Cristiana Maidana is gone. The man who was tied for second in MLS this past season with 15 assists and an all-time team high. He was arguably one of the few positives in a very long, horrid 2015 Union season. Poof, like a puff of smoke he is gone. What do the Union get in return, you may ask? Oh well that would be a bunch of funny money and a first-round (crap shoot) draft pick. Add to the mix an overpaid (rumored to be $420,000), seemingly on the decline Chris Pontius, and you have a recipe for a nervous and pessimistic start to the Union offseason for the Philadelphia faithful.
On the surface, it looks bad. I admit this. However, now is not the time to panic or be ready to declare the newborn Union offseason as doomed. Hold off on complaining to your season ticket representatives. Let's look at what sort of situation we actually have for a second.
Had this move come when Nick Sakiewicz still reigned supreme, I would be right with you there to worry. However, let us remember that we have new management in the house. We have an owner who realizes that the way the Union had been doing things was utterly failing. He took action. He fired the CEO. He acted swiftly to bring us what appears to be a fantastic Sporting Director signing in Earnie Stewart. Take a look at Mr. Stewart's record acting as AZ Alkmaar's Director of Football Affairs since June of 2010. Stewart was able to take a team of limited means, and turn it into a success. We all know that we will not be able to compete with the money of the Seattles, the NYCFCs, the Orlandos, but, this league has taught us that you do not have to spend big in order to win big. You just have to spend wisely. Earnie Stewart appears to be the type of individual Philadelphia requires to be able to take the reigns of the payroll and make soccer business decisions that actually make sense.
I also imagine that with Mr. Stewart coming on, there will be many, many discussions with Jim Curtin and the rest of the coaching staff as to what the Philadelphia Union's style of play will be. With this philosophy will come a change in tactics. With a change in tactics, will come some major personnel decisions. We will not like all of those personnel decisions, but something has to give because what the Union has been doing for the past six years simply has not been working.
I do not know if Earnie Stewart is the answer. However, I also cannot argue with his past experience and expertise. All I know is that the offseason has just started. For me to sit here and judge the offseason merely on these first few actions wouldn't be fair to the team. This is the beginning of what I am sure will be a very active off season. If, by the end of the offseason, the team still has not impressed you with the moves they've made--by all means, declare the offseason a failure. Until then, let's see what the new regime has up their sleeves before coming to any conclusions. I want to see the grand plan unfolded.
Some will say that I am being naive. Maybe. Or maybe I am just tired of always expecting the worst from the Union front office. I want to start the 2016 season with a refreshed state of mind, so I am going to trust that the new regime will give the fans a competitive team. As a fan, what other choice is there than to hope to see your team succeed?