Union Release Four, Free Up Two International Roster Spots

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 23: Cristiano Ronaldo #7 of Real Madrid tries to take a shot on goal behind Ryan Richter #23 of the Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field on July 23, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Real Madrid won 2-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Levi Houapeu, Morgan Langley, Ryan Richter and Joe Tait will not be with the Philadelphia Union in 2012 after the group's contract options were declined by the team. Only Langley saw action in MLS regular season play last year, with Houapeu hurt most of the year, Richter learning how to play a brand new position (fullback) and Tait a late signing for center back depth.

The end of Richter's time with the Union was foreshadowed by the drafting of Raymon Gaddis, from West Virginia University, with the 35th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Gaddis is a right back in the style of current starter Sheanon Williams, giving the Union a back up at the position that will most likely play during William's Olympic international duty.

Langley was brought in during the second half of the season and made one appearance for the Union. The midfielder is known for his speed and showed it off during Reserve League games, but failed to make enough of an impact to convince head coach Piotr Nowak to retain him for the upcoming season. The 22-year-old was the first ever Swarthmore soccer player to sign a professional contract.

A third round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Houapeu had a ton of potential for the Union to unlock, but injuries hampered his ability to even play for the club's reserve squad. Houapeu was the leading scorer in NCAA play during his Junior and Senior seasons, racking up over thirty combined goals and assists over that time period.

Tait was a surprise trial player with the Union, and after three weeks he was signed by Philadelphia. The Reading United AC's head coach Brendan Burke, also the Union's reserve team coach, gave Philadelphia a glowing scouting report on Tait and the team acquired him from USL side the Dayton Dutch Lions. While impressing during reserve games, Tait stayed mostly on the bench and supplanted Juan Diego Gonzalez from game day roster spots.

With these moves, the Union have opened up two international roster spots, making them only one spot over the league's eight international spot maximum. It is still possible that another international player will be cut from the team, but the Union can also acquire another international slot in a trade with a fellow MLS club. This depends upon the international status of Supplemental Draft pick Krystian Witkowski, who is a former Polish youth international.

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