The Union signed their second player in four days yesterday. They welcome English striker Jay Simpson to Philadelphia. This signing has been met with mixed reviews. Simpson, once an Arsenal product, has been in lower division English leagues since 2014. Fans are upset about the signing, before even seeing him on the pitch because he’s not a DP player. However the Union may being trying to pull off what their hated rivals, the New York Red Bulls, did years ago. Bring in a striker with premiere league experience, who has fallen to a lower division in England, and give him a fresh start in MLS.
Yes I am talking about Bradley Wright-Phillips. In 2013, the Red Bulls shelled out major cash for a striker who seemed to be in decline. In the first half of the 2012/2013 season in England’s league 1 (third division), Wright-Phillips only scored five goals on 17 appearances. Apparently that was enough for the Red Bulls to pay 1.8 million for him. At the time, this seemed stupid and like a waste of money; today it looks like an investment well spent. In four seasons with the Red Bulls Wright-Phillips scored 77 goals; he has won the golden boot twice in those four years. Jay Simpson is in a very similar situation, and could either produce for the Union, or be a total bust.
Simpson is in the prime of his career, like Wright-Phillips was when he came to MLS. But unlike Wright-Phillips, Simpson had a very good season before his move to Philadelphia. Playing for, Leyton Orient in England’s fourth division, he scored 25 goals in 45 appearance last season and tallied three goals in two games for them in their current campaign. The Union also didn’t have to shell out too much money to get their new striker. Simpson’s value is only $400,000, which is more than reasonable. The Union are hoping for a high risk-high reward scenario here. Let’s look at some of the bad and the good of bringing Jay Simpson to Philadelphia.
According to some Leyton Orient fans, Simpson’s work rate isn’t there when he doesn’t have service. This is a huge red flag, especially for the Union. Last season saw CJ Sapong have a goal drought during the crunch time of the season. I expect the Union to have good service this season. With Pontius and Wijnaldum on the left, and Ilsinho, and Rosenberry on the right, but if this striker is going to be another one who cannot create chances for himself the Union could be in trouble.
This is the one complaint many Leyton Orient fans have of Simpson. Union fans see this as a shock. This is probably to do with up in the air rumors of bigger names being linked to the club. There were Rumors of Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, and Keisuke Honda out there. Getting a player with a name unknown to many American fans, makes fans think this is another time where the club wont spend for players; however I think the Bedoya $1 million dollar DP signing puts that to rest.
One other bad thing about this signing is that with it the Union no longer have any international slots. Meaning if they were to get anyone else they’d have to be American. Unless some current Union players get green cards, or the club trades a player for an international slot, then the Union cannot acquire anymore players abroad. Lets move on to the good about Simpson.
ignore the haters, if he gets the service he'll smash it. Killer first touch and great finisher. Orient fans are bitter.
— Adam Meagher (@AdamMeagher) January 9, 2017
Simpson is known to have a great first touch, and a rocket of a shot. That along with his goal scoring abilities when service is provided make him a good fit for the Union. They need someone who can create and inch of space and finish a chance. Simpson can do that with the right mindset, and maybe Philly will give him that. He’s an Arsenal product who has fallen, and is now an underdog at a new club. If that doesn’t have the makings of a great Philadelphian story, then I don’t know what does.
During his time with Leyton Orient, Jay Simpson averaged a goal every 183 minutes in the league. Practically a goal every other game. #lofc
— George Stone (@georgieorient) January 9, 2017
Jay Simpson scores goals! This is probably the most important thing to know about Simpson. He will score goals; averaging a goal every other game creates a habit, and an important mindset for a striker. Simpson knows that if he goes a game without scoring, he’ll be able to put one in the back of the net in the game. This is a mindset crucial to the Philadelphia Union. Going through long spells where there was no one on the pitch who could rack up goals for Philly was agonizing for the team, and for the fans. Now they have someone who has the mindset of being that number one goal scorer!
Another, good aspect of Simpson’s game is that he has the pace to play on the wing. He has played right-wing before; he offers the Union options there too. His speed, and ability on the ball, could make him a dangerous MLS winger. This multi-talented Englishman will have to prove himself to the Union faithful in the coming season. He will be competing for a starting spot on the field.
Only time will tell if Jay Simpson will be the next Bradley-Wright Phillips. Earnie Stewart has a knack for bringing in players who are underdogs ( Alberg, Ilsinho) and getting the most out of them. Simpson is yet another of these projects! Here is a highlight reel of his time with Leyton Orient:
So the Union have a new high risk-high reward striker. We will see how he does with the club in the current months. Come back to Philly Sports Network later this week for more transfer season coverage! Until then Union fans, peace out!
Mandatory Photo credit: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images