Special to BrotherlyGame.com
Nine days after Major League Soccer's expansion draft concluded, it has become more clear that Peter Nowak had a plan all along.
The Union manager intended on protecting his young talent - check. He wanted to shore up his offensive powers, the ones who accounted for most of the team's scoring - check. And despite ranking among the most porous defenses in the land, he wanted to guarantee he'd have back four of his primary backers - check.
But Nowak threw a couple monkey-wrenches into the plan.
He didn't protect Shea Salinas, a favorite in the locker room and a player who was as versatile as any during the Union's first season. And, after Salinas was selected, Nowak pulled keeper Chris Seitz from the unprotected list.
Both moves lent themselves to perpetual head-scratching, to the point where someone might ask if you need a ride to the pharmacy for dandruff-control shampoo.
Why not protect Salinas? My guess is Nowak figured he was a health risk, being that Salinas missed 13 matches - either by injury or coach's decision. But Salinas' age (24), speed and skills in the scoring third should not have been ignored. Furthermore, he routinely was dropped into the defensive third of the pitch late in matches, when the Union needed both defensive play and an offensive touch from the wing.
Losing Salinas could prove crushing, but - then again - we don't know. The sample size of his playing time was far too small to tell.
The more troubling of Nowak's two expansion draft-day decisions was plucking Seitz from the list of available players. If Seitz wasn't important enough to protect on the Union's initial list, why give him second life?
When prompted with a similar question, Nowak didn't offer a definitive answer. On a conference call the day of the expansion draft, Nowak said he felt the team had to protect Seitz, to whom he referred "our investment."
Seitz did not post a shutout last season. He had the league's worst goals-against average among keepers with at least 10 starts. Seitz should not have been protected, not because there was another player worth protecting, but because it sent the wrong message to the club and its fanbase.
No one - other than maybe Nowak and the training staff - views Seitz as the Union's keeper of the future ... especially not with the way backup-turned-starter Brad Knighton finished the year. Saving Seitz puts up a front that the Union value him above Knighton, which - according to Nowak - is untrue. Nowak has said both will get the same amount of playing time in preseason training.
So, yes, there were expansion draft-day slipups. In the end, the Union lost only one player worth keeping, which has to be considered a minor miracle.
Want to get your kicks? Try out for the Union. ... Really.
The club, in conjunction with the Harrisburg City Islanders, will host an open tryout Dec. 20-21 at In The Net Sports Complex, in Palmyra, Pa., which is where the Islanders train.
"Our partnership with Harrisburg enables us to pool resources with the goal of finding players who can compete within our player development structure, and ultimately with the Union first team," Union assistant John Hackworth. "We look forward to seeing who turns out for this exciting two-day event."
More than 1,800 players arrived at the Union's open tryout a year ago, when the club separated the candidates into three sessions. Not sure they'll find a diamond in the rough here, but you can't blame the Union for looking.
If you're interested, click onto cityislanders.com and register.
Congratulations to Stefani Miglioranzi on two fronts: First, the midfielder survived being unprotected for the league expansion draft. Second, he recently became a United States citizen.
Miglioranzi was sworn in Nov. 23, giving the nation's Oath of Allegiance at the Philadelphia branch of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. The Brazilian-born Miglioranzi briefly addressed the group of 69 newly naturalized citizens.
Good news for fans who last season were left out at PPL Park: The Union have opened a limited number of full-season ticket packages for 2011.
There are several payment plans, incentives and all of that fun stuff. Don't take my word for it. (Hey, I've never paid for a seat in PPL Park), so check out philadelphiaunion.com, instead.
To contact Christopher A. Vito, of the Delaware County Daily Times, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter, @ChrisVito.