[This is the final installment of a three-part series analyzing the Union's roster ahead of Saturday night's season opener. On Wednesday we looked at the team's defense, and yesterday we analyzed the midfield.]
Last season, the Philadelphia Union managed a measly 35 goals, good for 5th-to-last in the league. 21 of those goals, a cool 60%, were scored by two players: Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga.
A further 4 were scored by Fred, who left the team early in the preseason, and Alejandro Moreno and Michael Orozco Fiscal added 2 more apiece. Both of these players are now gone as well.
That's why Peter Nowak and his coaching staff spent this offseason looking for possible reinforcements to take some of the scoring load off of Mwanga and Le Toux. They found their man in Guatemalan striker Carlos Ruiz.
"El Pescadito", as he is known, will add the killer instinct in the penalty area that the Union were desperate for. He can be relied on to score in the neighborhood of 8 goals at the very least this year, which would be a huge boost to the Union's offense.
The team also added former Gatorade High School Player of the Year Chris Agorsor through a weighted lottery. Agorsor adds a different dimension to the team with his speed off the bench. More after the jump.
These additions, along with the further development of young Jack McInerney, should allow the Union to move into the top half of MLS in terms of goal scoring, and will help their push for a playoff spot. Ruiz and Mwanga enter the season as the starters, allowing Le Toux to drift back into the midfield and distribute them the ball.
On paper, Ruiz and Mwanga appear to be the perfect tandem. Mwanga is a slashing player who makes darting runs and uses his strength to shrug off defenders and finish plays. Ruiz, meanwhile, is a smaller, more finesse-based player, who will buzz around the penalty area and interchange with the Union's attacking midfielders to create plays. Ruiz prefers to wreak havoc on enemy defenders and be shifty in the box as opposed to Mwanga, who prefers to build up steam as he runs into the penalty area and receives service from the midfielders.
McInerney, when he comes off the bench, will fill a role somewhat similar to Ruiz. McInerney isn't especially large or strong, so he must use his legs and his movement to get around defenders. Agorsor will use his pure speed to breeze by opposition defense in a manner similar to, for example, Robbie Findley. Levi Houapeu is a very similar player to Agorsor, but the Ivorian can also play on the wings, while Agorsor is much more comfortable up top.
What's a reasonable prediction for goal output? Between 42 and 44 goals would be a solid improvement. This would have put the Union in the top 5 teams in MLS last year, but keep in mind that there are 4 more games in the 2011 schedule than in the 2010 one. What do you think is a reasonable number for the team in terms of goals scored? And what are is an acceptable goal total for new signing Carlos Ruiz? Use the comments section to discuss the Union's talented and young corps of forwards.