2015 Expansion Draft Preview: Philadelphia Union

Next in our series of teams previews for the MLS Expansion Draft I will preview the players that might be available from the Philadelphia Union. As a former Union fan and having watched most of their game,I was really looking forward to writing this.

The Union have mostly struggled in their five seasons, only making the playoffs in one of their first five seasons. This year they made a strong run in the second half of their season after replacing John Hackworth with Jim Curtin but had serious talent deficiencies all season. They could never find consistent goalscorers and desperately tried to plug in surplus defensive midfielders into a weak back line.

 

The position to watch is the Goalkeeper position. The Union have invested a lot of resources into the goalie position and probably can’t  protect all three of their keepers. The Union drafted Zac MacMath with the  5th pick in the 2011 draft and, after starting for two seasons, he has developed into a solid starter.  Then the Union traded for the first pick in the draft to select Jamiacian International Andre Blake who would only get one spot start in the 2014 season. Then, in the middle of their playoff push, they signed Bulgarian League veteran and Algerian starting keep Rais M’Bohli.

The Union’s goalkeeping personnel moves have become a league wide joke after the much criticized Union Managing Owner boasted of having ‘three of MLS’s best goalkeepers’. From the mess of the Union’s roster moves, NYCFC might be able to cash in.

The following is the projected protected and exposed players list by CBS Philly Union beat writer Kevin Kinkead:

Exempt:

Zach Pfeffer(Homegrown)

Jimmy McLaughlin(HG)

Cristhian Hernandez(HG)

Andre Blake(Generation Adidas)

Protected:

1.Vincent Nogueira

2.Cristian Maidana

3.Maurice Edu

4.Rais Mbolhi

5.Carlos Valdes

6.Ethan White

7.Sheanon Williams

8.Andrew Wenger

9.Sebastien Le Toux

10.Pedro Ribeiro

11.Ray Gaddis

Below I have posted my opinion of the players after having watch almost every Union game for five years.

Exposed:

Amobi Okugo-Starter all season long who moved between defensive midfield and backline. Strong in possession and in the air but lacks playmaking ability.

Would normally be protected but is out of contract and looks likely to go to Europe. NYCFC would draft him if they think they can convince him to stay in New York or for his retention rights. That would mean that if another MLS team wanted to sign him from Europe they would have to trade for his rights from NYCFC.(See Robbie Rodgers, Robbie Finley)

Zac MacMath-Strong shot stopper who slowly rounded out his game after starting for almost tow years in Philly. He is still only 23 years so he brings great value and could become the starter for the next 10 years. He really excelled at blocking penalty kicks this past year as well. And he even made a Sportscenter Top 10 once (no. 9).

Danny Cruz- Best way to describe him is as a pitbull. Strong on the ball and runs all game but almost no soccer skill. Classic Danny Cruz play is when he runs past two or three defenders down the sideline and then loses the ball before going out for a goalie kick. One of the most frustrating players to watch. Union coaches love playing him but he drives fans mad. If he is a 80th minute subsitute when we are up 2-0 then I would be okay with NYCFC selecting him.

Austin Berry-The 2012 Rookie of the Year struggled mightily last season. After a early season injury he never was able to regain his starting spot. Big body but maybe not quite athletic enough for MLS.

Brian Brown- Short and speedy Jamaican with  a nose for the goal. I do not think he got a fair chance with the Union. He was very active off the ball and would find open spaces in the opponents box. But still so raw, and would be a project to develop. He is my personal favorite but from reading around the internet I might be the only one.

Conor Casey- BIG and STRONG and technically skilled but on his last legs. Will look great for a few games before he slowly breaks down. Maybe a few years ago.

The Rest: Brian Carroll, Fabinho, Fred, Antoine Hoppenot, Leo Fernandes, Aaron Wheeler, Corben Bone,Richie Marquez, and  Mike Lahoud

 

VERDICT: Draft MacMath and start him for the next ten years. If Orlando selects him, draft Okugo and wait until he comes back to get value in return.  If NYCFC want to do me a favor draft Brian Brown and I predict, in three years, we’ll have dangerous and speedy striker. If NYCFC hate me they will  pick Danny Cruz and, even worse, actually play him. He a great guy but so bad!

You know where I stand on the Union Roster, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.