So, who are these guys?
That was how many greeted Philadelphia Union’s expansion draft picks, and it wasn’t an unreasonable response. In a mostly nameless league – certainly in comparison to European leagues – most of the Union’s first eleven are no-namers even for Major League Soccer.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, if they produce. Head coach Peter Nowak and assistant John Hackworth clearly went for youth in the draft, and their haul could prove one of the deeper drafts in recent MLS expansion history. How many of them produce immediately is another issue altogether.
So far, the Union player profile is young and cheap. Their average age is 25.1 years; eight are 25 or younger. Their average base salary is $62,745.45. Five made less than $37,000 in 2009. They scored a combined eight goals in 2009, all from two players.
Here’s the rundown:
Alejandro Moreno, forward: Scores goals. (Or used to.) Dives more than Greg Louganis. Stat of the week: Led MLS in fouls suffered for three straight seasons. If he doesn’t score, don’t expect Philly fans to cheer his pratfalls. We are not fans of fakers.
Sebastien Le Toux, forward/midfielder: Hustles. First MLS signing by Seattle. Seattle fans’ reaction to his loss speaks volumes about his value. 4 goals, 7 assists – good numbers for his first year after moving up from the USL.
Shea Salinas, winger: Young (23) and fast. Impressed late in the season for San Jose. Many (including me) thought the Union would take hometown favorite Bobby Convey, despite Convey’s injury history and Salinas being the better pick. This pick could say a lot about how the Union will do business: Substance over flash.
Brad Knighton, goalkeeper: 24-year-old Revolution backup started six games and had a 2.33 goals against average. (1.25 GAA in USL in 2008 was respectable.) Does that impress? Did the Union need to burn a choice on a goalie when they were trading for Chris Seitz? Head-scratcher. But see Salinas/Convey above. Nowak and Hackworth must know something we don’t.
Shavar Thomas, defender: Proven center back for a solid defensive team (Chivas USA). Nuff said. Solid pick. Immediate back line anchor.
Stefani Miglioranzi, midfielder: Solid veteran but has had some injury problems. Should contribute if healthy.
Jordan Harvey, defender: Started 29 of 30 games this season for Colorado, playing primarily at left back. Expect him to start opening day. Only 25 years old, could be here a long time.
Nick Zimmerman, midfielder: Some think he could be Nowak’s best pick. Some think Red Bull backups are not worth taking.
Andrew Jacobson, midfielder: Spent a fruitless, injury-plagued season in Ligue 1 before returning stateside with D.C. United. Could be a solid holding midfielder. 24 years old.
David Myrie, defender: 21 years old, Costa Rican youth international. Must’ve shown Hackworth or Nowak something there because he sure didn’t in MLS, never appearing in a match after signing with Chicago in September. A part-timer for two years in Costa Rica’s league after a youth stint with Spanish club Cadiz.
Chris Seitz, goalkeeper: 22 years old, highly regarded backup to MLS Cup hero Nick Rimando. Wasn’t going to beat out Rimando, brought Real Salt Lake a reported $200,000-plus in allocation money via trade. If you’re going to splurge, one of the best American goalkeeping prospects isn’t a bad way to go. Could be the Union’s starting backstop for a long time, provided he beats out Knighton.
Jeremiah White. OK, this one’s a stretch, because the Union haven’t acquired him yet. SBI reports that White, who’s currently playing with AGF Aarhus in the Danish league, could be headed stateside — and to Philadelphia.
How would you grade the Union’s expansion draft, and what do you think about the Seitz trade and a White move? Weigh in by posting to the comments section below.