Union Report Card: Drafts (2010-2013)

MLS 2014 Superdraft. Philadelphia, PA - Eryin Wandel

The Union have been one of the better teams in the league in drafting players since 2010. Which picks made the grade?

Since the team's inception in 2010, the Philadelphia Union have been one of the better teams in drafting players who play MLS minutes. Of course, some of that has to do with the club being relatively new and thus having open roster spots while it develops an identity on the pitch, however it also is a testament to the club's ability to spot and develop talent. Let's look at each of the draft picks the Union made and grade the club on two factors: how the player did in Philadelphia and the pick itself turned out.

2010

Danny Mwanga - Round 1 Pick 1 (First Pick Overall) - Mwanga had a great rookie season, netting 7 goals in 24 appearances and being named a finalist for 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year with Andy Najar and Tim Ream - both of whom now play in Europe. 2011 saw his production wane, netting 5 goals in 28 games and being relegated to a sub by Peter Nowak. Clearly in Nowak's doghouse, Mwanga was shipped to Portland after appearing in 9 games in 2012 for Colombian Jorge Perlaza, who in turn appeared in 2 games for the Union before being released and returning to play with storied Colombian club Millionarios.
Player grade: B
Mwanga was a solid player when given the opportunity to play, although as things started to unravel with Nowak so did Mwanga.
Pick grade: F Can't blame Mwanga or Nowak for this. Perlaza was never given a fair shot in Philadelphia after a decent career in Portland (6 goals in 41 games). Since Perlaza was released, the Union in effect got nothing for a former number one pick.

Amobi Okugo - Round 1 Pick 6 (Sixth Pick Overall) - The Union traded allocation money to FC Dallas for the 6th pick in 2010, and selected Amobi Okugo. Okugo didn't play much under Peter Nowak, only starting 15 games under him. That all changed when Nowak was fired and John Hackworth took over. Okugo has since become a fixture on the back line, having moved from his more natural central midfielder role, and there has been talk of him being on the shortlist of possible first-time call-ups to Jürgen Klinsmann's United States National Team.
Player grade: A Hard to rate Okugo anything but an A. Even playing alongside national team players Carlos Valdes, Jeff Parke, and Bakary Soumare, Okugo has never looked out of place and is one of the cornerstones of the franchise.
Pick grade: A Trading some allocation money for Okugo was a great piece of business for the club, however he wasn't even the best piece of business in the 2010 Draft for the club.

Jack McInerney - Round 1 Pick 7 (Seventh Pick Overall) - Perhaps the best player drafted by the Union, McInerney was another allocation money-for-draft pick coup for Peter Nowak. Like Okugo, McInerney didn't see much time under Nowak, starting only 5 games before Nowak's ouster. Since then, McInerney has been the focal point of the Union's offense, scoring 20 goals under John Hackworth and getting a call-up to the US National Team.
Player grade: A While McInerney has had some rough spells, his overall body of work is impressive. He remains the only player to be called up to the USMNT while in a Union jersey. He led MLS in goals during the first half of 2013 before hitting a cold streak. Even still, he finished tied for sixth in the league in goals.
Pick grade: A+ While McInerney was certainly a steal, he wasn't the best draft deal ever done by the club...

Toni Ståhl - Round 2 Pick 1 (Seventeenth Pick Overall) - The Union followed up three strong picks with a really bad one. Ståhl played in one game for the Union, being sent off in the 41st minute. His option was declined for 2011, and he never played in MLS again. Ståhl now plays for the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL.
Player grade: F A 41 minute MLS career.
Pick grade: F What's worse than picking a player 17th overall and getting 41 minutes from them is seeing your rivals (New York Red Bulls) pick a player (Tim Ream) now playing in England with the very next pick. New York was paid a reported £2.5 million in 2012 for Ream - the Union got £2.5 million less for Ståhl.

Kyle Nakazawa - Round 3 Pick 1 (Thirty-third Pick Overall) - Nakazawa had a fairly decent career with the Union, scoring 1 goal and playing in 36 matches in 2010 and 2011. Nakazawa and the Union's 2013 SuperDraft Second Round pick was traded to the LA Galaxy in 2012 for an international roster slot, which was subsequently traded to DC United with Lionard Pajoy for Danny Cruz. Los Angeles selected Kofi Opare with the draft pick. Opare is a decent young player for the Galaxy, appearing in 6 games and scoring a goal in 2013.
Player grade: C Again, Nakazawa was a decent player. Nothing great, but he did play more than 41 minutes for the club.
Pick grade: B The Union were able to turn a guy who retired at the beginning of the 2013 season indirectly into a guy in Cruz who started almost as many games for the Union (32) in 2013 as Nakazawa did in his entire career for the club.

Brian Perk - Round 4 Pick 1 (Fourty-ninth Pick Overall) - Perk never played a minute for the Union, and was released on waivers at the end of July 2010. He was claimed by the Galaxy, and still plays for them, having made 5 appearances since.
Player grade: I Never given a shot by Nowak, he was released before the wheels fully came off of the Chris Seitz train.
Pick grade: F Perk has an 0-3-2 record with Los Angeles. That being said, the Union got nothing for a player who now has two MLS Cup rings, and they passed up on Sean Johnson, who was selected two picks later by the Chicago Fire. Johnson has 100 appearances for the Fire as well as 4 for the USMNT.

2011

Zac MacMath - Round 1 Pick 5 (Fifth Pick Overall) - MacMath was a bit of an afterthought when he was drafted, due to the offseason signing of Colombian legend Faryd Mondragón. When Mondragón went down with a broken finger during the 2011 season, MacMath came in and performed well, going 3-0-4 in 7 starts. When Mondragón returned to Colombia in 2012, MacMath was thrust into the starting keeper's role. MacMath had a rather rough 2012, going 10-17-5, but grew into the role in 2013 going 12-12-10 and playing every minute of the Union's season.
Player grade: B+ MacMath has grown immensely since 2012, giving up less head-scratchers and being a more commanding presence in the box. He still has room to grow, however if the rate of improvement continues into 2014, the Union could quickly find themselves back in the playoff picture.
Pick grade: A Easily the best goalkeeper taken in 2011, MacMath is another of the Union's young nucleus who looks poised to be a standout MLS player.

Michael Farfan - Round 2 Pick 5 (Twenty-third Pick Overall) - Farfan had been a staple in the Union midfield since he was drafted, making 82 appearances, scoring 4 goals, and creating 9 assists. While he slumped a bit in 2013, Farfan was acquired in the offseason by Liga MX club Cruz Azul.
Player grade: B Farfan's grade could have been higher, but his inconsistency last season drug him down. The Union's midfield was atrocious in 2013, and Farfan never seemed to find a rhythm in the Union's scheme.
Pick grade: B Farfan was the best player available at the time, and the Union did well to pick him up. And going to a high profile league like Liga MX is nothing to sneeze at.

Levi Houapeu - Round 3 Pick 5 (Fourty-first Pick Overall) - The Union took a bit of a gamble on drafting Houapeu. The oft-injured player never made the pitch for the Union and was not re-signed by the club for 2012. Houapeu trialed for DC United in 2012, but hasn't been heard from since.
Player grade: I Houapeu never played a minute for the Union in his lone year with the club.
Pick grade: F Houapeu was a flier, but there were some decent players left. Later that round, Konrad Warzycha, Alex Caskey, Bernardo Anor, and Joao Plata were drafted. While those four aren't necessarily world-beaters, they did make appearances for their respective clubs.

Ryan Richter - Supplemental Draft Round 1 Pick 5 (Fifty-ninth Pick Overall) - Out of the entire Supplemental Draft class of 2011, only three players made more than one appearance in MLS - Michael Boxall, Blake Brettschneider, and Ryan Richter. Unfortunately for the Union, Richter never got to play in a league match for the club, instead spending most of the year in Harrisburg with the City Islanders. He was released at the end of 2011, and after a year with USL PRO side Charleston Battery, Richter re-emerged with Toronto FC, appearing in 13 matches - one of which was against his former club.
Player grade: I Richter did play in reserves matches and in the Union's friendly against Everton, however he never seemed in Nowak's first-team plans.
Pick grade: F Good on the Union for seeing the talent evident in Richter, however it was a bad piece of business to let him walk on a free transfer. Even he only could make it on a terrible Toronto FC team, he did make it on an MLS team.

Josh Walburn - Supplemental Draft Round 2 Pick 5 (Seventy-seventh Pick Overall) - Walburn never made it out of camp, being cut during the preseason.
Player grade: I In doing research for this, all I could find on Walburn was a deleted wikipedia page. That's as incomplete as it gets.
Pick grade: C It's not like anyone picked after Walburn did anything in MLS either...

Matthew Marcin - Supplemental Draft Round 3 Pick 5 (Ninety-fifth Pick Overall) - See Walburn, Josh.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: C

2012

Chandler Hoffman - Round 1 Pick 13 (Thirteenth Pick Overall) - Hoffman managed to make 7 appearances for the Union in 2012 before being sent to Los Angeles in exchange for Los Angeles' Third Round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft (fifty-second pick overall).
Player grade: C Didn't get much playing time with the Union, but what we saw was ok. Will be interesting to see how he does under Bruce Arena in LA.
Pick grade: I Hoffman hasn't been given an opportunity to play, and that will probably come over the next couple of seasons. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the pick the Union got in return for him.

Greg Jordan - Round 2 Pick 13 (Thirty-second Pick Overall) - Jordan was loaned out to Harrisburg City Islanders for 2012 and 2013. His contract was not renewed at the end of the 2013 season.
Player grade: I In the preseason and friendlies, we couldn't even get a read on Jordan, as the midfielder was routinely played out of position at center back.
Pick grade: F While 2012 wasn't a particularly deep draft, midfielders like Sebastián Velásquez and Warren Creavalle were still available - and played meaningful minutes for their clubs.

Ray Gaddis - Round 2 Pick 16 (Thirty-fifth Pick Overall) - Gaddis was seen as a backup for Sheanon Williams when drafted, then quickly became the Union's go-to option for left back - at least until Brazilian Fabinho was signed. That being said, Gaddis is a solid player who can play at either full back position.
Player grade: B+ Gaddis has developed over his two seasons into a solid MLS player. While still a second option behind Williams, Gaddis is more of a 1a than a 2 at left back.
Pick grade: A+ In June 2010, the Union traded Jamaican defender Shavar Thomas - who appeared in one match for the club - to the Kansas City Wizards for KC's Second Round pick in the 2011 Draft (this pick was traded to Columbus - who selected Cole Grossman - for Brian Carroll) and their Second Round pick in the 2012 Draft, which they used to select Gaddis - as well as some allocation money. Let that sink in for a second - Peter Nowak turned Shavar Thomas into Brian Carroll and Ray Gaddis (and allocation money).

Tom Brandt - Supplemental Draft Round 1 Pick 13 (Fifty-first Pick Overall) - Tom Brandt is another player who never made it out of training camp. He now plays for Harrisburg.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: F
As with Jordan, there were still players available who contributed minutes to their clubs. Emiliano Bonfigli ,Bryan Gaul, and Aaron Schoenfeld all played a handful of games for Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles, and Montreal respectively.

Krystian Witkowski - Supplemental Draft Round 2 Pick 13 (Seventieth Pick Overall) - Witkowski was a promising player whose career was cut short by a concussion suffered in training in early 2012. He was waived at the end of the year and retired shortly thereafter.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: I

Antoine Hoppenot - Supplemental Draft Round 3 Pick 13 (Eighty-ninth Pick Overall) - Hoppenot seemed like an afterthought - another late pick who would probably wind up in Harrisburg or out of soccer altogether. But Hoppenot stuck around and became the Union's go-to super-sub in late 2012. He's since never looked back, being a regular 60th minute replacement for Jack McInerney in 2013.
Player grade: B Hoppenot's proven himself a valuable asset in the Union's attack. While he may never be a 90 minute player, he certainly makes the most of the opportunities he's given.
Pick grade: A No player taken in the Supplemental Draft played as much as Hoppenot. A great late round find by the club.

Brandon Zimmerman - Supplemental Draft Round 4 (One Hundred-eighth Pick Overall) - Another player who never made it out of camp.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: I

2013

Don Anding - Round 2 Pick 7 (Twenty-sixth the 2013 draft, trading their First Round pick to the Vancouver Whitecaps (who they used to select Erik Hurtado), allocation money, and the Union's slot in the allocation order to secure the allocation rights to Bakary Soumare (who played 4 games for the Union), and the Second Round pick in 2013, which was traded by Vancouver to Real Salt Lake for their second round pick in 2013 (who they used to select Devon Sandoval), and RSL's two first-round picks in the 2013 Supplemental Draft (which the Union used to select Eric Schoenle and Uriah Bentick). Their Second Round pick went to Los Angeles in the deal that sent Kyle Nakazawa and an international slot to the Galaxy for a pick they turned into Danny Cruz. They got the pick they used to select Anding from FC Dallas in exchange for Andrew Jacobson. Jacobson played 25 games for the Union in their inaugural season, but has flourished in Dallas playing in 85 games and scoring 5 goals - 3 in 2013. Anding played in one game totaling 30 minutes.
Player grade: I I'm not sure you can really grade a player on 30 minutes. Anding wasn't great, but wasn't awful either. Since he was waived at the end of the season, it remains to be seen if he'll continue with a career in MLS - or in soccer in general.
Pick grade: F Giving up so much to get so little may be the penance paid for such draft day coups as McInerney, Gaddis, Okugo, etc.

Stephen Okai - Round 2 Pick 12 (Thirty-first Pick Overall) - One of the picks that the Union got from Real Salt Lake they used to select Okai. Okai never made it out of camp and now plays with Charlotte Eagles in USL PRO.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: F
Even if you can't follow the trail of how the Union got this pick, you can appreciate that local guy Greg Cochrane was still available when Hackworth selected Okai. Cochrane wound up playing 10 games for a deep LA Galaxy team in 2013.

Eric Schoenle - Supplemental Draft Round 1 Pick 12 (Fiftieth Pick Overall) - Part of the pick reshuffling the Union participated in during this draft, Schoenle didn't make it out of camp and isn't playing professionally anywhere.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: F
Very bad, especially when two of the next three players selected (Michael Bustamante and Adam Jahn) contributed to their teams in 2013.

Uriah Bentick - Supplemental Draft Round 1 Pick 17 (Fifty-fifth Pick Overall) - See Schoenle, Eric.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: F
Bustamante and Jahn had been picked, but the player selected after Bentick (Anthony Arena) played in league play for Houston Dynamo. This round wasn't all bad for the Union - they did manage to trade their natural selection in the Supplemental Draft (Fifth Pick, Forty-Third Pick Overall) and allocation money for Jeff Parke. Seattle wound up picking up Will Bates with the selection.

Mark Linnville - Supplemental Draft Round 2 Pick 5 (Sixty-second Pick Overall) - Not part of any deals, the Union didn't give up anyone for Linnville. He was cut during preseason.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: F
Even though Brenton Griffiths only played one minute for Colorado, it was one more than Linnville (who was taken immediately before Griffiths) played for the Union.

Jake Keegan - Supplemental Draft Round 3 Pick 5 (Eighty-first Pick Overall) - Keegan was another who didn't survive the preseason cuts.
Player grade: I
Pick grade: C
This late in the draft, a club is taking a flyer on every player selected. At least the guy picked after him (Machael David) was cut after camp too.

Leo Fernandes - Supplemental Draft Round 4 Pick 5 (One Hundredth Pick Overall) - A very Hoppenot-esque story, Fernandes was able to work his way into a contract and even wound up playing in seven games for the Union.
Player grade: C Fernandes still has a lot of work to do to become a fixture, however he does have the potential to be a decent MLS player.
Pick grade: A As with Hoppenot, good on the Union for seeing talent this late in the Draft.

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