In writing there’s a saying: “Kill your darlings.”  It’s such common advice that it’s beyond cliché at this point.  But if somehow you haven’t come across the phrase (I’d say that all in the FC mediaverse are avid readers but I’d be “Lion”) it basically means that you can’t fall in love with a specific part of your writing because anything that doesn’t serve the overall piece needs to be cut.  And you have to be ruthless.

Keep this principle in mind as FC enters the offseason and the transfer rumors start to emerge.  Players you admire are going to be cut, and it’s going to be the right thing to do.

Look, I love Yuya Kubo. He does five things a game that make me cheer, he’s one of the only players on the team with the ability to consistently move the ball forward through the midfield, and he’s shown that he’s willing to do anything asked of him.  His shot at the edge of the box is one of the most dangerous offensive tools in FC’s box (not saying much, I know), and I’m completely dumbfounded at the fact that the gameplan has never seemed to actually try to give him more of those opportunities.  And by all appearances, he seems like a great guy and a family man.

But if Chris Albright wants him gone, he should be gone yesterday.  Yeah, Kubo might have been our leading scorer in 2020, but that was based on a whopping three total goals.  He might look like the best player on the field some games, but that’s the best player on a historically bad team.  And he’s making more than $1 million.  If someone wants that contract, and Albright decides that he doesn’t need him, then I wish Kubo good luck.

Maybe you like Geoff Cameron.  It’s no secret that I do – I wrote a piece arguing specifically that he was a good signing for FC.  Maybe you like to tweet that Geoff Cameron is your captain.  (But also, maybe it appears that you like Geoff Cameron a little too much, as if it's not just about the quality of his play, and you also have a history of defending the January 6 mob.)

There’s no question that Geoff has at many times seemed like the best CB we’ve had in MLS, that he seems to be a real leader on the defense, and that his teammates seem to like him. We very nearly came back to hold that tie in the first game against Inter Miami, and Geoff looked great until he started cramping up.

But he did cramp up that day, and he has shown signs in other games that his body is, in fact, not immune to the aging process.  And you can’t be a leader on the defense if you can’t play in the game, like if you can’t travel to Montreal because you refused to get vaccinated in the middle of a pandemic.  Or, you know, maybe it isn’t all that impressive that you look like the best CB in FC history when you’ve still played in nine games where the team gave up three or more goals – including six goals to Nashville.

This is not to say that Geoff Cameron is bad.  He’s not. It is to say that he, like everyone else on the team, is expendable and replaceable.  (If you doubt that Cameron is replaceable, just ask QPR, who let him walk on a free transfer.)

Realistically, some players are going to be very tough to move.  For instance, there probably isn’t someone out there willing to pay enough for Brenner to make it worth FC’s while.  But if some Qatari billionaire comes along just jonesing to spend $20 million on a former Sao Paulo player?  He can help himself.

Ronald Matarrita? Great player.

Available.

Lucho Acosta?  Great player.

Available.

If you’re mad at this, you’ve probably fallen victim to “stanning.”  And the fact is, while we of course like these players, we cannot afford to stan.  That is how we get taken advantage of.

Unfortunately, stan culture has taken over our lives.  People fall in love with politicians, retweet all of their “epic” clapbacks, and then forget to actually ask them to deliver on any of their promises.  People get so wrapped up in Marvel vs. DC that they do something rash like buying tickets to Marvel’s Eternals.  People reacted so strongly to JK Rowling’s TERFdom because they were emotionally invested in the author as a person, rather than just appreciating her as someone who happened to write books they liked who they could otherwise ignore.

This is all by design. Politicians, film studios, authors, and basically everything else you buy market themselves in a way that encourages you to identify yourself with that brand, in order to maintain your loyalty, to motivate you to spend money on that product, and to distract you from your critical faculties.

Absolutely, support players while they wear the shirt.  Even wish them the best when they move on(unless it’s to Columbus).  But do not stan them.

Everyone on the team is responsible for the results.  Some players will come back, and you could even argue that some of them should come back. But some of them must not be back; many of them will not be back.  Some of your faves will not make the cut.

But you have to kill your darlings.