Philadelphia Union: What does the new Signing mean for CJ Sapong?

In case you spent the last day or so under a rock, you may have heard that the Philadelphia Union have signed forward Jay Simpson from Leyton Orient.

The 28-year-old Englishman brings an experienced striking option to the Philadelphia Union to help improve what was arguably the weakest unit of the team last year. With CJ Sapong and Charlie Davies as the incumbent forwards, adding a third forward in the transfer window was a must. But the looming question is how does Simpson’s arrival impact Sapong?

To begin it should be noted that Simpson can play both striker and right wing. This is important because while he could be a lone forward up top, there is also a chance that Simpson can coexist in lineups containing Sapong. This would likely call for an occasional shift to a 4-3-3 but it’s still a possibility.

Due to the money spent on Simpson he has to be a starter for the Philadelphia Union in order to justify his transfer fee and the use of the team’s last international spot. If this is done in the Union’s standard 4-2-3-1 formation then Sapong will be relegated to the bench. While this may seem to be a bit harsh, Sapong got his shot as a full-time starter and didn’t do enough in the role to make a difference.

Simpson is largely an unproven quantity but according to most Leyton Orient fans, as long as he’s given good service he will score. It’s unknown if he will be able to replace Sapong’s defensive work rate but if he scores goals, defense will be quickly forgotten. It comes down to Jim Curtin making one of the toughest decisions of his career and finally benching one of his guys for the good of the team moving forward.

Another option for the Philadelphia Union is a shift to a 4-3-3 where they can keep Sapong at the forward spot and play Simpson on the right wing where he’s also comfortable. Doing this should free Sapong up in the box due to Simpson’s speed but doing this would come at the expense of Fabian Herbers / Ilsinho. This would make for a very interesting lineup that wouldn’t be lacking in the goalscoring department.

Overall, the signing of Simpson is a major risk for the Philadelphia Union. He could come and set the league on fire like Bradley Wright-Phillips or he could be a flameout and a black mark on Earnie Stewart’s transfer dealings. Only time will tell, so the jury is still out on this signing.