C.J. Sapong has been through a lot with the Philadelphia Union.
We’re talking about a guy who, during his debut season in 2015, broke his face, suffered two concussions, and was suspended for three games due to DUI charges that he ultimately beat in court. He’s been asked to run at the top of Jim Curtin’s 4-2-3-1 formation as the lone striker, thanklessly battling two center backs by himself as he tries to hold the ball up, bring teammates into the play, and win fouls. If you’re talking about auxiliary target man qualities that can’t be measured statistically, C.J. has always excelled in a Union shirt.
Where he doesn’t excel is in the areas that can be measured, the metrics most important to the forward position: goals and assists. He’ll roll key passes for his teammates but just isn’t seeing enough of the ball, nor is he taking his chances when they do come. He’s missed at least five sitters and a penalty this season. He will not and cannot turn and face, dribble a defender, and create his own shot. In basketball terms, he’s a catch and shoot guy with a loose handle who can’t get to the rim.
And that’s absolutely killing the Union right now, because the rest of the team is playing rather well. Union fans are watching Sapong, a guy who scored a career-high 16 goals last season, go through a drought where he’s bagged just two goals and one assist through 1,290 minutes and 18 games, which is now beyond the mid-point of the regular season. He’s making $500,000 this season and is the sixth-highest paid player on the team, behind Borek Dockal, Alejandro Bedoya, David Accam, Jay Simpson, and Haris Medunjanin.
Simpson can’t sniff the field and and will go down as the worst signing of the Earnie Stewart era. Accam, the prized offseason acquisition from Chicago, was bumped to the bench after looking like he forgot how to play soccer coming off a 14 goal and 8 assist 2017. He’s contributed a whopping 0 goals and 0 assists for Philadelphia this season.
Sapong, Simpson, and Accam have put up these combined numbers:
35 combined games for three guys who are putting up one goal per 1,098 minutes and 1 assist per 2,196 minutes.