I have both good news and bad news today. The good news is that part 6 of Silly Offseason Complaints has finally arrived! The bad news is that this is the final chapter of this series. Today is the day I finally finish telling you all how wrong you are. I know, I'm sure you're as sad for this to be over as I am.
If you haven't yet, please check out Part 1, where I talk about the Philadelphia Union's lack of cash, Part 2, where I talk about the need for a left back, Part 3, where I talk about Maurice Edu playing defensive midfield, and Part 4, where I discuss the front office keeping their cards close to their chest, and Part 5, where I talk about how the Union don't have any home grown players.
"Camp has already started and the Union only just now added the 21st person to their roster. They still have 7 open roster spots and no international slots left to use to fill them. The SuperDraft is over. The Re-Entry Draft is long gone. They've had plenty of chance to sign free agents and they haven't. Where are they going to find the remaining players to fill out the roster? Wasn't one of this teams biggest problems last season lack of depth? Where's the depth going to come from if they don't even have a full roster!? Where are they going to get the international roster spot they need to sign this rumored DP striker?"
I'm going to pretend to be Aaron Rodgers for a second and tell you all to R-E-L-A-X. There's still plenty of time for the Union to bring in players. It's still February, after all. Vincent Nogueira wasn't announced until January 30th of 2014, and he's been arguably the best midfielder the Union have ever brought on. I understand the desire to make your big signings before camp starts, but it's more important to make sure you find the right players than it is to make sure you sign them before camp. The problem with Fernando Aristeguieta wasn't that he joined the team in the middle of camp, it's that he wasn't the prolific goal scorer Jim Curtin thought he was. It's okay to bring in players a little later as long as it's the right player.
Honestly, I don't know why I'm spending all this time saying this when Earnie Stewart said it better than I did: "Its not about filling every spot, we have to make sure that we have a competitive group together where our goal is to have two good players in every single position. Having said that, we will not be able to fill every single roster spot. Its not so much the numbers game when you have to fill those, as long as there is quality and they make sure they raise the level of all the other players, those are the choices we will make. Obviously there is a minimum and there's a maximum; there is a minimum of players we will make sure we get in. We are not looking to just fill roster spots."
There, see? The man knows what he is doing.
In regards to the international roster spot, that issue was addressed by Jim Curtin directly addressed that question. He said that it's very easy to clear up international roster spots by getting players green cards or by trading for them. I don't think there is any reason to think that an international roster spot would be the thing that would stand between the Union and a DP striker.
I think the root of many fan's disappointment right now is there was a desire to see the Union do what D.C. United did after the 2013 season. They completely revamped their roster and signed a bunch of established MLS veterans through the reentry draft, played a scrappy style of soccer and went from the worst team in the league to one of the best in just a few months. It was an impressive turnaround, to be sure, but I don't think that's the plan Earnie Stewart has in mind. D.C. United has found success, but you've got to admit that they play some ugly soccer. I think Stewart wants to build a system and put a high quality and entertaining product on the field. That kind of thing takes time. This might be hard to accept but...
The Union probably aren't going to be a great team in 2016.
Sure, there's hope. There's always hope that Stewart can make some changes that with have an immediate impact and we'll see a much more competitive team. Maybe they'll finally bring home the long sought after U.S. Open Cup that has eluded us the last two years. Maybe they'll make the playoffs, but does anyone really think we're going to take a run at the Supporters Shield or the MLS Cup this season?
No. No one thinks that.
Like I said above, building a new system and a new team from the ground up takes time. Stewart was never going to come in, wave a magic wand and turn the Union into one of the best teams in the league in one offseason. We have to be patient, as difficult as that is. We might see the remaining roster spots on the team filled out with some bodies they picked up for camp (which can even be a good thing - look how Eric Ayuk turned out). We may not see that elusive million dollar DP striker join the team until this summer. That's okay. The important thing is that we get the right player, not that we get a player right now. The important thing isn't that the Union fill their remaining 11 roster spots immediately, it's that they get the right players to fit the system, even if that means bringing in some temporary place holders while we search for the right guy. Earnie Stewart has only been the sporting director for like two months. Give the man some time.
I know the team is bad. I know you want to see them win. I know there is plenty to complain about. But all the same, we have to wait and see. Complaining right now is just silly. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the offseason ride.