PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Union went into the offseason hoping to bolster their attack with major upgrades at winger and the No. 10 position.
The Union shook up an MLS SuperDraft held in their home city with a major trade with the Chicago Fire for the Ghanaian international, who will slot into one of the wings for Philly, perhaps opposite fellow speedster Fafa Picault.
That should give the Union a lot more electricity in an attack that also features striker CJ Sapong coming off a breakout season.
But the Union technical staff members believe they still need a marquee playmaker to fill a void that’s plagued the club for much of the past few years.
“Are we still actively looking for a 10? Absolutely,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “There’s a list of guys we’re going through. But a No. 10’s production goes up a heck of a lot when you have a guy of Accam’s skill.
“With Fafa, with Accam, with CJ Sapong, those guys will create a lot of space for whoever plays in that No. 10 spot during the course of the season. That’s something that makes other teams worry. When we get off the bus, you have to account for David Accam.”
Curtin could sense Union fans growing restless as the offseason dragged without major moves, and with the draft returning to Philly in a year when the club had already dealt away their first- and second-round picks.
He stressed the roster is still not complete ahead of the first day of preseason camp next week, but hopes Accam is a signal of what’s to come in 2018.
“I know there was some impatience with the timing of things,” Curtin said. “But this is a special player we added — one that changes the whole dynamic of our team.”
Curtin said he and Stewart immediately called Accam, who “was clear with us he’s excited for a new challenge.”
And while the $1.2 million in allocation money the Union sent to Chicago is a lot for a club that historically hasn’t spent big, Curtin thinks it could be a bargain for a player who has 33 goals and 15 assists over his last three years in MLS.
“A David Accam on the open market [costs] significantly higher than what we paid today,” Curtin said. “I can tell you with confidence if we shopped around for someone of David’s quality and production, we’d spend a heck a lot more money than we did today.”
The Union still may shop internationally for a new No. 10, but bringing a player who combines Accam's class and his understanding of the league offers lot of comfort heading into camp.
“That does weigh in a big deal because you know what you have,” Stewart said. “This is a player that’s been in the league, has done fantastic … If you can get a player like that in your own market and knowing what he can do, that plays a major role.
“As we had said a while back, we’re trying to find some difference makers for our team to help us over those humps in certain games that we had. … And once David Accam came around, it was really clear to us that was a target that we wanted to make sure happened.”