The Philadelphia Union fell 1-0 to lowly, winless Toronto FC. Even salvaging a tie in this game would have been an embarrassment.
The Union’s inability to score continues, with no end in sight. The offensive statistics make for pretty grim reading. The Union are at the bottom of the table in shots and shots on goal. Second from the bottom in offsides. Fourth from the bottom in corner kicks – not that they can score from a corner kick anyhow. The offsides and corner kick stats indicate that the they are not creating any offensive pressure. Not only do the Union not take enough shots, they either can’t or won’t get forward to be able to get shots.
The Goalkeeper blog posted a very detailed piece on the Union’s 2012 salaries. Given the current state of affairs, fans should be taking a hard look at these numbers. Although I wouldn’t argue professional soccer players are overpaid, salaries do have to be examined in terms of value for dollar as they relate to MLS’s low salary cap and overall team revenue.
The Union ranks number eight in overall team payroll. Once you get past New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto at the top of this list, there is a little over a million dollars difference between number 4 and number 19. The Union are not under-spending on salary but have not been getting good value for their dollar. Particularly when you consider Sporting KC sit at number 17 in total salary but third in the Eastern Conference standings. Could the Union put up another half a million in salary and would it make a difference? It would probably have to go to a designated player to get it to work under the salary cap.
Two areas of concern jump out at me when looking at specific salary figures. Firstly, the Union is spending a lot of money on offensive players who aren’t producing, particularly Freddy Adu, Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, Lionard Pajoy and Gabriel Gomez. Adu was the only Union player to get a salary cut going into this season, but he’s still the 17th highest paid player in the league and overpaid. Secondly, the money spent on some the Latin American additions (Pajoy, Gomez, Lopez) in the offseason hasn’t paid off. It’s questionable if the Union needed to off load Sebastien LeToux and Danny Califf when you look at the money they are spending on these guys. They are a bigger salary cap hit, take up international roster spots, and the money saved may have also made up for most of the allocation money received.
The Union also claims that they are concentrating on the development of younger players and building a team for the future. I just don’t see this group of younger players getting much better. I am not hopeful that the Unions’s 2010 first round draft picks are going to have a big impact in MLS. At the end of this season, it will have been three years and you have to question if this is going to happen. Most MLS fans know that if younger players actually have potential, they aren’t in MLS and that by age 20-23 many players are already playing at the highest level.
The Union is now facing a “must win” game against the Rochester Rhinos. Now would be a good time for them to win their first U.S. Open Cup game. Maybe the Union haven’t hit rock bottom, but losing to the Rhinos surely would be it.
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