Where are the Union headed? A town hall meeting for season ticket holders was held Wednesday night. A longtime Union fan, reached out to share his thoughts about it all with Philly Sports Network.
Disclaimer: this fan’s thoughts do not reflect all Son’s of Ben members/season ticket holders. This is more of an insight on an event that was only open to season ticket holders.
This event came at a time of major unrest, and unease among Union fans. This is the teams eighth season. The inconstancies on the field, coupled with the ownerships tendencies to not spend money on high-profile players, has a lot of fans fed up. Many say they have lost all hope that this team will ever compete with other teams spending millions of dollars. This season, Atlanta United have spent on highly talented young players to create the foundation for their club. Many Union fans see this, and see Atlanta as more competitive in their first season than the Union are in their eighth. With this unrest, Sporting Director Earnie Stewart, Chief Business Officer Tim McDermott and A higher up in the Philadelphia Union Academy addressed season ticket holders.
Atmosphere of event:
The event started with a lot of cautious Union fans. They knew their club was not active in the transfer window. They had reason to feel pissed at this eight year old organization failing to produce the type of quality needed to compete in MLS. But as things started, things got more relaxed. That had to do with the types of questions asked.
Questions, Questions Questions:
The Union organization isn’t stupid, they knew fans would be mad coming into this town hall meeting. The staff fielding questions help direct fans towards questions about the organization of the club, and the direction they are taking into the future. There were a few questions taken from submissions that seemed to direct the crowd towards the development of the team. The rest of the questions were then by the crowd. Most questions were answered with Earnie Stewart assuring fans that the academy is going to produce good players, and that this next year (2018) could be a big one for the club. Let’s delve into this a bit more.
Organization and direction of club:
The Union under Earnie Stewart has been a club that has tried to get the most out of developing players through the academy, while playing moneyball to get quality players for smaller price tags.
The academy has produced Derrick Jones, Austin Trusty and Anthony Fontana. The academy is at a point where players can progress to a pro team right away, thanks to Bethlehem Steel FC. That has given young players the reason to stay. Philly won’t lose talents the same way they lost Zach Steffen anymore.
As for the moneyball side of things, it’s been up-and-down in regards to talent on the field. Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault, Oguchi Onyewu and Giliano Wijnaldum have impressed. Other players like Jay Simpson and Charlie Davies have shown to busts. Earnie is a great judge of character. The Union need a big time number 10 and possibly a big time striker. With the assets being saved for 2018, it seems that Earnie envisions the club spending big money to fill the spots of need. So what does this all mean?
Where are the Union headed?
This town hall meeting was missing a key figure. That figure is owner Jay Sugarman. He has been stingy in terms of appearance made and money spent. There’s only so much a club can do when it’s owner doesn’t spend. At a time where Union fans are fed up with the lack of quality on the field, the club seems to be willing to stand firm until 2018. While that may make fans angry, and may make people not re-doop, it is the best thing this club can do. Earnie’s eagerness in the academy and next season should bring fans joy. It seems as if Earnie Stewart is preparing the club for their biggest offseason yet in 2018.
This all could be a smokescreen, but if nothing else, this town hall for season ticket holders has shown that Earnie Stewart want’s this club to be successful in the future.
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Follow me on twitter @TGing21 for Soccer Twitter fun! Coming soon: A look back at what the Gold Cup win means for USA’s future, A look at the Union’s big win vs FC Dallas and how they’ll fare vs Montreal. Until then, Peace out!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports