important pieces of the team. The LB/CB position is really the only question mark right now - but they have definitely taken the steps to make the team better.
William Murphy - The personnel issue has mostly been addressed. I expect a CB to come in eventually and that should help ALOT. It's all down to tactics and mentality. I am not sure this team has that winning mentality yet. If the new guys can be leaders and they can find that way to pull a win out of a loss or draw 5-6 times this season exactly like they didn't last year, it should be enough. They seem to lose focus during matches, which could be the mark of a young team. If that can be addressed, it should make the difference. Hopefully the veteran influence of the new guys can help that.
Jared Young - I'm struggling with this one. There are 3 or 4 forces at play in my mind. We have a weakened defense, an improved midfield and the talent in the east is upgraded. The 4th force is how long it will take for all of the new pieces to gel. Is the midfield good enough and will it gel quickly enough to make us challengers? I think so but it will come down to the wire again.
Matt Ralph - One of the things I love about MLS is that the playoff teams aren't automatically the teams that spend the most money in the transfer window. I'm hopeful that the additions - and the CB addition that might be coming - will be enough to lift the team above the red line but I do question whether it's enough to compete with the influx of talent to our competition.
Eugene Rupinski - I don't think so. This team has improved drastically in areas that it needed to improve in, but every other team in the East (especially ones DC and Toronto that missed the playoffs) improved drastically as well. We've improved enough to keep up with the Joneses, but we haven't improved enough to surpass the Joneses yet. I think with the way things stand right now that the Union miss out on the playoffs, but like last year it's very close.
Frank Cobbina - DC and Toronto did add a lot of talent, but they were the two worst teams in the conference last year and it's going to take some time for the new guys to meld. Montreal's old and they didn't add anyone significant, so I think they're heading for a fall. Columbus had a decent offseason (not as good as the Union) but not good enough to jump us methinks. Chicago are going to be better with a full season of Magee. I count SKC, NYRB, Chicago, and maybe Toronto ahead of us. So yeah, I think the Union are a playoff team.
This is now John Hackworth's team. He has completed one of two phases of an MLS season. Phase one: The offseason. He nailed that with an A+. Phase two? It's hard to say at this moment since it hasn't started yet. The problem is that there are two tricky factors to gauge. What have other Eastern Conference teams done, and how will John Hackworth coach his new team?
I can say the Union have done enough themselves to get them over the line if the other East teams had sat idly by and watched. The truth is they didn't, and some would even say the other teams in the East surpassed the Union. If Hackworth can manage his team effectively, then this is a playoff team hands down. The whole season is thrust upon Hack's shoulders regardless of whether he's actually to blame or be praised for their performance.
What do you think? Let us know what you think in the comments section and by taking the poll below.