Photo: Paul Rudderow
Late last week, I saw the story break on PSP that you are weighing staying in Philly versus a potential return to your native Switzerland to play for St. Gallen. I immediately felt my spirits crash to the floor. After already losing our French friends this season, I’m not sure our fan base can possibly handle any more heartbreak right now. We’re talking about one of the most talented and accomplished players to wear the navy blue and gold — that’s you! — potentially taking his ball and going home.
You should stay and return for Philadelphia Union in 2017.
The Union rebuild is on, and moving much faster than expected! We have Earnie. We have Andre Blake, All-Star and shot stopper extraordinaire. We have training fields (what professional team would ever train at a public park?). We have not one, not two, but three first round picks this year who are not only contributing, but are regulars in the starting lineup now. You just got Alejandro Bedoya to help man the midfield, and may get Maurice Edu back some day.
We have PSP – did you see you were just named Player of the Week for the third time this season?
The future is bright! We should even make the playoffs this year. Yes, I know, more than half of MLS teams make the playoffs, but we haven’t since 2011. I’ll even lobby my season ticket representative to make Swiss cheese the official cheese on “Authentic Philly” cheesesteaks on game day and protest until Man-Bun Night becomes an event at Talen Energy Stadium for 2017.
I remember your Union debut, when you fouled Bradley Wright-Phillips within about a minute of coming onto the field to give Red Bulls a penalty kick. You soon recovered to help set up a Union goal that night and have been driving this team forward ever since. You’ve demonstrated professionalism and class. You’ve shown yourself to be a fiery leader and fierce competitor – one who will have a teammate’s back, defend tirelessly from your attacking midfield slot, mix it up with a referee, and take a beating carrying the ball forward to kick start the Union attack.
We admire your knack for driving at defenders, for drawing fouls in dangerous spots, and for brilliant, bending balls on free kicks.
But there’s also a sense of calm that you bring to this team on the field. We’ve seen how valuable you are to this team in the No. 10 spot, largely from how different the team’s shape and performance are when you’ve been forced to play in the No. 8.
We were fortunate to have someone of your pedigree come to Philadelphia to play soccer. It’s been a pleasure watching you play for the Union, and thankfully we get at least two more games to see you this season. You may arguably be the most important player on the roster now and are highly regarded enough by your teammates and coaches to have frequently served as team captain.
You also seem to have really enjoyed your time here, stating, “Life here is great and exactly what I was looking for the one and a half years.”
Imagine how great the next year and a half could be if you stick around.
I hope with every ounce of my Union fandom that you’ll re-doop (move quickly to lock in that open practice invite!) and sign a contract extension with the club.
All kidding aside, please know that the vast majority of us will respect whatever you decide is best for you personally and professionally. I’ve enjoyed watching you and will continue to support you each and every time you step on the field in that Union jersey.