The 1st place Philadelphia Union traded their leading goal scorer today.
Yeah, they did. David Accam, who had 4 goals in 337 minutes, is now a Columbus Crew player. In return, the Union got an international roster spot and $500,000 in allocation money that will convey in 2020. Accam was acquired prior to last season for more than $1 million in allocation money and suffered through a sports hernia in a disappointing 2018 campaign.
He looked a lot better this season, scoring three of the five goals that won the Union their first two games back in late March. He was then dropped for the Galaxy match and only started one of his last five games.
Five thoughts on the trade, for people who care about the Union. If you don’t, you don’t have to read the article!
1. Tanner transparency
I love how Sporting Director Ernst Tanner sits down on camera to talk about every personnel move. He first explains the transaction for the team website, then he meets with independent media later in the day.
It’s phenomenal, just an excellent commitment to transparency after years of prior regimes never caring to explain anything to anyone, or instead bullshitting their way through bad deals.
2. It makes sense from a salary perspective
David Accam was making around $1.2 million this year.
Here’s what the other strikers are making:
Union strikers are:
Picault – $148k
Burke – $71k
Pryzbylko – $67k
Santos – TAM ($480k-$1mm)
That is basically 1 Accam.
— Matt Thornton (@AMediocreBadGuy) May 8, 2019
Yes, that is basically one Accam.
David didn’t occupy a DP slot, because he was bought down with allocation money, and he also had his green card, but the Union had international issues and really needed another roster slot. They addressed that while dumping a huge amount of salary for a player who they felt was replaceable. They basically had six guys competing for two spots at the beginning of the year, and they cleared out the two highest-paid guys among the group (Accam and C.J. Sapong). They also moved Keegan Rosenberry and they’ve shown they are not afraid to unload middle and high-salary guys to promote from within.
Maybe most importantly, you can focus now on extending Jamiro Monteiro’s loan or making it permanent when it expires in July. Moving Accam gives you the flex to address this need, which I personally think is the #1 roster concern for Tanner as of 5/8/2019.
3. The positional thing is weird
Tanner mentioned today that Accam was more of a winger, saying that “we cannot use him too often on that position where he is usually playing.”
And yes, that’s true, but it’s the same exact situation with Fafa Picault, who is also a winger/striker ‘tweener and had to adapt to the Union’s switch this season to a 4-4-2.
Picault told the media this less than a week ago:
Analysis piece from the Union's win will be up in a bit.
Have a leftover quote here from Fafa Picault on his personal adjustments as a winger moved to forward in the new system.#DOOP pic.twitter.com/Jc21WiNf2U
— Joe Tansey (@JTansey90) May 2, 2019
So yeah, it’s been an adjustment for many players, but Accam has clearly been the more effective player this year and over the course of his career.
Accam and Picault are both 28 years old and have done the following since 2012:
- Accam: 186 games, 77 goals (Chicago, Philadelphia, Helsingborg, Ostersund) + 10 appearances for Ghana and one goal
- Picault: 132 games, 34 goals (Philadelphia, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa Bay, St. Pauli) + 2 appearances for USA and zero goals
Of course Picault scored 10 of those 34 goals last season alone, so his recent resume stands out more than Accam’s.
David earned almost ten times more money than Picault, so he goes and Fafa stays, but the winger/striker positional thing isn’t really much of a sticking point for me.
4. Playing two ways
Several people pointed out to me that they feel like Picault is a better pressing forward than Accam, and that’s something I’d probably agree with. Fafa can run for days. He always does his defensive duties. I don’t think Accam was poor in this area, at least not off the top of my head. I just think Picault had more of an engine and was certainly willing to do that hard two-way work that Jim Curtin has always valued in his forwards. This is something I’d like to pick Curtin’s brain on, if I was still on the Union beat. I might not be giving Accam enough credit for his defensive work, but that would require diving into hours of film, which is not gonna happen.
5. Santos and others are good
Do you need Accam when…
- …Sergio Santos looks like the real deal?
- …Kacper Przybylko is scoring goals?
- …Corey Burke will return from his visa issue?
- …the staff is obviously high on Michee Ngalina?
- …the Marco Fabian at striker experiment could always return?
I guess the Union felt like they were plenty happy with the options they had at forward, which made Accam expendable. I personally wanted to see a Santos/Accam pairing, because I felt like those two guys had the most linear and purposeful offensive games, which is to say that they seem to want to know what they’d like to do in the attacking third. Picault often lets himself down in those situations. Unfortunately we will not see the Accam/Santos pairing, but we will see much more of Sergio moving forward.
So yeah, dumping Accam and recouping assets fits the blueprint that Tanner set forth with the Sapong and Rosenberry moves. Regardless of whether those were the right or wrong decisions, I give him credit for taking some risks and being super aggressive in his decision making.