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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Friday, May 18, 2012


(Associated Press)
Talking in circles this week, about a trade that was bound to happen but hadn't quite been completed, Peter Nowak said he's looking to three players to carry the leadership torch once toted by Danny Califf.

There's 26-year-old vice-captain Carlos Valdes, who's got the experience, the candor and the skill to lead the Union ... as evidenced by marking Cristiano Ronaldo last season in a friendly against Real Madrid.

There's 30-year-old Brian Carroll, an MLS Cup champion who's been a professional for 10 seasons. And there's 22-year-old Sheanon Williams.

“I think the team's going to move on," Califf told me Thursday, after he had been traded to Chivas USA, for Michael Lahoud and allocation money. "They'll find somebody else to step up and do that. I think team's find ways to do that."

Of course, Califf has his opinion. Here's mine: The Union can slap an armband on anyone and call him a captain. But to maximize the value of the trade, the Union must make the most of the midsummer international transfer window.

There's no way around the obvious, that the Union's personnel moves in the last five months have been an attempt to dump salary. The majority of the players they've brought in during that time have been either products of the SuperDraft or supplemental draft. Meanwhile, they've cut ties with high-salaried veterans -- six of their 14 six-figure guys, and four of the seven best-paid.


Player 2011 Guaranteed Salary
Danny Califf $250,000
Juan Diego Gonzalez $193,462
Sebastien Le Toux $179,000
Justin Mapp $183,000
Stefani Miglioranzi $153,125
Faryd Mondragon $396,666

Attempting to progress as a franchise, the Union's technical staff and front office have put their faith in their youngest players. The next step is reassuring everyone that they know what they're doing with the state of the team. Bringing aboard a high-profile player, akin to last season's designated-player signing of Freddy Adu, follows that progression. It only seems right. The signing of a polarizing, guiding, authoritative, experienced player -- particularly one who can score goals, the weakness of the Union -- would do wonders for a team desperately seeking rebranding.

The season is not lost. The Union enter their weekend match at FC Dallas trailing Eastern Conference fifth-place side New England by five points. Seeing as the separation between postseason afterthought and contender is so thin, it's reasonable to believe that a few tweaks can turn around the Union's 2012 campaign.

Thus, the emphasis on the midseason international transfer window, which opens June 27 and closes July 27. If the Union fail to make a big splash inside those 30 days, trading fan favorites and creating a stink within their supportive fanbase will have been for naught.

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