As Union manager John Hackworth looks to find the pieces to make a playoff return in 2013, recent events within Major League Soccer may turn out to be beneficial to the Union.
Whenever there is a coaching change, there is a turnover in player personnel with the new coach wanting to bring in many of his own players. In the case of the New York Red Bulls, while Hans Backe made the playoffs in three consecutive years, the failure to advance – along with the Red Bulls high expectations resulted in a change.
With a new man coming in not expected to be from MLS ranks, I could see where a lot of players won't feel too secure about their chances to stay in New York.
In the case of Montreal, while I thought Jesse Marsch had a very good year as the head coach of the Impact, it seems as if there were some philosophical issues there which forced him out. Montreal was very close to a playoff spot this year, so you wouldn't think there would be many changes, but some quality MLS veterans might be on the way out of there soon.
Over at Chivas USA, Robin Fraser's team struggled to score goals all season, and after a good start defensively, their sound defensive play all but vanished. With Jorge Vergara and his wife taking over total control of Chivas and promising to return to its Mexican roots, inevitably a few good MLS players won't be wearing Chivas colors next season.
The best option in terms of a trading partner for the Union may come from MLS’ Western Conference.
Is San Jose willing to trade, based on their early playoff exit?
If Seattle bows out to Los Angeles on Sunday, do they make some big moves?
Let's not forget Real Salt Lake where Jason Kreis has kept the core team together since they won MLS Cup in 2008. Can they afford to keep this club together in 2013?
Players like Fabian Espindola and Javi Morales could be involved in trade talks, mostly for budgetary reasons. As clever as RSL management has been, it would be hard to imagine them dramatically improving themselves and not part with some high salaried players.
In trying to improve themselves, the Union can go about it in a few ways:
- Make a deal with an MLS team
- Pick up free agents or make good use of MLS waiver draft
- Bring in international players, possibly a DP
- Continue to draft well
Ideally, you want to use all four of those methods. If I had to eliminate one, it would be the latter. While I'm all for drafting and developing good young players, the fact is this team has drafted well for three years now, so they have plenty of young talent at the moment. There is enough here for the Union to either use some of their 2013 picks as trade bait, or trade one or two of those young players, knowing they can replace them in the SuperDraft.
It's no secret the Union could use a goal scorer and probably more than one. Some size up front would be a plus too. In addition, if you can find that true number 10 player, he will make others that much better.
While Union fans are hoping to hear about big moves soon, I'm okay with the club being patient, to make sure the players that are brought in, are the correct players that will get this team back to the playoffs.
For sure, this MLS off season will be full of story lines. I'm anxious to see who the new MLS coaches will be at New York, Montreal, and Chivas USA.
For past columns by Union play-by-play commentator JP Dellacamera, click here.