Photo: Earl Gardner
Editor’s note: At the end of the first two Philadelphia Union seasons, we posted a series of end of the season reviews of every Union player. Over the next several weeks, PSP continues with a review of the 2012 season.
The nickname that stuck most to Porfirio Lopez in Philadelphia was “Slowpez.” Nothing summarizes the Costa Rican international’s one-year tenure with Philadelphia more than that.
Lopez signed with the Union before the 2012 season and was pitched by Peter Nowak as his solution for left back, which had been manned by converted midfielder Gabriel Farfan in late 2011 after starter Jordan Harvey was traded to Vancouver.
Lopez opened the season as the starter and started the first four games. After he was exposed several times for his lack of pace and awareness, he went to the bench, never to return during the regular season, save for one 12-minute appearance on May 19.
Opening day. He was a starter. It went all downhill from there.
It’s hard to pick one low point, but it probably had to be some time in August, when Lopez realized he was never seeing the field again for the Union.
Lopez actually isn’t a bad defender. He has a decent sense of space, and he plays big for an outside back. He has fairly good technical skills for a defender.
Lopez simply wasn’t quick enough to play outside back the way the Union wanted their fullbacks to play it. The Union were looking for a wingback. Lopez was not that. Instead, he was more of a stay-at-home defender who offered little to the attack. Considering how far upfield Philadelphia’s fullbacks were asked to play by Nowak, he was exactly the wrong player for the role. It’s worth noting that he seemed to play better at center back than at fullback for the Union.
Lopez is gone, mercifully for him. Over time, he may prove the team’s most unqualified failure of a signing. If he’s remembered in Philadelphia, it will be for that. Some players get stuck in situations in which they are almost guaranteed to fail. Lopez was one of those players. How anyone who watched him play could have thought he was an attacking wingback is beyond me, and his tenure with the Union is the biggest indictment on Diego Gutierrez’s time as scouting director for the Union.
Yet it wouldn’t surprise to see Lopez return to the field and succeed with another club in a better situation — as long as he’s not asked to play attacking wingback. It’s not that he can’t play the sport. He just couldn’t play it here the way he was asked to do it in Philadelphia.
Stat chart legend:
POS: Position; GP: Games Played; GS: Games Started; MINS: Minutes; PA: Passes Attempted; PC: Passes Completed; P%: Passing Accuracy Percentage; G: Goals; A: Assists; SOG: Shots on Goal; SOG/S%: Percentage of Shots that are on Goal; G/SOG%: Percentage of Shots on Goal Converted; SC%: Scoring Percentage; G/90min: Goals per 90 minutes; Hm G: Home Goals; Rd G: Road Goals; FC: Fouls Committed; FS: Fouls Suffered; YC: Yellow Cards; RC: Red Cards