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2014 Philadelphia Union Player Review: Sheanon Williams

2014 was a mixed bag for Sheanon Williams. One of the few players to be on each end of season Union roster went from a guaranteed lineup lock each week, to doubt sinking in if he might be used as trade bait to improve the squad.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Summary

Statistically speaking, Sheanon Williams had a very up and down season. On one hand he was in the top four in goals and assists on the team, hitting a career high with three goals- which isn't bad at all for an outside back. However, a one time key member of this franchise saw his games played, games started, and minutes drop to career lows (not counting 2010 where he joined the team late in the year).

The continued growth of Ray Gaddis has given direct competition to his role as right back. Without a true left back, Gaddis has split time between the two flanks, giving Williams less playing time. Williams maintained his aggressive approach going forward, and his biggest weapon remains his monstrous throw ins that are as dangerous as corner kicks.

What did he do right?

In a Philadelphia Union season that lacked any real excitement for large stretches of time, there were always a few moments that allowed for a bit of hope. The moment when the ball went out for a throw in deep in the attacking third and Williams made the slow jog up field, exchanged game balls with the nearest ball kid, wiped the ball on his jersey for grip and launched it into the penalty area. For those few seconds anything was possible, and it was the moment everything could be turned around.

For far too many games this season the offense lacked any punch, and there seemed to be no hope as the season wound down. I have great respect for at least one member of them team still possessing a weapon that allowed for a bit of hope in the season.

He also remains a versatile option across the back line. While (likely) not being discussed in Jurgen Klinsmann's inner circle for a call up, he's still a solid MLS right back. In a pinch, he has also proven to be a competent center back, however he lacks the size to make that a permanent option. Depending on who you talk to, there is some discussion if a position higher up the field might best suit him.

What did he do wrong?

There is little evidence of what Williams has done poorly. The only real knock on him is that Gaddis continues to improve each year and seems to be overtaking Williams on the depth chart. He's been a constant presence on the team, but with limited roster rules and regulations how much longer can the Union maintain two starting quality right backs while there are other huge holes in the roster.

Most memorable moment?

The single moment I will remember of Sheanon Williams' 2014 season was his game winner against the San Jose Earthquakes. When former manager John Hackworth would talk about "Philly Tough", this goal is one he could have pointed to. A Sebastian LeToux free kick came whipping in to the near post (surprising right?) and found the head of Williams, who had a defender completely draped across his back in what can only be described as a bear hug. Ignoring his new BFF, Williams gave the perfect redirecting flick to the ball as it found its way into the back post.

That win was the first in a three game winning streak, four game unbeaten streak leading up to the US Open Cup final. That stretch put the Union in a position to make a run at the playoffs, but we all know how that ended...

Future expectations

This offseason will be a truly telling on for the five year Union vet. As mentioned before, will the Union realize that having two starting quality right backs is impractical to building a well rounded team? Or will newly "official" manager Jim Curtin keep pushing the Gaddis as left back experiment, keeping both right backs in the blue and gold? If still on the roster for 2015 preseason, it will be important to come into camp in peak condition with his skills as sharp as he has been in his career.