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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Preparing for Re-Entry: Sizing up the Union's possible targets

The theme of the Union’s offseason thus far has been departures – via trade and via the expansion draft. Thursday, the club has its chance to add players via the second stage of the Re-Entry Draft.

This mechanism, which allows players meeting certain criteria who haven’t had their options exercised or are out of contract to be selected by other clubs, is the closest thing that MLS 2.0 (or 1.0 or whatever.0) has to adding via free agency.

Last year, the Union were silent in this phase of the draft – after plucking Corben Bone in the first stage – despite the increased flexibility picking clubs have in negotiating new deals. The Re-Entry Draft, as proven by Eastern Conference champs D.C. United last season, could be the way toward competing in MLS if you find the right pieces.
Colorado's Marvell Wynne could be an option
for the Union in Thursday's Re-Entry Draft. (AP)

First, the Union have 23 players currently on their roster. Of those, 22 (excluding Maurice Edu and the possible renewal of his loan deal) are under contract for next season. Of the 20 on-budget spots, by my reckoning, 17 are spoken for. (That’s assuming that new options for Homegrown Players Jimmy McLaughlin and Zach Pfeffer that Sporting Director Chris Albright hinted at last week move them on-budget, if they weren’t already.) That, coupled with the fact that they possess one second round SuperDraft pick and no first-rounders, gives them some flexibility.

So, let’s throw out some possibilities:

Hendry Thomas. The Union need another holding midfielder, a position where the only two definites for next season are Vincent Nogueira and Michael Lahoud, despite some reported interest in players overseas and Edu. Thomas has international experience with Honduras, will be 30 when the season starts and provides plenty of steel in the midfield, which would free up Nogueira to do more distributing. He’s an injury question mark after ACL surgery in July, but with the performance of 22-year-old Victor Ulloa, I’m not sure he has a job waiting for him in Dallas.
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Projecting the protecting: Who the Union should shield from the Expansion Draft

For the better part of three months, the most notable date on the Philadelphia Union calendar has been the MLS Expansion Draft, the point at which the Union see if they lose anyone to the incoming MLS franchises, NYCFC and Orlando City. Full protection lists are due later today after the close of an eventful trade window, but here’s a look at who the Union should protect.

First, the Union have 24 rostered players to consider after Monday’s declining of options on five players, the announcement that Brian Carroll’s contract is up and the trade for C.J. Sapong and of Amobi Okugo. Exclude the two remaining Homegrown players (Jimmy McLaughlin and Zach Pfeffer) and Andre Blake, who is a member of Generation Adidas, and that leaves 10 players to be potentially unprotected.

Here are the players the Union likely will end up protecting, in no particular order:

1. Rais M’Bolhi
2. Sheanon Williams
3. Ethan White
4. Carlos Valdes
5. Ray Gaddis
6. Cristian Maidana
7. Vincent Nogueira
8. Sebastien Le Toux
9. Andrew Wenger
10. C.J. Sapong
11. Zac MacMath
The keepers: Read more »

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Union decline options on five players

Conor Casey's day with the Union may be done
after the team declined his option Monday. (AP)
At long last, the Philadelphia Union have announced some action this offseason, declining options on five players.

Those not returning are midfielders Corben Bone and Fred, and forwards Conor Casey, Brian Brown and Cristhian Hernandez, while the Union also announced that Brian Carroll is out of contract.

Bone, who spent four largely indifferent seasons with Chicago, was drafted by the Union in Stage One of the 2013 Re-Entry Draft. He made just two MLS appearances totaling 13 minutes, capped by a red card after just one minute May 14 against Kansas City. The 26-year-old spent the end of the season on loan with USL Pro side Wilmington Hammerheads.

The 35-year-old Fred was signed via a Waiver Draft in late March after training with the club through most of the preseason. Fred appeared in 11 matches in his second stint with the Union, scoring the game-winning goal against New York July 16.

Hernandez was signed as a Homegrown Player before the 2012 season. He played in two matches, totaling 26 minutes in 2012, then spent most of the last two seasons with Harrisburg City. This year with the Islanders, he was limited to just 15 minutes while floating around several positions.

Brown spent the last four months of the regular season on loan from Jamaican club Harbour View FC. He played in eight games (one start) and scored twice, notching the game-winning goal against Kansas City Aug. 1, then scoring against SKC in a 2-1 win Oct. 18.

Casey, acquired via Stage Two of the 2012 Re-Entry Draft, scoring 18 goals and seven assists in 56 matches with the Union. Casey scored six of his eight MLS goals this season in a six-match stretch from May 31-July 16.

The Union’s roster stands at 24 players ahead of this week’s Expansion Draft (Wednesday) and the two phases of the Re-Entry Draft (Friday, then next Thursday).

Declining options doesn’t close the door to returns for any of the players, though it would be on renegotiated deals. Casey made $192,000 last year. Carroll raked in $185k, while Fred made $65k and Hernandez made $74k.

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The week ahead: MLS' schedule of drafts, windows and moves

It’s almost time for the most relevant season for the Philadelphia Union: The offseason calendar where hope springs eternal, everything looks good on paper and rumors can sound infinitely better than the underlying reality.

It’s time for the annual deck reshuffling of MLS’ single-entity system into brand new teams via the league’s many player-acquisition mechanisms. With MLS Cup in the rearview mirror, December is rife with drafts, windows and other miscellaneous opportunities for teams like the Union to seek the pieces they hope will prevent them from having to wait so long from the end of their season to the opening of the marketplace.

Here’s a rundown of what the next could look like (plus a reminder of the mechanisms springing to life this week):

Monday, Dec. 8: From 9 a.m.-1 p.m., the trade window is open. That’s where deals negotiated over the last month and already in place will be finalized and ratified, potentially including the rumored deal the Union have in place for the Amobi Okugo to head to Orlando City.

Other deals that have been reported are Tally Hall to Orlando City, Nat Borchers to Portland and Michael Harrington to Colorado, while there will certainly be others. After 1 p.m., the trade window closes until the end of the Expansion Draft.

Wednesday, Dec. 10: Here’s the busy day. The Expansion draft for Orlando City and NYCFC will be held. By that time, we’ll have a list of the players the Union will have protected for the draft. Once the draft concludes, the trade window reopens, allowing expansion clubs to peddle their new players. Also Wednesday is the Waiver Draft, which usually is pretty uneventful. This year, it’s another chance to snap up former Chivas talent that went undrafted in the Dispersal Draft.
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