Philadelphia Union press clips: November 17
TODAY'S FEATURED ARTICLE
(Ryan Bright, CSNPhilly.com)
Union owner Sugarman looks toward promising future
CHESTER, Pa. -- For the first time since acquiring the Union in 2010, owner and chairman Jay Sugarman sat front and center at PPL Park. From there, he addressed the media and fans.
“First, I want to ensure to all the fans our commitment to building a winning club,” he said Friday. “Everybody involved wants to win. Everybody involved hates losing. And we’re very focused on taking positive steps to create a clear path of success for this team.”
The Union have only reached the postseason once in the club’s first five seasons. During that span they have burned through two coaches, made controversial roster decisions and floundered in the Eastern Conference.
Knowing this, Sugarman pointed toward the future.
“Five years is kind of a natural cutting off point to look back and say ‘what have we done right?’ and ‘what can we do better?’” he said. “The next five years need to be great. They need to be exciting. They need to put us on this path to success that we all want.”
To do that, Sugarman announced that former Manchester United assistant and Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen will join the team as a consultant on all things. He will also appoint a sporting director to oversee the technical team and report directly to ownership (see story).
“The team is in very strong hands,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere, you’re kind of stuck with me. I will keep committing resources to plans I really believe in. That’s part of this exercise is to look back, figure out what we can do better, commit the resources there and not be in the position where the teams that spend more, win. This is an interesting league. If you can out coach, outsmart, outdraft, outsource players, the difference is very small.”
Sugarman laid out the plan for his staff, specifically identifying and labeling the roles of manager Jim Curtin, academy director Tom Wilson and Meulensteen. He even brought up CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz, but designated him to the business side of the Union.
“Nick and his team will focus on building a business that has the resources to compete as the league gets stronger and stronger,” he said.
But don’t think because Sugarman hasn’t been in the public eye that he’s been sitting quietly.
“It’s a two-hour drive home for me from here,” Sugarman said. “And when we lose games, it’s a miserable ride. And I think, how can we be better? I’ve really spent the first five years studying, watching, listening. I’ve shared some of my ideas with coaches and I think they are amused by my ideas.”
Sugarman didn’t leave it at that, he shared his so-called amusing ideas, which are based in analytics.
“I hate ties,” he said. “Ties are two thirds a loss. We’ve done analytics studies using Opta that suggest teams that go into the last 15 minutes of the game tied, back off and actually score less and give up more goals than teams that go in down by a goal. That’s what the numbers say, so I’m just sitting here testing ideas and theories and trying to look for data that suggests is there a way to win and is there a way to change the game and tilt it a little in our favor.”