Last offseason, right before the 2014 Superdraft, the Philadelphia Union were front and center of the MLS news. Aside from Toronto FC's splash double swoop for Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe, Philadelphia was making waves by throwing their name in for Maurice Edu as well as little known Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira. Those three signings, as predicted, would end up being the three most important moves of the offseason and would ultimately be the Union's top three players.
Fast-forward to Superdraft week 2015 and we, as Union fans, sit in rather uneasy times. A failed 2014 season, another season with more questions than answers, and very little to sniff at when it comes to the rumor trail. Yes, rumors are dangerous by nature, often false, but the good in rumors is that it shows club ambition. The Union, however, always play it close to the vest and rarely release information before it is confirmed by at least five other sources.
What have the Union to give us this offseason? A forgotten rumor about William Kvist, a false link to Markus Neumayr, and a solid leak regarding Sacha Kljestan. 2 promising players, one not so much in the grand scheme of things, but its a little bit of something for a particularly quiet front office. Why does it seem so quiet? In the recent press conference, the Union brass once again answered transfer questions with non-answers, delicately dancing around inquiries as if they were putting on a performance art piece. After a season ending in turmoil last year, should we be satisfied with the news that the Union are looking for role players in the SuperDraft? We've been told their looking for a top level striker in France, South America, and other parts of Europe. Quite frankly, I'd be alarmed if they weren't looking in those places for a striker. It is as if the news that their looking should satisfy and maybe it should, but the lack of anything tangible in 2 whole months since their season ended is starting to become concerning.
Let's look at what the Union have done this offseason. At the basic level they have lost 3 quality players in Zac MacMath, Amobi Okugo, and Pedro Ribeiro. On the other hand, they've acquired CJ Sapong, reacquired Maurice Edu and drafted Dzenan Catic and Eric Bird. The bigger picture shows that they have lost three solid bench pieces (the MacMath loan hurts just a tad, but we all saw it coming) and gained potentially our starting center forward for next season. Is that it? Yeah just about. There's not really anything else. Is CJ Sapong our answer at striker? Maybe, if the Union FO are looking to get away without investing real money in the position. Does the potential acquisition of Sacha Kljestan improve this team? Yes it does and it arguably gives the Union one of the best midfields in MLS. If the Union signed Kljestan and no one else this offseason, would the team be better? That's where I begin to question.
From the end of 2014 the biggest concern in my eyes was two things that aren't earth shatter proclamations of my genius. The Union need to sign a dynamic forward who can link up with the midfield and create with them and then they need to add depth to a VERY thin roster. In both cases I would argue those goals have not been reached. As a matter of fact, I believe that the Union are worse off in the depth department than when they started the offseason. My question to the fanbase is, when is it time to press the panic button? Those with cooler heads among the passionate many will argue that Edu, Nogueira, and Maidana were all signed in late January and that there is time. The angry, less rational majority will yell at the FO saying, "LOOK AT ALL THOSE OTHER TEAMS SIGNING PLAYERS WHAT THE (explicit) UNION?!"
I would say both are probably valid. The former being ever the optimist, using reason to address the fact the Union have the time to acquire the players they need where the latter, spurned by the FO in the past is only waiting for something bad to happen and, quite frankly, expects it. Can you blame either side? The opinion of this dear writer is simple: Time is running out. Things have not gone exactly according to expectations this offseason and with goals to fulfill the Union have certainly fell short thus far. It sounds simple to say that Philadelphia only needs a few pieces here and there and then all is well, but these things take time to process.
So I stand before you, not panicking, not upset, and not yet worried. But I will say this. Things are rapidly coming to a close this offseason and before you know it March will be upon us and the Colorado Rapids will be in town. Therefore, I leave you with one question: Where is all the Union need going to come from and when are they going to get it? Don't press your panic buttons yet, but I'll be the first to tell you that your hand shouldn't be too far away from it because you might need to very soon.