One of the things that people interested in sports like to do is go "What if?" What if this player had caught that pass? What if that player had managed to sink that three pointer? What if my team had managed to get the ball into the back of the net before the half? It’s maddening because we honestly don’t really know. One thing that people like to debate is the players that the team had, who was good, who was average, who really sucked and so on. Sometimes people speculate on "What if we had drafted this guy instead of this one?" It’s fun to do with friends at times. So I decided to do it for the Philadelphia Union.
Most people I’ve spoken with or articles that I’ve read have said that generally speaking, an average of three years is the time that most draft prospects are given to prove that they deserve the title of "professional athlete", so I figured that Major League Soccer should be no different.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered, who could the Philadelphia Union have taken in the 2009 MLS Expansion Draft? That was technically our first draft and the more I read up on the available players, the more interested in writing this article I became.
So for your reading pleasure I decided to compile a list of 2009 MLS Expansion Draft and 2010 MLS SuperDraft players and see who the Union could have had, and maybe for a few of them speculate why they didn’t take them. I’ll also look at who the Union took and whether or not that player worked out for us. At the end of each description I’ll simply put "Yes" or "No" as to whether or not I would pick the player again. With all that said, off we go.
2009 MLS Expansion Draft
Who the Union Drafted
The Union’s starting left back up until his trade in July of 2011, Harvey was a decent LB option which in all honesty was the only thing the Union needed. His trade haunts the team to this very day, as they haven’t truly found a player that can handle the position since. Good LB's are one of the most notoriously difficult players for any club around the world to get their hands on, and the Union shot themselves in the foot with the trade. I would gladly draft Jordan Harvey again, and am wishing he was still with the team now. Yes.
A player that never quite caught on with the Union but has done well since leaving the club. Currently plays for FC Dallas where he has become a decent midfielder option, Jacobson will probably be an MLS lifer as he is decent in the league but will probably never be elevated beyond it. However, for the purposes of the Union that would be good enough. Yes.
Knighton is a fascinating pick for me because honestly I felt that he deserved more time here than he got. He recorded the first shutout ever in the Union history, a 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire. He moved to the NASL where he played GK for the Carolina Railhawks, was named to the NASL Best XI in 2011, and came in second place for the NASL Golden Gloves. He was acquired by the Vancouver Whitecaps and became their starter, though recently was unseated by new addition David Ousted. More than likely he will probably be traded in the offseason to an MLS team needing some goal keeper help if Ousted locks the starting job down. I would draft Brad Knighton again and this time give him a bit more time to see what he could do. As well as having a capable backup in case my goal keeper choice got hurt or was called up to the national team (more on that later). Yes.
4. Sébastien Le Toux – Seattle Sounders
You can say what you want about his style of play, but Sébastien Le Toux became the face of the Union franchise in its initial years. I’ve met him once or twice and he is probably one of the nicest, most down to earth athletes I’ve ever encountered. The guy played his butt off for the club before being unceremoniously traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps, then the New York Red Bulls, and then finally returning to Philadelphia. While he isn’t used up top as he once was, the 2013 MLS assists leader has found another role as the man to set up goal scorers. Also, Seba scored the first (and so far only) hat trick in Philadelphia Union history which caused both me and my then girlfriend, now wife, to fall utterly in love with the team. Obviously this is a pick I would make again and again. Yes.
5. Stefani Miglioranzi – Los Angeles Galaxy
One of the more infamous players in Union history, "Migz" was clearly on the downside of his career during his time in Philadelphia. From everything I’ve heard, he was a hell of a nice guy but wasn’t much of a player. He started in the "legendary" 5 man back line during the Union’s first ever playoff appearance against the Houston Dynamo - a move that will drive some Union fans to go red in the face when you mention it to them even to this day. Migz has since retired and is now the agent for Sébastien Le Toux. This is obviously a pick I wouldn’t do again. No.
Even with a well-earned reputation as a diver, I liked Moreno during his time here. His hold up play was excellent however, and this assist in the first ever Union home game is a thing of utter beauty. Now Ale is currently one of the Union’s color commentators - and I must say does an excellent job at it. Yes.
7. David Myrie – Chicago Fire
Made a grand total of one appearance for the Union during his time here. Has since bounced around teams mainly in the Costa Rican Primera Division, and had a brief spell with Fredrikstad Fotballklubb of Norway’s Tippeligaen in 2011. Currently still in the Primera Division with C.S. Herediano. No.
Salinas is one of those intriguing "What if" 's - a winger with good speed. Salinas had but one goal during his time with the Union, a hell of an individual effort against the Houston Dynamo. He was left unprotected in the 2010 Expansion draft due to the fact that he seemed to have trouble staying healthy. He has since returned to his former team, the San Jose Earthquakes. He has been good with assists (leading the Earthquakes with 6 in 2013 and 7 in 2012), however an injury inflicted by a horror tackle Rafa Marquez of the New York Red Bulls meant that Salinas spent a significant amount of time recovering. No.
Shavar Thomas was probably one of the slowest defenders in the entire league. He made a grand total of one appearance and then was traded to Sporting Kansas City and then spent some time with the Montreal Impact. He currently plays for the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. I wouldn’t take Shavar Thomas again EVER. Only because of who we could have gotten from Chivas USA (more on that in a bit). No.
10. Nick Zimmerman – New York Red Bulls
Zimmerman is another of those picks that just didn’t hang on here. He made eight appearances with the Union before eventually moving on to the NASL’s Carolina Railhawks, for whom he still plays. He scored 15 goals for the Railhawks in 2012 which lead their team. While I’m glad for Zimmerman that he seems to have caught on with the Railhawks he defines a player that just isn’t good enough for the next level. No.
So if we’re keeping count here the final tally looks like this.
|Would Draft Again||Wouldn’t Draft Again|
|Jordan Harvey||Stefani Miglioranzi|
|Andrew Jacobson||Shea Salinas|
|Brad Knighton||Shavar Thomas|
|Sébastien Le Toux||Nick Zimmerman|
|Alejandro Moreno||David Myrie|
So if you’re keeping count, it’s a 50/50 split. In order to keep with the rules of the draft, that means that any of the players I drafted again would automatically prevent me from drafting any other players from that team. This means that the following teams would be exempt from further picks by the Union: Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, New England Revolution, Seattle Sounders & Columbus Crew.
In Part 2, we'll look at who I would take and why.