Philadelphia Union selected Oregon State forward Danny Mwanga today with the first pick in the MLS Superdraft in Philadelphia.
The Union followed that by taking UCLA midfielder Amobi Okugo and U-17 international Jack McInerney with the sixth and seventh picks, acquired via trades in the last day.
Then Philadelphia used their second round pick on Connecticut defensive midfielder Toni Stahl, rated as a top six pick by some, in what might be the steal of the draft. The Union continued the run on Bruins by selecting UCLA midfielder Kyle Nakazawa and UCLA goalkeeper Brian Perk with their third and fourth round picks.
Union fans at the draft at the Philadelphia Convention Center answered the Mwanga pick with a Danny Mwanga chant that sounded practiced and honed to perfection. Mwanga definitely appreciated it, calling today “the best day of my life.”
For more on Mwanga, who projects as a starter at forward, click here.
Okugo was Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2009 before leaving school after just one year at UCLA. He has played for the U.S. U-20 and U-18 international teams. He had two assists for UCLA this year.
McInerney is a 17-year-old, 5-8 forward from Georgia, and of the Union’s first round picks, his is the biggest surprise. Some had thought his stock had slipped and projected him as a late first round or early second round pick. The Union passed on New Jersey native and Rutgers product Dilly Duka (who went 8th to Columbus) and Wake Forest midfielder Corben Bone, who at one time was projected as a top-five pick.
As for Stahl, he was one of the oldest players available in the draft, at age 24. The Finland native spent four years at Connecticut and is viewed as a player who may be able to contribute immediately.
Mwanga, Okugo and McInerney are all Generation Adidas players, which means they don’t count against the Union’s salary cap this year. They’re also automatically protected in this year’s expansion draft for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who join the league in 2011. All three are also teenagers, giving Union youth development coach John Hackworth a young crew of players to deal with on day one. The Union had three first round picks, thanks to trades with D.C. United and FC Dallas over the last 24 hours.
Overall, the top five picks went largely as expected, with Bone’s slip to the Chicago Fire at No. 14 being the exception. The New York Red Bulls took midfielder Tony Tchani with the second pick. In typical Philly fashion, Union fans booed before the Red Bulls’ pick until getting chastised by an MLS official. The San Jose Earthquakes then chose Wake Forest defender Ike Opara, the Kansas City Wizards picked Hermann Trophy winner Teal Bunbury and FC Dallas took North Carolina midfielder Zach Loyd.
What do you think of Philadelphia’s draft? Where do you see these players fitting in to the roster, and which do you anticipate seeing the field often in the first season? How would you grade the draft so far? Weigh in below with your comments.