Where Are They Now: Not Languishing in the Lower Divisions
by Anthony Belinko
For whatever reason these players moved on from the top flight of American soccer and were picked up by teams in the lower divisions. These are all the players that were found from the Philadelphia Union's previous ranks and all of them did or are doing very well in their leagues.Brad Knighton - (Carolina Railhawks – NASL Regular Season Champions) - NASL Best XI. Played every minute this season for the Railhawks posting a 0.93GAA in 28 games, with 17 wins. Perhaps if he was still with the Union we would have a backup goalkeeper battle between Macmath who has also proven himself a very capable ‘keeper.
Toni Stahl – (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers) – NASL Best XI Defender. The Union supporters never really got a good look at Stahl. Nowak said he would pan out into something that the team could use, enough to protect the guy earlier in the year during the expansion draft. Turns out Nowak was right and Stahl might be a good player.
Eduardo Coudet - (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers) – Leading Goal Scorer on team (6). I am by no means saying we should have kept him, but he is making a point that he wasn’t done yet.
Cristian Arrieta – (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers) – Making plenty of appearances for the Strikers, a playoff team, and even has a goal. Proven himself a very capable defender, especially at the lower levels.
Nick Zimmerman - (Carolina Railhawks – NASL Regular Season Champions). 23 appearances and 5 goals for the regular season NASL champion Railhawks. He is obviously a key component to their success.
J.T. Noone – (Harrisburg City Islanders – USL Pro Playoff Runner-up). Made 23 appearances for the Islanders last year on the way to the USL Pro championship game.
Should we have let some of these players go? I think not. In the least the loan system that is in place needs to be used more by the Union and get some of these guys that are now making huge impacts in lower division teams the experience that will be very helpful for the first team. Guys like Knighton, Stahl, Zimmerman, and Noone were obviously not ready to play top flight soccer yet, but they seem well on their way now.
Only time will tell, hindsight is 20/20.