Thursday, June 7, 2012

The trade of Nowak

A match made in... Philly.
This thing happened yesterday.

What this trade represents is a young player who hasn't lived up to expectation (for one reason or another) going west in exchange for a slightly older player who hasn't lived up to expectation (for one reason or another). The degree to which you think Perlaza has been good or bad probably depends on how close you live to PDX, and in equal measure depends on whether you flipped off the channel before or after he dumped a shot into the side netting after a fruitful run downfield. In space, Perlaza is fairly good. When squaring up shots he is not. Philly needs shot-takers with a degree of success that they haven't found in their current island of misfit toy strikers. Perlaza may be able to provide that. It's in the realm of possibility anyway, though I wouldn't hold my breath.

With apologies to Portland, which now has the Nos. 1 and 2 draft picks of the 2010-2011 draft cycle (and Mwanga-Nagbe could end up being damn special at the end of the day), the story that should get most of the attention is what exactly Peter Nowak thinks he's doing in Philly.

Nowak has a history of mixing relatively benign transfers with bizarre clangers that send vital pieces away for what seems like chump change. The difference in DC, where Nowak gained his bona fides and earned his "I know what I'm doing" card, was that he had GM Kevin Payne to rein in his baser instincts. By adding a cool head to the negotiating table, Payne was able to check Nowak's firebrand attitude and smooth ruffled feelings. It is clear, especially in light of events that have transpired this season, that Nowak does not have that in Philly.

Of course the Freddy Adu saga in DC is usually the first thing to hit the palate when Nowak's man management is concerned, but Adu was always out the door anyway, and he speaks fairly highly of Nowak now. Whether that's sunshine pumping or not I can't say, but from what I've heard a lot of the blame for the crumbling of that relationship falls on Adu's shoulders too. By the same token, I have a hard time believing, say, Sebastian Le Toux will ever consider Nowak a "friendly mentor" in any sense of the phrase. Or that Danny Califf's desire to return home wasn't greased by Nowak's strange demeanor and stranger tactics.

And here is where we come to Danny Mwanga, that well-paid bastion of youth. Philly ran up against a wall of money in the offseason when Mwanga's Generation adidas contract kicked in, earning the former Oregon State striker a base of $250,000 on the Union payrolls. His cap number, the number that will hit Portland's pocketbook (to what degree isn't known — MLS doesn't release transfer fees and Merritt Paulson continues to chirp that this isn't a bad deal monetarily), is around $350,000. Perlaza's is $115,000. We were told Le Toux was essentially jettisoned because Mwanga's salary was causing so many headaches. And now the cause of the headache is gone, too. Nowak wouldn't play Mwanga this season for reasons known only to him, and now the 20-year-old already has some demons to overcome and a past to deal with. It was a strange trade made stranger by Peter Nowak.

If this wasn't a trend in the Wacky World of Nowak, I think the Sons of Ben could write this off as a salary dump. But I'm not so sure what this represents. Nowak has had such a turbulent year in the front office that Philly went from a promising building year in 2011 to totally rebuilding again. The franchise's first cornerstone is gone, and Philly is no closer to finding a striker who can hit goals consistently. As with all trades, it's virility won't be known until the principals start succeeding or failing. But if perception is reality, things aren't going so well in the world of Nowak these days.

- Will Parchman


Jon said...

I don't have a clue what Nowak is doing. At some point MLS needs to bring in some coaches who have a clue how to develop talent. Nowak had/has clear problems developing both Adue and Mwanga. Agudelo wasted a couple years in NY with Backe. That's the tip of the iceberg in MLS. Too many promising youngsters just not being developed or showing improvement. Would it be different even if they were riding a bench in Holland yet practicing at a higher tactical and technical level? Probably.

Another thing is something really has to happen with the freakin salary cap. MLS entices clubs to go after Gen Adidas players, and offers them larger salaries so the league can keep the more talented youngsters. Yet when that larger cap hit comes, teams are penalized as they either have to clear other vets off the roster(Le Toux)or clear the Gen Adidas off the roster themself. There should cap high enough to at least field a competitive team with the Gen Adidas players.

But I have a lot of questions about a league which is run more as a corporation than an actual league. We keep hearing how MLS wants to keep young talent in the league but then they penalize teams for doing just that, as it causes problems with the rest of the roster with such a low cap and makes it tough to sell them elsewhere as they can't simply reinvest the transfer fees into the roster given the cap.

Will Parchman said...

MLS is in a strange phase right now. I'd liken it to the awkward late-teens. Ownership had to assume a level of control early that limited the power of the individual clubs because they couldn't survive otherwise. Now that they're solvent and some are thriving, I'm honestly not sure when the league gives some of the power back. If ever. I don't know where the line is, or how necessary a lot of these overlord policies are anymore. You know what they say about power corrupting and all...

Phil McCracken said...

Nowak has entered his Stalin phase. Anyone who questions or disagrees with him gets shipped out. Judging by the collective lack of height on the roster, he may also be trying to get rid of anyone who's taller than him as well.

Not sure whether Perlaza will be a better fit than Mwanga, but this constant turnover is killing the team as well as the fan base. I saw a stat where 11 of 15 players who played the most minutes for the Un last year are now no longer with the team. Given that they were a playoff team last year, that stat is staggering.

Being a season ticket holder since Day 1, I'm going to think long and hard about renewing when the time comes (and I love going to Union matches)

Jacob Klinger said...

Aside from the $, I can't defend this one.

dikranovich said...

wait, things go a little south for a team and now fans want to boycott. philly is still in the us open cup and that should be a real doozy of a game between them and harrisburg.