The Philadelphia Union announced today that they have traded forward CJ Sapong to the Chicago Fire for $450,000 in allocation money. The 30-year-old strike joined the Union from Sporting Kansas City in December of 2014 and had scored 38 goals with Philadelphia in 135 appearances.
Philadelphia Union have acquired up to $450,000 in allocation money from @ChicagoFire in return for @BigAfrika88.— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) February 23, 2019
Thank you for always wearing the Union badge with pride, CJ!
More here: https://t.co/BL6E5rnziR#FreshPriceOfChestAir #DOOP #GoodLuckCJ pic.twitter.com/S2zBGQktQU
Sapong had a tough season last year, scoring only five goals in 2018, after a breakout season the year before that. Sapong scored 17 goals in 2017 and earned a new contract, but nothing seemed to work for him last season, and he was moved to a wing position with Corey Burke grabbing the starting striker role.
With the emergence of Burke and the acquisition of Brazilian Sergio Santos in the offseason, it’s not surprising to see Sapong move on. Since it now appears that the Union will not use traditional wingers in the lineup anymore, it seems that a logjam had developed up top, with seven players vying for two starting spots in the lineup. Moving Sapong not only opens up a spot for another player, it also moves his salary off the books and along with the xAM that has been acquired, gives the Union some significant room under the salary cap.
The Union will now have some roster flexibility to acquire a new striker or use the money elsewhere to shore up another area of need while still continuing to have as many as six forwards available to for the two spots up top. The pressure is now on Burke, Fafa Picault, Kacper Przyblko and David Accam to fill Sapong’s boots, as well as opening a position on the roster for Michee Ngalina, who has spent the preseason with the first team and might land himself a contract for opening day.
What do you think? Did the Union make the right decision? Or will the team miss Sapong’s veteran presence in the locker room and his experience on the pitch? Let us know in the comments!