Union's recent moves show club's eye toward future
CHESTER, Pa. — For the Philadelphia Union, the end of the summer transfer window doesn’t necessarily mean the end of trades, movement and general front office activity for the season.
But during his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Philly manager Peter Nowak noted that any upcoming moves will need to be less of a quick fix and more geared toward the club’s long-term strategy.
“We’re still looking not only for this season but also what will happen beyond this season,” Nowak said. “That’s more important. You have to make budget planning. We have a very young group of players, so we’re planning to look at this whole thing right now and trying to figure out how to make it work for not just this year but maybe the next year as well.”
The Union’s recent moves certainly show a commitment to the future. While the team was linked to many players during the transfer window, they ended up making only one signing, bringing in Freddy Adu on a free transfer from Portuguese club Benfica.
They also got rid of two older starters, essentially substituting the 31-year-old Carlos Ruiz and the 27-year old Jordan Harvey in the starting lineup with Adu, 22, and Gabriel Farfan, 23.
Aside from goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, center back Danny Califf, defensive midfielder Brian Carroll and forward Veljko Paunovic, none of the Union regulars or key reserves are older than 27.
“We’re very excited to have [Adu], and as a young player, he fits in with the mold of the team,” Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz said. “I think we’re the youngest team in the league by a long stretch, and we’ll continue to invest in young players.”
Nowak didn’t go into specifics on when the Adu deal came to fruition, or how close the club came to signing other players, but the manager did briefly go into the difficulties of making moves while the window is open.
“As much as you make all preparations and planning for the summer transfer window, there are many things you have to embrace and, in some capacity, the negotiations don’t always go the way they’re supposed to go,” Nowak said.
“People know the transfer window is open and they’re trying to make the best offer or do what’s best for their players. Sometimes, you have to be very flexible to make sure you have not only one or two or three options but even more. I think, at the end of the day, we are very happy to add Freddy Adu.”
According to Nowak, the addition of Adu will only make a good team better. The Union (8-5-10) are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Columbus, who they play Saturday at Crew Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“When you look at your whole team before the transfer window starts, you ask yourself if this is the team that you want to go through the rest of the season with and are they capable of winning the MLS Cup or being a contender for the playoffs,” Nowak said.
“I think, looking at our first 19, 20 games, we felt very good about our chances to be in the playoffs. I think, right now, adding Freddy is going to be the same thing, but with different qualities.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.