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Philadelphia Union trade C.J. Sapong to Chicago Fire for allocation money

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Union traded the second-best scorer in club history to the Chicago Fire on Saturday. 

Forward C.J. Sapong, who scored 36 goals in 123 regular-season appearances for the Union, was shipped to the Fire in exchange for up to $450,000 in Allocation Money. 

The Union will receive $200,000 in General Allocation Money for 2019, $100,000 in Targeted Allocation Money for 2020 and an additional $100,000 in GAM if the Fire acquire those funds in 2019. If the additional $100,000 in GAM is not sent to the Union for the 2019 season, they’ll have it for 2020. The Union will also receive $50,000 in TAM from the Fire for 2020 if certain performance metrics are reached. 

Union sporting director Ernst Tanner told reporter Saturday the Fire made an initial approach for Sapong a few weeks back, but the offer wasn’t good enough. When Chicago came back to the negotiating table with the offer that went through, the Union approved of it. 

“Chicago approached us a couple of weeks ago,” Tanner said. “At that time, we were not comfortable with that decision and not with the figures. They called it off, but they came back again and it was time now for us.” 

The 30-year-old Sapong, who played four seasons with the Union, is coming off one of the worst seasons in his career. He scored four goals and provided three assists in 2018. 

Sapong was part of a group of six forwards battling for two starting positions in the club’s new 4-4-2 diamond formation. He won’t get a chance to beat out the rest of his competition in Philadelphia now that he’s off to the third Major League Soccer club of his career.

As for the roster size, Tanner is comfortable having 25 players on his squad to start the MLS season next week, with five of those players competing for the forward positions. 

“If we keep on playing with two strikers, I’d say it’s more than enough,” Tanner said. “In addition, we have some guys at (second-tier United Soccer League side Bethlehem) Steel who could make a move. I’m very happy with the situation.” 

The trade is the second high-profile deal made between the Union and Fire in the last two years. David Accam went to the Union in January 2018 in exchange for $1.2 million of allocation money. 

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