Coming off a disappointing 3-1 loss in Toronto last week ending all chances for the Union to make the playoffs this year and now in the midst of a two-week break before their last two matches of the season, it’s about time we analyze the future of the club.
The Union have been the epitome of disappointing MLS play as they have only made the playoffs once in the club’s existence. In this issue we will look at how the Union expect to change things for the better in seasons to come.
The New USL Affiliate
If you have been following the business side of the Philadelphia Union, you would have seen that the Union have set up their own USL affiliate. So what does that mean? It means that with this new affiliate the Union will be able to focus on player development in the minor league of American soccer. But since there is an actual affiliation, the Union will be able to focus on the training of the young talent passing through and produce more quality players for future generations of Philly soccer. One of the success stories of the USL is Philly’s own Richie Marquez who came out of the USL club Harrisburg City Islanders to join the Union and played in his first MLS game earlier this year.
The Union made probably their largest signing this summer with the addition of Swiss international, Tranquillo Barnetta. Barnetta has played in 9 MLS games this season while starting in 7. In just 585 minutes of play, Barnetta has collected 2 assists, 13 shots, and 1 goal. His influential prowess in the mid-field position has made him a player to be feared. With only a short time to get acclimated to American life and even less time to adjust to his new role on the team, Barnetta’s form will only get better with time – and from what evidence we have, we can already see him getting more comfortable. Barnetta increases the overall effectiveness of the attacking midfield. However, this section isn’t just about Barnetta – it is about creating an appealing market suited to the international crowd as we try to attract more foreign players to increase performance. With the release of some high-cap players and the new craze of MLS in the international soccer community, it is perfect time for some big name signings (as already seen with Orlando City SC and NYCFC and Montreal Impact).
Nick Sakiewicz’s Farewell
After the Union’s disappointing U.S. Open Cup loss in the championship for the second year in a row at home, it was clear that it was time for a front office change. Union’s CEO, Nick Sakiewicz, was let go after six years with the team. Sakiewicz was influential in creating the Philadelphia Union and took a large role in the Barnetta signing and the USL affiliate team and will be remembered fondly by fans and team. A change in the corporate structure of the Union shouldn’t change much on the field, but perhaps a change in personnel will bring the right ideas to the right place.
A New Training Facility
The Union front office recently released plans for a new, state-of-the-art training facility to open in 2016. A new facility is a step in the right direction as the players will now be able to train in a brand new facility – as well as the fact it looks nice to foreign players who are interested in the club. A new facility will increase the performance of the players because a player that has the best plays the best… or so we’ll see.
Overall, the Union have taken some pretty big steps over the course of the season to try to solidify their future in MLS. Unfortunately, we’re all going to have to wait until next year to see how it all works out.