After sitting on the sidelines during the MLS campaign, the Friday Five returns with a vengeance by taking a deeper look at Philadelphia's work in Wednesday's expansion draft.By Kyle McCarthy
Perhaps Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak cast aside his duties for one day to eat his Thanksgiving turkey in relative peace. After all, Nowak and the Union acquired ten players on Wednesday.
Team building may require diligence and determination, but it's fair to say that everyone associated with the Union earned a day off after completing the arduous task of weeding through the unprotected players and selecting the first members of its roster in the expansion draft. The one-day break might have even stretched into a long weekend, if those pesky NCAA tournament games weren't on tap for Saturday and Sunday.
With clubs across MLS digesting the draft and the turkey, the Friday Five helps the process along by taking a deeper look at the Union's expansion draft haul.
1. Did the Union get the most it could out of the draft? Expansion drafts require a certain tactical approach. Sure, the draft is about getting players who can contribute to the team on the field, but it's also about acquiring players who can be turned into assets to help obtain better options than the ones available in the draft. Philly did well enough on the first brief by selecting gritty, talented and (for the most part) young players who don't make much money. On the second point, the Union could have certainly done more to extract resources from other teams and aggregate more allocation dollars and/or draft picks given the available players in the pool. In short, the haul provided a nice foundation, but didn't do enough to acquire tools to aid the top end of the roster.
2. Philly missed an opportunity to flip an asset by passing on Amado Guevara. On one level, it looks wise to avoid Guevara and his onerous deal ($300,000 base) in case there isn't a taker to be found. Guevara simply isn't a fit for the rugged and tenacious style Nowak likes and his personality wouldn't mesh well with the Union manager either. With that said, the Union should have picked the Honduran international up to see what he could yield through a trade or a foreign transfer deal. Even if he reaps 50 cents on the dollar from some team willing to hand him the integral role he craves, Guevara would likely provide more value to the Union than several of its selections.
3. Give Philly credit for doing its homework. While the Union may not have made the most of the available talent, it did do a good job with its selections. Brad Knighton possesses the tools to start in goal if handed the chance. Jordan Harvey and Shavar Thomas can slot into the back four from day one. Stefani Miglioranzi played pretty well in Los Angeles this year and should provide a calm and steady presence in the middle of the park. Young wingers Shea Salinas (a boggling omission from the San Jose protected list considering club captain Ramiro Corrales and his significant deal sneaked on there) and Nick Zimmerman have plenty of upside on the flanks, while Andrew Jacobson showed flashes as a holding midfielder for D.C. United this season. Alejandro Moreno will score his fair share of goals and pester defenses for 90 minutes. Sebastien Le Toux probably shouldn't have made the cut given his contribution in Seattle this season and his salary ($100,000 base, but Philly does have the option to re-negotiate) in 2009, but he can fill a number of different roles and has displayed the ability to score at a lower level. All in all, it's a pretty decent group. And then there's the puzzling last pick...
4. Why did the Union select David Myrie? Maybe Nowak spotted something during his time with the U.S. national team. Maybe assistant coach John Hackworth knew the Costa Rican defender from his time with the U.S. youth national teams. Maybe word trickled through from someone who saw Myrie train with the Fire. The pick certainly had little to do with any on-field performance because Myrie didn't see a minute of action after signing with the Fire on Sept. 15. Time will tell whether this apparent gamble to pick up the 21-year-old defender will reap rewards. Given the hit-or-miss nature of these expansion drafts, it's a smart gamble to take and one Philly should have replicated by plucking a tradeable veteran or two.
5. $200,000 is a lot to pay for an unproven starting goalkeeper. Most expect former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Chris Seitz to end up as the next hot young goalkeeper in MLS, so it makes sense for Philadelphia to go out and acquire him in a draft-day deal. That's all well and good, but how much is an untested shotstopper worth to an expansion team? The answer, according to the Salt Lake Tribune: upwards of $200,000. That's the sum the Union apparently offered RSL for the chance to make Seitz its number one in 2010. While the Union has allocation money to burn and Seitz makes a reasonable sum ($75,000 base) for a starting keeper, that particularly allocation dollar outlay seems a bit outlandish considering the competing offers (none of which were even in the ballpark, according to the Tribune), the other pressing needs in the side and the presence of the capable Knighton already in the fold. Maybe Seitz will turn into the next Tim Howard and the premium will be worth it, but the expenditure unnecessarily limits allocation resources at a time when the Union will need every cent it can accumulate to help build its squad.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSnet.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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