CHESTER PA - AUGUST 11: Midfielder Shea Salinas #11 of the Philadelphia Union warms-up before the game against Real Salt Lake at PPL Park on August 11 2010 in Chester Pennsylvania. The game was a 1-1 tie. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Two hours after the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft the shockwaves of the day's transactions were still being sorted out. Ten rounds of selections by both the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps had resulted not in the building of the two franchises through the expansion draft but rather through a feeding frenzy of trades. The post-draft festivities started off with the first pick in the expansion draft, Dax McCarty, finding himself shipped off to DC United with allocation money for defender Rodney Wallace and a fourth round pick in the 2011 MLS Superdraft. This trade was followed by x other trades involving x expansion drafted players. Former Philadelphia Union striker Alejandro Moreno, who was drafted in the seventh round (fourteenth overall), was part of a package -- with Alan Gordon to Vancouver -- for allocation money and an international roster spot) in a trade to Chvias USA, one of the later trades after the draft ended.
The story of the day for Philadelphia Union fans was not Moreno's selection, however. No it was the selection of midfielder Shea Salinas by the Vancouver Whitecaps with the eighth overall pick in the expansion draft, second of the fourth round.
Speculation on Salinas' Union future began when the Union and coach Piotr Nowak did not include him amongst the 11 protected players listed for the Union for the expansion draft. In The Brotherly Game's 2010 MLS Expansion Draft Preview Salinas was listed amongst the 11 protected Union players, as he was for SB Nation's Mock Expansion Draft. Because of his status as a protected player, Salinas remained as a Union player for the purpose of the mock draft. Cristian Arrieta and Moreno were chosen during the mock draft but the real draft proved otherwise.
The 2010 season proved to be an awkward one for Salinas. Though he started 7 games in the early part of the season, Salinas found himself on the bench because of injury. Nowak did not seem to have a liking for Salinas upon his return from the injury but didn't stop him from showing his improvement every game he appeared in. Speed is his calling card and his ability to go past defenders brought a different dynamic to the right side of the field (beyond Sheanon Williams from the right back position).
Twitter, blogs and forums were ablaze with comments along the lines of "Please don't let the Union give away the next Le Toux" (in reference to the Union benefiting from the Seattle Sounders leaving Sebastien Le Toux unprotected in the 2009 Expansion Draft). Salinas' promise is not that good, not even close. His importance to the Union would have been through his willingness to utilize his speed and agility to change the pace of any given game through substitution. Or Salinas could have provided a suitable partner to Justin Mapp if the Union ever chose to use outside midfielders instead of attacking midfielders. Either way his departure puts a damper on either possibility.
It's always tough not to get attached to certain players. There are players that exhibit characteristic what a fan wants out of any athlete: grace, charisma, charm, sportsmanship and hustle. Salinas displayed these characteristics, leading to many Union supporters to latch onto him. His spectacular goal in week 10 versus the Houston Dynamo gained him national recognition and also showed off his potential for the Union. It also drew this writer's eyes to him for the remainder of the season.
Hopefully Vancouver doesn't luck out on the selection of Salinas because Sounders fans and bloggers have told of their horror at the evolution of Le Toux into a superstar. If the same happens to Salinas then Union fans, bloggers and writers alike will have to share in their despair at losing a great player to the expansion draft.