The Union’s overhaul of its roster is ongoing. The plethora of personnel changes will likely continue throughout the season in an attempt to find the proper mix.
Whether the tinkering with the roster is a positive or negative sign is a matter of opinion.
For example, just days before their season opener against Sporting KC, the Union traded forward Chandler Hoffman to the Los Angeles Galaxy for a conditional draft pick in 2014. There are two ways to look at this trade. One view is that the trade indicates the Union made a mistake in selecting Hoffman 13th overall in the 2012 MLS draft. The other view is that Hoffman’s failure to crack the starting lineup reflects the strength of the Union’s front line.
An improvement on the forward line was imperative after only scoring 37 goals in 34 games last season as the Union (10-18-6) missed the playoffs. Jack McInerney (8 goals) is the Union’s top returning scorer. He will be complemented up front by the returning Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey.
Le Toux scored 25 goals and registered 20 assists in two seasons with the Union before being traded to Vancouver in a shocking move last season. Casey, 31, was the MVP of the 2010 MLS Cup and is the Colorado Rapids’ all-time leading scorer (50). Antoine Hoppenot, 22, should also contribute to what manager John Hackworth, starting his first full season as manager, hopes is an attacking style.
One of the keys to the Union’s attacking style is midfielder Michael Farfan, who led the team in assists (5) last season. With Freddy Adu inactive and unlikely to play for the Union again, veteran Brian Carroll and Amobi Okugo, 21, will help anchor the midfield. Okugo is a greater asset on defense, as is Gabriel Farfan, Michael’s twin brother.
The more the ball stays at the offensive end of the field, the less time it will spend near the Union’s own net. When the ball reached the Union’s defensive zone, keeper Zac MacMath, 21, is responsible for keeping out of the net.
The Union brought in veteran Jeff Parke to play alongside Sheanon Williams and Bakary Sourmare and solidy the defense in front of MacMath.
The goal, if you’ll excuse the expression, is for the Union to be better this season at both ends of the field, and all points in between.
The Union hope that they’ve found the perfect combination, with key veterans Le Toux, Parke and Casey – all brought in for this season – having enough left in the tank while young players such as Williams (22), McInerney (20) and Hoppenot (22) continue to develop.
The pessimistic outlook is that Le Toux (29), Parke (30) and Casey (31) are on the downside of their careers and won’t be major contributors. Meanwhile, the younger players aren’t quite ready to carry the mantle, resulting in a roster that is both too old and too young at the same time.
Which view is more accurate? Only time will tell.