For the first time since their inception, the Union have a group of players that could be starters on any team in the league.
Their depth is such that the bench could probably beat just about any other XI that had been fielded before by this team.
Within two years, Earnie Stewart has brought a team that was organizationally in shambles. It wasted money and a DP slot on a star goalkeeper that didn’t live up to expectations and cobbled together rosters with no identity or defined roles. This was a team that habitually put players in unnatural positions which set them up for failure. The front office was undermanned and clueless. The head coach position was shifted constantly preventing the players from ever being able to learn the system. The fans became restless and the rest of the city couldn’t care less what was happening in Chester. This was just another disappointing Philly team. The front office was inept and incompetent, just like all the other teams.
Many place the blame squarely on Nick Sakiewitz. Under Nick’s leadership, the team was a perennial loser with no hope for improvement. Maybe so, but Nick knew how to market a team. He was a two time MLS Executive of the Year that had a lot of experience with young franchises. He started us off with a soccer specific stadium, one of the better jersey sponsorships and a top class youth academy. It seems that his downfall was trying to be CEO and GM at the same time. He was most certainly not a good GM and it doesn’t look like he made any attempts to find one.
Jay Sugarman, the majority owner, let Nick go and brought in Earnie. Immediate results. Earnie provided direction and analytics to the table which immensely improved the roster. He brought organization to the franchise and didn’t replace the coach allowing him to grow and the players to have consistency. He brought a winning culture.
The first season with him at the helm is what you would expect of a rebuild. Progress but a few holes left to fill mixed with a little bit of bad luck. I think they have most of those holes filled now and barring any more bad luck, we have a competitive team.
Now Curtin and the players can stop worrying about all the details and finally focus on winning.
It may be premature to say we’ll win the cup in the second year of a rebuild, but I’m sure it’s happened before. If it hasn’t, there’s a first time for everything.
Some people might try to call me out as the “Impossible Optimist” I mentioned in a previous post and I can understand that to an extent, but this isn’t impossible. This team has already shown that they can be a top team last year. Without Edu’s injuries and Nogueira’s sudden absence, they could have stayed a top team.
If they’re a top team than they have as good a chance as any to win the cup.