Oh, Andrew Wenger. So high were our hopes when this season started. We dared to dream of a young player coming into his prime, a "target winger" who would be a pillar of the Union’s counter-attacking style of offense. We imagined a tall, powerful, workhorse of a winger who’s darting runs into the box would be the bane of opposing defense.
Oh how wrong we were.
I hate to be overly critical, but Andrew Wenger’s performance this season was disappointing at best, a catastrophe at worst. Wenger only registered 26 shots in 22 starts (1725 minutes). Even worse, only 9 of them were on goal, and only one of them made it into the back of the net. He didn’t help much in the assist department either, only eeking out 2 of those. Compare that to his 2014 stats - 1834 minutes, 59 Shots, 23 Shots on Goal, 6 Goals, 4 Assists - and the drop off in production is painfully obvious.
What did he do right?
Honestly? Not much. Again, it’s not my wish to be overly critical of Andrew Wenger, and I have no doubt that he is being harder on himself than any of us ever could, but it’s difficult to find any diamonds in the rough that has been Wenger’s 2015 season. I will, however, say this: Andrew Wenger kept trying. He, at least in my opinion, never gave up trying to break though the barrier that seemed to be standing between him and success all season. He kept on beating his head against it all season. Sure, there were times, over the course of a single game, where he got worn down, but next game he came out running hard again. That’s not an easy thing to do over the course of the long, grueling MLS season. I like Andrew Wenger, and I hope that he can turn things around in 2016, whether he returns to the Union or not.
What did he do wrong?
As his statistics illustrated above, Wenger did a lot wrong. However, if I had to narrow it down to just one thing, I would say he was over-thinking it. Considering that he once wrote about that himself, I would assume he agrees with me. Simply put, over-thinking in sports can be the death of a great player. I think that is doubly true for a goal-scorer. So much of scoring in professional soccer is reacting quickly, and making the most of a small window of opportunity. If you hesitate, taking even a half second too long, that window will close, and your hopes of seeing the back of the net bulge disappears. However, the same can be true if you rush your chance, striking before the window has completely opened. It is a delicate line to walk, which is why really good goal scorers are a rare thing.
Too many times this season we saw Wenger hesitate and pass when he should have shot. Too many times we saw him snatch at his chance, and see the shot sail wide or go directly to the keeper.
Most Memorable Moment.
Wenger’s most memorable moment will unfortunately be his missed PK in the US Open Cup final match against Sporting Kansas City. A lot of fans rushed to blame him (and, to be fair, Maurice Edu) for the loss that night, but I don’t personally think much of it. Pretty much everyone who is a serious fan of Soccer thinks that the PKs are a poor way to decide a match. This even went to extra shooters. Someone was bound to miss, though it speaks volumes about Andrew Wenger’s season that no one is at all surprised it was him.
If you still feel sour about his miss, go watch Kansas City’s loss to Portland in the playoffs. It will take some of the bad taste out of your mouth. Then stop blaming Wenger.
I honestly don’t know what to expect from Andrew Wenger anymore. As I said above, last season our expectations were so high, and look at how wrong we are. This season, I’m tempted to say that we won’t see any improvement, that the flashes of brilliance we saw from Wenger in 2014 were just a flash in the pan, a fluke. We may never see him play that well again. However, considering how good Wenger is at subverting our expectations, I am equally tempted to say that this offseason he turns it around, especially since now the pressure is off and no one is expecting much from him.
Of course, with a new sporting director in place, it is equally likely we don’t see Andrew on the team at all next season. So who knows? If you have any better guesses on the future of Andrew Wenger, let us know in the comments!