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MLS players coming and going while Union sit by and watch

Dec 18, 2013, 10:56 AM EDT


“I’ll take TWO (new left backs),” says Union manager John Hackworth.

So, this is the first Philadelphia Union post in a while. Have I decided to stop writing about the Union for The Level? No. Am I too busy dealing with a 2-year-old and a pregnant wife to write about the Union? Well … yes .. but, no.

All has been quiet on the Union front because absolutely, positively nothing is happening down at PPL Park.

While the rest of the league shuffles the deck — including archrival D.C. United trading for U.S. National Team player Eddie Johnson (a likely lock for next summer’s World Cup roster) on Tuesday — the Union are sitting idly by. A few players are on their way out, like Kleberson and Rogger Torres, and just one player — midfielder Corben Bone, who was acquired from the Chicago Fire in the re-entry draft – is on his way in so far (there are a few interesting names in Wednesday’s second stage of the re-entry draft — maybe former Red Bull defender Heath Pearce? — but it’s not really the place to make waves).

(Homegrown midfielder and Dresher native Zach Pfeffer may also be a new face for many Union fans, but he’s been under contract with the Union since 2010. He has just returned from a long loan in Germany, and could be a player to watch if he earns a roster spot this season.)

So, John Hackworth, Why so quiet? Hackworth said just a few months ago that change was needed, and given the team’s late-season collapse, it definitely is.

One reason for the Union to wait could be next month’s MLS SuperDraft (Jan. 16 at the Pa. Convention Center). The Union have the second pick and sixth pick in the first round, two picks in the second round, three picks in the third round and one in the fourth.

With all those picks, I’ve been trying to withhold judgment on the Union offseason until after the draft. There’s no way the Union will use all eight picks on players they plan to keep. And I know there are probably discussions already underway involving those picks that won’t be finalized until draft day.

All those picks are great, but the Union fanbase is not looking for more players who have tons of potential but are years away from contributing. It’s put up or shut up time for the Union in 2014. It’s time to be a contender. And there are players out there — from potential European designated players to experienced MLS veterans — who would immediately make this team better.

Every day the Union sit on the sidelines, another one of those players finds a new home. I’m not saying Eddie Johnson was the answer for the Union (he is not), but the fans in Philly are tired of watching the big names go elsewhere while asking, “Who is Corben Bone? (A: a once-promising midfielder who played just 18 games since 2010.

So, the Union have draft picks to deal, holes to fill and PLENTY of Allocation Money to spend (I won’t even try to explain allocation money – Major League’s Soccer’s mysterious currency — since I understand it only slightly better than Bitcoins). They need a playmaking midfielder, an upgrade at left back, some depth on defense and many, many other pieces.

If nothing else, a juicy player rumor or two would be nice.

  1. 33 - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Hate seeing EJ go to DC. He can flat out decimate an MLS back line. United have loudly improved using all the allocation money they soaked up by being so crappy in MLS and so fortunate in US Open Cup. Hopefully it adds some arms-race pressure to the Union. Not feeling one way or the other about the Union’s quiet offseason to date, still plenty of time to make a splash.

  2. OneManWolfpack - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    I for one am angry at the lack of ANYTHING going on with the Union this offseason. Freakin’ do something.

  3. Michael - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Does MLS sell tickets to their draft like the NFL does, or is it closed to the public?

    • Steve Moore - Dec 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      It is open, I believe. Check with Sons of Ben, they are planning the pregame (I believe at the Field House bar attached to convention center). I went to Union’s first draft in Philly and went in with them. It was a blast.

      • Section133 - Dec 18, 2013 at 3:26 PM

        Convention Center January 16th. Just show up.

  4. is - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Another reason besides the draft for why the Union may be waiting to make moves would be the international transfer windows opening up in January and February. If they’re especially looking elsewhere in the world for players to sign rather than making trades with other MLS teams this offseason (which makes sense given the salary burden freed up from unloading Adu/Kleberson plus all that allocation money and the open international roster spots), it does a lot to explain the silence right now.

  5. frank - Dec 18, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    I’m not worried at all. The Front Office is just plotting. Think of how often a top flight club is quiet, quiet, quiet and then BOOM they drop a lot of cash out of nowhere. Now that the U has cleared so much money off books I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll see new faces. ESPECIALLY now that lowly United has made such a splash. Just wait it out, guys. Lack of hype isn’t a bad thing by any means.

    Low expectations bring sudden jubilation.

  6. Ross - Dec 18, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    They already have a playmaking midfielder. His name is Roger Torres. I will be sorry to see him go.

    • philsoc8 - Dec 19, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Torres is (was?) talented, aggressive and skilled, but he is also tiny, slow and amazingly one-footed. He can’t carry the burden of a 90 minute central midfield role. I’d keep him as a late offensive sub, but we need a Farreira-caliber midfielder. Bad.


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