Photo: Nicolae Stoian
This week’s Philadelphia Player of the Week is …
We did. We really did.
The six of us scratched our heads. Ed Farnsworth pawed the air helplessly. Adam Cann looked for a sign. Greg Orlandini took the thinking man pose and got stuck there. Eli Pearlman-Storch considered a rant for old times’ sake, chose objectivity instead, and objectively drew a blank. Mike Servedio thought about it and then got distracted by memories of going to England and seeing Reading win promotion to the EPL.
Nothing. We got nothing.
Ed suggested we give it to the fans for putting up with the mess that’s become Philadelphia Union, but it’s a “Player of the Week” — singular, not plural. So that’s too many. And too sappy. And probably a good idea, but honestly, I just didn’t have sentimentality in me, not … (OK, so I did. I just watched this movie called “One Day,” and nobody told me it was a chick flick! Yeah, I should have known, but still, I watched it, and … [sniff, sniff] … and then … [sniff] … I had to overcompensate, like a proper Philly guy — ) … at all.
Did we pick the wrong season to start naming a Player of the Week? Could be. After all, we thought the Independence would play a few competitive games this year and earn some awards. (Heck, we thought the Union would too. Oh, wait.) We thought Sebastien Le Toux would be here for the weekly fallback if no one else stood out. Then we’d mix in some Philly players from around the world, but unfortunately half the PSP crew think Jeff Larentowicz sucks.
So what do we got? Reading United’s first game is Saturday.
We’re sorry, but things ain’t good. Everyone knows the MLS season is just eight games old, but really, this goes back to January. Philadelphia soccer fans have been eating solid human waste since then, and they’re pretty angry about it. Schalke 04 came to town for a friendly tonight, and few but the die-hards and free ticket recipients will go. It’s not in the season ticket package, it’s a midweek game, it doesn’t count, and the Union just played their weakest game since their expansion season. Schalke 04? Pretty good team, but little glamor to draw the casual American fan. Raul, Jermaine Jones, and who else? Klaas-Jan Huntelaar? Yeah. Would be more exciting if the state of the Union was better.
But it’s not. And as much as we here at PSP would love to offer a nice, reasoned, intellectual column about tactics and fine attacking soccer or perhaps produce some peppy platitudes to pick you up and make you feel better, I won’t. This is the Philly Soccer Page, not the Los Angeles or Charleston Soccer Page. We don’t gloss over hard truths here. We don’t do BS. We do real.
And for real, the home team sucks right now.
But the amazing thing, what makes people react the way they are, isn’t merely that this is just what Philly fans do. (And let’s be honest: Philly fans are great at negatively overreacting. Ask Donovan McNabb or Allen Iverson. But that’s not the cause this time.)
It’s that they’re thinking about what could have been.
And, even without Le Toux, what still could be.
People look at the team and see guys like the Farfans and Sheanon Williams simply dripping with talent. They see classy, personable players they can’t help but like, such as Danny Califf and Amobi Okugo. They see vast potential in Danny Mwanga — and then watch it rust with disuse. Then they get pissed off at Union management again for screwing up the team by jettisoning good players, alienating some who remain, and playing half the team out of the positions they’ve played most of their careers.
There is no Player of the Week this week. We won’t name one again until someone earns it.
So someone, go earn it.
Yes, they were mentioned. And that is an honor. It just wasn’t enough. Jeff Parke presided over two clean sheets at center back for Seattle, but realistically, Seattle’s back line wasn’t challenged in either game. Jeff Larentowicz took five shots and placed 7th league-wide in the Castrol Weekly Top 20 rankings, but I can’t seem to convince the PSP crew to vote for him. (And no one really understands how the Castrol rankings work anyway.) Antoine Hoppenot had a terrific game on loan with Harrisburg, but … OK, we probably could have honored Hoppenot. Really, it’s that everyone had the bad aftertaste from the Union game.