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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Six possibilities for the Union in the Re-Entry Draft

The lists were released Monday for the latest of the MLS Drafts, the Re-Entry Draft. The first part of many in this process went on without the Union, who had no players eligible for the Re-Entry process, the only player surfacing on their list being retiring defender Chris Albright.

That leaves the Union in the position to be shoppers only, and the wheeling and dealing has already continued across the league. The Re-Entry Draft is among the more complicated of MLS personnel acquisition devices, so here goes a brief primer:

Clubs leave out-of-contract players or players with options they’ve declined that also fit a bunch of other criteria for service/age (scroll down to option G) unprotected and up for grabs. Clubs then have an exclusive period in which to negotiate with their players up until Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. The league then conducts Stage One of the draft, where clubs can pick players and have to either make them a “Bona Fide Offer” or, for those with option years declined by other clubs, automatically pick up those options. There’s rarely much action in the first stage.

After Stage One, clubs can again negotiate deals and/or trades with their players. Any remaining players go through Stage Two of the draft Wed., Dec. 18, which allows teams to pick players with greater flexibility in eventual salary negotiations. Each phase continues until each team has passed once.

For anyone still with me, here’s the list of players available and the calendar. The Union will pick sixth in the draft done in reverse order of league finish. (Full order here.)

It’s hardly a meaningless process. Remember, the Union picked up Conor Casey via the Re-Entry Draft a season ago. The LA Galaxy made five selections in 2011 for a team that would eventually win MLS Cup, and the decider in the 2013 MLS Cup Final came off the foot of a Re-Entry Draft pick last year.

For a club like the Union, it’s a valuable instrument to get important pieces. My reckoning based on recent roster moves indicates that the Union have only about 15 of their 20 roster spots filled plus a better situation in terms of depth. That could mean they make one or more moves in this draft – remember they want to save up for two or three draft picks – and there’s talent to be had. Without much cajoling, I see six intriguing prospects in this draft that may fit the Union’s needs, in order of necessity and plausibility. (Note: All salaries listed below are 2013 base salaries.)

Seattle left back/left winger Marc Burch would seem
to be a logical fit for the Union. (AP)
1. Marc Burch

Burch is no stranger to the Re-Entry process, having been the first pick in the 2011 draft by Seattle. After 29 appearances and 19 starts in 2012, his opportunities tailed off to 20 games and 13 starts in 2013 for the Sounders. As a left-footed player, his prospects are limited in Seattle by the presence of Leo Gonzales, he of the phantom Philly handball, who was named the team’s defender of the year. While Burch can play in midfield, you’d imagine the likes of Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey are clamoring for a bit more attacking verve than that. He fills a glaring need for the Union. He’s a left-footed player who can play left back (and get forward from there) or central defender or in midfield in spurts. He made just $75,000 last year. He’s got chemistry with former Seattle defender Jeff Parke. And he’d instantly challenge Parke for best head of hair on the team. It would be a no-doubt move.
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