It was a move that shocked me as much as it shocked the rest of the Philadelphia Union fan base. Met with very extreme mixed reactions ranging from a nightmare scenario to wild acclaim, Jack McInerney was traded to the Montreal Impact for forward/defender/midfielder/keeper (I believe he can play anywhere on the field, why not goalkeeper?) Andrew Wenger.
What will Andrew Wenger do for the Philadelphia Union? This was the exact question I posed to the Brotherly Game staff in this week's edition of the hot topic.
Nicholas Youngstein - His versatility will make him a great candidate to pair with Amobi Okugo in central defense, because Hacktics. Most likely he'll be another Leo Fernandes, able to play either in the midfield 3 or in the forward 3. He'll get sporadic minutes and the general populous will label the trade a loss. But I think Wenger's more diverse skills will make him more threatening.
John Rossi - I think he could become a more complete forward than McInerney will ever be. Conor Casey's experience will help him a lot.
Eugene Rupinski - I think Wenger will be a more consistent player than McInerney. I think he'll develop into a decent MLS player and (perhaps most importantly) won't be the distraction that McInerney was.
Jared Young - Nick Hornby wrote, "There is no such thing as an unknown genius striker starving in a garret somewhere." I tend to agree, and this probably applies to Wenger. That said Jack was certainly taking his time becoming an elite striker himself. In the end he probably won't develop all the tools necessary. I don't think the Union have gained or lost much in the trade, which is too bad.
Barry Evans - From what I've heard it may be he isn't going to start many games, and with Hack's love of Antoine Hoppenot, may not get many minutes. A striker that has issues finishing is not someone I'd want to be my main striker in a 4-5-1 either. Will be a decent option off the bench or a poor starter.
Matt Reppert - I think that Wenger will be better than he was in Montreal. The guy will probably get consistent minutes and playing time. Instead of being second fiddle to Marco Di Vaio. I never got the impression that Montreal was interested in building around Wenger and that they only drafted him because they had the 1st pick in the draft.
Heather Reppert - I honestly have no idea what to think about Wenger. He hasn't been given that much of a chance by Montreal. I like that he is a bigger body and certainly (being a former defender) has some versatility to him. But I'm just not sure if he hasn't been given a chance because he isn't that good or just because veterans like Di Vaio have overshadowed him. I'm taking a wait, see, and hope approach.
William Murphy - Wenger will not rise to the occasion. You simply just cant keep taking punts on players that you have knowledge of from youth set ups and expect every one to come good. I hope Wenger does well, I expect him to not do much.
Frank Cobbina - He'll be better than Jack post-last June, but not nearly as special as McInerney was in the beginning of last season. Hack has pretty much tied his fate to Wenger, a player he's been pursuing since before the 2012 SuperDraft. My guess is 9 goals for Wenger. Enough goals to prove Wenger is a productive striker, but not enough to completely justify the trade in the eyes of most Union fans.
You can look at the stats and clearly see that Jack McInerney has had a far more successful career thus far than that of Andrew Wenger. I can't say whether Jack was ever going to succeed this season and I won't be able to say that Wenger is going to succeed more than Jack would. Andrew Wenger will fight Conor Casey for the starting spot in the top of John Hackworth's wacky and unorthodox 4-5-1, but will not produce much more than any striker in this formation.
As was pointed out in the Stat Hero of the Week article, a Union forward has not taken a shot two weeks in a row. This has a lot to do with the style in which the Union build up to the attacking third and a lack of putting forwards in the right position on the field. The Union passing rate was 65%, which is abysmal at best. Throwing a forward of Andrew Wenger's caliber isn't going to necessarily solve the issue of scoring with passing like that. I'm not sure Zlatan Ibrahimovic would solve the scoring issue with that kind of passing.
I think Wenger has a chance to prove himself and perhaps without the alleged distraction Jack McInerney was causing he will do just that. I, however, think the issues are far larger than a player distracting the team. I am unsure if adding a different dynamic up top will succeed regardless of how it ‘fits' with the system Hackworth deploys. Look for Wenger to score anywhere from 5-7 goals this season as he shares time with the striker combination of Casey and Antoine Hoppenot.