Trading C.J. Sapong was the right move for the Philadelphia Union.
In the simplest terms, sporting Director Ernst Tanner took a $500k player on an expiring contract and turned him into at least $400,000 of allocation money while tacking on a performance bonus that could push the number up to $450k. Sapong is 30 years old heading into his 9th MLS season, so he’s obviously hitting the back end of his career in 2019.
The other thing to consider is this:
C.J. would have been a bench player this year. He lost his starting gig to Cory Burke last season, the Union signed Sergio Santos in December, and now they’re switching to a two-striker formation that plays without wingers. Therefore, with hybrids David Accam and Fafa Picault tossed into the forward mix, you were looking at a depth chart of something like this:
- Sergio Santos
- Fafa Picault
- Cory Burke
- David Accam/C.J. Sapong
- Kacper Przybylko
Something like that, depending on how you value each player. There was just no way the Union could keep six strikers for two starting spots, which would have left at least one of Santos, Picault, Burke, Accam, or Sapong out of the gameday 18 entirely.
Throw in the fact that Marco Fabian and Ilsinho can also play as second strikers or withdrawn forwards in this formation if the Union want to add a wrinkle, and it looks even more clustered up top.
So kudos to Tanner for getting value out of C.J. and moving the roster forward.
If you followed my Union stuff or read anything I wrote from 2015-2018, you know I was not C.J. Sapong’s biggest fan. This crested in an argument with head coach Jim Curtin that spilled out into the hallway after a press conference back in 2017.
My thing with C.J. is that I always felt like he underperformed relative to his talent level, a guy who I personally felt should have broken the 10-goal barrier long before his wonderful 2017 campaign. And when he did, he regressed the next season, following his 16 goals and 5 assists with just 4 and 3, respectively.