Featured image: Leo Fernandes battles Michael Farfan and Jimmy McLaughlin. Courtesy of Glen Riegel/Reading United
Reading United A.C. had more players selected in the 2013 Major League Soccer SuperDraft than any other club in the Premier Development League. Five members of Reading’s 2012 squad were chosen during last Thursday’s draft, a new record for the club. So how did United follow up on one of the most successful days in club history?
In Tuesday’s Supplemental Draft, Reading saw the names of four former members of the club selected to join the professional ranks, including two former alums joining United’s player development partner, the Philadelphia Union. Will Bates and Eric Schoenle were selected in the first round of the Supplemental Draft, Jose Gomez was picked in round two and Leo Fernandes was chosen in round four.
Brendan Burke’s influence on the Union’s roster makeover is telling. This month alone the Union have added four former Reading standouts with the addition of SuperDraft second rounder Stephen Okai, the signing of forward Aaron Wheeler, and the Supplemental draft picks Schoenle and Fernandes. Union manager John Hackworth highlighted the importance of the Philadelphia-Reading partnership last Wednesday when he said, “We believe that Reading United is an essential part of our player development and scouting structure. Obviously with Brendan Burke, we work very closely with Reading, but Art Auchenbach and Troy Snyder have been fantastic as well.”
In total, nine Reading United alumni were picked to play professionally in MLS this draft season. That is quite an achievement.
Schoenle, part of Reading’s impressive 2010 squad, was chosen by the Union with the 12th pick of the Supplemental Draft. By falling into the Supplemental Draft, the Union got tremendous value as the defender was thought to be a first round draft pick by many of the soccer punditry. The tall center back from Yardley, Pa. was one of the top rated center backs in this draft. Schoenle brings his much lauded technical skills to the Union along with his impressive aerial ability on set plays. The addition of Schoenle provides the Union with important cover on the back line. The West Virginia University alum joins with his Mountaineer teammate and Reading alum Ray Gaddis on the Union roster.
Fernandes joins the Union having played in ten matches for Brendan Burke’s Reading squad in 2012. The Union took the Stony Brook standout with the 62nd pick in the Supplemental Draft. While at Stony Brook, Fernandes was a three-time America East midfielder of the year and led his team in scoring in each of the past two seasons.
Fernandes joins Gaddis, Okai, Wheeler, Schoenle and 2011 draft pick Levi Houapeu as Reading United alums drafted or signed by the Philadelphia Union.
Bates, a member of the 2011 squad, was selected by the Seattle Sounders with the fifth pick of the Supplemental Draft. Bates played in six matches for Reading in 2011, scoring six goals. A forward similar in mold to the Union’s Conor Casey, Bates was headed for a Generation Adidas contract in 2011 if not for an unfortunate knee injury that prematurely ended his junior season. The University of Virginia grad will get a chance to contribute immediately as Sounders look to replace their clubs all-time leading goal scorer, Freddy Montero.
Gomez joins a Toronto FC team desperately looking to improve upon last season’s dismal last place finish. The former Creighton midfielder played in just two matches for Reading in 2012, but impressed the coaching staff with his creativity and ball movement. Top Drawer Soccer rated Gomez as the top upperclassmen in college soccer and the Hermann Trophy finalist also trialled with Liga MX champs Club Tijuana. Toronto selected Gomez with the 38th pick.