Philadelphia Union fans are a tested bunch. The inaugural season began with promise and excitement. Things were building until the egomaniacal coach started sitting and parting with quality players out of spite. The next regime saw supporters forced into carrying a coffin labeled “Franchise Killer”, referring to then Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz. The next chapter saw a club expected to improve, lay a giant egg instead, and to top it off hear both the owner and sporting director admit they can’t compete financially with the big boys. To add insult to injury, almost every other MLS club up until Thursday had acquired an MLS level or above, professional player to fill a starting position. Not our Philadelphia Union. Until… David Accam happened.
Early on draft day it was announced the Philadelphia Union had traded $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and $300,000 in General Allocation Money, to the Chicago Fire, in exchange for attacking midfielder/forward, David Accam. This truly came out of nowhere. Accam reached career highs in both goals (14) and assists (8) in 2017. That gives him a solid 11 goals and 5 assists average over his first three years. That’s also while playing in only 24 contests each of his first two seasons with Chicago.
He has had a long road to MLS, growing up in Ghana, toiling in one of England’s lower tier league with Evesham United, reaching Sweden’s second tier league with Helsingborg, and finally establishing himself as a respected offensive force with Chicago. It’s been an arduous journey and based on the effort Accam displays on the pitch, he hasn’t taken anything for granted. As talented as he is, his work effort mirrors the one sporting director, Earnie Stewart, as well as head coach, Jim Curtin, have always demanded.
So where does Accam fit in with the current Union roster? Well, the roster isn’t complete. There are still another few weeks to sign a number 10 before training camp. Fingers crossed for that one! You’d have to think though, knowing the Union, this one big move will probably be it for the off-season. Obviously Accam will start on the right, C.J. Sapong alone at striker, and most likely Fafa Picault on the left. Personally, I’d like Accam to be alongside Sapong in a double striker formation, but I know Curtin too well.
Talen Energy Stadium could be on fire, the fire chief could say to Curtin, “Coach, if you put two strikers up top together we’ll be able to put this fire out and save this stadium!” Curtin’s reply would be something to the effect of that’s not how we do things around here, or simply “Eh”. Curtin and Stewart simply aren’t interested in anything drastic as far as style of play. Hopefully if Accam doesn’t work out on the wing, they will take off the stubborn caps and try to win rather than doing it their way. Shadows of Andy Reid.
As things stand today without any changes, either Ilsinho or Adam Najem will start at the 10 position. I know neither one will have to run step for step with Picault and Accam, but when he is slightly gassed, Ilsinho is so slow that he makes Pat Burrell look like Usain Bolt. Najem could lap Ilsinho in a race but based on experience and the usual blind loyalty Curtin shows to veterans, I think we can guess Ilsinho will be there to start the season. I truly think if Najem outperforms Ilsinho in training camp, Ilsinho will still get the nod to start.
From that point on it will be down to regular-season performance for Najem to take his place. It shouldn’t be that way, because the Union can’t afford a horrid start yet again. Regardless, knowing that Accam will be flying around the pitch, putting pressure on opposing defenders and drawing added attention, it will lead to others, particularly Sapong and Picault benefitting from his presence. At age 27, David Accam is in his prime. If he sticks around here for at least five years and is utilized properly, there’s a chance he will break the Union career goal record of 50 held by the beloved Sebastian LeToux.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports