When Chris Seitz guessed correctly, dove to his right and smothered a penalty kick taken by the Seattle Sounders' Pat Noonan, the crowd at PPL Park erupted in celebration. The noise didn’t die down minutes later when Fred netted the go-ahead goal in the Union’s electrifying 3-1 triumph in their home stadium debut on June 27.
But for Seitz and Fred, those kinds of moments were few and far between. And in the end, inconsistent play combined with high price tags led to the departure of two of the heroes from the Union’s PPL Park opener, as both were taken in Stage 2 of Wednesday’s Re-Entry Process.
WATCH: Union win PPL Park opener
Seitz, whose option was not picked up by Philadelphia, was selected by Seattle and then shipped to FC Dallas. Meanwhile Fred, whose contract with the Union expired, could be bound for New England after the Revolution acquired his rights.
This comes on the heels of November’s Expansion Draft when Shea Salinas and Alejandro Moreno were plucked from Philly, meaning the Union have lost four franchise originals in less than a month.
“Both Fred and Seitz brought a certain quality to our team and that’s why we selected those players in the first place,” Union Manager Peter Nowak said in a conference call. “It’s been a good learning experience for all of us. We’ve lost four players in the past month and we have to make sure we get in the market and find those players who are going to replace those guys.”
Nowak added he was very happy with Fred and that the Brazilian was a great locker-room presence. But despite starting 24 games in an attacking role, the midfielder scored only four goals, leaving the weight of the offensive burden to Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga.
And then there’s Seitz. A top prospect, a former collegiate national champion and the man entrusted with protecting the net in the Union’s inaugural season, the 23-year-old made some big stops in 2010, the save of Noonan’s penalty kick only one example. But blunders and bad luck seemed to doom his season from the start, and he was eventually benched in favor of Brad Knighton, who is currently the only goalkeeper on the team’s roster.
“For Chris, it was a difficult year,” Nowak said. “We invested a lot of time and patience and we believed that at the end of the day he would stay with us. … [We’ll see] if he comes to the expectations everyone is putting on him.”
[inline_node:288367]While the Union’s roster is shrinking, Nowak’s confidence seems to be only growing with the manager stressing over and over again that the team is now far enough under the salary cap to make plenty of key acquisitions. They just have to be smart about it, he said.
“There’s a long transfer window coming up and we have enough resources to make a lot of good moves,” Nowak explained. “We’re going to improve our roster even though we lost four players in the last month. … A lot of expansion teams just throw money left and right and all of a sudden the second year and the third year comes and they have empty pockets. We want to avoid that.”
Now that Seitz is gone, one of the team’s most critical moves will be acquiring at least one goalkeeper to compete with Knighton for the starting spot. When asked specifically about the report in the German magazine Kicker that has veteran Bundesliga goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón coming to Philly, Nowak did not comment as Mondragón is still under contract with FC Köln.
“There’s not going to be any hiding,” the Union Manager said. “Before announcing anything, we’re going to make sure the contract is in our hands. … There’s a professional way of doing things instead of rumoring and whispering.”
Full season ticket plans are on sale now for the 2011 season! CLICK HERE for more information on becoming a Union season ticket holder.