Welcome to the final installment of the You Be The GM off-season poll, where we take stock of the fans' opinion of Union players. We didn't cover all of the players since the sentiment towards some are nearly unanimous. Let's start with those players.
The lock starters - the ones we didn't vote on
There are players that are near locks for the team to want them back. That doesn't of course mean they will be, but the desire is there from the coaches to the FO to the fans. These players will definitely be protected in the expansion draft.
Cristian Maidana, Vincent Nogueira, Carlos Valdes, Sebastian Le Toux, Sheanon Williams and Ray Gaddis.
Other starters voted to stay
After the first six players, we voted on three starters and asked whether or not you wanted them back. Andrew Wenger was the top choice to return as starter. He was voted to stay by 91% of the fans. Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu were also voted to stay. Okugo received 88% stay votes while Edu, with his significantly higher salary, received 72% of the votes to stay.
Okugo and Edu led all voted getters with 362 and 308 votes received, respectively.
Starters voted to go
Two starters were voted to go. The first player, and he really is a starter in name only, was Rais M'Bolhi. We asked who should be the starting goalkeeper next season and you voted the following:
No MLS goalkeepers started more games before the age of 24 than Zac MacMath. The Union made significant investment in his development. The desire by the fans to see the return on this investment is certainly understandable.
The other player was Conor Casey who received just 30% of the votes to stay. Casey has been a joy to watch, not only with the Union, but throughout his career. This vote is no doubt due to his age and inconsistent fitness. He just isn't a reliable starter in the league at this point.
Reserve players voted to stay
When Jim Curtin said publicly that he wanted to see Edu return and play center back, that immediately put Ethan White in the reserve category. Had Curtin uttered that desire before we had voted on Edu's future we could have added a vote on what position he should play. Oh well, let's assume Curtin will get his way. Ethan White was the top reserve vote getter, with 86% of the fans wanting him to stay.
A few other reserves were kept on the roster by the fans as well.
Less than 50% of the people who wanted to keep Pedro Ribeiro thought he should be protected in the expansion draft. Most would like to keep him, but not at the expense of other players.
We asked if you thought Michael Lahoud should be the CDM given Edu might play center back. Just 13% of you thought that was a good idea.
The Union FO did not agree with the fans on Brian Brown. His contract was declined for 2015 and he will search for another club.
Reserve players voted to go
Four reserve players were voted to go by the fans. The closest vote of all the individual players was not surprisingly Danny Cruz. He is the epitome of a divisive player and the fans vote bared that out.
Additionally the fans were okay seeing Fabinho, Antoine Hoppenot and Brian Carroll go this off-season.
The best of the rest
Lastly we listed players that received very little playing time last year, and asked who could help the team most.
Zach Pfeffer was the overwhelming choice with 71% of the vote, but enough of the fans thought that Austin Berry (19%) and even Leo Fernandes (9%) could most help the team next year.
Where does this leave the Union?
Here is the Union starting XI with the players the fans want back.
The first observation of course is that there is no starting caliber forward on the roster. Sure, there are players who could fill the role, but none who have shown that playing forward is their ideal position on the field.
The other thing to point out is the uncertainty around Okugo and the holding midfield position. If as Curtin insinuated he is not back next year and last night's reports are true then the Union would need a starting quality holding midfielder to replace him.
The bigger issue with the team is depth. Based on the votes these are the players who should be back in reserve roles. I took some liberties with positions (like moving Ribeiro to his more natural CAM position) but it's clear the Union also need to invest in quality reserves this off-season.
The central defense has the most depth with four players that have played significant minutes. The problem really reveals itself looking at the offensive players and the wide players. Between Brown and Ribeiro there are just 17 games of MLS experience in the offensive area of the field. And Brown will not even be back next season leaving the cupboard up top completely bare. Then there is a complete lack of depth out wide.
The Union don't just need a top striker to make the playoffs According to the fans, they need to add a significant amount of depth. Personally I think this assessment is spot on. I think (hope) there will be more upheaval in the starting XI that was voted for, but the need for a scoring threat and depth are the biggest two issues that need to be resolved.
Thanks for taking part in the You Be The GM series.