Through 2 seasons and 2 games, the Union are down to two constants. Manager Peter Nowak, and stalwart defender Danny Califf. Last season, both were fan favorites. Califf was an integral part of the leagues second stingiest defense. And if Philly fans like one thing, it's a gritty player. And Nowak was a coach taking a second year team to the playoffs. After a so-so opening season, it was awesome to see the Union fighting for a spot atop the Eastern conference.
But then, the off season happened. First we lost Mondragon, the team goalie and captain. A veteran presence in net, and a fan favorite, no one wanted to see Mondragon go. But he wanted to end his career in his native Colombia, so fan uproar wasn't too extreme. And besides, we had Zack MacMath, an up and coming young goalie who was undefeated in 7 starts last season.
The came the Le Toux trade. Mondragon was popular, and the fans loved him. But Le Toux was something else all together. Le Toux was a founding member of the Union. He played every minute of every game. He scored. He had assists. An MVP candidate in both of his seasons with the Union. And a player who seemed to truly enjoy and thrive in the Philadelphia sports atmosphere. And then he was gone. Traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps for allocation money.
Now fans, and myself included, started scratching our heads.. The mid season trade of Jordan Harvey for allocation money seemed a little odd. The expensive addition of career underachiever Freddy Adu seemed off. And letting the two leaders of our team, Le Toux and Mondragon go seemed almost crazy. In one off season, the Union went from a playoff bound team, to a team in shambles.
A poorly planned off season, new acquisitions, ever changing formations, these are all part of the standard Union playbook under Nowak. But now he has benched Danny Califf. And Califf's replacement, Chris Albright, let a defender waltz by him to score the game winning goal. Would Califf have let that happen? Obviously, we'll never know. But we can question. And the benching of Califf raises questions as well. Peter Nowak said he was benched due to injury, and Califf claims he is fine. So what really happened?
And now, the rumors have started circulating. Will Nowak trade Califf? Considering how he has operated in the past? Who knows. But a Califf trade would be devastating for this team. They need some steady veteran leadership, and Califf provides that. And Nowak needs to settle down, and let his team get used to one formation. Will Nowak settle down? Will he play his best players? People are saying to give the team a chance to gel. But after a stellar second season, and an off season from hell, I want results now.
We all do.