My bio on the upper right of this blog claims that I blog here about my "obsessions," one of which is soccer. Luckily for you, that's mostly false...I have Twitter now to rant about the many various screw-ups of the Philadelphia Union, Liverpool or the United States (men's soccer, I mean...I strill do rant about the screw-ups of the actual United States here on the blog, of course). But there's a sports situation in this town that's so egregious that I have to weigh in.
For well over a decade, thousands of soccer die-hards here in Philadelphia wanted Major League Soccer to come here in the worst way.
In a way, that's exactly what has happened.
The man pictured at the top of the blog is Nick Sakiewiez, the CEO of the Philadelphia Union. I know this will come as a shock to the 700 Level (now the 200 Level?) WIP-listening "lol soccer" fan reading this, but Sakiewiez has backed more inane player decisions, and done more to prevent his team from winning, than Ruben Amaro's disastrous tenure with the Phillies. I know, I know, hard to believe -- and while it's true that the Union don't have a big slow lumbering guy on the right side of the pitch who kicks and misses at the ball a lot, the Phillies don't have a GM who signed three goalies (note to non-soccer fans: only one goalkeeper can play at a time!) but hasn't brought in a guy who can score goals.
Let me outsource some of this to more knowledgeable folks. Here's John Smallwood of the Daily News, a great writer on all things soccer:
Whatever the ultimate reasons for the ugly divorce between [inaugural coach Peter] Nowak and the Union, Sakiewicz cannot be absolved from a bad decision that ultimately wasted the franchise's first 2 1/2 years of building and forced a reset.
Being a "hands-off" owner is good, unless the people you hired and let do their jobs aren't doing them well.
What it comes down to is that, for whatever reasons - whether it's been bad player identification or a refusal to commit the funds necessary - the Union has not acquired enough talent in five seasons to be a playoff team, much less a legitimate MLS Cup contender.
The good people at the Philly Soccer Page pile on:
What the fans want is a team that will grow with them, meeting their loyalty and patience with coherence and determination on the pitch. A team where the local kid, signed at age 15, will slowly become a regular part of the squad. Where the team's draft picks, after years invested in their growth, are treated with respect. Where the team matches the commitment of their words with their commitment on the field.
That's not what we have here.