So many of us were impressed with Philadelphia back in 2010. Not so much with the quality of the product; Peter Nowak’s first version finished 8-15-7, next to last in the East. It was plenty respectable for an expansion outfit, but nobody was hollering “Bring on Barca!”
It wasn’t the performance per se, but the promise of better ahead. Right from first kick, Nowak took a long-term approach, building mainly around two kinds of players: “young” and “absurdly young.”
Danny Mwanga, of course, was among the unripe, lot-to-learn set. He was just 18 when the Union made him its top overall pick in the 2010 draft. Mwanga, goalkeeper Chris Seitz, center back Michael Orozco, attacker Roger Torres (pictured) and others were on the south side of 23 – some of them very “south,” like Jack McInerney, who was just 17 then.
It really was a talented, youthful bunch, augmented by a few highly experienced older hands (who, all things considered, often looked like place holders until Nowak could court more young talent to mold.)
Check out the lineup (and subs) from Philadelphia’s debut MLS match in 2010 (a 2-0 loss at Seattle and then-named Qwest Field):
Chris Seitz, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco, Toni Stahl, David Myrie (Jack McInerney 78),Andrew Jacobson, Danny Mwanga (Stefani Miglioranzi 46), Roger Torres (Amobi Okugo 71), Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno.
Of the 14 names you see, only three now remain on the job at PPL Park. Torres, now 20 years old, is most prominent, although he’s been injured since April.
Okugo, a member of the U.S. under-23 side earlier this year, remains a Union man, although one rarely deployed in 2012. Same for McInerney; those two have combined for just one start this year and only 253 total minutes.
Everyone else – gone like last week’s fish special.
As Richard Farley told you earlier, today’s trade that sent Mwanga to Portland surely needed to happen. Something needed to happen; the Oregon State man was stuck, and expensively so. You couldn’t even say he had plateaued; more accurate to say he was going the wrong direction.
So the bigger question here is this: Is Nowak the right man to nurture young talent?
He has an MLS Cup title (in 2004 with D.C. United), so he can clearly coach. But, again, can he tutor and teach and bring young men along?
Because clubs that grab up a bushel of young players is great and all – so long teams have the tools to bring them along. Otherwise, what’s the point?