Feature / For Pete's Sake

Every player in Union history, ranked

Featured Photo: Earl Gardner

In their short history, the Philadelphia Union have signed 126** players to a first-team contract.

From the first players brought in through the expansion draft to the pre-signing of Academy product Anthony Fontana, these 126 men have delighted us, frustrated us, and — in a surprising number of cases — never really made any impression one way or another.

Because the current Union are somewhat of a dumpster fire right now, and because I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands this week, I decided to try to rank every one of those 126 players. This ranking is a chance for us to remember the surprises and the disappointments, the guys who never played and the guys who should never have played, the all-time favorites, and the Rais Mbolhi.

Here are the criteria I considered when putting together the ranking, listed here roughly from most important to least important:

  1. How much did the player contribute to the Union on the field?
  2. Did I ever want to throw my shoe at the TV while this player was playing?
  3. How much did the player contribute to the Union off the field?
  4. How long did the player play for the Union?
  5. Did I, personally, like watching the player?

I did not give any consideration to performances outside the Union first team — so performances for other MLS clubs and for Bethlehem Steel (I’m looking at you, Tim Jones) do not matter for these purposes.

As you can see from the criteria, this is ultimately a subjective, somewhat silly exercise. No two people would rank these 126 players in exactly the same order. Disagree with my ranking? I hope you’ll argue it out in the comments.

For ease of reading, I’ve divided the list up into five categories, aiming for no more than one sentence of commentary for each guy. We’ll go from worst to best.

Okay, enough throat-clearing — let’s get to it.

** Ed. Note: I knew I’d miss someone, putting this list together by hand. As commenter Eric B points out, I left Jake McGuire off the list. This post has been updated.

TIER 5: THE ACTIVELY BAD

Rais Mbolhi, after surrendering a game-tying goal against Chicago. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

126. Rais MbolhiNo one wanted him here — least of all the player himself — and it will be tough to find a worse transfer in MLS history.

125. Gilberto dos Santos SouzaI refuse to believe that this person actually existed.

124. Toni StahlGot a red card in the Union’s first match, then never played here again.

123. Raymond LeeIn his only MLS action, contributed to the Union’s late-match collapse against Kansas City.

122. Matt JonesThe English loanee looked lost in his sole appearance and found himself displaced with ease by John McCarthy.

121. Corben BoneEarned the fastest ejection in Union history, entering in the 89th minute of a match and finding himself sent off in the 90th minute.

120. Matt KasselInjured Brek Shea in a friendly, perhaps proving that he doesn’t understand the definition of the word “friendly.”

To be fair, the hair was pretty epic. (Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

119. Porfirio LopezThe ballyhooed left back signing had spectacular hair and no discernible football skills.

118. Jorge PerlazaSwapped for Danny Mwanga in the last acquisition of Peter Nowak’s madness, Perlaza managed one shot on goal in his 72-minute Union career.

117. Chris SeitzOffered the first “that’s so Union” moment most of us witnessed when he dropped the ball at Jaime Moreno’s feet in the team’s home opener.

116. AndersonSomehow not the club’s worst signing from Brazil, the centerback proved to have all the versatility of a hardened blob of concrete in his sole performance with the Union.

115. David MyrieStarted the Union’s first match and was released before the Union’s second match.

114. Walter RestrepoAcquired for Michael Lahoud, Restrepo occasionally came on as a substitute winger who seemed determined to help the other team win.

113. Steven VitoriaIf you look in the dictionary next to the word “stiff,” there’d be a picture of this lumbering Canadian.

112. Kevin KratzSigned by the Union with the understanding he’d never play here, Kratz nevertheless kept up the charade that he was anything other than an Atlanta United player.

TIER 4: NEVER REALLY PLAYED
Photo by Earl Gardner

Chase Harrison, seen floating parallel to the ground in the reserve league. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

111. Shavar ThomasI think this guy was a defender.

110. Taylor WashingtonThis guy was definitely a defender.

108 & 109. Chase Harrison & Jake McGuireAs backup backup keepers go, these certainly were two.

107. Cole MissimoEh.

106. J.T. NooneI assume his name is pronounced “No one.”

105. Morgan LangleyPresumably a poorly disguised CIA spy.

104. Joe TaitSince departing the Union, the Englishman has settled in with National League North side Spennymoor Town F.C., which I swear is the name of a real team.

Photo By Earl Gardner

Dzenan Catic, on the bench, where he always was. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

103. Dzenan CaticThe Union’s top draft pick in 2015, Catic earned marketing hype before the season then found himself far away from the gameday 18.

102. Brian PerkHad to use Google to remind myself that Perk was the Union’s third-string keeper for the first half of their first season.

101. Brian HoltThis is a different player than Brian Perk.

100. Don AndingMore like Don Failing, am I right?

99. Chris AgorsorNotable only for being acquired via a “weighted lottery.”

98. Aaron JonesAaron Jones is the third-string right back for the 2017 Union.

Levi Houapeu, apparently. (Photo: Nicolae Stoian)

97. Levi HouapeuIn his only meaningful action, gave up his No. 11 shirt when Freddy Adu joined the team.

96. Yann EkraThe “Union Special” is signing a guy with a month left in the season, never playing him, then cutting him after the season. Ekra was a Union Special.

95. Krystian WitkowskiStruggled with concussions. Fun fact: the Union have had players named “Chris,” “Cristian,” “Cristhian,” and “Krystian.”

94. Greg JordanThe second-best player the Union have drafted out of Creighton.

93. Chris AlbrightSomehow played over 200 minutes on the 2012 Union, Albright is now better known for being an aggressively mediocre technical director.

92. Oka NikolovDespite never being needed or playing for the Union, Nikolov became a key part of the coaching staff and helped bring Tranquillo Barnetta to the club.

Photo by Earl Gardner

Oka Nikolov, seen only in his warm-up bib. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

91. Thorne HolderA nice dude.

90. Eric BirdWould have been better off drafting Morgan Brian.

TIER 3: FRINGE PLAYERS AND PROSPECTS

89. Nick ZimmermanIn 2001, Zimmerman played for the United States Under-15 National Team, per Wikipedia.

88. Cristhian HernandezA Homegrown signing who scored a cracker of a goal against Everton, then never did anything else.

87. Kai HerdlingShowed up on a midseason loan from Hoffenheim in 2012, ran around a bunch, then disappeared into the mist.

86. Chris KonopkaA goalkeeper.

85. Juan Diego GonzalezSources say JDG is still trapped somewhere in Talen Energy Stadium, making nearly $200k per year and never playing a game.

Juan Diego Gonzalez emerges from hibernation, wearing camouflage. (Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

84. Austin BerryYanked around by interim manager Jim Curtin and technical director Chris Albright, the former Rookie of the Year vented to PSP’s Eli Pearlman-Storch and earned a loan spell in Korea’s second division for his trouble.

83. Ryan RichterLocal boy who did two stints in the Union organization, his @SHAQALDINHO Twitter handle is the best in Union history.

82. Bakary SoumareAnother defender brought in with fanfare who barely played, Soumare got the last laugh with his Twitter burn about the team’s practice facility: “Have [Michael Bradley] train in Chester Park? Come on bro.”

81. Chandler HoffmanA first-round pick who never developed.

80. Jimmy McLaughlinA Homegrown signing who never developed.

79. Lionard PajoyA striker with neither speed nor guile, Pajoy found himself punted down I-95 as soon as John Hackworth took over.

78. Andrew JacobsonA regular player in the Union’s first season who only became a consistent MLS performer after he left Chester.

77. Charlie DaviesAcquired for a king’s ransom at the 2016 deadline, Davies has yet to sniff the net in a year with Philadelphia.

76. Brad Knighton. More serviceable than Chris Seitz.

Photo by Earl Gardner

Hey, it’s this guy! (Photo: Earl Gardner)

75. Josue MartinezA winger who never found his place in the tumultuous 2012 season.

74. Jay SimpsonA striker yet to find his place in the tumultuous 2017 season.

73. Brian SylvestreDespite having the three best keepers in MLS, the 2015 Union had to turn to the massive Sylvestre as the Mbolhi catastrophe unfolded.

72. Adam NajemShown flashes of potential early in his Union career.

71. Ethan WhiteStarted about half the games in his two seasons here, despite having no positional awareness.

70. Kyle NakazawaRan around a bunch in midfield for the Nowak-era Union, scoring his only professional goal in a hilarious 6-2 win over Toronto FC.

69. Stefani MiglioranziA Union original who started at sweeper in the Union’s only home playoff game.

68. Cristian ArrietaSigned after the Union’s first game, Arrieta stabilized (as much as one person could) a leaky backline in the team’s expansion campaign.

67. Leo FernandesImpressed in a couple preseasons but never seized his chances at the MLS level.

Aaron Wheeler is jumping in pretty much every photo PSP has of him. (Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

66. Aaron WheelerThe Union’s only striker/centerback — turns out there’s a reason guys don’t play both positions.

65. Freddy AduProbably the toughest guy to place on this list, as his flashes of brilliance were paired with a dysfunctional personality and maddening inconsistency.

64. Pedro RibeiroA burly striker who scored a couple of neat goals but was justifiably unprotected in the 2015 Expansion Draft.

63. Brian BrownA loanee striker, Brown celebrated his goals with a salute but didn’t stick around for it to catch on — possibly because he only ever scored against Sporting Kansas City.

62. Shea SalinasThe oft-injured winger was jettisoned after the inaugural season, a decision that never made much sense.

The hair!

61. Eduardo CoudetThe aged midfielder sported a spectacular hairdo; he’s now the manager of Club Tijuana.

60. Jeff ParkeThis ranking might be somewhat low, but the veteran struggled with injury in his sole season here and ended up barely leaving a mark on the club.

59. Michael LahoudThe occasional great game would be followed by a string of anonymous performances or an unfortunate injury.

58. Warren Creavalle. Has anyone ever seen Warren Creavalle and Michael Lahoud in the same room?

57. Eric AyukBest backflips in Union history.

The Ken Tribbett Experience. (Photo: Paul Rudderow)

56. Ken TribbettA young defender capable of both solid defensive outings and face-meltingly awful defensive lapses.

55. Giliano WijnaldumThe young Dutchman needs seasoning, but if Fabinho could become the team’s third-longest-serving player there’s no reason Wijnaldum can’t do the same.

54. Marcus EppsRaw talent on the wing; probably should be playing in Bethlehem but scored a nice goal last week.

53. Zach PfefferThe team’s first Homegrown signing, Pfeffer turned professional at age 15 for a team that had no infrastructure for him. The young man did have one awesome game-winner before leaving the club and retiring at age 21.

52. Auston TrustyNo MLS appearances yet for the senior team, but some big outings with the U-20 national team have left the club drooling over this Homegrown’s potential.

51. Anthony FontanaTechnically only signed to a pre-contract, but the “crown jewel” of the Union Academy is from Delaware and so gets a bump in these rankings.

50. Derrick JonesThe rangy midfielder has been a pleasant surprise in the 2017 season and should see substantial playing time down the stretch and in the years to come.

TIER TWO: SOLID CONTRIBUTORS

John McCarthy would like some help. (Photo: Paul Rudderow)

49. John McCarthyThe local kid with the goofy helmet has grown from a feel-good story who occasionally knocked himself out while trying to throw the ball to a solid No. 2 keeper behind Andre Blake.

48. Josh YaroInjuries have fragmented the career of the highly regarded draft pick, whose outstanding speed and passing ability could anchor the Union defense if developed correctly.

47. Fabian HerbersCame out of nowhere to be the team’s best offensive weapon down the stretch last season, even if injury has wiped out most of his 2017 campaign.

46. Jack ElliottPlaying like the Rookie of the Year in central defense so far, but questions remain whether he can keep up that run of form.

45. Keon DanielThe lanky, infuriating Trinidadian made 64 official appearances for the Union, though who knows how many he could have piled up if not trapped in visa hell for the end of 2011. #FreeKeon.

“How am I only ranked #44?” (Photo: Earl Gardner)

44. Antoine HoppenotThe Princeton product brought speed off the bench, then never learned any moves other than diving as the league quickly figured him out.

43. Andrew WengerHe’s due.

42. KlebersonScored one of the best goals in franchise history despite John Hackworth treating him like a guy with advanced-stage leprosy.

41. Danny CruzLast seen on a slow boat to Norway, the former running back never lacked for aggressiveness, even when he lacked a subtle touch or soccer sense.

40. Gabriel GomezThe guy sure did love himself, but he scored some great goals and brought real power in midfield in an otherwise anemic 2012 roster.

39. Alejandro MorenoA shifty veteran presence most memorable for his spectacular assist on Le Toux’s second Union goal and his year as the team’s color commentator.

38. Danny MwangaWhen he was on, he was unstoppable. He wasn’t on enough.

Roger Torres nets the winner against the Red Bulls. (Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

37. Roger TorresThe tiny Colombian played a crucial role in the 2011 playoff campaign, then missed a season due to injury and found himself in John Hackworth’s doghouse. Who can forget this moment?

36. FabinhoSomehow the sun rocket is yet to come for the Brazilian, who’s somehow given the club four seasons of infuriatingly inconsistent play at left back.

35. Gabriel FarfanThe lesser Farfan brother, he was nonetheless a versatile piece who the Union turned — via the magic of trading with Chivas USA — into the draft pick that became Andre Blake.

34. FredSomehow never picking up the nickname “Right Said,” but he became a great servant to the club in two stints despite being 79 years old.

33. Oguchi OnyewuThis might be too high, but the statuesque defender has barely put a foot wrong in his time with Philadelphia, and been a great addition to a locker room sometimes lacking in personality.

Fernando Aristeguieta is under there, somewhere. (Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

32. Fernando AristeguietaThe ginger loanee wasn’t fleet of foot, but knocked home five goals in his sole season with the team.

31. Keegan RosenberryPlayed every minute of the 2016 campaign as a revelation at right back, the All-Star and almost Rookie of the Year must have run over Jim Curtin’s dog in the offseason because his 2017 season has seen him chained to the bench.

30. Carlos RuizThe little fish scored the best goal in Union history; only here for half a season, his goal-scoring nonetheless got the 2011 squad off to a hot start.

29. Veljko PaunovicMany were skeptical of the “Old Serb,” but he quickly became a fan favorite in the second half of the 2011 campaign.

28. Michael OrozcoOnly played one season with the Union but was a key component of the defense before disappearing during preseason.

Jordan Harvey, looking at a trumpet, shirtless. Yeah, I don’t get it either. (Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz)

27. Richie MarquezAfter marinating for a season in USL, the seasoned Marquez seized his chance in 2015, starting nearly every game in central defense over the next two seasons. He subsequently fell into an interdimensional portal and has not been seen since.

26. Jordan HarveyThe one that got away, the popular left back was a stand-out before a midseason trade in 2011 put a curse on that position for the Union.

25. Raymon GaddisOne of the longest-tenured players in team history despite having no offensive game, the fullback ended Sheanon Williams’ Union career and looks set soon to do the same to Keegan Rosenberry.

24. Roland AlbergThe controversial midfielder has produced some of the best goals in Union history, despite poor body language, not really fitting the system, and occasionally showing up 17 pounds overweight to preseason.

23. Fafa PicaultFafa is scoring a goal every 200 minutes or so in 2017 Philadelphia’s anemic offense — few players in team history can match his footspeed even if his finishing leaves something to be desired.

22. IlsinhoI admit to a blind spot for the Brazilian, because in a 2017 team consisting largely of grinders Ilsinho is willing to at least try stuff — with occasionally spectacular results.

Photo by Earl Gardner

Okugo was always confident on the ball. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

21. Justin MappA key part of the 2011 squad, Mapp’s veteran left foot sparked much of that team’s offense.

20. Amobi OkugoA fan favorite and Union original, many feel that the team wasted Okugo’s great potential as a defensive midfielder by using him as a converted center back instead.

19. Haris MedunjaninA veteran import with impeccable passing range, Medunjanin entertains fans and media with his long-range goals and random moments of sportsmanship.

18. Sheanon WilliamsManning the right back position for four years before losing the job in May 2015 and being sent out of town on a trade two months later, Williams was reliable in both offense and defense — though I don’t miss the insistence on using his long throw-in.

TIER 1: STARS

17. Chris PontiusAlways in the right place at the right time in 2016, he led the team with 12 goals and was a key voice in the locker room, even if his form in 2017 has been subpar and his USMNT call-up inexplicable.

16. Zac MacMathHanded the job too young and left out to dry as the Union invested huge resources to replace him, MacMath nevertheless took it in stride, improved year-over-year, and was almost certainly a better goalie than Rais Mbolhi when he lost the job.

15. Conor CaseyThe burly boy with the quiet voice fired home 21 goals in his three-year Union career, despite his physical gifts fading and his body taking a beating night in and night out. Bonus points for appearing in the funniest picture in Union history and getting ejected repeatedly on his return appearances at Talen.

Teeing up a shot on goal. (Photo: Paul Rudderow)

14. C.J. SapongCrammed firmly into the “good-not-great” category of MLS strikers, Sapong uses his amazing strength to play as an old-fashioned center forward, reaching 10 goals for the first time in 2017.

13. Michael FarfanHis career highlight may have come in an exhibition game, but Farfan was an attacking force when played at his preferred position. His move away from the Union destroyed his career.

12. Alejandro BedoyaThe most expensive player in team history, Bedoya has been a do-everything midfielder when not on national team duty, but his short-lived experiment at the No. 10 position was a disaster. Weirdly, he’s only scored goals for the Union in Toronto.

11. Jack McInerneyUnleashed under John Hackworth, McInerney scored 10 goals in early 2013 as a lethal finisher, but only managed two more after a midseason Gold Cup call-up. Traded away in early 2014, McInerney is still somehow just 24 years old.

Mondragon: a vocal leader who wore his heart on his sleeve. (Photo: Paul Rudderow)

10. Faryd MondragonYes, it was just one season, and Mondragon was an old, old man even before becoming the oldest man to play in a World Cup in 2014. But the Colombian keeper organized a stingy, disciplined back line in front of him on the road to the playoffs, and loved his new city and club like few Union players ever have. I miss him.

9. Maurice EduA statement of intent when signed in 2014, Edu spent most of his time shifted out of his preferred midfield position, instead filling in as one of the best center backs in MLS. The injuries that ended his Union career are a sad, sad situation.

8. Cristian MaidanaAn assists machine who never quite fit in the rigid system preferred by Hackworth and Curtin (and who ate dinner too late at night), Maidana nonetheless created assists at an elite level — 26 of them in two seasons.

7. Carlos Valdes. Along with Mondragon, the Colombian center back was the team’s best player for large parts of 2011 and 2012, representing the Union when Chester hosted the 2012 All-Star Game. A protracted loan saga and a botched return in 2014 tarnished his otherwise sterling career.

Celebrating a moment of glory. (Photo: Paul Rudderow)

6. Danny CaliffA blue-collar backliner with crazy hair and tattooed arms, Califf was an early fan favorite for his take-no-prisoners style of defense. Formed an effective partnership with Valdes in the club’s first march to the playoffs before his unceremonious ouster in the Nowak madness of 2012.

5. Brian CarrollThe longest-tenured player in team history and a consummate professional, Carroll was already a veteran when the team brought him in after the inaugural campaign. He offered defensive stability in the 2011 playoff team and continued to contribute, year after year, even as his skills began to decline and the team started to pass him by.

4. Vincent NogueiraThe tiny French metronome may be the best pure passer the Union have ever had, a relentless engine who buzzed about the pitch looking for the open man. Bigger regret: his untimely departure in 2016 or his just-missed shot that would have brought the Union their first-ever cup in 2014?

Photo by Earl Gardner

Letting out a roar. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

3. Tranquillo BarnettaBrought class, experience, a spectacular man bun, and fiery leadership to a 2016 squad lacking all four, and dragged them to the playoffs. Scoring occasional wonder goals from the No. 10 position, the proof of his value to the team is how rudderless they’ve looked since his departure to boyhood club St. Gallen.

2. Andre BlakeIt’s easy to forget that the Jamaican sensation has only been the full-time starter for a year and a half, because that year and a half has been punctuated by sensational save after sensational save. A deserved All-Star last year, Blake bailed out his defense many times in route to the playoffs, and has just begun to blossom on the international stage.

1. Sebastien Le TouxThe Union’s all-time leader in games played, goals, and assists, Le Toux scored a hat trick in the team’s first home game and has the only home playoff goal scored in Talen Energy Stadium. Not to mention that — in the ultimate “that’s so Union” turn of events — Le Toux has had not one but two poorly handled departures from the club. Who else could be number one on this list?

Photo by Earl Gardner

The man. The myth. The legend. (Photo: Earl Gardner)

56 Comments

  1. BC Legend.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Interesting list. Easy choices for #1 and #125. I would probably move Danny Califf up 3 spots ahead of Barnetta. I would also probably drop Stahl 1 spot since I believe he also got a red card in the Celtic friendly.

  3. Zizouisgod says:

    Wow, what an opus of the Union’s ineptitude as a club.

    Well done, Peter, but my word, this is a depressing read.

  4. I can’t believe I’m gonna say this But Lopez deserves to be higher on the list. I mean he wasn’t actively terrible when he was played in his proper position.

    He was better than Juan Diego Gonzolaz and provided as much value on the field as Baky Soumarie.

  5. Good stuff.. brought back memories, both good and not so good.

    I suspect there will be unanimous agreement on your first and last place players

  6. This. Is. Great.
    .
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane! (Including Moreno, who kept calling Conor Casey “Big Country” until he was told by Conor Casey to stop calling him “Big Country”…)
    .
    Moreno, Twellman, Kyle Martino, JP Dellacamera… we’ve at least had some good announcers through the years.

    • pragmatist says:

      Even when Zumoff calls the games he does a really good job (for a newbie). The team may have issues, but the commentators are generally very good.

    • We really have had some fantastic announcers. Look how many of them have gone on to national careers. We must lead the nation in that capacity easily. (It even makes up for Bob Rigby and the dude who is probably in jail…)

  7. pragmatist says:

    I love lists. Nothing starts a barroom discussion better than arbitrary lists.
    .
    I’d rate Lahoud closer to Keon Daniel than I would to WC, but I’m not sure what that says about any of them.
    .
    And I still feel that one of the most underrated players in Union history is Brian Sylvestre. He came into one of the biggest train wrecks in MLS history and became a calming presence that organized his defense and played solidly and consistently. He’s not a Top-10 MLS keeper, most likely, but I’m still amazed he doesn’t have a job (and a higher salary) with a big club.
    .
    Speaking of keepers, it’s funny to me how low Seitz is ranked here. It’s obviously due to his time in Philly, since he’s become a borderline All-Star keeper in Dallas.

  8. Keon Daniel is way way way too high

  9. More than once I said “Who? oh yeah that guy” Lot of anonymous people on that list.

  10. I would have slid nogueira in front of Barnetta But solid list. Also, Was I the only guy who liked vitoria?

    • Yes on Vittoria, and no on Nogs. If we are talking skill wise, I’d put Barnetta 1st overall.

    • Nogs over Barnetta any day. On the whole the team was better with nogs on the field. He was the captain out there no matter who wore the arm band. After he left the rest of the team took some of the so of the worst aspects of Barnettas personality. Without having his skill. They seemed more interested in arguing calls than making passes.

      That’s my molten hot take.

  11. I know this isn’t really the place for it but reading Vincent’s entry made me think about this team and if it would be in a different spot if that shot in the open cup had been 2 or 3 inches to the right

  12. How about Jake McGuire? He just started vs. Swansea.

  13. Maidana too high, Bedoya too low. Le Toux is also too low.

    • Take away sentimentality and Letoux is in the low teens.

      • at the end of his Union career, yes.
        .
        That discounts the beginning of his Union career, which — to remind those few who weren’t there to see it — was a hat trick in the first game in franchise history.
        .
        I have said before and will say again, when the organization decides it has had enough history to justify honoring alumni, The honored group should be called the Legion of Le Toux, and in addition to whatever else is devised, the award to the former player should be a shoulder-to-waist sash in the style of the French Legion of Honor.

      • Timothy Keller says:

        no one has been better, his goals helped us make the playoffs for the first time. He had a lot of assist in his second stint with us. This man IS the union

  14. Mother of Mercy..

  15. To echo Sieve’s “I can’t believe I’m gonna say this”… you’re being not entirely fair to Chris Seitz. His “That’s So Union” moment was subsequently ruled a clear referee screw-up; they never should have allowed Moreno to do that. Also, I thought his demotion was a bit unfair at the time, and I am somewhat vindicated by the fact that he’s gone on to be a sometime starter for one of the best franchises in the league. I’d put him near the bottom of Tier 3. I mean, you have Juan Diego Gonzalez there, FFS…

  16. I had to look up Yann Ekra.

  17. Peter great job! There were at least 20 players I don’t remember. About the same for those that I really want to forget.

  18. It’s amazing how many “signed for the last half of the season, either barely or never played, then let go” players we had in our history.

    • pragmatist says:

      I’m curious if we are an outlier with this, or if that is fairly standard in the league and we just don’t know about it.

      • I think the occasional mid-summer signing falls flat – especially at the DP level – but the Union has tended to make more bad roster decisions in July (all year?) than most teams.

  19. I thought about my top five when I saw the title and was delighted to see it identical to yours!! Spot on. Fun read.

  20. Ok, Peter. no confirmed research behind these responses, so, value them accordingly.
    .
    1st. Aaron Jones has scored two goals off free kicks this season. That alone puts him into the middle of your list. It’s not his fault that by rule he is prevented from appearing for the first team in a game in 2017. He has already practiced with them longer than several individuals ranked more highly, David Myrie for one. (Myrie is now general manager of Haiti’s national team I think, if memory serves.)
    .
    2nd. Eric Byrd spent his entire time with the Union injured. The next year he started at DCM for Rio Grande Valley Toros, and was at one point in 2017 on Wilmer Cabrera’s roster with the Houston Dynamo.
    .
    3rd. Chandler Hoffman has been among the league leaders as a goal scorer for Louisville City FC in 2015 and 2016 and is now doing the same for Real Monarchs. He would be a cheaper back up to Sapong than is Simpson.
    .
    4th. Ken Tribbett and Anderson. Neither are good center backs. Anderson might have been, and TRibbett is, a decent defensive central midfielder. Why? In the game as played in North America, you must have speed at center back in a flat back four. Ken Tribbett has made an impact for the Steel this year as a DCM.
    .
    5th. Danny Cruz’s slow boat to Norway then took him across the Northeast Passage and the Pacific to San Francisco where he now is rostered to the Deltas of NASL.
    .
    6th. Fred is now coaching with Academy in Wayne. He ended the Steel’s recent charity game against Newtown Pride FC in West Chester wearing the captain’s armband, after Josh Heard came off.
    .
    most enjoyable, glad you had some free time. We have benefited. Thanks

  21. Thank you. Also, Fred at 79 years old – LOL.

  22. Section 114 (Former) says:

    It’s a very high bar, but this may be the best piece in the history of the site. Thank you.
    .
    To avoid objection, I am not ranking it above the three legendary comments.

  23. great read. thanks, Peter

  24. Bit harsh to have Andrew Wenger at number 43 no??

    What does the author mean by, “It’s due” ???

    • I think he was saying “it’s due” because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen that footage of him dribbling the ball out of bounds, haha. That never gets old!

      • No – he saying “he’s due” which was basically every game for Wenger. He was big and had some ok moves – and occasionally scored some nice goals…but never fulfilled the “potential” which people thought he had.

        The breakout is coming though for Houston. Maybe this week.

  25. Not a lot to complain about, other than the low bar for what constitutes a star in Philly given our lack of progression up the table. I’d move Sapong up and Marfan down a bit, but the best comment is about Keeg’s and Jim’s dog. Can we buy Curtin another pet already and get him back on the field. We know what Ray gives us and it isn’t much (at his best) that is going to help this team win.

    Given how anemic this team’s offense is, I’d rather have Keegan bombing up the right side than good one-on-one defending that doesn’t matter in the end because we’ll still give up one late goal to give away 3 points.

  26. IMO, I thought Restrepo was more “anonymous” and less “actively bad”

  27. There’s a bunch of these I would switch around on the list (for example, I’d switch CJ Sapong & Maidana, as well as Carlos Valdes & Califf), but I really like what you’ve done here. Pretty accurate for the most part!

    Also, thanks for bringing back memories of Andrew Wenger dribbling the ball out of bounds, that was simply hilarious. #FreeKeon!

  28. I was assuming this had to do with how we all felt he was “due” to turn into a great player as he failed to make the play time and time again. Then I thought he would turn into a star in Houston. I am still waiting….

  29. Timothy Keller says:

    I’ll never understand letting Jordan Harvey go, he’s been a solid starter for 5 seasons and instead we have had Fabinho.

  30. WAIT! I have been asking all season if Rosenberry shot Curtin’s dog. Did he actually run the dog over? NOW, I understand Rosenberry’s disappearance. As to Gaddis, don’t forget his missing left foot. Nice list, and thanks for the effort. It would be interesting to see how many of these players actually played in the spots for which they were brought here. No, I take that back. Too depressing.

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