Photo: Earl Gardner
One month can make a lot of difference.
Back in December, we polled our readership to get a sense of how people were feeling about Philadelphia Union. It was a mixed bag. Fans’ confidence in the team was clearly shaky.
Now, after the team absolutely owned January with several big transactions, things have changed dramatically.
PSP’s most recent poll, which drew more than 400 votes, found that:
- 95% of voters now feel more confident that the team is headed in the right direction.
- 98% graded the team’s offseason as an A or a B.
Here is how things played out on each question.
Readers: The Union aced the offseason
More than half of you — 53% — gave the Union a grade of an A for their offseason. Another 45% of you gave them a B. (Ten people gave them a C. I’m curious to hear why.)
Bottom line: People like the Union’s moves. They dramatically improved the midfield with three players in their primes, picked up a returning U.S. international in the process, and surprised many with their moves in the draft. Before the season, Union manager John Hackworth was open about what he felt he needed to do, and he filled nearly all those needs in the offseason.
Readers: More confident in team after this offseason
In our December poll, there was a mixed view on team leadership, with 65% feeling Hackworth had earned a return in 2014 but only 30% feeling that Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz had done a good job.
After their January performance, however, 97% of you are more confident the team is headed in the right direction now. It was put up or shut up time for Union leadership, and most of you feel they put up.
(One person felt less confident. Can’t satisfy everyone.)
Readers: The Andre Blake move is a good one
64% of voters liked the move to trade up in the 2014 amateur draft and pick goalkeeper Andre Blake. That’s a definite vote of confidence for the move.
What’s interesting is that, given other vote alternatives, the biggest vote-getter was 20% who said they were undecided on the move. So these people aren’t necessarily in the anti-Blake camp.
Only 16% of voters said they did not like the move. Of them, 11% felt the team was giving up on incumbent Zac MacMath too early, while 5% said the team should have signed a veteran instead.
I don’t know about you, but I was definitely surprised so few people preferred a veteran alternative. I’m curious to hear from voters as to why they did not.
Readers: New additions draw interest
We asked you what new player you’re looking forward to seeing play the most, and no one got a majority. Here’s how it broke down:
- Maurice Edu: 42%
- Vincent Nogueira: 29%
- Chaco Maidana: 11%
- Pedro Ribeiro: 10%
- Andre Blake: 4%
- Corben Bone: 1%
In some ways, the breakdown isn’t a surprise. Edu is a U.S. international and the biggest signing of the group. Few have seen Maidana play, but Nogueira had some eyes on him because he played games for Sochaux that were televised in the United States after it became known the Union might sign him.
The most interesting development here was that so many people want to see Ribeiro play. After seeing his performance in this week’s friendly against New York, one can understand why. How about that play where he dribbled down half the field with a defender hanging on his back? And was he playing striker, or attacking midfielder? Ribeiro looks like the wild card of this offseason.
Readers: Maurice Edu was a better buy than Michael Bradley
We asked you whether you preferred Edu at $600,000 in annual salary Michael Bradley at $6 million a year.
A mere 86% of you said Edu.
Talk about a vote of confidence. But also, that comes with an understanding of how business is done in MLS. Philadelphia can’t compete with what Toronto paid, but many seem to think they spent their money wisely this offseason.
Readers: Not satisfied with current center backs
We asked you who should start at center back next to Amobi Okugo, knowing full well almost none of you had seen rookies Richie Marquez or Kevin Cope play.
Well, 40% of you said the team needs to acquire a prospective starter, while 29% said you’re not sure yet who should start. The rest split among Marquez, Cope, Ethan White and even Brian Carroll, with only White (21%) garnering more than one-fifth of the vote.
It’s fair to say most feel the team needs to do something to strengthen this position.
And in case you’re wondering, apparently Frank Yallop doesn’t view Austin Berry as a starter in Chicago, perhaps because he wants to get fired again, or perhaps because he’s trying to talk up Bakary Soumare as trade bait. But if he means it, what would you think about a Ray Gaddis for Austin Berry trade?
Readers: Practice facility should be team’s priority
After Sakiewicz said the team’s biggest priority is to build a practice facility, we figured we’d see if Union fans agreed. Apparently, 81% of you do. That’s a pretty big vote of confidence.
Now, what do you think about that message he sent to Chester government officials through the media last week? Apparently, it worked. That bit of gamesmanship brought Chester right back to the table, and the complex appears to be getting built at PPL Park after all.
Readers: We want to watch preseason friendlies!
90% of voters want to see preseason friendlies streamed online, and 48% feel really strongly about it.
Pretty straightforward, huh? Stream the friendlies online!